As I celebrate MLK Day, there are reasons to take an extra pause and think about our country and what it means to be an American.
The ability to immigrate to the US, to seek liberty and freedom, to pursue life without fear is most fundamental to me. There is no place for bigotry and hate in public policy. As a public official, this declaration matters in a time where our national bearings are chaotically and callously disrupted.
The 2018 NH legislative session is by now well underway. The first week saw some floor votes on past session left over bills, some of which carried conservative Republican labels, were passed without Democratic votes: Voter suppression, HB 372, it’s really bad. What 18 year old can “through all of his or her actions, demonstrated a current intent to designate as his or her principal place of physical presence to the exclusion of all others?” This is impossible if you have financial aid and need to rely on your parents tax return to qualify. It disadvantages in-state college students attending away from home as much as those who come from out of state to attend college here. Why would someone want to discourage a college student from civic engagement in the place they choose to attend college, certainly not the college faculty or administrators, nor the local government, nor the businesses looking to hire them after graduation. It’s heading to the Governor’s desk and he claimed he would not sign it. We’ll see.
School Vouchers, SB 193, to use public funds to pay for private and religious schools has a positive vote from Republican legislators in both chambers and now moves to the House Finance Committee for a fiscal review. Estimates are the legislation will cost the state $10 million over the first 5 years. Hundreds of voters have written me that they would prefer to see those funds relieve local property tax payers cost of public education. This kind of legislative overreach deserves your outrage and has received mine.
There were a couple of good noteworthy votes. In the Senate my Broadband infrastructure bill was passed. t allows for municipal bonds to contribute towards public-private partnerships to achieve a minimum of 25 mbgts download and 3 mgbts upload to all properties. The bill moves to the House, where if passed would be the first broadband legislation to pass the legislature in 12 years.
Also last week, the House was able to defeat some bills aimed at rolling back funding and goals for renewable energy. The Cheshire County delegation worked hard to defeat these.
There are 1,000 new bills introduced for the 2018 legislative session. About 400 bills were heard last week. I have introduced 13 bills and am co-sponsoring another 37. Those that I’ve introduced are based in discussions with Cheshire County elected officials, educators and healthcare workers. To keep you on the ready, here are a few hearings held or coming up.
Bills I introduced having had good Senate hearings last week included the ability for KSC to sell a license plate decal to benefit student scholarships, recommended ought to pass.
Also recommended ought to pass is the ability to issue provisional licensure for allied health professionals coming to work in NH from NE states and NY. This includes occupational, physical and respiratory therapists, audiologists and speech pathologists—all needed by area nursing homes and healthcare providers. Thanks to Cathy Gray, Cedarcrest and Monadnock Healthcare Workforce Group, and Bruce Chamberlin, Cheshire Medical Center Rehabilitation Services who testified on behalf of this.
Last Thursday my proposal to streamline criminal history background checks (SB 386) was heard in Senate Judiciary Committee. The bill amends 33 professional licensing statutes, by eliminating the requirement for notarization. The NH Dept. of Safety helped write the bill, which will take a big step towards making the whole FBI electronic fingerprinting process electronic, which will speed up the process for nearly 40,000 applicants annually. Amen.
This week my bill enabling USNH campuses to offer concurrent enrollment courses at high schools will be considered in the Senate Education Committee. Currently, only Community Colleges can offer such courses. This is particularly important for western and northern NH where community college offerings and presence are limited.
On Jan. 24th, the Senate Energy Committee will consider SB 446, a bill to increase net metering to 5 megawatts, a 5-fold increase.
I’m a co-sponsor and was on the study that recommended the legislation this past fall. On Jan. 25th, the Senate Public and Municipal Affairs Committee will consider 3 of my bills prepared with local officials: one on county audits, a second on zoning board of appeals applications, and another helping municipalities recover public welfare assistance in the event of a housing foreclosure.
I’m using Facebook to push out more immediate information on upcoming legislation. If you friend me at Jay Kahn for Senate, you’ll receive these notices. I’m also going to keep a blog of these Facebook posts at my website, KahnforSenate.com
And then there are those bills that you and your organizations care about and have kept me active exploring: abortion prevention (good grief, again), tax assessing, election law requiring filing of tax returns by presidential candidates, timber tax, cooperative school district withdrawal, child welfare. I’m also actively working on mental health issues and Medicaid expansion—two of the bigger issues still to come before the legislature this session.
Keep me posted on your interests. I’m doing my best to serve you.