Following the Keene State College press conference with Republican N.H. Senator Andy Sanborn, Democratic N.H. Senator Molly Kelly stated her views on topics which were brought up at the Feb. 12 event. 

Senator Kelly serves District 10 of N.H., which includes the city of Keene. Kelly stated that she had been sent The Equinox coverage of Sanborn’s press conference. Kelly said, “I approach my work in state senate from, maybe, a different place [than Sanborn], but one that I think is important. It’s probably the principal and premise of where I start from …. I believe that the purpose of government is to enable individuals to provide for themselves, each other, their families, [and] communities. What government needs to do is to provide the resources and the tools that do enable individuals to provide for themselves.”

One major topic discussed at the Public Affairs Reporting press conference with Sanborn was N.H. House Bill 492. This bill proposes legalization of marijuana with government regulation in areas like sales and distribution.

Senator Sanborn said he opposed the bill for many reasons, and stated he believed passing the bill would make government “bigger.”

Kelly stated, “It [HB 492] passed in the house in session, but went back to Ways and Means [committee]. They have not come out with a recommendation yet….For me, to make a comment about HB 492—it’s a little early.” Kelly continued, “I’m not even sure what that bill will look like before it gets up to the senate. I think it’s really early for senators to be responding to that particular bill.”

Kelly stated the passing of legislation involves a long process, which can cause its language to change as it moves through the house and senate.

“If the bill looks different than the house bill, we get together with members to see if we can agree on that language. If we cannot agree, the bill dies. If we agree and the house and the senate both vote on that, the bill goes to the governor to see what the governor decides,” Kelly said.

At the Feb. 12 KSC press conference, Sanborn stated on the topic of bills like HB 492, “Any of you that are willing to give up economic freedom for the perception of limited personal freedom deserve neither.”

Kelly responded to Sanborn’s statement and said, “I think that what is important is that we recognize and that we also honor, the classes that we have in democracy­—which is exhibited here in our state senate, as we propose legislation.”

File Photo Karina Barriga / Senior Reporter: Democratic N.H. Senator Molly Kelly poses for a photo in the Mason Library at Keene State College.

File Photo Karina Barriga / Senior Reporter:
Democratic N.H. Senator Molly Kelly poses for a photo in the Mason Library at Keene State College.

Kelly said, “It [HB 492] appears to be an important issue to students — I do think it’s important that any legislation passed regarding legalization of a drug like marijuana would certainly need regulations in place before any final decision is made, like alcohol.”

Kelly pivoted to policies and legislation outside of HB 492, which she stated were also important topics to students of N.H.

Throughout her work and discussions with students, including those at KSC, Kelly said some of the most important policies to students have involved education. Kelly, a KSC graduate, shared, “For me, of the greatest resources a government can provide­—the number-one resource is education and training. That has been a core of my work.”

Kelly noted that policy makers, like herself, ask questions like, “‘How do we run our university systems in a fair, equitable manner?’ and, ‘How do we work and help with policy on different options with student debt?’”

“New Hampshire, today, is the fiftieth in the nation on state funding within the university systems. New Hampshire is number two in the nation for debt. We need to work on that—I’ve worked hard, and supported the budget towards almost all the funding for the university system,” Kelly said.

One piece of legislature that Kelly recently sponsored was Senate Bill 215. “It’s a bill to authorize businesses to incorporate, in the state of New Hampshire, benefits corporations,” Kelly stated.

Kelly stated the premise of a corporation, and the fiduciary duty of its owners or officer, has been to maximize profit. A benefit cooperation, as proposed in the legislature, “Has a duel fiduciary duty. Not only [to] benefit the stockholders to maximize profits, but also to provide a social impact on the community,” according to Kelly.

Kelly said college students have had a positive impact on this bill.

“I will tell you that when students come and testify, people listen. They testified and said that they were going to be graduating from college, and they were the future of our human capital, and that they were looking to work for companies that want to make a profit, but that also have a meaningful impact on their community. That was very compelling,” Kelly stated.

Kelly added, “The bill did get passed out of the committee, and last week passed out of the senate. It will now go to the house for hearing. I think that students would be really interested in knowing that this kind of benefit corporation could have an impact on their lives and on their future.”

Another major piece of legislation that Kelly and Sanborn disagree on is the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, or the ACA. Sanborn, who stated in the KSC press conference that he does not support the ACA, said the legislation was “bad public policy.” Sanborn later added, “This will go down in history as the most damaging thing that’s ever happened to our state.”

Oppositely, Kelly stated, “I have been working with plenty of the ACA agencies here in our state. I believe that they have a very positive impact on constituents. For example, students in New Hampshire can be insured up until the age of twenty-six [years of age] on their parents insurance—I would think that is a very positive impact.”

Kelly added, “The Affordable Care Act also demands that insurance companies insure individuals who have pre-existing conditions— if you have a pre-existing condition, you can now be insured.”

“We know that we can’t stay the same, here in our healthcare system, and we can’t go backwards. The Affordable Care Act is really moving us forward and making sure that we all have, as a community, access to good healthcare,” Kelly stated.

Kelly also said, “I am sure that there will be glitches as we move forward, like anything when we put forward a new initiative. It is a good initiative, one where the premise is to ensure that we all have access to healthcare. We’ll fix it if we need to.”

In response to Sanborn’s claims that hypocrisy existed in government, Kelly, an eight-year member of the N.H. Senate, stated, “I really have a lot of respect for the process that is democracy—which means that we do debate, we don’t always agree, but we do work together to come forward with legislation, and then, ultimately laws that really work in the best interest of the people that we serve. We work through communication with each other so that we can get to the facts. We all start with a different premise and so far, I have not agreed with a lot of senators. We don’t vote together, but I have a lot of respect for each of them and the people that they represent.”

Kelly concluded and stated, “Democracy takes a lot of patience. It takes a lot of understanding, it takes a lot of communication. But then the results are better than anywhere else. So, I celebrate it on a daily basis.”


Pamela Bump can be contacted at

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