1. The U.S. Supreme Court has overturned Roe v. Wade and placed the power to regulate abortion with the states. What should state lawmakers do regrading abortion laws?
Many political ads regarding NH’s abortion laws do not accurately reflect our laws. They have confused the public and some would say it is intentional. To understand our current abortion law we need to first understand that Roe v. Wade permitted unrestricted abortions only until viability.
The following is from the Cornell Law School website:
“Supreme Court revisited the issue of abortion in Casey v. Planned Parenthood (1992). The Casey court kept three finding made in Roe:
1. Women have the right to abort pre-viability without undue interference from the state
2. The state may restrict abortion post-viability
3. The state has a legitimate interest in protecting woman’s health and life of the fetus”
In the NH law (RSA 329) a fetus whose gestational age is 24 weeks is considered to be viable.
With that in mind:
1. NH does not restrict a woman from obtaining an abortion prior to 24 weeks.
2. NH does restrict abortion starting at 24 weeks.
3. NH provides for the protection of the mother and the fetus.
Our NH abortion law provides for abortion after the start of the 24th week where there is a medical emergency. Medical emergencies include preserving the life of the pregnant woman and when continuation of the pregnancy will create a serious risk of substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function of the pregnant woman. See RSA 329:43 and 329:44 for additional information.
2. The state’s residents and businesses face many economic challenges, including high prices for electricity and fuel, a labor shortage, a lack of affordable housing and rising prices due to inflation. How would you address these challenges?
High fuel and energy costs:
The cancellation of the Keystone XL pipeline and other decisions made by the current administration have made the US vulnerable to supply problems for natural gas, home heating oil and gasoline. Decisions here in New Hampshire not to allow the Northern Pass transmission line and opposition to natural gas pipelines have exacerbated the problem.
Because energy from Russia to Europe is being restricted Europeans are willing to pay very high prices for the available energy. The result is a very short supply and much higher prices here in the US.
Energy efficiency and conservation will help to blunt the immediate impact. The General Court passed HB 2023 that establishes a state emergency fuel assistance program and a supplemental electric benefit. The bill also provided additional funding for the electric low-income program fund. This will help many of our families this winter.
For many years we have been warned that the retirement of the baby boom generation and the low birth rates would cause critical shortages in health care. I believe that this is part of the problem but employers are telling me that the lack and high cost of child care is causing many employees not to reenter the workforce. Here in Rochester the city is looking to see if providing day care is a cost effective method of addressing this problem. Other employers are also looking to assist their employees with this critical need.
Lack of affordable Housing
As a member of the Council on Housing Stability I know that Rochester has made significant progress on this issue but more needs to be done. The state has established a fund of $100 million to encourage construction of workforce housing. This state funding combined with changes to the local laws that remove unnecessary regulation is a significant step in the right direction.
In a Wall Street Journal article from Feb 2022 economist John Cochrane is quoted: “The U.S. government has $20 trillion of debt outstanding.” “That means, over the long run, people must expect taxes to exceed spending by $20 trillion to repay the debt.” Excess government spending is a major cause of inflation. The State of NH has a balanced budget. I will continue to provide for the needs of the citizens of NH while balancing our budget.
3. What else do you want the voters to know about you or your policy positions before the election on Nov. 8?
I believe in the NH Advantage. No Income Tax. No Sales Tax. I also support phasing out the interest and dividends tax. (The first reduction takes effect this year.)
I support local communities and parents making the decisions that work best for them while ensuring a high quality education from K-12 and beyond.
Our emergency rooms are not the place to board mentally ill patients. I voted for funding to construct two new facilities to provide services to our mentally ill.
I support the Police, first responders and veterans.
I fight for our children; books that are not age appropriate should not be in the children's section of our libraries.
I believe that positions like Rochester's Community Outreach Facilitator, which I voted for, will provide essential services to those in need and reduce the need for law enforcement involvement.
Good roads and bridges are essential to attract and retain businesses, promote tourism and improve your quality of life in NH. I have voted to provide funds for roads and bridges to towns and cities.
I support the scientists at the NH DES and the existing state regulations on locating landfills. I have studied our current regulations and the regulations of other states. The proposed excessive regulations will drastically increase costs on our communities.
I and my Republican colleagues have:
Increased state aid for education by $125 Million
Reduced the state-wide property tax by $100 Million
Returned an extra $62 million in rooms & meals taxes to local towns and cities
Passed the largest energy relief package in NH history
Additional issues we must address:
Many environmental issues will affect our citizens in the near future:
a) Complying with the Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) Permit which is anticipated to be issued soon.
b) Nitrogen discharge limits from wastewater treatment plants and the effects on impaired bodies of water.
c) Special regulations on the use of water from our rivers.
Tens of millions of dollars are at stake for Rochester and the towns in the Senate District 6. These issues are not on the top of our constituent's priority list right now, but will be soon when costly modifications to infrastructure must be made to comply. I am involved now. I have attended several meetings both as a City Councilor and as a State Representative to understand the potential consequences. I am working to insure that the requirements are based on scientific research.
Library Books in the Children’s section of the Library should be age appropriate
One of the guiding principles I live my life by is: ”Find the facts. Face the facts. And do what is right.” So when I was contacted by a woman from Dover about the content of some of the books in the children’s section at both the Dover and Rochester Library I asked that an agenda item be added to the next City Council meeting. My words as quoted in Foster’s were “The images are of cartoon type characters involved in sexually explicit activities,” Gray said. “I want to find out the current ordinances and have a discussion of what are the appropriate actions to be taken.”
The Foster’s article starts with “Calls to ban books from libraries have become part of political culture wars across the nation. New Hampshire Republican state Sen. Jim Gray, who is also a city councilor, is attempting to take the same action in Rochester.” When asked how the reporter got from “…have a discussion of what are the appropriate actions to be taken” to stating I am part of a political culture war across the nation and I want to ban books here in Rochester I was told it was their interpretation of my statement. I have not and will not ask the Rochester Library to ban any book.
The question of what is obscene is important. NH State Law provides a definition:
RSA 650:1 “IV. Material is “obscene” if, considered as a whole, to the average person
(a) When applying the contemporary standards of the county within which the obscenity offense was committed, its predominant appeal is to the prurient interest in sex, that is, an interest in lewdness or lascivious thoughts;
(b) It depicts or describes sexual conduct in a manner so explicit as to be patently offensive; and
(c) It lacks serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value.”
If you have seen the images they clearly depict explicit sexual conduct. In an article in TheRochesterVoice.com (https://www.therochestervoice.com/if-you-think-some-of-the-books-at-rpl-should-be-banned-let-us-know-cms-19535) “About three weeks ago we spoke with 11 parents waiting in their cars outside Rochester Middle School to pick up their child. Every single one of them, including one who said she was bisexual as a child, were horrified at the images in ‘Gender Queer: A Memoir’ like the one here.” So from this brief survey they seem to be offensive but do they have literary, artistic, political or scientific value?
I am told that the Rochester Library has a process to review complaints from their patrons and a complaint about the content of books in the children’s section would follow that process. Patrons of the Library should contact the Librarian if they have a complaint.
HB 1454 relative to permits for the siting of new landfills
It is unfortunate that some want to tell you only part of the story about HB 1454 which would impose new unwarranted requirements on where landfills could be sited in New Hampshire. Current NH law requires studies of the groundwater, setbacks, two barriers (liners), leak detection systems and removal of accumulated liquids. We need look no farther than Rochester to see how our New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services (DES) enforces the laws that control the siting and operation of new landfills.
In NH a leak detection system is required between the 2 required liners. When rain water or liquids in the material percolates through the landfill it collects on the first liner. It is called leachate.
Periodically the leachate that has collected on the first liner is removed and processed as wastewater. If a leak was developed in the first liner it would be detected and remedial actions taken. These actions could be as simple as keeping the level of the leachate below any defect in the liner while actions to identify the defect in or repair the liner are evaluated. And don’t forget the second liner, which is normally clay, is still in place protecting our environment.
The citizens of NH can be assured that the dedicated scientists and engineers at DES are working in your best interest. I am working in your best interest.