We face serious issues here in New Hampshire. Education funding, the opioid crisis, access to high-speed internet and cell service, infrastructure repair, and addressing the exodus of young people, these are issues that we must deal with immediately. I pledge to fight for what is best for our communities and our state. Read below to see some details on the issues, and as always, please reach out to me if there are other issues you want to see addressed.
Education has always been critical to New Hampshire's success -- it's even in our state Constitution. That's why we need a modern approach to the funding of our schools. The current system of heavy reliance on local property taxes puts a large burden on homeowners, especially in property-poor towns.
Here are some issues the state needs to address:
The state should better fund local schools through an increase in adequacy aid to ensure an adequate education for all New Hampshire students.
Building aid has been restored, but it fails to make up for the decade it was missing
An increase in state aid should allow a decrease in local taxation in order to ease the burden from small communities.
Infrastructure, Energy Independence, and Forestry
Our state's roads and bridges are crumbling from lack of maintenance. The recent boost in repairs and replacements are a good start, but we have many more that need to be addressed in rural towns that frankly, can't afford large scale projects. The state should assist these towns with infrastructure through low- or no-interest loans, grants, or resources.
As a state, we should listen to our engineers and fix the roads and bridges that critically need to be fixed.
The long-term plan for the state's energy needs must also be addressed. I've supported bills that expand net metering, grow the solar industry in NH, and increase our use of renewables while we transition away from fossil fuels.
One great transition away from fossil fuels is right in our own backyard: wood! Scraps from timber operations go into biomass and wood pellets, creating a fuel source grown right here in NH. We can lead the way with smart, planned management of our forests that allow us to use our natural resources to heat our homes. I have been a strong supporter of the forestry industry here in Grafton 11, and will continue to do so if re-elected.
New Hampshire students leave college with the highest debt/student ratio in the nation. In order to pay those loans, they must take better paying jobs outside of the state. Our community college system, while a great asset, is also one of the most expensive in the country. These burdens of high-cost education should be reduced if we are to retain the young people we currently have and attract new families to our communities.
The state of New Hampshire should stop trying to slash the high education budget and instead come up with ways for more kids to attend a college or technical school at a reasonable cost.
The fact that New Hampshire does not have a minimum wage and is tied to the federal wage is economically destructive for the citizens of New Hampshire. We cannot remain competitive with our neighboring states and are shooting ourselves in the foot. Minimum wage jobs are no longer "just for kids" -- many adults are working two or three jobs to support themselves on a minimum wage income.
That's why I will advocate for a higher minimum wage in New Hampshire, aiming for at least an end result of $12/hr.
Reform cannabis laws by taking small, sensible steps:
Expand decriminalization to include personal cultivation
Expand access to medical cannabis clinics, allowing for more to open within the state and remove restrictions that hinder the sick and elderly
Nullify past convictions for low-level offenders in order to help them clear their records and allow them to move on with their lives UPDATE! We did this in 2018!
From there, study what works in other states and move to revenue generation based on small-scale, opt-in legislation that gives towns and cities the power to say yes or no
Establish a Cannabis Commission to oversee licensing, production, and retail operations (not using the existing Liquor Commission and I am not in favor of having Liquor Stores also sell cannabis
In today's economy, it is absolutely crucial to have high-speed internet. Rural areas have been left behind and ignored by large corporations as well as the state. I've been working to change that, Through legislation I've worked on, cities and towns can now band together to offer their own high speed internet services. We also went after internet companies that claimed to have full coverage, forcing them to realize that 70% coverage in a town is not full coverage. Convincing the southern part of the state that the rest of us should have internet has been a heavy lift, but we are getting it done. Broadband expansion has been critical to rural economic development. Internet should be a public utility and regulated as such -- this way, there is a level playing field for getting online.
The sad struggle we see daily of opioid abuse affects us all. It taxes our first responders, it rips families apart, and it destroys lives. A two-pronged approach with treatment for those struggling with addiction and strict punishments for the dealers is what we need to start with.
Expanding drug courts and rehab facilities will help those people who are dealing with addiction
Making Recovery Housing more widely available to help people become a part of their community again
Expanding medical cannabis to include chronic pain and PTSD will help by not getting these people addicted to painkillers in the first place
UPDATE: Therapeutic Cannabis was expanded to include PTSD and chronic pain in 2018
Looking at how opioids are being prescribed in the first place and addressing the possibilities for alternatives
Increase penalties for those who deal opioids and hold them responsible
In rural New Hampshire, even small economic developments go a long way. This goes hand-in-hand with infrastructure, but the expansion of high-speed internet and full cell service are two things that our rural communities so often lack.
Bringing internet-based small businesses to rural towns is a good way to organically grow small businesses, expand our tax base and bring jobs to the places that need it the most.
We should be encouraging small towns to incentivize development through expanded block grants and connecting the different agencies to the towns in order to maximize their potential.
Addressing our "brain-drain" will also help our economy grow and keep young people here in the state.
The lack of a DMV in Lebanon or Plymouth is a true disservice to everyone in the Upper Valley. Currently, the closest office is now in Newport, NH, placing an undue burden on all of us. I will advocate for a new DMV in Lebanon, open at reasonable hours so we can all get the state services we need. This has been a bigger lift than I anticipated, but we are still working on it.
Women's Health and Reproductive Rights
Women's health services should be adequately funded and supported as a community effort that benefits us all. I will support Planned Parenthood and other women's health centers as they are a very important part of our social safety net. I understand the importance of women's health services and pledge to defend them from underfunding and elimination, because women's healthcare has long been neglected in this country and we must do better.
Health Care and Medicaid Expansion
All Granite Staters deserve access to affordable, high-quality health care. That's why I strongly believe in:
Expanded Medicare to ensure that more people have health coverage
Adding dental benefits to Medicare
More support for our local community health clinics such as the Mascoma Community Health Center
Expanding telehealth coverage and remote access for visits
Anything else that gets more people coverage at a cost they can afford!
Equal Rights for All
Dedicated to fighting for expansion of equal civil rights for every individual no matter who you are. Civil rights aren't pie -- there's more than enough for everyone. I was proud to support HB 1319 in 2018 that prohibited discrimination based on gender identity.