Doing our job: The 2016 Legislative Session (Fosters - New Hampshire)

By Sen. David Watters

With the Legislature back in session, I am committed to getting the job done for New Hampshire families to improve our economy, education, environment, and health.
As your senator, I serve on the Education and Transportation Committees and carefully review and amend all bills before them. This session, I am cosponsoring 69 bills I want to succeed, but my main efforts are on 12 prime sponsor bills.
Most of my prime bills address education and the environment. In education, we can best help our young children succeed by supporting quality early childhood education. My SB503 will develop pre-K education using pay-for-success contracts, an innovative financing plan which establishes pre-K without cost or risk to the state, since the contracts are only paid to bondholders if savings in special education and reading exceed the cost of the program.
As recommended by my Child Sexual Abuse Education Prevention Commission, SB460 will include this education in the health curriculum. In order to strengthen protections for youth from e-cigarettes and liquid nicotine, SB422 adds them to educational and prevention programs. Dover Youth to Youth once again did our community proud in its testimony in the Senate in support of this bill.
The state must fully fund an adequate education, so I have introduced SB473 to lift the cap and provide Dover with the amount owed in this budget year. We will win this fight in the courts and in the legislature.
When my bill established the Coastal Risks and Hazards Commission two years ago, I knew it would take extraordinary cooperation among state agencies, municipalities, and political parties, leavened by solid science and hard work, to address the challenges of sea-level rise and storm surge. The Commission soon will release its draft report, and we unanimously agreed to bring forward two bills to enable preparation for a 1.3 to 2-foot rise by 2050 and a 3.9-6.6 foot rise by 2100.
Another emerging environment threat is ocean acidification and warming, particularly in the Great Bay and coastal waters. These factors can devastate oysters, mussels, and lobsters, so I propose a new commission and to build out our scientific monitoring system so we will know how the environment is changing.
The effects of climate warming are not just a coastal issue, so I have introduced comprehensive wildlife corridors legislation for a study of needed corridors and habitat strongholds, both land and riparian, so we can anticipate shifts in wildlife movements and habitat. Another bill enables municipalities to use enhanced vehicle registration fees to pay for electric vehicle charging stations.
On Senate Transportation, I will lead the fight to include District 4 projects in the Ten-Year Highway Plan: completion of the Little Bay Bridges, Rte. 108 Upgrade, and Exit 10 planning.
We have already acted to combat the drug crisis in New Hampshire. As a cosponsor of SB576, I stood with Governor Hassan as she signed this omnibus fast-tracked bill into law. It increases penalties and enforcement on fentanyl, a killer drug, strengthens the controlled drug prescription health and safety plan, and improves access to treatment for substance use disorder under Medicaid managed care. I also cosponsored SB 369 to require drug and alcohol education as part of health education in our schools. We must now pass the bills to provide needed funding for in-patient services and drug courts.
Testimony before the Joint Task Force on Heroin and Opioid Epidemic from families, the recovery community, law enforcement, health care providers, and government agencies proved we can win this battle without the New Hampshire Health Protection Plan, or Medicaid Expansion. I will fight for its reauthorization.
The Task Force report makes a compelling case for what we must do:
A senator’s work goes far beyond legislation. Two bodies my bills established last year are under way. The Advisory Group on Career and Technical Education is meeting to move forward the work of improving CTEs to provide the workforce employers need. A Commission on Historic Burying Grounds will develop strategies to preserve a great New Hampshire historical resource. I continue service on the State House Bicentennial Commission, the Joint Legislative Historical Committee, Board of Claims, and the Joint Legislative Committee on Administrative Rules.
It is a privilege to serve the people of District 4, and I invite constituents to or call 969-9224. It’s the New Hampshire way to roll up our sleeves, work across party lines, and get the job done