From Jay Kahn <[email protected]>
Subject July Newsletter
Date July 12, 2020 7:10 PM
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July 12, 2020

Dear Friends,

I hope you found ways to celebrate our country this July 4th weekend. Recognition is one of accomplishment and failings. Recognizing the freedom we have in our country and the heroes that have passed before in our country’s service, and recognizing the victims who suffered or died during this pandemic, as well as the heroes that have stepped up to keep our country vibrant under emergency conditions. But nothing is without imperfections, and those too are evident. Racial injustice, divisiveness, healthcare accessibility, foreign power interference, global engagement, and undermining the freedom of the press are a few pressing matters where progress needs to be made.

Over the past couple months I‘ve been using Facebook for frequent updates; please friend me at Jay Kahn: NH State Senator. My posts include information from state COVID-19 task forces and state agencies. My posts also honor the essential workers in education, healthcare, wholesale, retail, manufacturing, and non-profits who have preserved our essential service and filled our needs during the COVID-19 pandemic. I’m so grateful for your efforts and the relatively good health we’ve experienced in Cheshire County.

This week I begin a series of meetings with Cheshire County town select boards reviewing progress in the legislative session that concluded on June 30th. Yes, it was an unprecedented session, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Senate, which at 24 senators has a manageable size, took bills that passed by large margins in both the House and Senate, and packaged them into consolidated bills. In total, 33 bills passed the Senate, containing over 200 pieces of proposed legislation; 14 Kahn bills are within the 33 bills sent to the Governor. Each bill had a public hearing via Zoom Committee meetings. Those 33 bills were returned to the House for a final up or down vote, and they’re now reaching the Governor’s desk. Lots of other legislation had to be tabled and can be reintroduced next year.

To describe how this worked, let’s take the Education Omnibus Bills, HB 1558, to which I introduced amendment 1398. HB 1558 began as a bill on special education. House and Senate committee chairs compared legislative priorities, bills passed in each chamber prior to suspension of session on March 13th. We agreed to add 13 bills into HB 1558, all of which had passed from their committees unanimously. Five Kahn bills were included therein. This bill combines efforts of many House and Senate members, Republicans and Democrats, as well as stakeholders, that make improvements for our schools, students, towns, and municipalities.

Every child and teacher should have the support they need in school to be successful. This legislation provides guidance for schools to assure safety, have access to behavioral health resources and training programs, and have greater flexibility to address fiscal concerns when budgets and revenues are uncertain.
* The welfare of children in schools is addressed through sections updating policies on student discipline and suspension, brain injury recovery, sexual abuse prevention training, multi-tiered systems of support for behavioral wellness, change of school assignment, reporting violence in schools, and criminal history background checks of school bus drivers and attendants.
* School district funding concerns are addressed through increased reserve limits, setting bond authorization levels at town meetings at 60% (same as by referendum), funding to districts transitioning to full-day kindergarten during this biennium, use of school district reserves, and school violence reporting.
* Education and workforce partnerships are strengthened through the Graduate Retention Incentive Partnership; and adding USNH to the Business and Economic Affairs partner agency council.

The bill passed the Senate unanimously on a voice vote and was passed by the House 201-129.

Other Kahn sponsored legislation is included in the following bills supported with bipartisan majorities:

HB 1623 – Telemedicine -- payment parity, covering medically assisted treatment, and licensure
HB 1111 – Broadband expansion
HB 1182 – Requiring DoT to plan for business impacts on projects at or over $5M, the Sullivan Store amendment
HB 1135 – A naming bill that includes Holocaust and genocide studies education be added to social studies curricula
HB 578 – Reimbursing long-term care facilities for training nursing assistants
SB 684 – Medicaid reimbursement to schools for medically necessary services
HB1234 – Agency-requested bills, including an appeals process for the Victims Assistance Fund, and Career-Technical Education Advisory Council changes

I’m proud to have supported many other bills of major importance to constituents such as:
* Voting and election law changes in response to COVID-19 concerns – HB 1672 which updates voter registration and absentee ballot requests laws, and HB 1266, which focuses specifically on absentee ballot requests and processing for the 2020 elections. The Governor vetoed HB 1672 but I’m guessing he’ll sign HB 1266.
* Establishing an Independent Redistricting Commission – HB 1665, which satisfies some objections to a comparable bill vetoed by governor last year. This bill assures that no political party will select members of their party to serve on the commission; they’ll be selected by the other party.
* Adding abortion coverage by insurance carriers providing maternity coverage – HB 685.
* Establishing a minimum wage at $10 per hour -- HB 731
* Reducing cost of drugs (insulin and epi pens) and increasing access by bid and across country boundaries (Canada) – HB 1280
* Learn everywhere compromise, authorizing Board of Education to approve credit courses and local school boards to determine from which they will accept credit – HB 1454
* Establishing a dental benefit in Medicaid insurance programs – HB 250
* Eliminating statute of limitations on sexual assault crimes – HB 705
* Limiting law enforcement officers’ use of strangleholds – HB 1645
* Permitting same sex couples, the ability to adopt children – HB 1162
* Authorizing court ordered extreme risk protection orders to reduce gun-related violence, including suicides – HB 687

It’s timely to write [email protected] (mailto:[email protected]) or call 271-2121 and express your views or write a Letter to the Editor of the Keene Sentinel in support of these bills. We can already observe the effect of his vetoes on working class families with the veto of HB 1247, which assured renters had the ability to negotiate payment of back rent after the COVID-19 pandemic eviction protection emergency order expires.

Now comes the political season of trying to balance between legislative activity, constituency advocacy, and reelection. I continue to serve on the joint legislative Fiscal Committee and the Administrative Rules Committee, the Commission to Study School Funding, and Mental Health and Health Services Integration Study Committee. The Senate Education and Workforce Committee, of which I am chairman, will hold Zoom presentations on school reopening on July 21 from 9-12. I’ll post the calendar notice so you can view this most interesting set of presentations. Finally, as a member of the Senate Finance Committee, I’m watching closely the state budget deficit, resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic and the State of Emergency. There is approximately a $150M deficit being carried into the second year of the biennium.

Advocacy Issues
The closure of Crotched Mountain Rehabilitation Center is a major loss for special education needs in our state and region. I’ve initiated discussions with Health and Human Services Commissioner to push for options as we enter this school year. This dovetails with efforts I’ve begun to define how adults transition from special education to developmental services, a commitment I made during the legislative session.

This week I worked with NH Dept. of Transportation on Route 9 safety concerns over shared passing and turning lanes; the accident this past weekend called attention to this issue. There are some ideas that could be acted upon quickly. Also with the DoT, I’ll be restarting efforts to demolish the Antrim (un) welcome center on Route 9; funds were appropriated last year. Another Route 9 change, one that’s been delayed, is an expansion of the Chesterfield Liquor Store for a Welcome NH addition; I initiated funding for both projects this past year.

Our efforts on rural Broadband expansion are having an impact at the local, state and national levels. I’m working at each level to help ensure access to providers and financing that can accelerate projects and improve service. I'm working with Southwest Regional Planning Commission which is a good local resource for towns interested in launching initiatives.

I’m still getting calls from self-employed people experiencing income loss during the pandemic. I’ve assisted dozens of constituents during the pandemic. If you know someone stuck and needing assistance, feel free to contact me.

The Zoom fund raiser hosted in June by JoAnn Fenton and Ann Heffernon launched my reelection effort. The team includes Aiden Jasmin, a KSC senior political science and economics major, serving as my campaign coordinator. High school interns include Aditi, Kiera, and Lucy. Expect to hear from them soon as we begin to deploy signs throughout the area. We’re working out of Greenwald Realty’s Main St. building, masked-up and disinfected. There will be many NH Democratic Party events scheduled in the region. Again, check my Facebook page for details, [link removed] .

What I need from you now is your willingness to show your support. Can we place a lawn sign at your house? It's important to give visibility to state legislative campaigns that might otherwise get lost in this presidential election year. My campaign team includes area high school students who hope to return to school this August. We’ll be organizing distribution soon. We hope to stop by and meet you then. Please write or call me about a lawn sign, 603-381-2930.

Stay Safe
Thank you for staying in touch and for your positive attitudes during this crisis. This has been a test of our community’s resilience. Our support for each other makes us all stronger. Please stay observant of safety guidelines, use face masks and reach out if you observe people needing assistance.

Senator Jay Kahn
District 10 include 15 towns in Cheshire County: Alstead, Chesterfield, Gilsum, Harrisville, Hinsdale, Keene, Marlborough, Nelson, Roxbury, Sullivan, Surry, Swanzey, Walpole, Westmoreland, and Winchester.

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