June 25, 2018

From Fosters.com by Jeff McMenemy

Shaheen, Hassan urge EPA to act on PFAS contaminants

Sen. Jeanne Shaheen and Sen. Maggie Hassan
PORTSMOUTH — U.S. Sens. Jeanne Shaheen and Maggie Hassan are urging the Environmental Protection Agency to “take immediate action to protect citizens from” further PFAS contamination.

Shaheen and Hassan released a letter on Friday they wrote to EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt in the wake of this week’s first-ever PFAS contamination community engagement event, which the EPA held in Exeter.

“We are hopeful that the EPA will take the concerns and recommendations that were raised by community leaders, as well as state and local officials, to help inform future meaningful federal action on these chemicals,” Shaheen and Hassan wrote in the letter to Pruitt. “This includes advancing conversations and solutions that consider the entire class of PFAS chemicals.”

The senators added “PFAS contamination in drinking water is an issue not only in our home state of New Hampshire, but across the country. ... It is critical for the EPA to take immediate action to protect citizens from further contamination and ensure that responsible parties are held liable for addressing any resulting health and safety concerns.”

Thousands of people working at Pease International Tradeport, along with children and infants who attended two day-care centers there, were exposed to multiple PFAS chemicals from contaminated water in the city-owned Haven well. Officials believe the PFAS came from firefighting foam used at the former Pease Air Force Base, which is a Superfund cleanup site.

PFAS are man-made chemicals used in a wide variety of products and are very persistent in the environment and in human bodies.

Portsmouth shut down the polluted well in May 2014 after the Air Force found high levels of perfluorooctane sulfonic acid, or PFOS, in the well.

The EPA in May 2016 set permanent health advisories for PFOS and perfluorooctanoic acid, or PFOA at 70 parts per trillion. It has not set any other health advisories for the thousands of other PFAS chemicals, which advocates suspect are no less dangerous than PFOS and PFOA.

In addition to being a suspected carcinogen, the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry states PFAS exposure can harm childhood development, increase cholesterol levels, hurt the immune system and interfere with the human body’s hormones.

Hassan and Shaheen also pointed to EPA’s intention to have PFOA and PFOS designated as hazardous substances “through one of the available statutory mechanisms, including potentially Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) Section 102.” “By doing so, PFAS will be covered under the EPA’s CERCLA, and therefore require responsible parties to be held accountable for any future release,” the senators said in the letter. “It is appropriate that the EPA evaluates the necessary steps for such a designation, which has support throughout communities affected by PFAS contamination, and we respectfully request additional information about the steps and timeline the EPA is taking to consider this proposal.”

Portsmouth resident and Testing for Pease co-founder Andrea Amico appeared at this week’s conference to represent advocates from across New England. She called for the EPA to set a Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) of 1 ppt for all PFAS contaminants. On Friday, she thanked Hassan and Shaheen for writing the letter and said the community is “very appreciative that they’re always being extremely proactive and advocating for the community.”

“I loved that they asked the EPA to take the recommendations of the community into consideration,” Amico said Friday. “We really worked hard to try to make those very clear and comprehensive. We wanted to be clear to the EPA what we needed.”

She praised the senators for urging the EPA to take action “sooner rather than later. That was a message sent loud and clear by multiple community members.”

She stressed it’s important, as the senators noted, that PFAS chemicals be treated as a class of chemicals not individual contaminants.

“At Pease we have had multiple PFAS detected in our water and the community remains concerned about all of the chemicals, not just PFOA and PFOS,” Amico said.

Shaheen included an amendment in the 2018 Defense Authorization Act, which created the first-ever national study on the impacts of PFAS exposure in drinking water. She later secured funding to pay for the health study and pushed along with Hassan to have the Pease community included in the study.

Shaheen announced in May with the ATSDR that Pease will serve as the model site for the national health study.

Hassan also co-sponsored Shaheen’s Safe Drinking Water Assistance Act, which creates an interagency task force to improve federal coordination on emerging contaminants and directs the Office of Science and Technology Policy to develop a federal research strategy to improve identification, analysis and treatment methods for contaminants.


June 25, 2018

From Fosters.com by Brian Early

Dover council calls for Trump to end family separation

DOVER — The City Council unanimously passed a resolution that calls for the Trump Administration to immediately end its “zero-tolerance” immigration policy that has led to thousands of family members being separated in attempts to cross the U.S. border in the past few months.

The passage of the resolution came after numerous Dover residents spoke during public comment at Wednesday’s City Council meeting and after a “Families belong together” rally on the steps of Dover City Hall earlier Wednesday evening.

The resolution, authored by Ward 5 Councilor Dennis Shanahan and now co-sponsored by the entire council, calls for President Trump’s Administration to direct the Department of Justice and Department of Health and Human Services “to immediately cease this abuse and cruel ‘zero-tolerance’ policy that is splintering families.”

The resolution was drafted before President Trump issued an executive order to end the separation of families immediately and a U.S. District Court judge set a deadline for separated children to be to be reunited.

Whether the wording of the resolution was out of date, the speakers at the rally and during the public comment at the council meeting and the comments from the councilors say the issue is more than families being separated at the border.

Asma Elhuni, who spoke at the rally, said the immigration problem in the country has existed for centuries, reminding the crowd that they are standing on the land that was once the home to the Abenaki Native Americans who were pushed out of their land. Elhuni shared her worries of her teenage boys living in fear in the U.S. because they are Muslim and of Libyan descent living in the United States. Libya is one of the seven countries included in the travel ban restriction recently upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court. The ban suspends entry to Libyans as immigrants.

Boston-born Andres Mejia spoke of how his father was deported in 2010 and has missed many of his academic and personal accomplishments in the years since. Mejia also talked about how he has felt threatened at times in Dover, recalling a time when a pickup truck sped at him while he crossed the road, struck him by its mirror and yelled at him to get a green card.

Maggie Fogarty, who spoke at the council meeting and the rally of about 150 people, said families are being separated even inside the U.S. from the internal border patrol checkpoints. She said one man is now in detention after being stopped during a recent internal border checkpoint in New Hampshire. She worries there is no one to care for his disabled wife. “Is anyone better off that this man is not at home,” he said. “All detention tears families apart.”

Shanahan said during deliberation he understood a non-binding resolution sent from Dover City Council to the U.S. President was not going to change the world. “I can’t stand by and choose to do nothing,” he said. “The tool we have is a resolution. I am morally obligated to do something.”

Mayor Karen Weston, the first to co-sponsor the resolution, said, “We need to make sure we keep our families together.” Weston said she would sponsor a resolution in the coming weeks that would call for an end to the internal border patrol checkpoints in the state.


June 25, 2018

Another View: Sununu’s solar veto could hurt Dover taxpayers

When our property tax bills arrive in the coming years, we’ll be thinking of Gov. Chris Sununu. They won’t be happy thoughts.

This week, Gov. Sununu vetoed SB 446, a bipartisan bill aimed at promoting large-scale solar energy development in New Hampshire. His veto will have important local impacts too, threatening a Dover solar proposal that could have saved the city $300,000 a year on energy.

With the stroke of a pen, Sununu, a Republican, stalled $20 million in private investment planned in our city. He also hindered the fast-growing clean energy sector that employs more than 1,000 people statewide.

SB 446 passed the Republican-controlled Legislature this term with wide bipartisan support. In fact, in the House, the measure passed by a voice vote — a rarity for clean energy bills. It received similar treatment in the state Senate.

Among other things, the bill would let net metering installations produce 5 times more power than the law currently allows (from a 1 mW cap to 5 mW). Net metering is a process whereby big utilities such as Eversource buy solar power from private solar arrays.

Dover is working with a private investor hoping to build the $20 million solar array at the Tolend Road landfill or another site within the city. Details are still being worked out, but the investor would likely foot the construction costs and recoup the investment through tax credits and a share of revenues from power generated at the site.

The massive solar array could power the equivalent of 800 homes. It would likely exceed power needs at municipal buildings during the day, generating “credits” that would offset its electrical usage during the night.

Although the partnership was in its early stages, City Manager Mike Joyal suggested it offered the chance for real savings. That money could be used for road repairs, or for hiring new teachers, firefighters or police officers. Or, it could be used to reduce property taxes.

Joyal told this newspaper it’s too soon to know how the governor’s veto will affect Dover’s solar plans. “It certainly won’t help,” he added.

“The scale of the project obviously will need to be reduced and that may impact the ability for private investment to be worthwhile, not to mention the lost opportunity for larger budgetary savings using renewable energy source,” he told Foster’s this week.

It’s likely Sununu’s veto will threaten similar projects under development elsewhere in New Hampshire.

Sununu believes SB 446 and another energy bill he vetoed this week “send our state in exactly the wrong direction.” He also suggested the bills would raise electric rates — but with little evidence to prove it.

Respectfully, Sununu’s veto is wrong for the state. Despite recent advances, New Hampshire lags far behind Vermont and Massachusetts for solar energy, leaving jobs and investment on the table.

We will vote to override Sununu’s veto of SB 446 when the Legislature returns this fall. Meantime, we’ll work with our Republican colleagues to make sure they know how important this bill is for our state, our city and our local taxpayers.

State Reps. Casey Conley, Sherry Frost, Peter Bixby, Linn Opderbecke, Peter Schmidt, Susan Treleaven, and Catt Sandler and State. Sen. David Watters

— Casey Conley, Sherry Frost, Peter Bixby, Linn Opderbecke, Susan Treleaven and Peter Schmidt represent Dover in the N.H. House. Watters represents Dover, Rollinsford, Somersworth and Barrington.


June 25, 2018

To the Editor: Sununu vetoes disheartening

Walter King Ph.D.
It was very disheartening to learn of Governor Chris Sununu’s veto of SB 446 - a bill to expand electric net metering in New Hampshire. Let’s take a closer look at his rationalization for the veto: “These immense projects should use incentives already available and compete on their own merits”.

Let us all remember that all energy is subsidized. Many do not know or acknowledge that the fossil fuel industry is subsidized to the tune of $20+ billion annually in just direct production. That is not counting the annual $14.5 billion in consumption subsidies, e.g. Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, and overseas fossil fuel projects which amounts to another $2.1 billion annually. Additionally there are indirect subsidies like money the US military spends to protect oil shipping routes, or unpaid costs to health and climate impacts from burning fossil fuels, which the IMF has said amount to $5.3 trillion a year globally (Oil Change International).

A September 2017 article by The Hill stated “Coal plants, for example, do not bear the full cost of the byproducts they create to generate electricity (e.g., emissions, solid waste, cooling water discharge, etc.). Furthermore, only mineral or natural resource businesses such as oil, natural gas and coal (but not wind or solar energy) are able to use a government-subsidized financing structuring called a master limited partnership (MLP). These publicly traded vehicles are not subject to corporate taxation and are extremely tax efficient, which allows those privileged businesses to access investment capital at low rates for large infrastructure projects. This implicit tax subsidy lowers the cost of gas-fired electricity, in addition to other implicit subsides available only to oil and natural gas.”

A 2017 study reported that fossil fuel subsidies amounted to 6.5 percent of global GDP in 2015.

So if the fossil fuel industry is not surviving on its own merits, why is the governor using this reason to single out renewables? I think the answer is quite clear. It is more than disheartening it is an outrageous line of reasoning.

Walter King, Dover


June 24, 2018

From Fosters.com By Karen Dandurant

LGBT community celebrates at Portsmouth Pride

U.S. Senator Maggie Hassan, N.H. Executive Councilor Chris Pappas, N.H. Senator David Watters, and N.H. Representative Ed Butler all marching in the rain.  Twiitter photo from  Meredith Shevitz

Thousands of people came out in the rain to celebrate the fourth annual Portsmouth Pride day on Saturday.

One of the speakers summed it up. Gerry Cannon, who is transgender and is also running for state representative in Somersworth, said the Pride group was much tougher than the rain.

“We don’t let the rain stop us,” Cannon said. “We are not hiding in the shadows anymore. We are here.”

Cannon talked abut House Bill 1319, the transgender right bill recently signed into law by Gov. Chris Sununu.

“We got it and it only took 10 years,” Cannon said. “We have made major strides. We have the rights, now we need to earn the respect. People think we are different. We are. So what?”

The Hegartys of Durham came as a family unit. Daughter Lia, 13, is transgender.

“I never really faced any discrimination or hate,” Lia said. “But I have friends who have, and I think we should be here for each other, for whoever is struggling.”

“I am here to support my sister, who is transgender,” said Molly, 10. “Plus, my friends and family are part of the LGBT community.”

Caitlin, 15, said she takes pride in her family and wants to show her support and love.

Parents Boyd and Christy said they are incredibly supportive of Lia’s gender identity, and that likely makes it much easier for her than it is for others.

Wearing a button that reads “I love my transgender daughter,” Boyd said Lia transitioned in the first grade.

“We knew way before that,” Boyd said. “She was wearing dresses at age 2 and wanted to be a princess for her fourth birthday party. We allowed her to take the lead early on. She knew.”

Christy said as a mom she was grateful that the Seacoast has a strong community of support.

“It can be scary when your child comes out,” Christy said. “You know the reality of the world, but your child does not. You have to find a way for her. As a family, we feel strong about being loud and proud.”

Pip Clews and JD Dorr of Seacoast Outright organized the Portsmouth Pride event with a lot of support and cooperation from the Seacoast community. Clews said Seacoast Outright will celebrate its 25th anniversary this fall.

Clews chairs Seacoast Outright, a support group for area youth. She said the Pride event seems to grow bigger each year, no matter the weather, noting the heavy rains at times Saturday.

The event included about 70 booths representing local businesses, nonprofits and artisans. Speakers included Portsmouth Mayor Jack Blalock. Entertainment included the Gay Men’s Choir and a production of cast from Patrick Dorow productions.

Blalock welcomed the Pride groups to the “city of the open door.”

“Over the past 25 years, we in this city have been dedicated to openness,” Blalock said. “We welcome the LBGT community and its contributions to our society.”

State Executive Councilor Chris Pappas, who is running for Congress, talked about his life, growing up in Manchester as a gay man, and the difficulty he faced. He said he did not come out in Manchester public schools, waiting until he was in college before feeling he had a community to support him.

After parties followed march for youth and adults. Dorr said the youth party at the First United Methodist Church was sponsored by the Sparhawk School of Amesbury, Massachusetts, with refreshments provided by Teatotaller of Somersworth.

Kaitlyn MacDonald, assistant head of school for Sparhawk, said supporting Pride is in line with the their philosophy.

“We believe that every child should be able to go to school and not be afraid to be who they are,” MacDonald said.


June 22, 2018

From Fosters.com by John Doyle

Indonesian helpers, clergy banned from ICE office

Rev. Sandra Pontoh, pastor of the Indonesian Church in Madbury, speaks outside ICE headquarters in Manchester. [File/Fosters.com]

Senator Jeanne Shaheen
DOVER — U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., criticized federal officials for barring clergy and a translator from accompanying Indonesian Christians who are at risk of deportation to their appointments at a federal building in Manchester.

In a letter to two government officials dated last Friday, Shaheen expressed concern that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Boston Field Office for Immigration and Customs Enforcement has informed members of the New Hampshire Council of Churches that they are no longer permitted to access the Norris Cotton Federal Building.

Shaheen also said the regional office also informed the Rev. Sandra Pontoh, pastor of the Maranatha Indonesian United Church of Christ in Madbury and a longtime advocate and translator for the local Indonesian Christian community, that she is no longer permitted to provide interpretive services for Indonesian speakers who visit the office for their mandated check-ins — reportedly due to bias.

The letter was addressed to Thomas Homan, acting director of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and L. Eric Patterson, director of federal protective services at the Department of Homeland Security.

“It’s imperative that federal officials provide immediate answers as to why religious leaders are being barred from public federal buildings,” Shaheen wrote. “Clergy have been providing pastoral and interpreter services to the Indonesian community and shouldn’t be obstructed from continuing those services.”

Shaheen wrote the state’s Indonesian community are “law-abiding residents who have built their lives in the Granite State.”

″(T)hey are our coworkers, neighbors and friends,” she wrote. “Denying them access to a trusted community member to serve as their translator, and prohibiting religious groups that provide support to these families as they face a daunting immigration process, is cruel and unwarranted.”

Shaheen wrote that she will continue to oppose the Trump administration’s “brutish actions that target immigrants fleeing persecution.”

ICE officials informed Pontoh June 5 that she can no longer serve as an interpreter because she is “biased” in favor of the Indonesians. The interpreting will now be done by phone through an official government interpreter.

“It’s sad,” Pontoh said. “I was shocked of course, I knew there was a conversation (within ICE) about it, but I did not have any clue on that day. I did not expect the supervisor to say that I shouldn’t come anymore.”

Pontoh disputed claims of bias as an interpreter, also noting she advocates for her Indonesian friends free of charge.

“After how many years, now you say I’m biased? I just don’t get it,” Pontoh said. “They know I’m qualified.”

Pontoh said she is barred from entering the ICE office on the second floor of the Manchester federal building, but will continue to accompany her friends to the building and will be available to them outside via text.

“I hope that I can go back,” Pontoh said. “My friends, they trust me. They know I won’t share anything about them they don’t want me to. They feel comfortable with me. They know I won’t add words.”

In 2012, Shaheen helped negotiate an agreement with ICE to allow Indonesian immigrants to remain in New Hampshire and obtain work permits in exchange for a commitment to regularly check-in with ICE. This agreement was reversed by ICE under the Trump administration, and these individuals were ordered to begin making preparations for deportation.


From Twitter

June 18, 2018

From Fosters.com By Brian Early

Net metering veto dims Dover’s solar hopes

Senator David Watters Responds
DOVER — Gov. Chris Sununu’s veto of a bill that would expand the cap for net-metering is likely to impact Dover’s vision of installing a large-scale solar project at its Tolend Road landfill.

Sununu, a Republican, vetoed SB 446 on Tuesday, saying the bill “would cost ratepayers at least $5 to $10 million annually and is a large handout to large-scale energy developers.”

SB 446 sought to expand the net metering cap from its current 1-megawatt limit to 5 megawatts, per customer. Net metering allows customers who produce renewable energy to earn credit for putting the power back on the grid.

Last week, the Dover City Council voted to partner with Madbury-based Gaia Energy, LLC, to evaluate city property for the potential of installing large solar projects, such as at the former city landfill on Tolend Road that has been closed since 1980.

City Manager Michael Joyal said in an email to the council on Wednesday the project may still move forward after Sununu’s veto. “In order to proceed, the scale of the project obviously will need to be reduced, and that may impact the private investment needed for the project to be constructed, not to mention the lost opportunity for both the environmental benefits and larger budgetary savings our community would realize from accessing a major renewable energy source,” he wrote. “We remain hopeful that the project will still be able to proceed at the much smaller 1 megawatt level with the possibility of increasing capacity should the net metering cap be revisited with future legislation.”

Joyal expects to schedule a workshop on the topic sometime this summer after re-evaluating the financial feasibility and completing the initial engineering analysis.

Sen. David Watters, D-Dover, a co-sponsor of the bill, said there is an effort to override the veto, but he’s unsure if there will be enough votes. “It’s very hard to override a veto. I think we have enough votes in the Senate, but we may not have enough in the house,” he said.

Eleven senators co-sponsored SB 446, including eight Republicans. The bill passed by a voice vote in both House and Senate. Watters said the legislation was amended to work for the consumers and the power companies. “This is bad. It hurts Dover. It may hurt Somersworth as well,” he said.

Somersworth is drafting an agreement with a company to lease space at the city-owned former landfill on Blackwater Road to install solar panels and produce electricity.

Rep. Michael Harrington, R-Strafford, unsuccessfully attempted to amend the legislation that would keep intact the current net metering law for producers up to 1 megawatt but would require those producing electricity over 1 megawatt to be paid at wholesale rates instead of the default service rate, which is set by the Public Utilities Commission. Harrington’s floor amendment was shot down by a 116-213 vote.

The net metering law requires electric companies to purchase electricity produced by net metering at default service rates. The current default service rate for residential and small commercial business for Eversource is .079 cents per kilowatt-hour, according to the PUC. On average, the wholesale market cost for electricity is between 0.03 to .032 cents per kwh, said Harrington, a former public utility commissioner.

If Dover and other municipalities and businesses begin producing energy up to the 5-megawatt limit, it could affect the day-to-day operations for electricity distributors and lead to higher costs for consumers, Harrington said. A 5-megawatt solar array would take up acres of land and could produce enough electricity to power 800 homes for an entire year, Harrington said. “We’re not talking about solar panels on a roof.”

Through net metering, companies like Eversource are required to purchase the energy from net metering producers, but there is no guarantee or contractual obligation for net metering producers to supply it, and that’s a risk for power companies, Harrington said. Whether net metering generates the electricity or not, utility companies have to contract with producers ahead of time to supply a given day’s energy needs. Without having guarantees from net-metering customers, it can make it challenging and more expensive for distributors to plan for daily energy needs, Harrington said.

Harrington likened it to calling two taxis for a ride, just in case one doesn’t show up or it breaks down on the way. Even though one taxi isn’t used, the driver still expects to be paid, he said.

Watters believes those are “invented excuses for bad policy decisions.” He believes the bill would not shift costs to consumers or be a subsidy for producers. “I think this is incredibly short-sided,” he said of the veto. Watters said utility companies should start investing in battery storage to bank excess energy produced so it can be used at other times, such as at night when solar panels aren’t creating energy.

“You better believe this issue will be campaigned on by both Democrats and Republicans going into the fall,” he said.


June 18, 2018

From Fosters.com

To the Editor: Well-deserved kudos

Dover's Community Services Team

Last night in a conversation with a Dover firefighter I told her how much Dover citizens have long respected and appreciated the high quality of service provided by our firefighters and police. I also noted that the good work of other city departments often goes underappreciated and she agreed.

Well, let’s start correcting that deficiency. Earlier this year the Energy and Environment Action Group of the Dover Democratic Committee invited Dover Community Services Director John Storer to present an overview of everything water in Dover from wells to wastewater. In the short time available, John gave us a comprehensive look at the complexity and challenges of supporting these critical services. You would think this topic might be a bit dull for the average citizen, but, as gauged by the audience reactions, you would be wrong. A testament to a good presenter.

John suggested that given importance, scope, and complexity of Dover’s water management, tours might be a good follow up activity. We took advantage of his offer and recently toured Dover’s wastewater treatment plant hosted by Ray Vermette, facility supervisor for the Wastewater Treatment Plant, and a presentation and tour of water acquisition and processing by Bill Boulanger, our superintendent of Public Works and Utilities.

It is fair to say that everyone who listened to John’s presentation, or took Ray or Bill’s tours came away impressed not only by the complexity of the systems they oversee, but how well it is being done. Clearly Dover’s Community Services is led by some very competent individuals who take great pride in their work and this is something of which we should all be aware.

Bill Baber, Dover


June 16, 2018

From Fosters.com by Tom Southworth

Your Reps in Concord: June 2018 report on the NH Legislature

Rep. Tom Southworth

As the 2017-18 term comes to a close, it’s time to reflect on some highlights.

On the positive side, it was impressive to see the high level of citizen participation this year. The halls of the legislative office building were often filled with people who were concerned about important bills on topics such as school vouchers, voter restrictions, health care, kindergarten, and the death penalty. They came to Concord to testify at hearings, hold signs, or just observe the process. Several times the hearings had to be moved to larger rooms. It was a relief to interact with everyday people rather than lobbyists or outside groups.

I closely followed SB 193, the latest school voucher bill. As a career educator, I did not understand why a bill that did not reflect the needs of New Hampshire was such a high priority. There have already been many articles and letters about SB 193, so it deserves a look “behind the curtain.” There have been previous versions of the bill that is part of a national movement to increase the number of states that have vouchers. This bill established “Freedom Accounts” and was promoted as a way to help low-income students who were struggling in public schools. In fact, the original bill covered all students and used a formula to take money from the public schools and shift it to a scholarship program.

As time went on, many problems were discovered with SB 193. There was evidence from the current scholarship program that most of the money would go to religious schools. Many legislators believed that this would violate the New Hampshire Constitution. Sponsors of the bill countered that the use of the “Freedom Account” would avoid constitutional issues. At the time the bill was introduced, the costs were indeterminable, but eventually legislators began to wonder how much money their school districts would lose. Several amendments were considered, but it became more complicated because the state might have unplanned expenses.

There were several separate votes on SB 193. At first it passed 184-162 before the true costs were known. There was a second vote in May and it was sent to Interim Study 170-159. Normally on a close vote, there would be a request for reconsideration so that the bill couldn’t be brought up again. This time the speaker’s gavel came down instantly while a legislator was walking to the podium. That meant the reconsideration motion would be held the next day. There was a frantic night with proponents pressuring legislators to change their votes and support vouchers. The Governor, Republican leadership, clergy, and Americans for Prosperity (Koch brothers) all weighed in. Fortunately, the bill again failed to pass on the next day by a very close vote 165-172. The journey still wasn’t over since the senate attached SB 193 to an unrelated bill, HB 1636. Finally, the Committee of Conference report on HB 1636 failed 168-173. (AFP-NH has already stated that they will conduct an “accountability campaign” targeting legislators who voted against SB 193 with flyers.) It’s scary that a bill that would have drastically changed the direction of education was defeated by just a few votes.

Public education should be a high priority for future state leaders. The Adequate Education formula is inadequate and needs significant adjustments. The state’s contribution to public education is near the bottom of the U.S. and places a burden on local taxpayers. New Hampshire continues to have one of the highest in-state college tuition rates in the country with excessive loans for our students. School building aid and special education aid need to be increased. Communities such as Dover would also benefit from legislation to require the state to pay 15 percent or more of the retirement system contributions.

As a selectman for Ward 4, I was reassured by the recent report from the Secretary of State that there had been no significant voter fraud in New Hampshire. I was not surprised because I know that Dover and other communities run their elections very carefully. If voter fraud truly existed, there would be a bipartisan outcry for changes since town clerks and moderators represent all parties. The claims of widespread fraud were just another example of misinformation being repeated over and over again to mislead the public. Some legislators have already said that the investigation results were incorrect. The governor has a big decision to make regarding the current voter restriction bill on his desk.

I have enjoyed my work in Concord on the Ways and Means Committee and appreciate the efforts of my fellow Dover representatives and Sen. David Watters.

— State Rep. Thomas Southworth is in his second term in the NH House (Dover Wards 3 & 4) and serves on the Ways and Means Committee. He can be reached at Thomas.Southworth@leg.state.nh.us


June 15, 2018

From Fosters.com 
Shaheen backs PRINT Act to help newspaper cost crisis

Senator Shaheen

WASHINGTON — Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-NH, on Thursday signed on to the bipartisan PRINT Act introduced by Sens. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Angus King, I-Maine, to suspend the import taxes on groundwood paper that are dramatically driving up costs for American printers and publishers.

“Throughout New Hampshire, local newspapers play an indispensable role in informing their communities and fostering civic discourse,” Shaheen said. “These import taxes could be a fatal blow to many regional papers who are already downsizing and operating on razor thin margins. These taxes also threaten jobs across other publishing sectors. I’m proud to support the bipartisan PRINT Act and hope Congress can move forward in a timely manner before the full ramifications of these taxes are felt. In the meantime, I will also urge the Trump administration to use its discretion and take action to save these important American jobs.”

The Department of Commerce initiated anti-dumping and countervailing duty investigations in late 2017 into the Canadian uncoated groundwood paper industry on behalf of a single domestic paper mill. This paper is used by newspapers, book publishers, and numerous other commercial printers in the United States. The import taxes are as high as 32 percent on some products, and that cost is passed on to printers, book publishers, and newspapers that are already under severe economic stress.

Specifically, the PRINT Act would:

• Require a study by the Department of Commerce of the economic well-being, health, and vitality of the newsprint industry and the local newspaper publishing industry in the United States.

• Require a report from the commerce secretary to the president and Congress within 90 days that includes both the findings of the study and any recommendations the secretary considers appropriate.

• Stay the effect of proceedings of the Department of Commerce and the International Trade Commission in regards to uncoated groundwood paper until the president certifies that he has received the report and that he has concluded that such a determination is in the economic interest of the United States.

• Halt the collection of deposits for uncoated groundwood paper until the president has made such certifications.


June 9, 2018

From Dover Democrats


Senator David Watters
Dover, NH --- June 7, 2018 --- The Dover Democratic Committee (DDC) invites community members to its monthly Pub Night. This month’s event will take place at Dover’s Blue Latitudes Restaurant Monday, June 14 at 6:00. The June Pub Night will share the stage with Senator David Watters’ reelection campaign kickoff, which will take place from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. Both events
are open to the public.

The DDC’s Pub Nights are an opportunity for members of the public who are interested in government and the electoral process to meet people with similar concerns in an informal setting. The events are designed to complement the DDC’s monthly meetings and other activities and to offer citizens the opportunity to exchange ideas and explore opportunities to play an active role in a variety of initiatives the DDC sponsors. “The unique current political environment has left many citizens with the desire to engage more in the process,” said DDC chair James Verschueren.” Our organization’s programs and events offer a variety of opportunities to come together to talk and listen in a welcoming and respectful environment.”


June 8, 2018

From NH House Minority Office


Leader Shurtleff

Represetative Richardson
CONCORD, NEW HAMPSHIRE – On Tuesday, June 5, Representative 
Herbert Richardson (D-Lancaster) switched parties to become a Democrat.  House Democratic Leader Steve Shurtleff (D-Penacook) released the following statement:

“I welcome Representatis nine terms in the NH House. Serving on the Science, Technology and Energy Committee, Herb’s expertise and passion for 21st century energy policies have significantly benefitted our state. Representative Richardson will be a great addition to the Democratic team and I look forward to continuing work with him on policies that move New Hampshire forward.”


From NH Business Review by Rep. Bob Backus

Energy strategy update is really a ‘down-date’

Rep. Bob Backus
The Union Leader has praised the recent update of the 2014 state energy strategy. This update was principally the product of two of Governor Sununu’s staffers, neither of whom had prior expertise in energy policy.

Praise for the 2018 strategy is wholly unwarranted. In fact, the so-called “update” is more accurately described as a “down-date.” It was a near wholesale reversal of the priorities of the 2014 strategy.

It starts with the canard that New Hampshire suffers from uniquely high costs for electricity. The truth is that New Hampshire is in the middle of energy costs in New England and, although the region does have higher rates than some other parts of the country, this is not a serious threat to economic expansion here. Part of the reason for this is that, even with somewhat higher rates than, for example, the Southeast, New Hampshire does not have substantially higher bills, ranking 21st. This is because our businesses and residential customers have found ways to reduce their demand. The real barrier to business expansion in New Hampshire is not energy costs. It is workforce and workforce housing.

It was telling that Governor Sununu’s example of the detrimental effect of New Hampshire’s supposed high costs was Hitchiner Manufacturing, which was planning an expansion, but supposedly considered not choosing the Granite State. Hitchiner in fact moved ahead with its planned New Hampshire expansion — hardly a telling example of the adverse effects of New Hampshire electric costs.

The good news is that the strategy continues to advocate for maximizing cost-effective energy efficiency. This is the lowest-cost strategy to lower costs. Much evidence shows that for every dollar invested in cost-effective energy efficiency, we get a four-dollar return.

The good news ends there. Some issues:

The strategy suggests that we declare nuclear power a renewable resource. It isn’t. The uranium fuel rods cannot be re-used and, after irradiation, end up as the most deadly industrial waste in human history. Furthermore, the idea, recently expressed by a spokesman for the nuclear industry, that nuclear power deserves ratepayer support; i.e., a subsidy, because it is non-carbon emitting, is surprising, given that the strategy decries support for other non-emitting sources, such as solar and wind.

Not too long ago, New England hosted nine nuclear power reactors. Today only four remain in operation, and one of those, the Pilgrim plant in Plymouth, Mass., is due to close next spring. None of these plants was closed by regulatory order; all were shuttered by their owners’ inability to run them profitably in a competitive market.

On transportation, the strategy suggests that we “put people in full car seats, not train cars.” But everyone knows that if we restore our tracks so that passenger rail is again available in south central New Hampshire, those improved rails will carry not just commuters, but freight; moving freight by rail is far more efficient than using trucks.

And the strategy suggests that New Hampshire back off from its support for renewable energy even though we still are by law committed to obtaining 25 percent of electric supply from renewables by 2025. The argument is that renewables, and especially solar, get subsidies. The authors apparently don’t have similar problems with the vast array of subsidies for traditional sources, including coal, oil and nuclear.

But our modest support for solar will help us lower costs. Solar, especially when combined with the rapid development of storage technologies, will enable us to cut demand at its highest — and therefore most costly — point, thereby saving the energy sector big dollars. The most expensive power is always that used to meet peak demand.

The strategy is not only disappointing on its substance, but because the authors chose to ignore the vast preponderance of the public opinion they solicited in various stakeholder meetings. Ditto for the vast majority of public comments they received.

New Hampshire already lags our neighbors in advancing to a more efficient and cleaner energy future.

This “down-date” will not help us get back into a more competitive position with Massachusetts, Vermont or Connecticut. It is a big step indeed, but in the wrong direction.

Rep. Bob Backus, D-Manchester, is a member of the House Science, Technology and Energy Committee.


June 5, 2018

From NH Senate Minority Office

Senator Jeff Woodburn
Concord - Senate Minority Leader Jeff Woodburn today issued the following statement regarding the investigation conducted by the Attorney General into a 2013 payment to a New Hampshire State Senate staff member:

“It is disturbing that a cash payment was made by the Senate Republicans to an intern on the receiving end of sexual harassment, even if it doesn’t rise to the level of a criminal violation.

It is even more troubling that it took more than five years to look into this. This is yet another reason Republicans should be voted out of office this fall, and that change is needed to provide

for transparency and independent oversight of these allegations at the State House, regardless of which party is in the majority,” said Senate Minority Leader Jeff Woodburn.