June 4th marked the last day of the 2014 session for the New Hampshire Senate.
It was a challenging year in terms of the quantity of truly substantive and controversial issues that needed to be addressed — from the medicaid enhancement tax to the death penalty.
Over the first six months of the year and more than 30 session days, legislators worked their way through 700+ bills, passing 242 of them in the areas of health care, education, criminal justice and business.
This legislative session, I sponsored/co-sponsored 29 bills, seven of which I was the prime sponsor. The first bill I filed was to name a scenic overlook on Route 302 across from the Mt. Washington Hotel and the northbound rest area in Hooksett after Executive Councilor Ray Burton. That bill has since been signed into law and I look forward to the formal naming ceremonies some time this fall.
For those of you not familiar with the process of how a bill becomes a law, here is a quick refresher:
In October, legislators file legislative service requests (LSR's) with the Office of Legislative Services. Those LSR's serve as placeholders until they are officially given bill numbers. In January, LSR's are assigned to one of 10 standing Senate Committees, now as bills. committees have until the spring, usually mid-March, to consider the bill and give a recommendation before the bill moves to the full Senate for a vote. If the majority votes yes, the bill continues to the House and if not, the bill dies.
From there, a bill is again assigned to a House committee for consideration and recommendation before a vote from the full House. If the bill passes the House, the governor has three choices, she may sign the bill and it becomes law, she may decide not to sign the bill and let it pass into law, or she may veto the bill. If the bill is vetoed, the Senate and House may try to override that veto.
I had several of my own priorities for the session: managing my new role as Senate Finance Chair, energy siting reforms, and rebuilding the state's rainy day fund. I am pleased to have led the Senate's successful efforts to pass legislation that protects taxpayers by depositing a percentage of any lawsuit settlements into the Revenue Stabilization Account (aka, the rainy day fund). And as a Senate, I am proud of the progress we made in the areas of jobs and the economy, health care, and education.
Here are a few highlights:
— By reducing regulation, cutting taxes, and improving our business climate, the Senate helped to reduce N.H.'s unemployment rate from 5.8 to 4.4 percent, a level well below the national average.
— Defeated efforts to delay or repeal business tax reforms related to the net operating loss carry forward, Business Enterprise Tax thresholds, and the carry forward period of the Business Enterprise Tax Credit.
— Passed legislation to keep Internet access tax free in New Hampshire.
— Protected the state from the impacts of the Affordable Care Act by exempting Granite Staters from federal mandates, creating a legislative panel to oversee implementation, and prohibiting the establishment of a state-based exchange.
— Passed a N.H.-specific pilot program to increase access to private health insurance for low-income residents.
— Made higher education funding a priority by increasing state assistance to the University and Community College System and requiring a freeze on in-state tuition.
— Fully funding the UNIQUE Scholarship program.
— Increasing adequate education grants to cities and towns by nearly $4 million over the biennium.
— Fully funding existing charter schools, ending the moratorium on charter schools and providing funding for four new charter schools.
Additionally, I am pleased to report that the legislature adopted SB-245, my continued effort to identify and reform our energy siting guidelines. This legislation truly represents reforms that show evolution with the times. I am confident that these changes will allow the state's Site Evaluation Committee (SEC) to fulfill its mission effectively while fairly balancing the interests of property owners and communities with the needs of the state to maintain a strong and reliable energy supply. This legislation could not have been successful without the active participation of many stakeholders. So, many, many thanks to all of you who had a hand in this effort!
As we head into the summer months you won't find the Statehouse halls buzzing with lobbyists and constituents, you might not even see many legislators, but that doesn't mean that the work stops. Study committees will be formed and I expect to be serving on a committee that will examine sustainable funding for the N.H. Department of Transportation as well as participating in many of the statutory committees for which I am a member.
(Republican Jeanie Forrester of Meredith represents District 2 in the N.H. Senate.)
Last Updated on Wednesday, 31 December 1969 07:00
To The Daily Sun,
I'd like to thank the gentleman or lady who sent me the very nice card from Manchester, but it was unsigned. It had a nice sentiment printed on it, though the hand-written words of the sender belied the card's intent. Still it was a nice card.
Might I respectfully suggest if you disagree with my opinions that you, too, can write your own letter to the editor and join the ongoing debate here in The Sun. A couple of things though, you will need to have something to say other then name-calling, which I think you might accomplish, and you actually have to sign your name. Given those minor inconveniences I'm sure your ideas and opinions will be printed here. Thanks again for your input.
Now that that is out of the way, it's hard for me to understand what liberals have against Fox News. They keep saying Fox News lies, but just can't identify any lies any of the Fox News people have supposedly told other then report things Democrats have actually said and done. But they do the same to Republicans, so what's the problem?
I know they are use to the mainstream media hammering Republicans and covering for Democrats, but are their egos really that fragile that that can't even stand to hear and see anything except what they are being spoon fed by the liberal media?
The fact is they are being hurt just like everyone else in the middle and poor working family classes. If all you look at is the stock market rising you get the impression we're doing well, but fact is that's only Obama and his millionaire, billionaire and trillionaire golfing buddies are getting richer, not us. What you thought he was golfing with bro's from the hood? Get real, every fund-raiser is attended by the above golfing elite. A man of the people? Not likely.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 09 July 2014 09:21
To The Daily Sun,
Democrats believe all guns should be banned.
Democrats believe women should control their own health care but their bosses should pay for it.
Democrats believe women need to have maternity coverage up to age 65.
Democrats believe Obamacare is great; then why is it a mandate?
Democrats believe that they (Democrats) should control corporations. Just look at what they have done for General Motors.
Democrats believe that taxes are the solutions to all problems. For example, Obamacare contained 20 new taxes.
Democrats are against the death penalty but are for abortions.
Democrats do not believe in religious freedom.
Democrats believe that you have no right to defend yourself.
Democrats believe Senator Elizabeth Warren would be a good president.
Democrats believe we should not be spending money on the military but we should spend it on illegal aliens.
Democrats believe that President Obama was correct 99 percent of the time; just ask Senator Shaheen and Reps. Kuster and Shea-Porter.
Democrats believe that the Supreme Court is only correct when they agree with the ruling.
Democrats believe that President Obama is the best president ever but American voters believe he is the worst president since World War II.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 09 July 2014 09:18
To The Daily Sun,
Newfound Lake seems to be paradise for Industrial Wind Turbine (ITW) developers. One after another they continue to press for more development in our Lakes Region community on our mountain tops.
Developers believe the benefits outweigh the risks. I bring this up because there are reports that a few Groton Wind turbines were struck by lightning last week. Will we ever know, or this none of our business? Is anything that happens up there our business?
The Groton ITW plant has given me a firsthand view of what a mountain looks like before and after an IWT project has been built, and has helped me better understand the process of proper siting, construction and resulting effects on mountain ecosystems, true wildlife impacts and the threat to our waters below. Our testimonies are on record in Concord.
It is important to emphasize that many private proponents of Industrial Wind Turbine (IWT) projects have little or no on-the‐ground experience in this environment. Frequently these proponents are invited for a brief visit only after the facility is built. One can only truly comprehend the scale of disturbance by first visiting an undisturbed mountain ecosystem and then being present for all phases of construction from design to the finished operation. In short, an "after the fact" bus tour cannot begin to reveal the story of these projects. It will take years to fully understand these environmental impacts.
Knowing these private proponents only take assigned bus tours to support their reports, a good question comes to mind: Have any of our New Hampshire wildlife resource managers been properly trained in clean energy projects and their effects on our watersheds or wildlife across our greater landscape. IWT projects that sprawl across miles of undeveloped ridge-lines may be fragmenting important forestland habitat far greater than we now realize.
Should we be sacrificing our ridge-lines based on developers promises? Should we be informed of any ITW incidents? Should the state require all ITW incidents to be public knowledge? Should developers be held accountable for decommissioning their Met towers after they abandon a project? Do we have a right to know anything? The questions just keep coming ... even after developers bail.
We must all now protest the next EDP Spruce Ridge ITW site.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 09 July 2014 09:15
To The Daily Sun,
When I was deciding about becoming a candidate for Belknap County commissioner, I spent time considering what I can bring to the job.
As it turned out, one inspiration came from my friend, Kerry, who was talking about replacing one of her vehicles. She told me that she had to wait until payments on her Hyundai ended before she could buy a new car (she's giving the Hyundai to her daughter). And I thought that it made sense to think in a similar way about things for the county.
It seems to me that a good way to minimize the impact of a new project on the tax load is to first figure out if there are any current expenses coming off the books in the near future. Unfortunately, there aren't any in the near term, but that made me think that I could make a contribution in that area.
We can surely develop a model for planning capital projects to control the effect on taxes in the same way we plan when it's time to replace our car or truck. Of course, my wife's car just started burning through oil so we have to adjust our plans there, but unexpected stuff happens.
As I was talking about this with a friend of mine, she suggested that by coordinating with the towns in the county we could work together planning our capital projects and coordinate where it is appropriate, by, say, a Cooperative Capital Planning Committee. The current commissioners have engaged in 'County Conversations' and this is a good vehicle that could be expanded into regular meetings where we could see not only what each other is doing, but also plan together.
This could be a good chance to see what other savings we can generate through things like joint purchasing and economies of scale. This is something that uses the knowledge and experience of people from each town, and can lead to better ideas, best practices, and cost savings. It is this innovative attitude and openness to new approaches and ideas that I will bring if I am elected county commissioner in November.
Thank you for your consideration.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 09 July 2014 09:02