Sununu unveils initiatives for veterans, STEM education in 'State of the State' speechBy DAVE SOLOMON
State House Bureau
February 15. 2018 11:52AM
CONCORD — In his first State of the State address, Gov. Chris Sununu announced new initiatives in technology education and veterans services, while pressing lawmakers to make investments in child protective services and urging voters to pass a constitutional amendment on victims’ rights.
The governor also alluded to Wednesday’s school shooting in Florida, with a reference to the investment New Hampshire has made the past year in school security.
“As a parent of three young children, and given yesterday’s senseless tragedy in Florida, I know that if we can’t put our kids on the school bus and know they are safe, nothing else matters,” he said. “I advocated for a new public school infrastructure fund, which is investing nearly $20 million in state funds directly to communities in making long-overdue infrastructure upgrades and security upgrades.”
Close to 300 schools across the state will receive security funding grants, he said. “Our goal is simple — to make New Hampshire’s schools the safest in the nation.”
Addressing a joint session of the House and Senate, Sununu said many of the legislative and policy initiatives of the past year set the stage for his 2018 priorities.
The first governor in the past 25 years to graduate from New Hampshire public schools, Sununu announced a new partnership involving the state university system, community college system and FIRST Robotics.
The Governor’s Cup will be created as a competitive annual robotics competition open to students and teams from across the state for college credit. Each senior on the winning team will receive a tuition-free semester at a school of their choice within the USNH or CCSNH.
After introducing the parents of murder victim Lizzi Marriott, among his invited guests, Sununu called for passage of Marsy’s Law, a victim rights amendment to the state constitution.
“Working together, Marsy’s Law will pass through these chambers and go before you, the voters, this November in a rare but critical constitutional amendment initiative,” he said. “We need your support. Come this November, we will get the job done.”
Sununu described the many initiatives the state has launched in the past year in child protection, but said much more needs to be done. He urged passage of SB 592, which expands home visiting services, adds 16 child protective workers and increase foster care rates.
He also pledged continued investment in the fight against opioid addiction, including a new partnership with employers called Recovery Friendly Workplaces, to be launched on March 1.
“This initiative will help businesses attain greater safety, productivity and profitability by addressing addiction head-on in the workplace,” he said.
Sununu cited regulatory reforms of the past year and encouraged the legislature to pass HB 1104, which streamlines permitting in the Department of Environmental Protection.
Referring to the problems of the past year at the Manchester VA Medical Center, Sununu said he plans to sign an executive order creating a New Hampshire Veterans Department, something the House declined to do when it recently failed to pass a bill creating such an agency.
“I don’t believe our veterans should wait and hope,” he said, announcing plans to sign an executive order coordinating veterans services under a single agency.
Sununu called attention to the plight of the homeless in New Hampshire, said he would participate in the March 23 Sleep Out for the Homeless in Manchester, and urged all commissioners and their teams to join him.
After introducing an Indonesian family from Dover facing deportation, Sununu called for immigration reform. “While I believe that action must be taken to curb illegal immigration, it’s imperative that the process for legal immigration become more streamlined and practical,” he said.
He ended with a call for unity, saying, “We can’t let the negativity of Washington politics define who we are as Granite Staters. Let’s keep working together to get the job done.”