Climate change is perhaps the greatest challenge and threat that we face.
We have seen that our winters are not as cold, that spring comes earlier, and fall lasts later.
Some may welcome these changes, but there is a cost. Scientists have reported that as the planet warms, the greatest changes will be at the poles. This means melting ice and rising seas. Many of our greatest cities are in danger of being flooded out.
Here in Northeast, states have taken a modest step called RGGI, or the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. A price on carbon dioxide is included in our electric rates, and the money collected is returned to the states. Originally, those funds were used for energy efficiency projects and for renewable energy. In recent years, the legislature has severely cut the amount of RGGI money used for efficiency and renewables. These cuts need to be reversed.
There is no one magic bullet that will stop global warming. It will be many smaller things that will make the difference: energy efficiency; encouraging renewables; expanded recycling; buying local; and more public transportation.
Each of us can and should do our part. But it would be nice to have a government that listens to the scientists, and takes action to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.
To read Mark’s op-ed on climate change, click here.
Gerrymandering is nothing more than a betrayal of the ideals of our democracy. It makes it possible for a minority of the voters to achieve a majority in the legislature, or for a small majority of voters to achieve a huge legislative majority.
There are solutions. The adoption of a redistricting commission in California has been a big success. It can be a success in New Hampshire, too.
Another approach is legislation that requires districts to be compact, and that outlaws the use of voting history and demographic data in the drawing of legislative districts.
I favor the redistricting commission approach, but I will support any approach that will make gerrymandering a thing of the past in New Hampshire.
To read Mark’s recent op-ed on gerrymandering, click here.
Common Sense Gun Laws
The NRA would have us believe that there is no middle ground: we have to choose between no guns, or no gun control.
There is no contradiction in recognizing the constitutional right to bear arms for self-defense, hunting and sporting purposes, while also supporting laws designed to keep military weapons off our streets, and to keep guns out of the hands of children, criminals, and people who are mentally incapacitated.
- A state-level requirement for universal background checks for all gun purchases, together for enforcement against those who attempt to buy a gun illegally
- Returning to our police chiefs the role of granting concealed carry permits
- Banning assault weapons and ammunition clips larger than ten rounds
- Banning ‘bump stocks’
- Improving the background check system so that all felonies, domestic violence orders, and determinations of mental incompetence are entered in the database
- Enacting a ‘red flag’ law that would allow the police to temporarily remove guns when a person appears to be a danger to himself or others.
Will these changes stop all gun crimes? Of course not. But they will work. Connecticut passed a similar list of measures in the wake of the Sandy Hook school shooting, and has experienced a significant drop in gun crime.
To read Mark's op-ed on concealed carry permits, read here.
What’s not to like about Medicaid Expansion?
It has provided health insurance to over 50,000 people in New Hampshire. Most of them are the working poor, who have no health insurance plan at work, and no hope of affording private plans at $600 or more per month per person.
Hundreds of millions of dollars have come into the state from the federal government, reducing the amount of uncompensated care, improving the financial health of our hospitals, and reducing medical bankruptcies.
The amount of new money coming into New Hampshire each year due to Medicaid Expansion is greater than the entire payroll of BEA Systems. This is a big boost to our economy.
The newly insured have access to treatment for opioid addiction. It is the one bright spot in the effort to reduce overdose deaths, as state programs fall short and treatment centers threaten to close.
And yet, there are too many legislators who don’t get it, and vote against renewal of Medicaid Expansion.
In traditional Medicaid, which began in the 1960s, the federal government pays about half of the cost. The states pay the other half. The program was voluntary. Every state bought into Medicaid because they saw that the health and lives of their citizens could be improved with the federal government picking up half the cost.
Medicaid Expansion makes it possible for the working poor to have health insurance, with the federal government picking up 90% of the cost. This is a great deal for New Hampshire. It makes our state healthier, and that in turn makes us happier, more productive, and more secure.
The advantages of a higher minimum wage are so many, it is hard to understand why there is opposition:
- The working poor will get a boost, both financially and personally
- Dependence on public assistance will be reduced
- Personal bankruptcies will go down
- Social ills caused by poverty will decline
It is true that higher wages will increase prices for some products and services. We will pay a few cents more for our coffee and our sandwiches, and a few dollars more for a hotel room, but isn’t that a price worth paying so that our low-wage workers have a decent wage? Are we so attached to low prices, that we place them above the well-being of low-wage workers?
The New Hampshire Constitution guarantees the right to vote to every “inhabitant” over the age of 18. Attempts to deny the right to vote to college students, or to people who have recently moved to New Hampshire are not just wrong, they are unconstitutional. Students attending college in New Hampshire are ‘inhabitants.’ They live here most of the year, and they are counted as New Hampshire residents for census purposes.
In 2017, the legislature and Governor Sununu passed SB3, which makes it a major crime if a person does not present proof of residency within a few weeks after registering to vote on election day. This part of SB3 has been suspended by court order, but we should not rely on the courts to correct the errors of the legislature. Each legislator takes an oath to uphold the constitution of New Hampshire. One way to live up to that oath is to reject laws that seek to put such a burden on voting that people are discouraged from voting.