No Guns in Schools

Doing nothing is not an option. Elected officials have the responsibility to provide for the safety of our citizens and, especially, for the safety of our children.  My five-year-old granddaughter recently described a safety drill she had at her daycare.  She said they had to hide in a closet and kneel down so the “badmen” couldn’t get them.  And she told me how she had to tell a smaller three-year-old boy to stand behind her.  And I got angry. Angry for our failure to take steps that would better protect our residents and our children.  Individuals have the right to own a gun for personal use, but in the DC v. Heller decision (2008) which reaffirmed that right, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia wrote: “Like most rights, the Second Amendment right is not unlimited.  It is not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose…The Court’s opinion should not be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on…forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms.”

Where to start?

NH is one of only eight states that either allow the concealed carry of firearms (by permit holders) at K – 12 schools or have no relevant law prohibiting it! (Source: Giffords Law Center, 2017).  Our School Boards should have the authority to ban guns from school buildings and grounds. Law enforcement officers and vetted campus security employees are the only personnel that should be allowed to bring weapons on school grounds.  NH is one of only six states that does not prohibit firearm possession for high risk individuals — those convicted of a felony or violent misdemeanor, those with a history of mental health, drug or alcohol issues, or those considered by the court to be dangerous.  (Source: Washington Post, 2/20/2018).  This also needs to be addressed.

NH has a large rural area and a rich tradition of hunting and outdoor activity, but other states with that tradition have taken steps to address concerns about public safety.  Vermont, for example, recently took a step toward closing the private sale loophole for background checks by requiring that all gun transactions be facilitated by a licensed dealer who would perform the background checks.  Some will say these changes aren’t needed or that they are too restrictive; others will say they don’t go far enough.  But we need to have this discussion and we need to begin enacting common sense gun safety laws.

Statement on Education

How are NH public schools funded in NH?  The answer: a mix of state funds and local property taxes.

In 1993, the NH Supreme Court ruled that the NH Constitution “imposes a duty on the State to provide a constitutionally adequate education to every educable child in the public schools in [this State] and to guarantee adequate funding.”  The NH Department of Education recently announced that the base-per-pupil Adequacy rate for FY2018 and FY2019 would be $3,636.06.  However, the statewide average cost per pupil was $15,310 for the 2016 – 2017 school year.  The state has failed to meet its educational aid obligations.

In addition, targeted state aid for students who are receiving special educations services, for eligible for free and reduced priced lunches, and for taking English as a second language were reduced.

And as the NH Municipal Association points out, “With the property tax as the primary source of local revenue, reductions in any state aid program, or the shifting of state costs to municipalities, most often results in increased property tax.”  State Aid to Municipalities: History and Trends, 2016).

Funds are needed to sustain a good educational environment:  for building upkeep, for grounds maintenance, for staff wages, for special education services, for athletics and club activities, for curriculum basics and enhancements.

If we want to provide a quality public education that will provide a foundation for a brighter future for our children, we must ensure that the state halts further reductions in aid to our public schools, we need to oppose efforts to divert already-scarce public funds to private institutions, and we must raise the per-pupil level of funding.

Filing Period for 2018 Elections Has Ended

The filing period for the 2018 fall elections ended on Friday, June 15th. Three candidates will be elected in November to represent Nashua’s Ward 2 in the NH House of Representatives for the 2019 – 2020 biennium. Four Democrats will appear on the September 11th Democratic primary ballot, and three will be chosen to represent the party on the General Election ballot in November. On the Republican side, two candidates will appear on the Republican party’s primary ballot and both will most likely advance to the General Election ballot in November. The state’s political parties had until Wednesday, June 20th, to submit the names of candidates for any vacancies remaining on the primary ballots.  (Photo caption: Paul files to represent Nashua’s Ward 2 in the NH House of Representatives on the first day of the filing period, June 6.)