Key Education Bills Receive Initial House Approval

The NH House of Representatives, today, approved HB 564, relative to possession of firearms in safe school zones, which would incorporate the Federal Gun Free Schools Act into New Hampshire law.  The final roll call vote to pass the bill with an amendment was 194 – 154 in favor of the legislation.  This is position that I supported during my campaign for State Representative, and I was very pleased to have the opportunity to cast my vote in favor of this legislation.

HB 551, establishing an independent school funding commission, was approved 207 – 148.  Supporters of the bill argued that the legislature has not adequately addressed the directives of the original Claremont court ruling on how to fund public schools and that an independent commission could provide a more comprehensive review.  HB 184, to include full-day kindergarten students in the adequacy formula, passed on a roll call vote, 203 – 148.  Funds currently provided to support kindergarten are conditional on Keno revenues, and those revenues are falling behind initial projections and have been insufficient to fund full-day kindergarten.  HB 177, which would stop the continued reduction of stabilization grants was approved on a 268 – 90 roll call vote.  In 2017, a change to state law would wipe out the stabilization grants over 25 years by reducing payments to school districts by 4% each year.  Many school districts across the state rely on the stabilization grant to make up for some of the inadequacies in the education funding model.

There were a number of very important bills approved by the House today.  Tomorrow is the last day to act on bills that need to be referred to a second house committee.  Over the next few days, I will provide highlights of other bills that were — or will be — acted upon by the House this week.

House Election Law Committee Backs Independent Redistricting Commission

The House Election Law committee has voted 20 – 0 to recommend passage of HB 706, which creates a 15-member, independent redistricting commission.  The Chair of the Committee appointed a subcommittee to review the proposed legislation and to recommend amendments, if the subcommittee deemed them appropriate.  The subcommittee was chaired by Committee Vice Chairman Wayne Moynihan (D).  Additional members included Representatives Paul R. Bergeron (D), Gerald Ward (D),  Timothy Lang (R), and Kathleen Hoelzel (R).  The subcommittee recommended a number of minor amendments to the bill which included allowing for more open-ended participation on the redistricting commission by municipal officials, reducing the initial pool of applicants scheduled for interviews from 60 to 45 candidates, and strengthening the criteria that should be considered during the redistricting process.  No one who has, during the preceding four years, been a candidate for, or elected to, federal, state, or county elective office would be eligible to serve on the commission, nor would anyone who has worked for a major political party during that time, been a registered lobbyist, or has made significant contributions to any one federal candidate be allowed to participate.  Members of the commission will include five Republicans, five Democrats, and five members who are of neither party.  HB 706 — with unanimous, bipartisan committee support — will now go to the full House for consideration.  The bill will appear on the February 27th House Calendar. (Update: HB 706 was subsequently approved by the House on a roll call vote, 218 – 123.)

Governor’s Budget Address and House Calendar: February 14

The House will meet in Joint Session on Thursday, February 14, 2019, at 10:00 am to hear Governor Sununu’s budget address.  Following the budget address, the House will meet in regular session. 77 proposed bills appear on the Consent Calendar; 36 proposed bills appear on the regular calendar.  Bills on the Consent Calendar generally have a unanimous recommendation as Ought to Pass or found to be Inexpedient to Legislate, though a small number of those bills may have one or two dissenters.  Any House member may request that a bill be pulled from the Consent Calendar and debated during the Session.  Committee recommendations for bills that are not pulled from the Calendar will be approved en masse with a single vote.

Bills that may be of particular interest to Nashua Ward 2 residents include the following:

HB176-FN-A, relative to grants for school building aid and making an appropriation therefor.  This bill amends the current maximum expenditures for school building aid grants from a maximum of $50 m  million per year to a minimum expenditure of no less than $50 million per year. Committee recommendation: Ought to Pass.

HB222, relative to criteria for teachers in charter schools.  Present law requires 50% of chartered public school teachers be certified or have at least three years teaching experience.  This bill increases this to 75%.  Committee recommendation: Inexpedient to Legislate.

HB 497-FN-A-LOCAL, relative to payment by the state of a portion of retirement system contributions of political subdivision employers.  This bill upholds the promise made by the state to pay a portion of the employer’s contribution to the NH Retirement System (NHRS).  The state’s payment to NHRS was reduced from 35% in 2008 to 0% as of 2012.  This bill would require the state to pay 15% of the cost to the NHRS, thus reducing the cost for local communities.  Committee recommendation: Ought to Pass.

HB 185-FN-A-LOCAL, relative to contingently reducing the rate of the interest and dividends tax and repealing the tax in 5 years.  The Committee report stated that it could not determine the total cost of the bill as applicability dates in the bill were not specified.  Committee recommendation: Inexpedient to Legislate.

 

House Rules Changed to Prohibit Guns in Representatives Hall

The NH House of Representatives voted 220-163, on Wednesday to restore a prohibition on deadly weapons in Representatives Hall and the House visitor’s gallery, which previously existed from 1971-2011 and 2013-2015.

The roll call vote to amend House Rule 44(a) followed a motion to tab le the amendment, which failed 164 – 221, and one and a half hours of debate. Following passage of the rule change, House members who were not on the prevailing side proposed four separate amendments to the adopted rule, all of which failed.

House Majority Leader Doug Ley (D-Jaffrey) released the following statement on the rule change to ban guns from the House chambers, gallery, and anteroom:

“The amendment adopted today simply restores the House Rule that was in place for decades under the leadership of both parties, which upholds public safety by forbidding deadly weapons in the House chamber.  State House security personnel are armed and trained to ensure the safety of our legislature and the public. No one needs to bring their gun on the House floor any more than they need it in a courtroom or on an airplane.”

“Since Republicans first changed House Rules to allow guns in 2011, there have been numerous instances of lawmakers mishandling their weapon on State House grounds.  Guns have been dropped in packed committee rooms on multiple occasions.  Given the number of people who frequent the State House on a daily basis, including the thousands of fourth grade students who come each year to learn about state government, policies that allow these incidents to occur are clearly unacceptable.”

“This is simply a matter of public safety.  Allowing lawmakers and members of the public to bring their guns to the State House clearly increases the potential for an avertible tragic event. The amendment passed today restores common sense to our practices in the legislature.”

Endorsements

Heading into the NH State General Election on Tuesday, November 6th, I am pleased to acknowledge the following endorsements of my candidacy from these organizations:

  • The NH Sierra Club
  • Nashua Teachers Union – Committee of Political Education
  • National Education Association – New Hampshire
  • American Federation of Teachers – New Hampshire
  • NH AFL-CIO

During the course of this campaign, I received (at least) 27 requests to complete surveys from a variety of local, state and national organizations.  Some were quite brief and easy to respond to: the NH Motorcyclists’ Rights Organization (NHMRO), for example, provided a three-question survey with a postage pre-paid reply post card.  (I still have a valid motorcycle operator’s license, and this was an easy survey to respond to.)  The most lengthy survey was sent to me by the National Rifle Association – Political Victory Fund (NRA-PVF).  It consisted of four pages, 27 questions, using 7 or 8 point font, and requesting a response in just 13 days.

Some questions in some of these surveys were obviously “loaded.”   (The NH Firearms Coalition survey, for example, led with the following: “Will you pledge that you will only endorse and support candidates who unconditionally support Second Amendment Civil Rights in general and primary elections?”  (Sorry, but the Legislature will consider hundreds of issues during the coming session.  I will never be a one-issue candidate nor would I ever support a one-issue candidate for public office.)  Others just weren’t well-thought out: the NRA-PVF survey, for example, asked: “Have you ever run for…an elected office?”  (That survey was addressed: “Dear New Hampshire Candidate.”)

Some results of the surveys were shared with members-only (such as the NHMRO survey).  Others were never intended to lead toward an endorsement and were simply shared with the general public (such as those conducted by The Telegraph and the League of Women Voters).

I very much appreciate that so many organizations reached out to me during my campaign for NH State Representative (Hills. 29, Nashua Ward 2).  I welcome the endorsements I did receive as these come from organizations whose values I support.

And I thank those organizations that collected information from candidates for this race and others and shared that information with the public, for as Thomas Jefferson said: “Educate and inform the whole mass of the people… They are the only sure reliance for the preservation of our liberty” (1829).

Telegraph Publishes Candidate Surveys

The Telegraph published responses to a survey sent to all local candidates in today’s edition (November 3, 2018).  The responses were published as they were submitted.  Candidates not included in the special supplement did not respond to the survey.  Among the five candidates running for three seats in this district, Paul R. Bergeron, Ray Newman, and incumbent Rep. Sue Newman responded.  Michael McCarthy and Michael A. Balboni did not.  Following are my responses to the survey:

STATE REPRESENTATIVE

Candidate’s Name: Paul R. Bergeron

Political Party: Democratic

Office Sought: State Representative, Hills. 29 (Nashua Ward 2)

Brief Biography:
A native of Nashua, Paul R. Bergeron retired from his position as Nashua’s City Clerk in 2015 after nearly 16 years of service.  Currently, Paul is an Adjunct Faculty member at Nashua Community College in the Department of English and is a member of the Nashua Library’s Board of Trustees. Previous experience includes 17 years in retail management (including eight years in the family’s former menswear store, Bergeron’s, Inc., on West Pearl Street).

Paul’s history of community service includes serving: on the City’s Cultural Connections Committee (formerly the Ethnic Awareness Committee) from 2003 – 2015; on the Rivier College Advisory Board from 1975 – 1976 and again from 1982 – 1989; as past president of the Heart of Nashua Foundation, an earlier downtown business and professional association (1982 and 1984); and on the Nashua Children’s Association Board of Directors from 1980 – 1983. He also has legislative experience as a State Representative (Municipal and County Government Committee, 1973 – 1974).

A graduate of Bishop Guertin High School, Paul was awarded Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts degrees in English from the University of New Hampshire. He conducted additional studies in English at Texas A&M University and in Business at Boston College and received his Master of Education degree from Cambridge College.

 Paul is married, has two daughters and four grandchildren, and has lived in Ward 2 for the past 13 years. His parents, Ann T. (Hansberry) Bergeron and the late Robert P. Bergeron, were also Nashua natives.

Why are you running for this office?
I am running for State Representative because I believe that our children are entitled to a quality public education and that the state must meet its court-ordered obligation to support our public schools; I support efforts to ensure that those who have the right to vote may do so; I support policies that will improve the quality of our workforce, strengthen our infrastructure, and enhance public transportation; I believe that common sense should tell us that guns have no place in our schools; and I care about strengthening families and giving people tools to determine the direction of their lives.

What makes you uniquely qualified for this position?
My career experience includes 21 years in municipal government, more than 15 years in retail management, and time in the classroom as a high school teacher and college adjunct faculty member. I have a good understanding of the issues that are important to my constituents, including the need for a stronger and safer public education system, the need to maintain existing revenue streams to the municipalities, and the need to consider the impact that legislative actions will have on small business owners. As a former State Representative I have experience navigating through the Legislative process in Concord. I am a registered Democrat, and I had the pleasure of serving in the Nashua and Manchester City Clerk’s offices under four Republican mayors. I believe in bipartisanship, and I believe that I can fairly represent all my constituents in Ward 2 regardless of party affiliation. This background, I believe, makes me uniquely qualified for the position of State Representative.

Deadline to Register to Vote Before the Election is Oct. 27. NH Also Offers Same Day Voter Registration.

New residents who wish to register to vote may do so Monday through Friday from 8 am until 5 pm at the Office of the City Clerk, 229 Main Street. The City Clerk will also be open on Saturday, October 20th and again on Saturday, October 27th between the hours of 9 am and noon for the purpose of voter registrations. However, October 27th is the last day the City Clerk may accept voter registration applications or make corrections to the checklist prior to the State General and Special Municipal Election on November 6, 2018.  New Voters will also be able to register at the polls on Election Day.

Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense Rally Held at City Hall

Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg was the featured speaker at a Moms Demand Action rally held at City Hall on Saturday, October 13th prior to the start of a Democratic Party canvassing effort in the city later that morning.

Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America is a grassroots movement of Americans fighting for public safety measures that can protect people from gun violence. Moms Demand Action campaigns for new and stronger solutions to lax gun laws and loopholes that jeopardize the safety of our families. Moms Demand Action has established a chapter in every state of the country and, along with Mayors Against Illegal Guns, Students Demand Action and the Everytown Survivor Network, it is part of Everytown for Gun Safety, the largest gun violence prevention organization in the country with more than 5 million supporters and more than 350,000 donors.

During his remarks Bloomberg said, “We’ve got to send a message to elected officials. Vote for commonsense gun laws or we will throw you out.”

Photo: Among the local candidates for State Representative who were recognized for their support and involvement in the Moms Demand Action movement in this area were Ward 1 Representative Jan Schmidt (D), second from left, and Ward 2 Representative Sue Newman (D), third from left, both of whom addressed those in attendance.

 

We Are Moving on to November!

Thank you to all Ward 2 voters who turned out to cast their ballots in the NH Primary Election, Tuesday, September 11th.  Official results have been released by the Secretary of State.

My congratulations to Sue Newman and Ray Newman who will be joining me as the three Democratic candidates for State Representative who will appear on the NH General Election ballot in November.  I also wish to congratulate Jordan Thompson who finished fourth by just 31 votes.  Jordan ran a positive, enthusiastic, high-effort campaign that helped energize the race and which will certainly carry us forward into November.  Jordan has a bright future in elective politics, I am sure.

My thanks, also, to my Republican friends who wrote my name in for the vacant, third nomination spot on the Republican Primary ballot.  I believe that whoever wins in November has a responsibility to listen to your concerns, help solve problems, and serve as a link to your state and county governments.  If elected, I promise to do my best to do so for all my constituents.

Again, thank you for your support during the NH Primary Election.  Next up: the November 6th NH General Election.

OFFICIAL RESULTS (an asterisk [*] denotes the nominees who will appear on the November ballot:

Democrats: *Sue Newman, 610. *Paul R. Bergeron, 399. *Ray Newman, 384. Jordan Thompson, 353.

Republicans: *Michael McCarthy, 400. *Michael A. Balboni, 348. *Paul R. Bergeron, 40.