November 7, 2015

Political day

Judge Laplante (right) with students
This past Wednesday was certainly a memorable day.  In addition to working in Campus Ministry, I teach two social studies classes - AP Government and Politics and AP US History.  I had recently heard about Judge Joseph Laplante, one of the three judges at the United States District Court in Concord.  Judge Laplante is a very active parishioner at St. Christopher's Parish in Nashua and when I was there last month for Vocation Day I met the judge's wife who works at St. Christopher's School.  I asked Mrs. Laplante if the judge spoke to classes, she said yes, gave me his email address and within days we had a visit scheduled!

We had a special schedule on Wednesday so we were able to have Judge Laplante speak to my Government class for over an hour.  He spoke about his very impressive career in public service - New Hampshire Attorney General's office, U.S. Attorney's Office in Boston and Concord, and a stint with the U.S. Justice Department.  President Bush nominated him to be a judge in 2007 and in 2011, he became the chief judge.

Judge Laplante then spoke about the role of the judicial branch and the day to day operations of the district court in Concord.  The students had tons of questions, mainly hypotheticals and he answered them beautifully.  As the father of two high school students, a college student, and an active leader in youth sports, he knows kids well.  His only blemish really is that two of his children attend Bishop Guertin High School!  His father Normand is a 1955 graduate of Bishop Bradley High School.  He offered to come back anytime and told the students they can contact him anytime with any questions about the law, career advice, etc.

Later that morning I attended a meeting of the diocesan Public Policy Commission, chaired by Meredith Cook '89, of which I am a member.  This was a special meeting to hear from State Sen. Jeb Bradley, the Senate Majority Leader.  As part of the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare), the federal government gave states the option of expanding Medicaid for those at 138% of the poverty level and thus too poor to afford health insurance from the Healthcare Exchange.  The federal government paid for the first couple of years of expansion but states had to begin assuming more of the cost as time went on.  New Hampshire elected to expand Medicare (which we on the Public Policy Commission urged) but the issue now is how does the state pay for it.  New Hampshire, of course, doesn't have an income tax so the state budget is pretty tight.  Sen. Bradley, who is a Republican, thanked the Church for their past support on this and asked us to continue to lobby for it.  The number of uninsured in the state, he said, has dropped as has the cost of health insurance so this is working.

In all, this was quite the day.  One doesn't often spend time with a federal judge and the Senate Majority Leader in the same morning!  It makes me realize how incredibly fortunate I am to have the job I have!

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