Comments from Representative Natalie Wells

By Representative Natalie Wells

This article was updated on March 21, 2018

From Representative Natalie Wells, Merrimack 25
(Andover, Danbury, Salisbury, Warner & Webster)

To Our Veterans:

Are you aware that you may possibly be entitled to receive a tax credit on your property taxes?
A bill passed in 2017 that allows cities and towns in NH to vote in a “Veteran’s Tax Credit” against property taxes. It could be phased in over 3 years. The bill also modifies the time period for applications for recovery from the FRM victims’ contribution recovery fund.

If you have any questions about this, please reach out to me or ask your town tax collector if you would qualify for this valuable tax credit as a veteran.
Another important bill that passed I think you should be aware of HB1418. “Relative to transparency and cost control of pharmaceutical drug pricing”. The Commissioner of the Department of Health and Human Services would have to work with the Insurance Commissioner to develop a list of certain “critical prescription drugs” for purposes of cost control and transparency. The bill now goes over to the Senate for approval. It passed with a bipartisan 312:17 vote.

This term several bills in my opinion should be considered parental decisions, but some voted as if they feel only the State knows what’s best for each child. A good example is a bill that would have limited the type of beverages your children could have with their Happy Meals. While there may have been good intentions, these decisions should not be settled by a State mandate.
Next, I want to clarify comments that have been erroneously made on the Education Tax Credits and a bill before the House, SB193, respectively:

I recently read a LTE in which the Education Tax Credit Scholarship Program was called a Voucher Program. It is not a Voucher Program and you have only to read the US Supreme Court decisions to know that. The Court rules that monies donated to a scholarship organization like that in NH are NOT to be considered public monies which a Voucher Program needs to be. The principal is the same with any other tax credit program or programs that involve charitable tax deductions. It was in 2012 that the NH Legislature established an education tax credit scholarship program.

Businesses do receive an 85% tax credit towards their business profits tax or business enterprise tax. This is clearly not a “tax avoidance scheme” as mentioned by an Andover resident anymore than when a business uses the Community Development Finance Authority Tax Credit Program. This may be a savvy financial decision for any business who feels they should donate to fund children scholarships for lower income families. The two keys: The Supreme Court addressed that a business donates their own money funds, they don’t belong to the State until those monies reach the state coffers. It is also important to note that net state revenues are increased as a result of this law. The law stipulates the size of the scholarships and the number given to students leaving the public school. Some people seem to forget this side of the equation.

Why would anyone think it is a sound business practice for the state to pay for an empty seat? State revenues are not going to private schools. The fact is that business donations are going to parents via scholarship organizations who are held accountable by the State. When the monies are made available to the parents, they can then choose to send their child to any school, public or private or a home school. Wherever the parent feels the student will thrive.

Regarding SB193: This bill in essence allows the state adequacy payments to follow the child to whatever school is the best fit for that child. I can’t imagine how anyone would want a child who is bullied and tormented by his/her peers to be forced to stay in their public school and not be allowed to use the adequacy monies to attend a safer school. One just needs to hear the stories from the parents.

Let’s be clear, I think on the whole, schools in New Hampshire are doing a great job. I personally know many elementary schools are spot on. However, there will always be those few who are going to fall thru the cracks if they don’t get the help they need. Teachers will admit they would be happier if they could just do their job and not be burdened with so much paperwork that must go with the process. We need to create opportunities to allow teachers to practice what they went to school for. It’s like a business, school administrations need a “customer service center”. It’s not about dismantling the public school system, but to give families choices for an education that works best for their child. Give parents more say in what goes on in the schools. We have choices in so many other aspects of our lives, why can’t we do this for our children?

If it takes 10 years to fix this, a struggling child, a special needs child, a bullied child can’t get those years back. This should not be about politics, or ideology. It should be about the child. They are the future.
As for SB193 it is still in committee. It is still in the formation stages and much can still be changed. Therefore, it will probably be another month before it is ready and hearsay is just hearsay!

In response to David Karrick’s opinions on my voting record. Let’s discuss them:

HB628. This bill would establish a state-run insurance program in which the private sector employees could choose to participate. While the program sounds great, the rest of the story needs to be identified. As I type this, it is in committee to be changed some more, but here is the basic information. It will cost the taxpayers 14 million dollars to get this program up and running. It cannot help part time workers. It will be mandated for all NH employers to offer this. Employees who are interested must sign the paper and have it notarized that they agree to have x-amount of dollars taken out of their paycheck. If an employee does not sign, they are automatically enrolled in this program whether they wanted to participate or not. So if enough people do not sign up for this, the cost to those who do, obviously will be high. And the only way for one to get out of this program is to leave that company. Does that sound like a good program? This is why I voted NO on the bill. There are local NH insurance companies who can offer this without the state being involved. This program is unsustainable.
HB587 Prohibits counseling to engage in Conversion Therapy for persons under 18: Licensed people could be their minister, rabbi besides an actual mental health professional. As parents and grandparents, do we not have the right to allow our children to talk to these people about their feelings. Who are we to make these decisions? I therefore voted against this bill.

While where on this subject, let’s talk about HB1532 “Prohibiting Gender Reassignment surgery for Minors”. Even WMUR only mentions HB1319- prohibiting discrimination based on gender identity. They did not go into the details of 1532. This bill would have prohibited gender reassignment surgery on persons under the age of 18. This bill states a young child could have this surgery. Really? When a child’s brain isn’t developed until 18-25 years old, you would be willing to gamble on this unreversible decision for your child? I proudly stand by my vote which was to prohibit this.

HB1415: Establishing a Death Benefit for school employees. This would have been a new state funded death benefit for just one class of public employees. All employees risk death on the job. Article 10 “prohibits Government being instituted for the common benefit, protection, and security of the whole community, and not for the private interest of any one man, family or class of men.” While I totally understand where this bill was going, it is not for us to decide which “group” qualifies for this.

HB1811: Extending the NH Health Protection (Medicaid Expansion): I voted for Interim Study as the Senate version may have a better bill. This bill repeals the Sunset clause for Obamacare and its implementation in NH. We need to have free market driven health care plans and “ala carte” insurance plans free from government mandates. This was one of my platform issues I was against.
HB1763: Establishing a road usage fee for vehicles who MPG ratings are greater than 20mpg. The fee would be collected at time of annual registration. Yes my voting side lost on this. In my opinion because it specifically impacted vehicles greater than 20mpg, it would get quite costly to these NH residents. It is a new fee.

HCR13: “Condemning hate crimes and other forms of racism in NH”. First may I say I find it unacceptable for this to be, and this bill was well intended. However, I feel it only brings more division among the citizens of NH. There is a Joint Resolution 5, which includes the Senate, which is a more direct and to the point resolution against hate crimes and racism in NH. For these reasons. I voted against this bill.

And so the bills will continue well into June as over 1,000 bills were submitted this year. We will cross over with the Senate taking our bills and the House taking the Senates next month.

By the time you have received this printing, Easter will have already happened, and I’m still looking at snow. I am trying my luck at doing a small batch of maple syrup which I haven’t done in a couple of years. When the grandkids ask for “Grammie’s maple syrup”, I have to give it a go!

Representative Natalie Wells