President's Message - January 2018

January marks the start of the legislative session at the NH Statehouse and NHPHA is on the move! For a professional organization with as broad a reach as ours, it is always a challenge to limit our legislative activity to where we can have the greatest impact. In December we defined three priority areas for action to give clarity to our vision for our legislative work this year. This January was the typical flurry for our policy committee of reviewing bill language and speaking to partners to decide which bills in the NH Statehouse would receive most of our attention during the session. The bills we attend to may shift as the session progresses, but for now we have two to three bills in each of the priority areas that we will seek your help to educate legislators on the public health impacts. Our priority areas are as follows with the proposed legislation we are targeting listed underneath:

Equity & Health Outcomes – NHPHA will seek to address inequities in education, housing, pay, benefits, social inclusion, etc., that result in a substantial burden of avoidable illness. All people who live in New Hampshire should have a fair and just opportunity to be healthier. This session we will work to:
  • pass the Family and Medical Leave Insurance Program that will support low-income, hourly wage-earners who do not currently have access to such benefits,
  • ensure Medicaid Expansion does not sunset or cover fewer lives, and
  • remove work requirements that limit access to public assistance programs.
Healthy Environments – Natural, Built and Social - NHPHA will seek to address the environments in which we live, learn, work, and play to ensure a healthy population. We will join in efforts this session with other fellow advocates to:
  • support legislation to make our roadways safer supporting a seatbelt bill,
  • oppose a bill seeking to reduce limits on cell phone use while driving,
  • support the Tobacco 21 legislation that seeks to increase the age of purchase for tobacco products.
Substance Misuse – Improving Prevention, Treatment, & Recovery - NHPHA believes the high rate of Opioid Use Disorders, a preventable and treatable disease of the brain, is the number one public health crisis facing the State of New Hampshire in 2018. We will seek to support an appropriate legislative response. We will:
  • oppose reducing the age for legally possessing alcohol, and
  • support increasing the distribution of funds to the Alcohol Abuse Prevention and Treatment Fund.
To learn more about our vision for our legislative action, see detailed descriptions of our priority areas on our website: https://nhpha.org/advocacy/legislative-priorities.

Thank you to Rachel Maxwell for chairing the public policy committee and to JJ Smith for already committing hours of time as the NHPHA Advocacy Lead. Please contact Rachel Maxwell if you would like to get involved on these issues or others. And please keep an eye out for information about our Legislative Breakfast, Wednesday, March 7th, 7:00 to 8:30 AM. There is nothing like talking to your legislator over coffee!
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