Paid Family and Medical Leave (PFMLA) insurance is an overwhelmingly growing employee program needed by working people and their families. It provides financial and job security in the case of a catastrophic illness in the family, postpartum care and recovery, or care of a child. Sadly, after passing both chambers of the legislature a number of times, the program was vetoed by the Governor twice this term. This veto was upheld by a minority of legislators this past Wednesday during the final House session of the term. A two-thirds majority is required to overturn a veto, however, party lines prevailed, and the NH people and businesses suffered.
PFMLA is a popular program with the public, however, an income tax, not so much. So rather than attack it on its merits, the governor cleverly framed it as an income tax. How so? Well, the program would have been funded by a small benefit fee taken out of an employee’s salary or paid for by the employer. By this logic, Social Security, Medicare, Workers Comp, and Unemployment Insurance all are income taxes. Would the governor have vetoed these programs had he been in a position to do so? I wonder. We can all be thankful that didn’t happen. To keep up our New Hampshire Advantage, we need to be putting our families’ health, safety, and security first, not politics.
My take on current issues as of October 1, 2020
My answers to questions in a questionnaire for the online news service Nashua Patch (October 1, 2020):
Q.- The single most pressing issue facing our district is.______, and what I intend to do about it.
A.- The single most pressing issue that our community is facing is ensuring that people can get back to work safely while the COVID pandemic is still a threat. Pre-pandemic, finding affordable, quality child care was a struggle for working people in NH. Now the options are even more limited at a time when more children are home with remote learning. All evidence shows that investment in quality child care and early childhood education more than pays for itself and I believe that our state should invest in our children and our future. When I am reelected, I will prioritize programs that support working families like family leave, expanding employment related day care funding and expanding the earned income tax credit to put money back in the pockets of working people and into our local economies.
Q.- What are the critical differences between you and the other candidates seeking this post?
A.- NH State Representatives Allison Nutting-Wong, Michael Pedersen and I were honored to be elected in 2018 to fill the three, two-year long, Nashua Ward 5 seats in the NH legislature. In that time we have worked together to represent the interests of Nashua residents and working people throughout the state. I sincerely hope to be able to serve with them again although we have different backgrounds, we work well together and are able to forgo partisanship and focus on the needs of our city. My focus is probably more targeted to issues of workers and the workplace safety due to my background as an Air Force medic, firefighter and co-founder of NH Coalition of Safety and Health. For those reasons, I have been assigned to the Labor Committee in my two terms in the NH Legislature.
My Republican opponents seem to be focused on the Presidential election and supporting Donald Trump's agenda of reversing the Affordable Care Act and allowing insurance companies to deny coverage for preexisting conditions and giving tax breaks to the wealthy instead of working people. They also support Education Secretary Betsy DeVos's national effort to defund public schools in favor of unregulated charter schools. Finally they do not believe in the scientific evidence that wearing masks or social distancing will limit the spread of a deadly pandemic and that these simple acts will protect the people in NH from getting sick and potentially dying from COVID 19.
Q.- Describe the other issues that define you campaign platform.
A.- My priorities in the 2021 session begin with ensuring that health care access remains affordable and accessible, especially for those people with pre-existing conditions. With the Trump administration's focus on reversing key provisions of the Affordable Care Act through the courts, we face the prospect of going back to the time when insurance companies could deny coverage for preexisting conditions like arthritis, asthma or diabetes. Many of my constituents and citizens across NH have made it clear that they want me to advocate for laws that protect access to affordable health care for small business owners, students, those with preexisting conditions, people with disabilities and seniors. I am committed to fighting at the state level to make sure citizens in NH are protected regardless of what the Trump administration does at the federal level.
Equally important will be to do everything possible to ensure that Nashua and the state of NH can grow our economy by expanding the number of family wage jobs and apprenticeship opportunities including those for high school students. Apprenticeships offer a pathway to middle to high wage jobs without the burden of crippling student debt and allow us to fulfill the business community's workforce needs with a highly trained and qualified personnel. When most people think of apprenticeships, they think of good paying jobs in the building and construction trades but registered apprenticeship programs can and should be expanded. If reelected, I will work with both labor and business groups to expand these opportunities.
Q.- The best advise ever shared with me was...
A.- Accept the things you cannot change, change the things you can, and pray for the wisdom to know the difference.