To The Daily Sun,
Over the past week, constituents have contacted my offices after hearing a false rumor: that Congress has exempted itself from the new healthcare law. Let me set the record straight: Members of Congress and our staffs are not exempted under the Affordable Care Act.
In fact, due to an amendment that was introduced by Republican Senator Chuck Grassley and became part of the eventual law, members and congressional staff are the ONLY Americans who will be removed from their current employer-provided coverage next year and asked to find coverage in the new Marketplaces. All other Americans who have employer-sponsored insurance are encouraged and expected to keep their coverage.
The recent rumor was sparked last week in response to an announcement by the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), an independent federal agency that is responsible for all federal employees' health plans. OPM confirmed that it will continue to make employer contributions towards Congressional employees' coverage, as it did before, although members and staffers will now be choosing plans from their state Marketplaces instead of from the Federal Employees Health Benefits program.
As NPR pointed out, "Just to be clear, Members of Congress and their staff aren't getting special treatment when it comes to their health insurance. They're just keeping the employer contribution every other federal employee gets."
Back in 2009, Congress designed the Affordable Care Act to increase health care affordability and access. It has made progress on both counts, but I know there are still some difficulties to work out. As key provisions take effect over the next year, I will keep working to make sure the law improves affordability and access for families and small businesses in New Hampshire.
New Hampshire's First District
Last Updated on Thursday, 15 August 2013 08:18
To The Daily Sun,
Are New Hampshire's mountaintops being targeted by Massachusetts politicians? Are Massachusetts politicians trying to outsource their renewable tax credits through New Hampshire land?
This raises a good question: Are these industrial wind plants around Newfound Lake nothing more than outsourced renewable tax credits for Massachusetts? Is Massachusetts renting New Hampshire mountaintops as a way to achieve their renewable energy quota set forth by the federal government? And, if true, New Hampshire will need to double its efforts in building even more industrial wind plants — because it too has a federal quota to achieve. Newfound Lake alone has one active industrial wind plant in Groton and three more applications for industrial wind power plants around the lake. Residents for and against these industrial wind power plants are now shaking their heads in disbelief and have mailed thousands of "enraged letters" to their elected officials. I don't want to be thought of as an automatic naysayer, but where they infringe on our properties and threaten our watershed, we all have an obligation to be concerned. Are these projects intruding on our property rights due to the impact on property value and the fact that they remove happiness from our property?
When people hear about the Bill of Rights in New Hampshire, the first thing people think of is the U.S. Constitution. But did you know there's another Bill of Rights contained in the N.H. Constitution? It governs life within our state. The second article of the New Hampshire Constitution reads: "All men have certain natural, essential, and inherent rights — among which are, the enjoying and defending life and liberty; acquiring, possessing and protecting property; and, in a word, of seeking and obtaining happiness. Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by this state on account of race, creed, color, sex or national origin."
I think the New Hampshire landscape needs protecting now more than ever! And I believe New Hampshire officials ought to try and be cognizant of their duty to protect landscape and property under threat.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 13 August 2013 08:51
To The Daily Sun,
I attended an informational meeting on August 7 at the UNH County Extension office in Boscawen on the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). I already knew the regulations were not going to be easy to understand, but I had no idea that it was 1200+ pages. This bill was signed into law in January 2011, cosponsored by Senator Judd Gregg, with a "yes" vote from Senator Jeanne Shaheen. As I sat listening, one farmer asked the question "What do any of these people (those from the FDA) know about farming in New England, let alone New Hampshire?" Do they even care about the devastating effects this will have on our beautiful state?
Anyways, this bill is under the guise of protecting the consumer from their local farms. One farmer asked, "How many people have gotten sick from a New Hampshire farm?" The question was answered, "They just can't write laws for New Hampshire, and people have gotten sick in New England." So our two senators at the time voted for a bill that is now over 1200+ pages, and does not take into consideration New Hampshire farms, and we still do not know how many people have gotten sick from New Hampshire farms, if any.
So many questions are still unanswered, that even our own N.H. Department of Agriculture and the UNH Cooperative Extension Offices do not understand it completely. One thing is for sure, as was discussed by some of the larger farms, some will choose to sell their farm, some will shut down their pick-your own operations, and some farms will stop selling wholesale, these are facts discussed by farmers if these rules are implemented in their entirety.
One farmer estimated his yearly cost to be somewhere between $13,000 and $30,000 just to comply with the paperwork requirements, then there is the water compliance aspect, and then there is the environmental impact, because they will not be able to spread manure within the mandatory time-frame to be compliant and will have to turn to synthetic fertilizers for their fields. So what happens to all that manure? Let's not forget about the lost jobs.
Many farmers enjoy donating extra produce to food pantries and charitable organizations, but they are already saying they will no longer be able to do this, because of the paperwork requirements.
The FDA may be implementing this, but the state must enforce this mandate (which they do not have the resources to do). Who will pick up the additional cost to the state and the farmer? It is the consumer, and I thought food prices were high now. This bill is geared toward any farm that produces food/feed for human or animal consumption.
The FDA will be at Dartmouth College on August 20 from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. for a listening session. The N.H. Department of Agriculture has some information about FSMA on their website http://agriculture.nh.gov/index.htm as does the UNH Cooperative Extension http://extension.unh.edu/Food-Safety-Modernization-Act-FSMA. The open comment period has been extended until November 15, 2013. I urge everyone concerned about the cost of food, the local farm, and the rural character of our state to contact their US delegation.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 13 August 2013 08:10
To The Daily Sun,
What Roger's Ride means to me:
Roger was my husband. His passing well before his time left a huge hole in my and many other hearts in our region. With the help of many friends and family we set up Roger's Ride for the Cure, with a goal of raising money to help find a cure for the terrible cancer that took Roger away from us. After a one-year hiatus, the Kiwanis Club of Laconia, with my blessing, has resurrected the ride, and it is scheduled for Sunday, August 25th. We will begin and end at Rotary Park in Laconia. Following the ride we will be having a BBQ lunch at the park and announcing the winner of two free nights at one of the Lodges at Mill Falls, located adjacent to Church Landing.
Several local businesses are selling our $5 raffle tickets to win those 2 free nights, please stop in and purchase your tickets soon, they will not last. Napa Auto Parts, Greenlaw's, All My Life Jewelers, Wedbush Securities, and Irwin Motors are all supporting us by selling the tickets. All proceeds will go to the Charity Fund of Kiwanis and help pay for Lakes Region Scholarships, the Young Family Program at Central NH VNA and Hospice, Got Lunch! Laconia, and several other wonderful local charities helping our kids. Roger would have been so proud to have his name associated with any of them. Please plan to join us. If you do not ride, come to the park at 1 p.m. for a great lunch, donations are always accepted. Please visit www.laconiakiwanis.com for details on the ride and a registration form. I look forward to seeing many of you there.
Kiwanis Club of Laconia
Last Updated on Tuesday, 13 August 2013 07:52
To The Daily Sun,
Wasn't Fridays letter by L.J .Siden just filled with passion and emotion? I would also add, road apples!
LJ insists we conservatives are persecuting poor Obama over, what, made up scandals and rumors proven not to be true? Who and when did they get proven not true by? Really now, "Fast and Furious" never happened? Benghazi didn't see Ambassador Stephens murdered mutilated, dragged through the streets and left in a ditch, not to mention three security personal killed as well? I suppose L.J. is sticking to the story it was all the fault of some video no on ever heard of before the president invented that as a false narrative just before the election? Then of course there's the polarizing the IRS, BATF, EPA, and half the rest of the departments in government to violate the rights of conservatives to ensure his reelection. Then his Attorney General Holder goes after the free press, wire tapping the AP, as well as a Fox News reporter and his parents and making a false assertion that the reporter was a "co-conspirator". Then when Congress holds hearings all the presidents men, and women either can't remember, don't know, take the 5th, stonewall or say "What does it really matter after all this time?" Made up my foot L.J.
I'd just remind L.J. of a few outstanding accomplishments of his beloved Marxist-socialist president. Broken promises from the day he was sworn in until present. Among those, an open and transparent administration. (Nearly everything he does is behind closed doors.) To bring Americans together and work with Republicans. (He has shut out all dissenting opinions.) Failed to enforce federal laws on immigration, rules by presidential decrees, makes unilateral decisions without the inclusion or consent of Congress. He did promise to make the cost of energy soar and we have seen the price of gas, heating oil, and diesel fuel more then double during his tenure. (Oh thank you Mr. President we poor and elderly really benefit greatly from that.) And while energy prices go up so does everything else because the cost of energy effects every aspect of our lives. I could go on and on but that's just the tip of this iceberg.
This president has adopted the strategy of division by racial, ethnic, and gender means. We have a nation more divided today then in the last 40 years. His foreign policy is confused or non-existent, the middle east is in chaos, and revolt and terrorism rules. Is this the Arab spring he promised? Well done Mr. President!
Now how about our economic recovery, kind of slow going isn't it? But jobs are increasing he tells us. Part-time jobs are better then no jobs, unless the workers need their 40 hour jobs to make ends meet. Little things like that do make a difference in the lives of all those people he promised to help but hasn't. In fact everything he has done has made things harder on the poor, elderly, sick, and disabled. This president is a disaster for this nation, and that's my opinion Mr. Siden, based on the known facts of his presidency. I know progressives have a problem understanding the difference between the definition between opinion and lies, so I just thought I'd make that clear.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 13 August 2013 07:45