Let's talk about some of the issues facing us this year.
I would vote yes on this bill. HB 687 is designed to prevent mass shootings and gun suicides. New Hampshire would not be the first state to have one of these laws in place. In other states, these laws have been successful in preventing mass shootings and lowering the suicide rates.
An "extreme risk protection order" is just that - preventing someone who is a proven risk to themselves or others from causing harm. An ERPO is not permanent in most cases. Once the risk has passed, the weapons are returned to the person. In an FBI study of active shootings, there were four to five warning signs before the attack. However, in most states, there was nothing that law enforcement could do to prevent the shooting. Likewise, in more than 80 percent of suicides, the person indicates that they're in trouble. With an ERPO law, friends or family members would have a process to petition the courts and remove the weapons temporarily while the person gets help. Nineteen other states and the District of Columbia have similar ERPO laws. And, for what it's worth, courts in Florida, Connecticut and Indiana have heard challenges to their state's ERPO laws. All three have upheld them, finding that the laws do not violate due process rights or the Second Amendment.
I’m a product of Weare’s public schools (Go Generals!) and spent nearly a year covering public schools in New York City, so I’ve seen first-hand how important good public schools are and how a good, safe school can change a child’s entire outcome. New Hampshire goes about school funding in a pretty inefficient way. The way I see it, the state needs to restore the adequacy grants that were originally mandated by the courts in the Claremont decision. That case stated that New Hampshire was responsible for ensuring children receive an “adequate education”. Restoration of the adequacy grants would bring more money to the schools without forcing the towns to raise the property taxes. While we’re at it, the formula that determines “adequacy” needs to be re-evaluated as well.
I think we need to look both to local conservation commissions and to NH’s robust Fish and Game department. We’re lucky to live in a state that has a wide variety of natural resources - from forests to beaches, lakes and mountains, and the residents of the state should be engaged in its preservation. I think we need to look toward being environmentally friendly and environmentally-conscious to ensure that the beautiful state we’re lucky enough to enjoy now is preserved well into the future.
I will say that overall I think Gov. Sununu is handling the pandemic well - opening in phases, ensuring that Granite Staters were able to stay home, shuttering non-essential businesses. That being said, I think we reopened a little too quickly, especially considering there’s no mask mandate. Both my mother and I work customer service, and have had to deal with more than our fair share of people who did not want to wear masks, and who were downright rude or abusive to staff (who are just trying to do their jobs!) when asked to put them on. The CDC says COVID-19 could be under control within two months if people wear masks, so I firmly believe Gov. Sununu should have taken the lead of our neighboring governors and established a mask mandate when this began. I also think that it was very unwise to reopen schools in-person without a solid statewide plan that would ensure both students and staff are safe from the virus.
This is a difficult question. Locally, Weare has had its share of issues with the police department in the last decade, but Chief Moore has done a great job of turning the department around. That being said, I believe in police reform overall. I think both communities and police departments would be better served by reducing the scope of what’s considered a “police matter” by creating and funding alternate services like community health and mental health services, using community mediation services and violence interruption programs. I would be in favor of that sort of reform. I also believe that departments should have a citizen review board - a group of citizens that investigate complaints made by the public against police officers - and would support the creation of CRBs across the state.
Typically, there are four steps to strengthen state economies: investing in healthcare and education so citizens can participate in the economy to the best of their abilities; public infrastructure projects like building or repairing roads, bridges or public buildings, or creating and improving public transportation, which not only would create jobs, but could also spur further development and revenue when targeted to lower-income areas; raising the minimum wage since higher wages improve families’ overall economic standing and allow them to spend more, more freely; and cleaning up the tax code by asking the wealthiest to pay their fair share and getting rid of special-interest tax breaks because that will then create more revenue and open up more money to fund some of these programs without forcing towns to nickel-and-dime their residents with ever-higher tax bills.
I strongly believe we need to move to a Medicare-for-All system. I firmly believe that no one should go bankrupt because of medical bills, and that the healthcare you receive shouldn’t be based on your income. I would support bills to strengthen and expand Medicare and work to ensure that every Granite Stater is able to go to the doctor when they’re sick - and that that doctor visit won’t bankrupt them.