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N.H.’s federal delegation pushes bills on military assault, student loans, worker benefits

  • Ann McLane Custer speaks at a house party in Canaan to get to know her possible constituents should she be elected for the second Congressional seat on Thursday, May 20, 2010.<br/><br/>(Katie Barnes/Monitor staff)

    Ann McLane Custer speaks at a house party in Canaan to get to know her possible constituents should she be elected for the second Congressional seat on Thursday, May 20, 2010.

    (Katie Barnes/Monitor staff)

  • Rep. Carol Shea-Porter, D-N.H., speaks to a reporter during an interview, Monday, March 24, 2008 in Concord, N.H. Shea-Porter has returned from her second visit to Iraq, where she met with General David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker, visited American troops, and toured an Iraqi marketplace. (AP Photo/Mary Schwalm)

    Rep. Carol Shea-Porter, D-N.H., speaks to a reporter during an interview, Monday, March 24, 2008 in Concord, N.H. Shea-Porter has returned from her second visit to Iraq, where she met with General David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker, visited American troops, and toured an Iraqi marketplace. (AP Photo/Mary Schwalm)

  • Former N.H. Gov. Jeanne Shaheen smiles after the unveiling of her portrait, in background, at the N.H. Historical Society in Concord, N.H. Thursday, May 17, 2007.  The official portrait of New Hampshire's first elected female governor soon will hang in the Statehouse _ the only portrait of a woman among many portraits of male governors. (AP Photo/Cheryl Senter) (AP Photo/Cheryl Senter)

    Former N.H. Gov. Jeanne Shaheen smiles after the unveiling of her portrait, in background, at the N.H. Historical Society in Concord, N.H. Thursday, May 17, 2007. The official portrait of New Hampshire's first elected female governor soon will hang in the Statehouse _ the only portrait of a woman among many portraits of male governors. (AP Photo/Cheryl Senter) (AP Photo/Cheryl Senter)

  • Former N.H. Gov. Jeanne Shaheen smiles after the unveiling of her portrait, in background, at the N.H. Historical Society in Concord, N.H. Thursday, May 17, 2007.  The official portrait of New Hampshire's first elected female governor soon will hang in the Statehouse _ the only portrait of a woman among many portraits of male governors. (AP Photo/Cheryl Senter) (AP Photo/Cheryl Senter)

    Former N.H. Gov. Jeanne Shaheen smiles after the unveiling of her portrait, in background, at the N.H. Historical Society in Concord, N.H. Thursday, May 17, 2007. The official portrait of New Hampshire's first elected female governor soon will hang in the Statehouse _ the only portrait of a woman among many portraits of male governors. (AP Photo/Cheryl Senter) (AP Photo/Cheryl Senter)

  • Ann McLane Custer speaks at a house party in Canaan to get to know her possible constituents should she be elected for the second Congressional seat on Thursday, May 20, 2010.<br/><br/>(Katie Barnes/Monitor staff)
  • Rep. Carol Shea-Porter, D-N.H., speaks to a reporter during an interview, Monday, March 24, 2008 in Concord, N.H. Shea-Porter has returned from her second visit to Iraq, where she met with General David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker, visited American troops, and toured an Iraqi marketplace. (AP Photo/Mary Schwalm)
  • Former N.H. Gov. Jeanne Shaheen smiles after the unveiling of her portrait, in background, at the N.H. Historical Society in Concord, N.H. Thursday, May 17, 2007.  The official portrait of New Hampshire's first elected female governor soon will hang in the Statehouse _ the only portrait of a woman among many portraits of male governors. (AP Photo/Cheryl Senter) (AP Photo/Cheryl Senter)
  • Former N.H. Gov. Jeanne Shaheen smiles after the unveiling of her portrait, in background, at the N.H. Historical Society in Concord, N.H. Thursday, May 17, 2007.  The official portrait of New Hampshire's first elected female governor soon will hang in the Statehouse _ the only portrait of a woman among many portraits of male governors. (AP Photo/Cheryl Senter) (AP Photo/Cheryl Senter)
Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate Kelly Ayotte speaks to the Monitor during an editorial review board; Thursday, August 12, 2010.<br/><br/>(Alexander Cohn/Monitor Staff)

Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate Kelly Ayotte speaks to the Monitor during an editorial review board; Thursday, August 12, 2010.

(Alexander Cohn/Monitor Staff)

With the Senate’s unanimous passage of a bill last week aimed at strengthening procedures for combating military sexual assault, U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte, a co-author of the legislation, said she’ll now encourage quick passage in the House.

“It’s important to get the reforms implemented quickly and then for us on the Armed Services Committee to continue to be vigilant on this issue – I don’t plan to let this go,” Ayotte said.

The provisions include allowing victims to play a larger role in the prosecution, including how commanders handle sexual assault cases in their evaluation processes and eliminating the “good soldier” defense, which currently allows a soldier’s past record to be taken into account when he or she is accused of sexual assault. Ayotte co-sponsored the legislation with Sen. Claire McCaskill, a Missouri Democrat. Now that it’s passed the Senate, Ayotte said she’s hoping for quick passage in the House.

There are several ways the House could proceed with the bill, either by taking it up on its own or including it in the National Defense Authorization Act, Ayotte said. She prefers the first, because it is a faster process, and she plans to speak with the House Armed Services Committee and write to House Speaker John Boehner to ask them to take up the bill.

While this is one of the high est profile pieces of legislation to come from a New Hampshire lawmaker recently, it’s far from the only bill the congressional delegation is working on. Ayotte is also working on a measure to increase broadband access in rural areas and U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen is pushing energy efficiency legislation that has bipartisan support. U.S. Reps. Carol Shea-Porter and Annie Kuster, meanwhile, are working on legislation to provide tax deductions for teachers and increase workforce training.

Here’s a look at some of their legislation:

Ayotte

Across the country, phone companies collect money on monthly bills that goes toward the Universal Service Fund, money the federal government uses to provide access to broadband internet in rural areas. Under this system, New Hampshire receives one of the lowest returns on investment out of any state – each year state residents contribute $20 million more than the state gets back.

Ayotte introduced legislation to change that in December.

“Frankly, I think New Hampshire is getting ripped off,” she said.

Her bill would ensure “rural” areas get at least 75 cents on every dollar contributed to the fund, which would bring more money into New Hampshire. She’s continuing to push this legislation, and she recently joined U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt, a Missouri Republican, in calling on the Federal Communications Commission to put $100 million toward bringing access to remote areas. Ayotte said she also wants to create legislation that would reform a program that helps schools get internet access.

Also, along with Sen. Mark Warner, a Virginia Democrat, Ayotte introduced a bill last week aimed at eliminating more than 300 reporting requirements for government agencies that they say results in waste.

Shaheen

Energy efficiency, student loans and jobs for veterans are at the center of recent legislation by Shaheen.

Shaheen has reintroduced a bill she wrote with Sen. Rob Portman, an Ohio Republican, aimed at increasing energy efficiency among the federal government and other energy consumers by updating energy codes and promoting new technology that helps buildings operate more efficiently. The bill made it to the Senate floor last year, but was put on hold when the government shut down.

This year, the bill has 10 bipartisan amendments attached and is likely to have strong support. An analysis by the American Council for Energy-Efficient Economy estimated the bill could save consumers $16 billion a year and create 190,000 jobs.

Last week Shaheen also promoted new legislation to help students better understand their loans by making federal and private loans available in one place, among other things.

On veterans’ issues, Shaheen last week put forth bills that would cut taxes for businesses that hire veterans and cut fees on loan programs that help veterans start businesses.

“One of the best things we can do to honor (veterans’) service is make sure they have good-paying, quality jobs when they come home,” Shaheen said in a statement.

Kuster

For Kuster, the recent focus has been on a bill to provide benefits and workforce training to New Hampshire workers who lost their jobs to foreign trade.

Kuster recently co-sponored a bill to extend those benefits, which expired at the end of last year. She has said her work on this issue was in part inspired by a business in Berlin, Salience Insight, that let go of half of its workforce earlier this year. The company applied for assistance under this bill but did not receive it.

Kuster has also joined Shea-Porter and other Northeast legislators in calling for protection against a painkiller called Zohydro. The lawmakers wrote the U.S. Food and Drug Administration asking for it to not let the drug on the market until its makers create a tamper-resistant formula. New Hampshire and other nearby states are already facing abuse of prescription drugs and heroin.

“As Northern New England faces one of the worst public health threats of our time, we urge you to use your authority to ensure that this highly abusable form of Zohydro does not further complicate the crisis,” the lawmakers’ letter read.

Shea-Porter

In addition to this work on prescription drugs, Shea-Porter has introduced legislation aimed at helping teachers recover money spent on classroom supplies. Teachers can currently get a $250 tax deduction if they use their own money for supplies. Shea-Porter is pushing legislation that would permanently extend that deduction.

Together with Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a Florida Republican, Shea-Porter is seeking a committee hearing on the bill.

“Congress should continue the bipartisan tradition of extending this deduction on behalf of our country’s educators, and a legislative hearing on this bill is a crucial step toward doing so,” Shea-Porter and Ros-Lehtinen recently wrote to the House Ways and Means Committee.

On Friday, Shea-Porter will visit Manchester for a forum on women’s economic issues with New Hampshire House Speaker Terie Norelli, a Portsmouth Democrat, and Senate Minority Leader Sylvia Larsen, a Concord Democrat.

(Kathleen Ronayne can be reached at 369-3309 or kronayne@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @kronayne.)

Legacy Comments3

New Hampshire continues to get back less from Washington than it sends to Washington. Most of the money the feds send home goes to red states with reps that talk the good talk about smaller government and budget deficits but make sure their states get more than their share of pork.

God bless Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter. She always has the best interests of her constituents in mind.

HEADLINE : Student Loan Debt Owed to Federal Government Up 463% Under Obama - CNS News - WAY TO GO DEMOCRATS

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