House Speaker Steve Shurtleff.
Rep. Steve Shurtleff, a Democrat from Concord, will be the next speaker of the NH House of Representatives when it convenes for its 2019 session. Shurtleff, 71, is a Vietnam War veteran, a former Concord police officer and a deputy U.S. marshal. He was first elected to the House in 2004.
Q. Did you grow up in Concord?
A. I was born and raised in Concord. My dad was a plumber and my mom worked acrbss'the street at the state library. I grew up in the South End.
Q. You went to Vietnam. Did you volunteer?
A. I looked at my grades and my SAT scores and I knew that I was going to be drafted so I just enlisted. I spent three years in the U.S. Army Military Police Corps, a year in Vietnam and then my last year with the armed forces police in New York City.
Q. One issue that will come up in the next legislative session is the minimum wage.
A. Yes, I would like to see it graduated up to $12 over a three-year period, just so we can keep pace with our neighboring states.
Q. There are people on your party who want to go for $15.
Q. Paid family and medical leave passed three times in the House last year. Is that what you're going to do this year or will there be tweaking?
A. That's our starting point. Somebody said it has to be bipartisan. Well, that truly was because it was passed in a house where we Democrats were in the minority. We think it's important for employers to get and retain employees. It shows that productivity goes up in states that have family medical leave. The governor, last year, called it a vacation. Having had members of my own family with terminal illnesses, I know how important it is for individuals to have that time off to be with their loved ones, especially parents where the prognosis might not be too positive.
Q. Taxes are supposed to go down in 2020 and 2022. You want them to keep going down?
A. We've got a good robust economy in New Hampshire. We don't want to do anything to jeopardize that. I don't see why we wouldn't maintain the status quo, but I would want to talk to both Democrats and Republicans on key committees to see what they recommend.
Q. The status quo means taxes are going to keep going down?
A. Over time--yes.
Q. School funding and building aid for the school construction. Anything new on that?
A. No. We've downshifted so much. I know there are some that are working on legislation, and I'm waiting to see the finished product to try to find a solution to provide more money for building aid and more money for adequacy.
Q. Energy. What are your ideas on that?
A. Wind power off the New Hampshire coast has been mentioned. That could be a very viable solution since the closeness to the Seabrook power plant would be easy to plug into the grid. The Legislature did the right thing when we overturned the governor's veto of the biomass bill.
I'm a strong supporter of renewables. We saw with biomass the tremendous impact that it had not just in the North Country, but all over the state.
But we've got to look for other sources of energy, primarily those that are nonpolluting. But what Eversource wanted to do with Northern Pass was just too much. I know the impact it would have had on Concord--those lines going through conservation areas and impacting people in their homes and everything else. We have to find a way to bring hydro down from Quebec, but there's got to be a better way to do it. There's already a line available to Vermont.
BY BOB SANDERS
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