There are countless issues facing New Hampshire that I believe need to be addressed. Below, is a selection of some of the most important things we need to focus on as a state.
Planned Parenthood and Women’s Reproductive Rights
A major issue that comes up on the Executive Council agenda each year is the funding of Planned Parenthood. These monies are for essential health services, and many times those making use of the services have only Planned Parenthood to turn to for care. Some of these essential services are physicals, checkups, cancer screenings, STD testing and pregnancy testing. The current Executive Council has voted down Planned Parenthood and other essential healthcare services multiple times, denying so many the right to reproductive care. I will always support and vote in favor of Planned Parenthood.
Opioids, and in particular Heroin and Fentanyl, have been a scourge on our community for years now. I saw first-hand as the director of Headrest, a substance misuse and recovery facility in Lebanon, how addiction has destroyed the lives of those infected and their loved ones. While much work has been done to help reverse the trend of addiction, which usually affects our young people, there is still much more that can be done. We as a state need to make sure people struggling with addiction have access to services that can help them get their lives back on track.
Attracting/Retaining Young People
It is no secret that we are an old state, the second oldest in the country in fact. Unfortunately, there is no indication that the trend of young people leaving the state and never coming back is going to change anytime soon under current policies. There is no magic answer to getting these young people back (and keeping those we currently have), but there are many small steps we can do in order to make New Hampshire more attractive for this group. Improvements toward public transportation, infrastructure, and high-speed internet are necessary for the 21st century economy and happen to be high priorities for the business community as well. Smart public investment, including infrastructure improvements, an increase in public transportation, a dedication to improving education, and the funding of essential services can send the signal to young families that New Hampshire can be a great place for them to raise their family. We need to be sending these signals.
Infrastructure improvements include the necessary expenditures to fix our roads and the over 140 bridges currently on the “Red List,” and the hundreds more expected to be added to that list in the next decade. Beyond that, it also includes access to high speed internet and reliable cell phone coverage, a prerequisite for most small and large businesses in today’s age. Also, improvements in energy producing- including the expansion of solar, wind, and biomass -are necessary to shift us into a cleaner and less expensive future.
As a former teacher, the access to quality education in this state is a priority for me. As a state, we need to send the message that the education of our young people is a top issue requiring adequate funding and accountability. I favor exploring cooperative programs that would bring together our young people and successful businesses to create a dialog about what these young people can do to get a quality job or start a business in the future. Community Colleges are a great inexpensive resource that we need to be promoting as an option to further a person’s education, taking away the stigma that some people have about attending them.
Our state’s greatest resource, after the people, is the magnificent natural beauty and access to mountains, lakes, and the ocean. We need to preserve these natural resources as they are essential to the makeup of New Hampshire and have a major effect on tourism in our state and the economic benefits that come from that. We also need to be cognizant of the fact that once destroyed, much of this natural beauty will never come back. Because of this, potential destruction of our environment needs to be considered in every contract that is signed and every project that is approved. The long-term health of the state, and the tourist industry that we rely on (especially in the north country), will depend on the decisions we make today.