Sen. Kelly Ayotte visits Milford Rotary

MILFORD – Kelly Ayotte came to Milford last week to talk about serious issues, but she wound up laughing a lot, too.

And just because Ayotte is a U.S. senator didn’t mean she was safe from the local Rotary Club’s comedy team, lead by Steve Desmarais and his fellow finemasters.

“Are you running for something, or are you just sucking up to us?” Desmarais asked her as he collected $1 fines from fellow Rotarians in the packed meeting room of the Milford Community House.

Ayotte (who is not running for anything. She started her six-year term in 2011) paid a $3 fine, saying she hadn’t paid for her two previous visits to their weekly luncheon.

The Republican junior senator mostly talked about bipartisan efforts to bring down U.S. spending and help the economy, but first, she complimented the irreverent Rotarians, saying Milford’s is “the liveliest Rotary in the state.”

When Ayotte got down to her speech, she said she and Sen. Mark Warner, a Virginia Democrat, have filed a bill to eliminate or consolidate more than 300 reports produced by more than two dozen federal agencies.

For example, there are 76 federal agencies that deal with the heroin problem, she said, and three offices that have oversight on catfish.

And there are 209 programs by 13 different agencies concerned with STEM education (Science Technology Engineering and Math).

“I could go on and on. There are tons of examples,” she said.

Ayotte is also part of a bipartisan effort to do away with the medical device tax in the Affordable Care Act. She recently visited a Portsmouth start-up medical device company called Novocure that, she said, which can not make a profit because of the new tax on medical device revenue.

Other parts of the Affordable Care Act that need revision, she said, are the exclusion of 10 hospitals from the New Hampshire health care exchange and the federal government’s definition of the work week as 30 hours, instead of 40, because some employers are holding employees to less than 30 hours a week to avoid paying for health insurance.

She also talked about transportation funding and reintroduced a highway bill that would allow states to start infrastructure banks to augment funds for roads and bridges, as well as a bill that would establish a federal infrastructure bank.

Rotarians questioned Ayotte about the U.S. response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and she said Russia is most vulnerable to economic sanctions, which would cause it to reconsider going further into eastern Ukraine.

“I’d like to see us move forward with export permits for natural gas … which would send a message to Putin” that we have resources we can sell that would make Ukraine less reliant on Russian supplies, she said.

At the April 23 meeting, Rotarians also gave Claudine Hessmer-
Husainy for her first Paul Harris Fellow, recognizing her work in founding the first EarlyAct Club, a service club for elementary-age children, and her active participation in other volunteer projects.

Kathy Cleveland can be reached at kcleveland@cabinet.com or 673-3100, ext. 304.