‘Without action, our prayers are not enough:’ Hassan talks guns, issues at Rotary meeting

NASHUA – “Without action, our prayers are not enough,” U.S. Sen. Maggie Hassan, D-N.H., said on Monday when discussing the mass shootings that occurred within 24 hours of each other during the weekend in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio.

Hassan visited the Rotary Club of Nashua to discuss gun safety measures, as well as to update members on her bipartisan priorities to keep New Hampshire and the country moving forward.

She began her visit by asking for a moment of silence for the mass shooting victims and the country.

“I know that we are all devastated by all the mass shootings. It is hard to put into words just how terrible this violence is,” Hassan said.

She said the causes of the epidemic of mass shootings in this country are many, but there are steps that can be taken today to save lives.

“We need to pass common sense gun safety measures, such as requiring criminal background checks for all gun purchases, and getting weapons of war off of our streets,” Hassan said. “And we need to devote sufficient resources and attention to preventing and combating all forms of terrorism.”

“The government’s first job is to keep the people safe. Without safe communities, we can’t accomplish any of our other shared goals,” Hassan added.

In Washington, D.C., Hassan said one of her priorities is to follow the example that New Hampshire residents regularly set – putting differences aside to get results. She shared a number of different proposals to which she is committed. She also discussed a commitment to fiscal responsibility.

“Our entrepreneurs and small business owners are at the forefront of technological innovations, from everything on cybersecurity to health care, and we must ensure that they have the support they need to draw it and grow it,” Hassan said.

She said in the Senate, she is working to double the federal Research and Development Tax Credit for startups, while hoping to extend it to more small businesses.

“The R & D tax credit bolsters the efforts of businesses to invest in the development of new innovative products that lead to job creation and a stronger economy,” Hassan said. “By expanding this tax credit, we can ensure that Granite Staters starting up their own business have the resources that they need to turn their innovative ideas into reality.”

In turn, Hassan said companies must also ensure that they have the needed workforce.

“Unfortunately, too many people are lacking the skills and support that they need to enter and remain in the workforce,” Hassan said.

She spoke on her recent proposal of the bipartisan Gateway to Careers Act, which was recently endorsed by the Business Roundtable.

This act will provide grants to support partnerships involving community or technical colleges and workforce development programs.

Hassan said these partnerships would help remove many of the barriers that prevent many people from completing a two-year degree or obtaining other credentials by connecting students to support services such as housing, career counseling, child care, mental health care and other services.

Hassan also discussed the Jobs Act, which would close the skills gap by covering high quality and regular short training job programs that “meet students where they are and help them achieve the next big step.”

Lastly, Hassan focused on rising health care costs. She said that there have been some bipartisan agreements on health care costs, such as unexpected medical bills for those who believed their care was covered.

Hassan said she is working to take on Big Pharma to lower prescription drug prices.

She said a bill currently under consideration by the Senate Finance Committee would cap out-of-pocket costs for seniors on Medicare Part D and crack down on pharmaceutical companies that raise drug prices higher than the rate of inflation.

Hassan said this could save health care beneficiaries more than $30 billion in premiums and out-of-pocket costs, and would save taxpayers $100 billion in Medicare and Medicaid spending during a 10-year period.

“No one should have to decide between buying their prescriptions and heating their home or putting food on the table, but these are the type of choices that Americans and Granite Staters are devastatingly having to make,” Hassan said.

Grace Pecci may be reached at 594-1243, or at gpecci@nashuatelegraph.com.