I am an eleven-term incumbent; the first term I sat on the Election Law Committee, my second term I sat on Finance, and for nine terms I have been on the Ways & Means Committee, three terms as its chair. From both the minority and the majority party, I have crafted and negotiated new laws, usually together with Republican counterparts.
Long-term projects I have worked on included the reform of condominium governance, and reforming and increasing DWI/substance abuse prevention & treatment. I am still working on condo and homeowner association governance issues.
Both with specific bills (such as the identification and oversight of all dedicated funds in the state) and through budget negotiations, I have sought to streamline government to counteract the ever-declining resources for public services for citizens and businesses. I have also participated in the resolution of many business & hospital tax issues, and many professional and environmental regulatory, fee and budget problems, from chiropractors to tax preparers, oil spills and snowmobile clubs.
I recognize that successful businesses are the essence of our economy and the source of jobs. We have high business tax rates because the BIA chose 18 years ago to advance them, rather than face a general income or sales tax. Now the mantra of the NH Republican party is to reduce them without making up the loss anywhere else. Aside from the massive property tax, they are our largest revenue source, and cuts directly cause losses in services and indirectly, increases in the property tax.
The gamut of state-level taxes and fees must be as equitable and transparent across businesses and consumers as we can manage within an extremely complex and archaic tax system. But they must also become adequate to meet the needs of the state’s citizens, businesses and future.
Businesses need trained, healthy and capable workers; adequate transportation and communications networks; law enforcement; and an accessible and reliable legal system. People need access to good jobs that pay enough for their needs, education and training, adequate treatment and support when disabled, sick or addicted, good communications, transportation options, public safety and an accessible, reliable, and fair judicial system. People pay more of their taxes and fees in property tax than businesses do, but even for businesses the property tax is the largest tax/fee burden they face. We all need the state government to have the revenues it needs to maintain a basic level of services. When it doesn’t, towns try to substitute for the lost support, and property taxes go up.
I am also working on workforce housing and homelessness, some in Concord, some here at home, and have for 18 years been on the board of the state ACLU, fighting to maintain our constitution and equal access to justice.
My father Tom Almy helped re-start Dartmouth Medical School in 1968, used telemedicine to reach doctors in remote hospitals when all they had was TV links, and lastly moved into gerontology. He wanted to move to NH at the age of 16 but got diverted by WWII, and we spent part of each summer mostly on NH mountains and lakes. My mother Katharine Swift pioneered in community mental health, establishing an outpatient clinic near where Salt Hill sits now and providing the professional back-up to use social workers to attend for the first time to the psychological needs of low- and middle-income residents. My middle sister Anne, a top natural resources lawyer at the US Department of Justice, died of tobacco and alcohol addiction 20 years ago, after sticking with Alcoholics Anonymous for four years – which is why I have focused a lot on addiction. My youngest sister Chris is semi-retired but starting a national research organization on the intersection of social and medical sciences, having fought that battle at NIH for two decades. She and her husband summer here, and the boys visit.
I worked 22 years as a rural and then agricultural researcher/developer in Africa and Latin America, and came home with an asthma that cannot tolerate third-world-city air. I fell into the legislature by accident. At the time, it seemed like it might be an interesting retirement project, and I was right, except about the retirement part. I also serve on Lebanon’s Conservation Commission and Master Plan Steering Committee, on Lebanon Housing First (having just term-limited out of the UV Housing Coalition), and on the ACLU-NH board, where I was chair for 6 years. I was president of my 22-unit homeowners’ association for 13 years, and have been again for almost two years – we are self-managed, so that makes me manager. From January to June, I am totally focused on Concord; the rest of the year, a mix of everything. I do like to kayak and visit our forests.
If you are interested in what we do, the bills and committee calendars are on line at http://gencourt.state.nh.us/
Study Committees and Commissions: http://www.gencourt.state.nh.
266 Poverty Lane 4B, Lebanon