Interview With NH House Deputy Speaker Gene Chandler
NH HOUSE ARTICLE
Novus had a chance to talk to New Hampshire House Deputy Speaker and potential new Speaker of the House Gene Chandler (R-Bartlett) to get his thoughts on the legislative and political environment in the state. Chandler had some interest thoughts on issues ranging from legislative priorities to his candidacy for Speaker.
Representative Chandler thanks for talking with us. How has Republican governance with a Republican Governor and legislature, after roughly two decades of Democrats in the corner office, made a difference?
I think it has been refreshing if you are a Republican. It’s been a nice change of pace. We were able to decrease business taxes. The Governor was in favor of, and led the charge, to replenish the Rainy Day Fund, which not a lot of people care about but it’s important. It helps the state with its bond rating and provides a buffer for revenue shortfalls. We have built it up to over $100 million, so that’s good.
What do you think the top three most important issues facing the state over the next year or two?
The number one issue is the opioid crises. There is no question it is a crisis, if I had a stronger word to use I would.
Do you have specific thoughts on how to address the crisis?
It is really not my area of expertise, but the Governor and the legislature have taken the three-pronged treatment approach of education, treatment and interdiction, which is generally accepted to be the path to solving the problem. Hopefully, we will have more treatment systems and places for people to go besides the emergency room.
And other issues of importance include the budget. While this is a budget year in the legislature per se, the fiscal situation is always something of concern. We need to make sure we keep spending on track and revenues are coming in.
Medicaid and what type of solution will come out of the House is going to be a major issue this year.
And of top concern for me, and something I do have expertise in is our transportation system. We need to have a good system that works with roads, bridges and other infrastructure.
So rumor has it you may be running to be the next Speaker of the House?
I was asked if I would consider that and I said I would and am going forward as a candidate. I said I would run for one sole reason. Shawn [Speaker Jasper} would not be confirmed as Agriculture Commissioner until late November, and the House would literally be in session and there would be no time for a new Speaker to organize. It would cause a lot of turmoil. I have been working closely with all the staff and the leadership team and could make a smooth transition, which I think is best for everyone. I am running for the good of the institution and the state and I have made it clear that, if elected, I will not run for re-election in 2018.