Concord Beat – Early July 2019

By Ian Aikens | July 1, 2019

As promised in my last article, this time I examined Jeb Bradley’s recent legislative record. I culled my impression not only from his voting record but also from the bills he either sponsored or co-sponsored. While Bradley has a tendency to allow individuals and their employers to negotiate voluntarily between themselves on important issues like pay and benefits, sadly, in other areas, he shows no reluctance to give government bureaucrats the power to mandate all sorts of things.

First a little background on Bradley himself. He has been active in New Hampshire politics since 1986, when he was first elected to the Wolfeboro Planning Board. He was elected to the New Hampshire House in 1990 and re-elected five times. He was elected to Congress in 2002, but in an upset he lost his seat to Carol Shea-Porter, an anti-war activist, in 2006. He was elected to the New Hampshire Senate in 2010 and served as the Majority Leader from 2010-2018. He currently serves as District 3 Senator, representing 19 towns in Carroll County, Waterville Valley in Grafton County, and Middleton and Milton in Strafford County. Outside of the political sphere, he ran an organic bakery, a painting business, a real estate office, and even worked as a street magician in Switzerland at one time.

Now down to business:

HB1319 – Prohibiting discrimination based on gender identity in housing, employment, and public accommodations. Bradley co-sponsored the bill and it was signed by the governor. While it is proper to prohibit all discrimination on government property and for all government services, since “the commons” are owned by all taxpayers, is it really the proper role of government to dictate to private (voluntarily-run) businesses who they must serve? In the olden days, the argument that a traveler had few, if any, choices when traveling, so it would have been uncivil to allow a private business to deny lodging to a traveler may have been plausible, but in this day and age with most businesses scrambling for more customers, it makes little sense to mandate fairness. Besides, the biggest obstacles to more choices for consumers these days are government regulations and occupational licensing.

SB1 – Granite Caregiving Act of 2019. This bill was vetoed by the governor, and Bradley had the good sense to vote NO on it. This would have actually been a tax on earned income—which in any other state is called an income tax—but politicians produce flowery-named titles for bills that might not otherwise be well-received when they are trying to pull the wool over voters’ eyes. This TAX would have been deducted out of all employees’ wages at the rate of .5%. While it would have been a nice fringe benefit for employees, and there is broad-based support for “Family Leave,” once you inform folks that they have to pay for it themselves, support for the program drops dramatically. This would have a mandate too—and the only opt-out would have been for companies that already offer the benefit.

SB10 – Minimum wage up to $12.00 per hour. Bradley voted NO on this one. Another mandate forcing businesses to pay employees more than their skills are worth on the open market. There’s been plenty written about minimum wages and their consequences over the years, so it should come as no surprise that those on the bottom of the economic ladder are hurt the most by these mandates. Those with the lowest skills just starting out lose out on the opportunities to advance their skills. It should also come as no surprise that minimum wage laws were originally pushed by union workers to keep non-Caucasians from competing for their jobs. The racism continues today, but they call it a “Living Wage.”

SB148 – Notification to public employees of right to join or not join a union. Bradley was a co-sponsor on this bill. While one part of this bill that requires new employees’ personal information to be released to unions is alarming, overall this was a net good bill because of the requirement that new employees be informed that they have a choice of joining a union or not. No mandatory forced extortion to join the union or lose your job.

SB255 – Dementia training for direct care staff in residential facilities and community-based services. Co-sponsored by Bradley, this bill demonstrates that he believes that those who choose a residential home for their loved ones don’t have sense enough to choose a facility where the health care workers have adequate training for the jobs they perform. It also assumes the residential facilities have no business interest in maintaining properly trained employees and need to be nudged by a mandate. What business can survive if its reputation is marred by poor care of its customers?

SB270 – Establish tax credit against business profits tax for donations to career and technical schools. Another bill co-sponsored by Bradley, this one would serve to help finance apprenticeships and training programs at technical schools that teach their students actual job skills for the real world, rather than traditional schools supported by tax dollars that do little to prepare students for the working world. An added plus is the tax credit serves to deprive government bureaucrats of more money to waste.

SB272 – Enforce the Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008. Bradley co-sponsored this bill, which would force health insurers to treat mental illness as seriously as physical illnesses. Of course, we all want extra goodies we don’t have to pay for, but all these extra services increasingly mandated by politicians and bureaucrats—that’s why the cost of medical insurance and services continue to increase dramatically. Besides, I’m not so sure all this obsession with mental health is so healthy. With the ever-increasing number of new laws, bans, and mandates—that’s enough to increase mental illness in itself.

SB274 – Mothers with newborns on Medicaid entitled to “free” home visits. Another bill co-sponsored by Bradley, this is a new, small entitlement program. I have nothing against mothers—either with newborns or older children—but who will pay for these special home visits? After all, they’re not free. If Bradley and the other co-sponsors were to personally pay for these home visits themselves, that would be highly commendable, but forcing everyone else to pay—that’s forced giving.

SB279 – Requires health insurers to cover fertility treatment on all policies. Another bill co-sponsored by Bradley. Not everyone is interested in having every sort of medical option (that they will have to pay for), so forcing all insurers to cover more and more expenses drives up the costs for most people (and employers who could otherwise pay their employees more). Health insurance—like all other services that folks (and their employers) pay for—should have as much variety as possible to suit individual needs of consumers, but mandating more and more services results in less choices for all.

SB282 – Requires school districts and chartered government schools to provide suicide prevention training. Bradley was the primary sponsor on this one. Suicide, especially by a young person, is always a tragic event, but is mandating all teachers to attend two hours of suicide training annually going to actually save lives? I doubt it. More likely, it will be yet another administrative burden for teachers to fulfill in an ever-increasing list of required non-teaching duties. If politicians were really serious about suicide prevention among youth, perhaps they should consider making school attendance non-compulsory. First, there would be the obvious savings to taxpayers of not chasing down kids who hate being in school and often cause the most disruption. More important, forcing all kids to attend government schools—and face it, unless the family is well-off, the option of a private (voluntary) school is very limited—which are often dangerous (bullying, gangs, drugs) may actually increase suicides. One-size-fits-all doesn’t work for everyone.

SB290 – Changes to New Hampshire Granite Advantage Health Care Program. This bill has several parts to it, but the main thrust is to reduce work requirements for those who qualify for what is essentially totally free health care—no deductibles, premiums, or co-pays. We’re talking about able-bodied adults here, not the disabled or pregnant women. Encouraging people away from self-sufficiency leads to dependence on others and ill will from tax-weary taxpayers. Fortunately, Bradley voted against the bill.

All in all, Bradley at best has a spotty record in Concord. His view of what government should be doing borders on paternalism at best and authoritarianism at worst.

[Editor’s note: see also NH SB 154 Amended and SB 154 on the House Floor].


Previous in sequence: Concord Beat – May 2019


References:

LegiScan. (2019). NH Legislation | 2018 | Regular Session. Retrieved from  legiscan.com/NH/bill/HB1319/2018

LegiScan. (2019). NH Legislation | 2019 | Regular Session. Retrieved from legiscan.com/NH/bill/SB1/2019

LegiScan. (2019). NH Legislation | 2019 | Regular Session. Retrieved from legiscan.com/NH/bill/SB10/2019

LegiScan. (2019). NH Legislation | 2019 | Regular Session. Retrieved from legiscan.com/NH/bill/SB148/2019

LegiScan. (2019). NH Legislation | 2019 | Regular Session. Retrieved from legiscan.com/NH/bill/SB255/2019

LegiScan. (2019). NH Legislation | 2019 | Regular Session. Retrieved from legiscan.com/NH/bill/SB270/2019

LegiScan. (2019). NH Legislation | 2019 | Regular Session. Retrieved from legiscan.com/NH/bill/SB272/2019

LegiScan. (2019). NH Legislation | 2019 | Regular Session. Retrieved from legiscan.com/NH/bill/SB274/2019

LegiScan. (2019). NH Legislation | 2019 | Regular Session. Retrieved from legiscan.com/NH/bill/SB279/2019

LegiScan. (2019). NH Legislation | 2019 | Regular Session. Retrieved from legiscan.com/NH/bill/SB282/2019

LegiScan. (2019). NH Legislation | 2019 | Regular Session. Retrieved from legiscan.com/NH/bill/SB290/2019

Wikipedia. (2019, April 15). Jeb Bradley. Retrieved from en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jeb_Bradley

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