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About NH Labor News

The New Hampshire Labor News is a group of NH Workers who believe that we need to protect ourselves against the attacks on workers. We are proud union members who are working to preserve the middle class. The NHLN talks mostly about news and politics from NH. We also talk about national issues that effect working men and women here in the Granite State.

Kuster Leads Roundtable in Salem on Youth Opioid Education and Prevention

(Salem, NH) – Today, Congresswoman Annie Kuster (NH-02), the co-chair of the Bipartisan Heroin Task Force, lead a roundtable discussion at the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Salem on youth opioid education and prevention. The discussion, which drew an audience of community members, brought together local and state leaders addressing the opioid crisis and centered on the often overlooked impact of the epidemic on New Hampshire’s youth. Prior to the discussion, Congresswoman Kuster was given a tour of the Boys & Girls Club facility.

“The opioid epidemic is taking a toll on families and communities in every corner of our state,” said Congresswoman Kuster. “We know the impacts of the opioid crisis go beyond those suffering from substance use disorder, it extends to children and family members as well. We all have a role to play in tackling this crisis and I was pleased to have the opportunity to discuss programs aimed at protecting our youth with leadership at the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Salem, law enforcement, and educators.  I will continue working in Congress to strengthen education, prevention, treatment and recovery services for Granite Staters of all ages.”

“The Boys & Girls Club of Greater Salem wants to thank Congresswoman Kuster for having an important discussion regarding the impact that opioids are having in our community,” said Marco Abreau, COO, Boys & Girls Club of Greater Salem. “The opioid epidemic that is hitting our communities is an unfortunate reality for many of our Club members.  Many of our members are dealing with the cruel circumstances of their loved ones falling victim to addiction.  The task at hand is definitely a challenge, however the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Salem will not waiver as we continue to push forward in the support of all our members and their families.  Our mission states we will be here for the youth ‘who need us most’, and this holds true for the fight against the opioid epidemic.”

In June, the Bipartisan Heroin Task Force released its legislative agenda for the 115th Congress. The agenda includes the Stem the Tide of Overdose Prevalence from Opiate Drugs (STOP OD) Act, which authorizes up to $75 million in educational grants to prevent opioid abuse, and the Synthetic Drug Act, which requires the Surgeon General to submit a report to Congress on the health effects of the rise of synthetic drug use among young people aged 12 to 18.

New Hampshire has been on the front lines fighting back against the opioid epidemic.  New reporting from The Daily Beast showed that under the new GOP proposed healthcare plan, funding for opioid addition, recovery, and research would vanish.  The bill would slash Medicaid, which many claim is the biggest asset to fighting opioid addiction, as well as cut “$45 million” in addition funds earmarked for opioid treatment.

“Opioid addiction is taking lives and tearing apart families. But instead of fighting to address the problem, Republicans in Congress want to ram through this partisan bill to take away people’s health care and slash billions in funding for addiction treatment,” said Tom Perez, chair of the DNC. “Just over a month after calling the opioid epidemic a national emergency, President Trump has done nothing to help those affected. Now he’s leading the Republican charge to strip protections and resources from the working families who need them most.”

“This issue knows no party. From New Hampshire to Nevada, the opioid crisis has ravaged communities across the country. And without the Affordable Care Act, things will get even worse. Democrats believe that this urgent crisis demands urgent action. That’s why we will keep working to give families the resources they need to fight back. We cannot sit idly by while Republicans choose cruelty over compassion and destroy the lives of millions,” added Perez.

New Report Shows Policy Makers Worldwide Lack Information To Fix Gender Equality Problems

In the past few years the issue of pay equity for women has become a major issue.  We have fought to close the wage gap and pushed for stronger legislation to ensure equal pay for equal work.  While we have not yet reached equality, we as a nation are much better than many countries around the world.

Today at the United Nations General Assembly, Equal Measures 2030, along with the Gates Foundation, unveiled their new report that shows many international policy makers fail to understand the gravity of gender equality issues and lack the information needed to reach Equal Measures 2030 ambitious gender equality targets that are part of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The findings come from a survey carried out by research firm Ipsos, who interviewed more than 100 policymakers in five countries (Colombia, India, Indonesia, Kenya, and Senegal) about perceptions of progress on gender-related issues and access to and use of data to inform decisions.

When asked to estimate the scale of several key issues – maternal mortality (the number of women dying from causes related to pregnancy and childbirth), girls married before the age of 18, women in the labor force, and women in parliament – relevant to girls and women in their country, policymakers were largely not confident in their knowledge of the facts.

While the majority of policy makers said they would know where to access data on key issues should they need to, fewer than three in ten policymakers thought they knew the relevant figures on maternal mortality or the percentage of women that are in the labor force.  And just 1 in 8 thought they knew the proportion of girls married before the age of 18.  Over half of policy makers were so unsure on the issue of early marriage, that they weren’t even willing to hazard a guess as to what the early marriage rates in their country might be.

“Policymakers are flying blind when it comes to gender equality.  Two thirds of policymakers believe progress has been made, but they aren’t confident in their knowledge of the facts and figures.  It’s exactly this gap that Equal Measures 2030 seeks to close.  We want to ensure that all of us – policymakers, and also advocates, business leaders and the general public – have a better understanding of the challenges faced by girls and women,” said Alison Holder, Director of Equal Measures 2030. “We need the full picture if we’re to have any chance of meeting the ambitious promises set out in the SDGs.”

The majority of policymakers (66%) believe that their country is more equal now compared to five years ago.  While nearly eight in ten male respondents held this view (78%), only 55% of women agreed this was the case.  More than twice the number of women than men felt the situation had not changed or worsened (44% of women compared with 19% of men).

Half of policymakers felt that there was too little attention to gender in policymaking, but with considerable variations between the men and women surveyed (67% of women, compared with 33% of men).  More than one in five men felt there was too much attention to gender equality in policymaking.

Gender equality concerns are considered much more important in some policy areas than others. For example, over four fifths of policymakers thought that gender equality concerns were given a high or very high priority when setting policy on education, whereas just 38% thought gender was given a high or very high priority when making decisions about public finance.

Albert Motivans, Head of Data and Insights for Equal Measures 2030 added, “The policymakers we talked to clearly see gender being prioritized  in some policy areas such as health and education more than others, like public finance.  This may be because issues like health and education are more readily visible, have data that are ready to use, and perhaps face more public scrutiny.  It may also be because gender issues are often marginalized from the big decisions of government, such as those on tax and public spending.”

Katja Iversen, CEO of Women Deliver, said, “Even the best intentioned decision-makers can’t make the best decisions if they’re operating in the dark. Having and using reliable data, evidence and research is the foundation for sound policies and investments in the health and lives of girls and women. Equal Measures 2030 will help provide just that.”

Just over a third of policymakers were confident to say that data and evidence related to gender equality was “very” or “quite good” in terms of timeliness and disaggregation (both 35%).

Dinah Musindarwezo, Executive Director of FEMNET said “The survey shows us that even when data is available it is not necessarily accessed and used. Data alone is not enough, we must ensure that evidence gets into the hands of those making decisions on issues that impact the lives of girls and women. African governments have reported that the limited accessibility of data, particularly gender-disaggregated data, will be a major challenge in achieving the SDGs.”“Equal Measures 2030 is well positioned to help get the right data into the hands of advocates who can use it. By bridging this gap and making data actionable, we’re excited that local organizations will be better equipped to fight injustice and influence policies that can maximize the potential of women and girls in their communities,” said Gayle Smith, CEO of the ONE Campaign.

Jonathan Glennie, Director of Ipsos’ Sustainable Development Research Centre, said, “In the modern world we are increasingly able to gather data on key social and economic issues, including gender. But our research for Equal Measures 2030 shows that we are still some way from ensuring that crucial information is in the hands of the people that need it. We need to get better at both gathering data on gender issues, and also making it accessible to busy people with many competing priorities. That will take dedication and creativity – but it is possible.”

This survey is the first of new research carried out by Equal Measures 2030. Moving forward, the survey findings will be used to build on the value-add and role that data and evidence can play in helping policymakers make the right decisions to reach the SDGs for girls and women.

Download the full report from Equal Measure 2030 


About Equal Measures 2030

Equal Measures 2030 is a global civil society and private sector led partnership with the mission of fueling progress towards gender equality by making sure girls’ and women’s movements, advocates and decision makers have easy-to-use data and evidence to guide efforts to reach the Global Goals by 2030 and leave no one behind.

Equal Measures 2030 partners include PLAN International, ONE Campaign, ARROW, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Data2X, Women Deliver, KPMG, International Women’s Health Coalition (IWHC), and The African Women’s Development & Communication Network (FEMNET).

ICYMI: Everyone Hates The Graham-Cassidy Bill Governor Sununu Helped Write

Everyone hates the proposed Graham-Cassidy bill and newspapers and media outlets are not being shy about saying how bad it would be.

Business Insider: A bipartisan group of governors just based the new Republican healthcare bill – and it has a key addition

A bipartisan group of 10 governors on Tuesday attacked the latest Republican attempt to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act in a strongly worded letter to Senate leaders.

“As you continue to consider changes to the American health care system, we ask you not to consider the Graham-Cassidy-Heller-Johnson amendment and renew support for bipartisan efforts to make health care more available and affordable for all Americans,” the letter said. “Only open, bipartisan approaches can achieve true, lasting reforms.”

The group of governors includes Republicans John Kasich of Ohio and Brian Sandoval of Nevada along with Democrats John Hickenlooper of Colorado and John Bel Edwards of Louisiana (the home state of Sen. Bill Cassidy, an author of the bill).

Alaska Gov. Bill Walker, who had not joined the group in opposing previous versions of GOP healthcare legislation, also signed onto the letter. Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski voted against the original Senate healthcare plans in July and is seen as a pivotal vote on the GCHJ.

American Heart Association: Sixteen Patient and Provider Groups Oppose Graham/Cassidy Bill

Sixteen patient and provider groups oppose the proposal put forward by Senators Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Bill Cassidy (R-La.), Dean Heller (R-Nev.), and Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) that will negatively impact patients’ access to adequate and affordable health coverage and care.

This bill would limit funding for the Medicaid program, roll back important essential health benefit protections, and potentially open the door to annual and lifetime caps on coverage, endangering access to critical care for millions of Americans. Our organizations urge senators to oppose this legislation.

Affordable, adequate care is vital to the patients we represent. This legislation fails to provide Americans with what they need to maintain their health. In fact, much of the proposal just repackages the problematic provisions of the Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA), which we opposed.

Signers:
ALS Association
American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network
American Diabetes Association
American Heart Association
American Lung Association
Arthritis Foundation
Cystic Fibrosis Foundation
Family Voices
JDRF
Lutheran Services in America
March of Dimes
National Health Council
National Multiple Sclerosis Society
National Organization for Rare Diseases
Volunteers of America
WomenHeart

American Hospitals Association: Statement on the Graham-Cassidy Proposal
We believe that coverage could be at risk for tens of millions of Americans under the Graham-Cassidy proposal. We continue to urge senators to work in a bipartisan manner to address the challenges facing our health care system.

This proposal would erode key protections for patients and consumers and does nothing to stabilize the insurance market now or in the long term. In addition, the block grant to provide support for the expansion population expires in 2026, thereby eliminating coverage for millions of Americans.

For these reasons, we oppose the Graham-Cassidy plan.

Forbes: AMA Says Latest Trumpcare Bill Violates ‘Do No Harm’ Pledge

The American Medical Association joined a parade of patient advocates, healthcare groups and the largest senior lobby to oppose the Republican-led Senate’s latest effort to overhaul the Affordable Care Act, saying it would lead to millions losing coverage and hurt Americans with pre-existing medical conditions.

“Proposals should maintain key insurance market reforms, such as coverage for pre-existing conditions, guaranteed issue, and parental coverage for young adults; stabilize and strengthen the individual insurance market; ensure that low- and moderate-income patients are able to secure affordable and meaningful coverage; and guarantee that Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and other safety-net programs are adequately funded,” AMA CEO Dr. James Madara said.

“Unfortunately, the Graham-Cassidy Amendment fails to match this vision and violates the precept of ‘first do no harm,'”AMA’s Madara added in his letter.

AARP: Graham Cassidy Letter to Senate
Older Americans care deeply about access to and affordability of health care. They need and deserve affordable premiums, lower out-of-pocket costs, and coverage they can count on as they age. On behalf of our nearly 38 million members in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, AARP is urging the Senate to reject the Graham/Cassidy/Heller/Johnson bill because it would do precisely the opposite. Overall, the Graham/Cassidy/Heller/Johnson bill would increase health care costs for older Americans with an age tax, decrease coverage, and undermine pre- existing condition protections. In addition, this bill would jeopardize the ability of older Americans and people with disabilities to stay in their own homes as they age and threaten coverage for individuals in nursing homes.

Should this bill be brought to the Senate floor for a vote, we strongly urge all Senators to vote NO. As our members expect from AARP, we will monitor each Senator’s vote should this bill come to the Senate floor and notify older Americans by reporting the vote in our publications, online, through the media, and in direct alerts to our members.

Consumers UnionGraham-Cassidy Another Version of Proposals Already Rejected by Americans, Senate

Consumers Union, the policy and mobilization arm of Consumer Reports, today strongly opposed the Graham-Cassidy-Heller-Johnson proposal, the latest effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

Betsy Imholz, Special Projects Director for Consumers Union, said, “The Graham-Cassidy bill is the third strike in this losing game of repealing the Affordable Care Act. Just like its predecessors, this plan would leave tens of millions uninsured, threaten key consumer protections and coverage requirements, and fundamentally alter Medicaid by drastically cutting funding and shifting billions of dollars of healthcare costs onto states and consumers. This is just another version of the previous failed proposals that were not only rejected by the majority of Americans, they were rejected by the Senate itself.”

AASA: AASA Call-To-Action: Save Medicaid In Schools

Rather than close the gap and eliminate the rate of uninsured children in America, the current proposal will ration the health care America’s most vulnerable children receive and undermine the ability of districts to meet the educational needs of students with disabilities and students in poverty.

Graham-Cassidy would undermine critical healthcare services my district provides to children. It would also lead to layoffs of school personnel, the potential for new taxes to compensate for the Medicaid shortfall, and shifting general education dollars to special education programs to compensate for these cuts.

CCDGraham-Cassidy-Heller-Johnson (GCHJ) Letter to Senate

The undersigned members of the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD) write to express strong opposition to the Graham-Cassidy-Heller-Johnson (GCHJ) proposal. As we have commented on multiple proposals considered by the Senate, we cannot overstate the danger facing the millions of adults and children with disabilities if the proposal’s Medicaid provisions are adopted. The proposal’s imposition of a per capita cap and the elimination of the adult Medicaid expansion would decimate a program that has provided essential healthcare and long term services and supports to millions of adults and children with disabilities for decades. We are also extremely concerned about the changes proposed to the private individual health insurance market and the tax credits that currently assist low-income individuals, including individuals with disabilities, to purchase insurance.

Durham Town Council Votes to Establish Indigenous Peoples’ Day 

At last evening’s Durham Town Council meeting, September 18, 2017, following 60 min. of intense discussion, and over an hour of public comment, the Council approved the 2nd Monday in October as Indigenous Peoples’ Day in Durham by a vote of 7 in favor and 2 opposed. Durham, host to UNH, is the 1st community in NH to take such a step.

“After much consideration and reflection regarding the discovery of the Americas by Christopher Columbus, the Town Council has come to support this resolution to designate the 2nd Monday in October as “Indigenous Peoples’ Day.”  Not only is it appropriate to our local history, but also to recognize and value indigenous people everywhere.  The designation will encourage people to learn more about the legacy of Christopher Columbus and the “Doctrine of Discovery,” while also recognizing the devastating affects of colonialism on indigenous peoples,” stated Town Manager Todd Selig.

History of topic in Durham:

During the Public Comments section of the Town Council meeting on February 6, 2017, Durham resident Neil Ferris spoke about a movement underway to replace Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples’ Day. He said the New Hampshire State Legislature should join Vermont in this effort, and could use some nudging on this from Durham. He asked that this be placed on the Council’s agenda in the near future.

During the Town Council roundtable discussion at the Town Council meeting on April 17, 2017, Councilor Wayne Burton noted Mr. Ferris’ earlier request and suggested that Administrator Selig bring the request to the Durham Human Rights Commission (HRC) for discussion and then come back to the Council on whether the commission believed this was a viable idea. 

This item was placed on the HRC’s meeting agenda for June 7, 2017 and Mr. Ferris was in attendance. Mr. Ferris said his request was for Durham to replace Columbus Day with an Indigenous Peoples’ Day and also petition the State of New Hampshire to do the same. He felt that if enough communities in New Hampshire were to do this, then the state may be more inclined to follow suit. He noted that efforts should be made to encourage people to become educated about Native Americans and America’s real history and anything that can be done toward this type of effort should be embraced. 

The commission continued its consideration of Mr. Ferris’ request at its meeting on July 26, 2017. Based on the discussion held at that meeting, Mr. Selig said he had given additional thought to other possible solutions besides replacing Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples’ Day. He offered an alternate name: “The Age of Exploration and Indigenous Peoples’ Day”, that would celebrate both the age of European exploration and the cultures and values of Indigenous Peoples, and to reflect upon the historical offenses against and ongoing struggles of indigenous people. The group discussed this notion further and consensus was to move it forward to the Town Council for its consideration.

The Human Rights Commission met again on September 6, 2017 and reviewed and discussed a draft resolution introduced by Mr. Selig that would have designated the second Monday in October as “The Age of Exploration and Indigenous Peoples’ Day” in Durham. Some amended language was offered by members of the group and this language has been incorporated into a draft resolution for the Council’s review and consideration on Monday evening, September 11, 2017, at the Town Council meeting.  

On Monday evening, September 18, 2017, the Council ultimately chose to call the day, simply, Indigenous Peoples Day. 

To our knowledge, Durham is the first community in New Hampshire to establish the 2nd Monday in October as a day that recognizes Indigenous Peoples in addition to European exploration in the Americas.  A growing number of states and communities have taken such as step in recent years to include Los Angeles, Vermont, Denver, Phoenix, Seattle, Minneapolis, Albuquerque, and Bangor.  

Senate Passes National Defense Authorization Act With Praise From Shaheen, Hassan

(Washington, DC) – Today, the Senate passed the Fiscal Year 2018 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which is critical legislation outlining the nation’s defense priorities for the fiscal year. The bill includes the following provisions spearheaded by U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), who is a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee:

  • Shaheen’s bipartisan amendment that would direct the Department of Defense to fund a nationwide health study on implications of perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs), such as PFOA, in drinking water. In May, the Air Force announced it would not fund a health study of water contamination around Haven Well at the Pease International Tradeport – Shaheen’s amendment establishes the first-ever nationwide study on the human health effects of those exposed to PFCs in their drinking water;
  • Shaheen’s amendment to ban Kaspersky Lab software from being used by the federal government. The Moscow-based software company has ties to the Kremlin. Shaheen’s previous amendment to ban Kaspersky Lab software from being used by the Department of Defense was included in the committee-passed version of the bill in June. Last week, the Trump administration heeded Senator Shaheen’s call to ban the software company from all federal agencies;
  • Shaheen’s amendment encourages military exchanges (retail stores), including the Army & Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES) on 3,100 U.S. Army and Air Force installations worldwide, to select more small business suppliers for its convenience and department stores;
  • Shaheen’s amendment to expand the ability of small businesses in rural areas to participate in the Historically Underutilized Business Zone (HUBZone) program, which helps small businesses sell to the federal government;
  • Shaheen’s amendment to ensure that all non-active service members and their dependents have contraception coverage with no cost-share, bringing TRICARE in line with standard civilian birth control coverage;
  • Shaheen negotiated an additional 4,000 visas for the Afghan Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) program. The SIV program allows Afghan interpreters and support staff who have assisted in the U.S. mission in Afghanistan and face threats as a result of their service to apply for refuge in the United States. Shaheen’s efforts have been instrumental in keeping this program operating for the brave men and women who have stood shoulder-to-shoulder with Americans in the field, putting themselves and their families at risk to support American troops and operations.

“This bill contains a number of measures to help our communities, including my bipartisan amendment to authorize the Department of Defense to fund a health study on PFOA contaminant, which has polluted water supplies across the nation, and among them, the Haven Well at Pease International Tradeport,” said Shaheen. “The affected communities in New Hampshire have been fighting tirelessly for answers about the risks from exposure to perfluorinated chemicals in their drinking water. They deserve answers, and this measure will help do just that. Going forward, I’ll work to ensure that this national study pays particular attention to the health impacts on Seacoast residents so we can give peace of mind to New Hampshire families who have been impacted by these contaminants.”

“The case against Kaspersky Lab is overwhelming. The strong ties between Kaspersky Lab and the Kremlin are alarming and well-documented. I’m very pleased that the Senate has acted in a bipartisan way on my amendment that removes a real vulnerability to our national security. I applaud the Trump administration for heeding my call to remove Kaspersky Lab software from all federal computers. It’s important that this prohibition also be a part of statute and be expanded to the entire federal government, as my amendment would do. Considering the strong bipartisan, bicameral support for this proposal, I’m optimistic this will soon be signed into law.”

“We are forever indebted to the courageous Afghan civilian interpreters who risk their lives to help American forces. Their efforts have not only supported the United States’ mission in Afghanistan, but they have protected and saved the lives of our service members in the field, helping to ensure that our soldiers make it home to their families. Though investments in this program have previously wavered, I’m encouraged by this bill’s authorization to bolster visa allocations for interpreters and support staff, and I have confidence that Congress will build on this progress as we move forward,” Shaheen concluded.

Senator Maggie Hassan voted to support the legislation and released the following statement.

“In the face of a vast number of national security threats we face as a country, it is essential that the brave men and women who put their lives on the line every day to defend our freedom have the support and resources necessary to keep all Granite Staters and Americans safe,” said Senator Hassan. “I am proud to support the bipartisan National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018, which supports critical priorities for our national security including providing important funding to upgrade facilities at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.”

“This bipartisan legislation will not only help strengthen security in New Hampshire, but will help boost our economy and create jobs by authorizing funding for the procurement of F-35 Joint Strike Fighters, which several suppliers in the Granite State help develop,” Senator Hassan added. “I will continue working across the aisle to ensure that our state and our country remain the strongest military force, while also remaining the greatest force for good.”

The NDAA for 2018 also establishes a nationwide health study on perfluorinated chemicals and other emerging contaminants in drinking war, it includes a 2.1 percent pay increase for U.S. military personnel.

The NDAA passed the Senate by a vote of 89 to 8.

The Senate and House of Representatives will now go to conference on the legislation where it will be finalized and sent to the President’s desk to be signed into law.

GOP Pushes A New Repeal Plan

Here we go again!

Once again the Republicans in the U.S. Senate are working to strip healthcare from millions of working families by pushing yet another “Obamacare” repeal.

The newest bill, put forth by Senators Lindsey Graham and Bill Cassidy, would repeal the Affordable Care Act, decimating the Medicaid expansion program, leaving and estimated 32 million people without healthcare.

Overall the right-wing plan would cut $229 billion dollars eliminating the healthcare exchange subsidies and the funding allotted for the expansion of Medicaid.

The Graham-Cassidy bill would offer states “block grants” to offset the cost of providing healthcare to low-income families. Funding for these grants would continue to decrease over the next decade until they completely dry up in 2027.

According to research from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, by 2020 the Graham-Cassidy block grants would be sending $39 billion less to states than the current law would. CBPP estimates the Graham-Cassidy bill would slash $179 billion from healthcare funding by 2026.

Andy Slavitt, President Obama’s former director of Medicare, sent out this image, highlighting the massive cuts if the Graham-Cassidy bill goes through.

In a September 8th editorial board meeting with Seacoast Online, Governor Chris Sununu said he was “very excited” about the newest Graham-Cassidy Trumpcare bill that he claims to have helped create with Republican governors across the country. Sununu had high praise for the legislation saying it “really takes into account a lot of the things that governors are looking for.” (Sununu now says he opposed the bill. See update below) 

However, Republican Governor Charlie Baker of neighboring Massachusetts said the bill would “dramatically negatively affect the Commonwealth.”

“Sununu brags about creating this Graham-Cassidy Trumpcare bill when he should be apologizing for it. Granite Staters will see premiums skyrocket and Medicaid beneficiaries lose coverage because of Governor Sununu,” said Ray Buckley, Chair of the NH Democratic Party. “This legislation would do enormous damage to Granite Staters’ health and economic well-being, and the Governor should immediately rescind his support.”

Senator Hassan tweeted her opposition to the bill by calling on everyone to contact their Senator’s office and tell them to oppose this bill.

“We must take #GrahamCassidy health care repeal bill seriously and speak out NOW. We cannot let this pass.”

The Graham-Cassidy bill would also remove the subsides that allows, low-to-moderate income families to purchase healthcare through the healthcare exchange. All in all more than 30,000 Granite Staters will be denied access to affordable healthcare.

The good news is that right now the Republicans do not have enough votes to pass “RepublicanCare 3.0”. The bad news is that Senator John McCain is indicating he may support this bill despite being the deciding vote against the Senate’s previous repeal effort.

CPPB estimates that Arizonans stands to lose $1.6 billion in federal funding by 2026 and 78,000 would lose the coverage they have gained through the Affordable Care act.

If McCain votes with his party, and Senators Collins and Murkowski vote against it as they did last time, we could end up in a 50-50 tie. For us, a tie is a loss as Vice President Pence would be the tie-breaker as he did with the DeVos’s confirmation.

We must take action now. We must inform our Senators that this bill will harm real working families like yours and mine. We must tell them to oppose this harmful legislation.

Pick up the phone and dial, (202) 224-3121 to be connected to the Senate switchboard. In case you need it, Indivisible posted a sample call script for citizens to use when calling your Senators office.

Republicans in the Senate have till the end of September to get this passed, so they are working hard and fast.  We must stop them now, before they steal healthcare from 30 million people.


UPDATE 7PM 9-18

Governor Chris Sununu comes out against the bill he claims to have help craft.

Governor Sununu’s statement:

“While I continue to strongly believe that Obamacare must be reformed, it must be replaced with something that works for New Hampshire. The Graham-Cassidy healthcare plan has some laudable aspects, including offering more flexibility to states in managing Medicaid. Unfortunately, under this plan, New Hampshire could possibly lose over a $1 billion in Medicaid funding between 2020-2026. While innovative, consumer-driven programs that eliminate waste and provide flexibility is the direction our nation’s health care must go, it is not practical for New Hampshire to craft a system with over $1 billion in cuts to federal funding. New Hampshire is proud of its tradition of not having an income tax or sales tax and remains vigilant against down-shifting of costs onto states that become general fund liabilities. As such, I cannot support this plan as it is currently drafted. It is my hope that Congress will continue to improve this plan to earn New Hampshire’s support. If given the opportunity, we stand ready to roll up our sleeves and craft a fiscally responsible system that works for all Granite Staters and does not ask us to subsidize the health care costs of other states.”

In reaction to Sununu’s flip-flop, NHDP Chair Ray Buckley issued the following statement:

“Just a week after bragging about his role in creating the Graham-Cassidy health care repeal bill, calling it ‘very exciting’ and saying he’s ‘hoping it actively gets proposed,’ Sununu has seen enough bad press on the bill to pull back his support. Graham-Cassidy would of course ravage the benefits so many Granite Staters depend on, including slashing Medicaid by half a billion dollars in the state and ending Medicaid expansion in the middle of the opioid crisis. Today, Sununu reaffirmed what we already knew: that he is spineless and has no qualms with completely reversing positions on a dime depending on what benefits him politically. He is fighting for himself, not for New Hampshire.”

Senator Hassan Calls on Secretary DeVos to Reverse Rollback of Student Loan Borrower Protections 

U.S. Department of Education Terminated Student Loan Servicing Agreement with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Putting Student Borrowers at Risk 

WASHINGTON –Today, Senator Maggie Hassan joined a number of her colleagues in the U.S. House and Senate in calling on Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to reverse her decision to stop cooperating with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). 

“Without CFPB oversight, we are deeply concerned this backward step will allow student loan servicers to more easily take advantage of borrowers,” the members wrote. “Students and borrowers cannot afford to see these protections rolled back. Cooperation between the Department and CFPB is in the best interest of students, borrowers, and taxpayers, and the Department’s decision to abandon this partnership is contrary to its stated mission to ‘ease the burden of borrowers.’”

Several weeks ago, the U.S. Department of Education sent a letter to the CFPB stating, “The Department takes exception to the CFPB unilaterally expanding its oversight role to include the Department’s contracted federal loan servicers. The Department has full oversight responsibility for federal student loans” and baselessly asserting “…the CFPB is using the Department’s data to expand its jurisdiction into areas that Congress never envisioned.”

In the letter to Secretary DeVos, the members called the Department’s claims “inaccurate” and noted that Congress has given multiple federal agencies jurisdiction over consumer protection in federal student loan servicing. The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act established the Office of Student Loan Ombudsman at the CFPB. The law also ordered the Department and CFPB to enter into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to share information about borrowers that are mistreated by student loan servicing companies.

The letter also called on the Department to provide Congress with documents relating to its decision and any plans the Department has for coming back into compliance with the law.

See below for the full letter to Secretary DeVos:

Dear Secretary DeVos:

We write regarding the inaccurate claims of authority the U.S. Department of Education (“the Department”) made in its letter dated August 31, 2017, terminating two Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs) with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). The justifications the Department provided in revoking these agreements reflect a fundamental misunderstanding of both its authority and that of other federal agencies. While the Department does have authority to administer the federal student loan programs, that authority is not exclusive and has been intentionally constrained by law due to the Department’s historical negligence in carrying out many of its oversight responsibilities over federal student loan servicers. Without CFPB oversight, we are deeply concerned this backward step will allow student loan servicers to more easily take advantage of borrowers.

The August 31st letter states: “The Department takes exception to the CFPB unilaterally expanding its oversight role to include the Department’s contracted federal loan servicers. The Department has full oversight responsibility for federal student loans” and “…the CFPB is using the Department’s data to expand its jurisdiction into areas that Congress never envisioned.”

These assertions are false. Multiple federal regulators and law enforcement agencies serve important roles overseeing companies that contract with the Department to service federal student loans. Federal student loan servicers are subject to periodic reporting requirements, regulation, and oversight by the Securities and Exchange Commission. In fact, the largest student loan servicer in the United States, Navient, noted in its most recent quarterly report that the company and its subsidiaries are “subject to examination or regulation by the SEC, CFPB, FDIC (Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation) and ED (U.S. Department of Education), as well as various state agencies as part of its ordinary course of business.” Furthermore, as creditors to servicemembers, student loan servicers are subject to oversight and enforcement actions by the U.S. Department of Justice for violations of the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA). In 2014, the CFPB joined the U.S. Department of Justice and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation to secure a $60 million settlement to resolve allegations that Navient systematically overcharged servicemembers on their student loans. In addition, state attorneys general and other state-based consumer protection entities regularly conduct investigations and enforcement actions on a bipartisan basis to protect students in their states from illegal activities and misconduct of federal loan servicers.

In 2010, after a financial crisis caused in large part by a failure to appropriately protect consumers, Congress passed the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (“Dodd-Frank Act”), establishing the CFPB and giving it clear authorities to enforce federal consumer protection laws and supervise banks and non-banks that provide financial services, including student loan servicers and debt collectors. Section 1024 of the Act instructs the CFPB to identify large non-bank financial companies that pose risks to consumers so that they may supervise and examine them. In 2013, the CFPB worked in consultation with the Department to finalize a rule related to large participants in the student loan servicing market, which covered a number of federal student loan servicers.

The Department’s contracted federal student loan servicers are also subject to other federal consumer financial protection laws over which the CFPB was given rulemaking and enforcement authority in the Dodd-Frank Act, such as the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and the Fair Credit Reporting Act. Section 1031 of this law authorizes the CFPB to use its enforcement powers to prevent consumer financial services providers, like the Department’s contracted federal student loan servicers, from engaging in unfair, deceptive, or abusive practices.

Congress also established a Student Loan Ombudsman at the CFPB whose responsibilities include working with the Department to “resolve complaints related to [borrowers’] private education or federal student loans” and is specifically instructed to enter into a MOU with the Department in order to do so. Contrary to the Department’s assertion, Congress has not exempted companies that service or collect on federal student loans from any consumer financial protection law.

Since the CFPB was established, it has cooperated with other federal agencies, including the Department, to ensure that students and borrowers are protected from harmful financial practices and are able to benefit from programs that reduce default and delinquency. In 2016, the Department, the U.S. Department of the Treasury, and the CFPB engaged in a joint effort to standardize student loan servicing expectations and modernize credit reporting for student loans. The CFPB also worked with the Department to create a model financial aid disclosure form to make borrowing costs clearer to students. And, the Department specifically consulted with the CFPB in developing rules to protect students from predatory debit and prepaid cards that they may use to receive federal financial aid.

Cooperation among federal agencies is crucial to overseeing approximately $130 billion in federal financial aid the Department disperses annually and the more than $1 trillion it manages in its federal student loan portfolio.  Our country’s investment in affordable higher education provides individuals with the skills they need to participate in the 21st century economy. Cooperative oversight of this investment in higher education helps to safeguard students, borrowers, and taxpayers. Unfortunately, the Department’s recent actions to abandon cooperation with the CFPB come during a time when it is also systematically rolling back rules meant to protect students and making numerous questionable personnel decisions, which cast doubt on assertions that the Department is focusing on consumer protection.

Neither federal student loans nor their servicers are beyond the reach of state and federal consumer protection laws or the federal agencies and state entities that have regulatory, enforcement, and supervisory jurisdiction over them. Thus, we request the Department follow Congressional intent and reverse its rescission of the MOUs with the CFPB dated October 19, 2011 and January 9, 2014. Students and borrowers cannot afford to see these protections rolled back. Cooperation between the Department and CFPB is in the best interest of students, borrowers, and taxpayers and the Department’s decision to abandon this partnership is contrary to its stated mission to “ease the burden for borrowers.”

Further, we request the Department provide us by September 29, 2017 with:

  1. Any communications, including e-mails and records of telephone conversations, with the CFPB, its staff, or any agents thereof, where the Department identified concerns with or breaches of the information-sharing arrangements under the MOUs.
  2. Any data, analysis, documentation or other work product that supports the Department’s claim that the CFPB has taken any action that exceeds its authorities.
  3. Any communications, including e-mails and records of telephone conversations, with federal education loan servicers, their staff or any agents thereof, regarding the content of the August 31, 2017 letter to the CFPB.
  4. Any policies, plans, or procedures the Department has to increase oversight of federal student loan servicers and to monitor potential violations of consumer protection law identified by borrower complaints until the MOUs are replaced or reinstated in order to come into compliance with legal requirements for interagency agreement.

Sincerely,

Shea-Porter Announces 2017 Congressional App Challenge

 DOVER, NH – Congresswomen Carol Shea-Porter (NH-01) today announced a call for entries for the 2017 Congressional App Challenge, a competition aimed at encouraging U.S. high school students to learn how to code by creating their own apps. Since 2015, the Challenge has highlighted the value of computer science and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) education and encouraged students to engage in these fields.

“I am excited to announce today’s call for entries, and I’m encouraging high school students in New Hampshire’s First District to hone their creativity and technical skills by entering the App Challenge,” said Shea-Porter.

The competition is open to all New Hampshire high school students who meet the eligibility requirements, regardless of coding experience. Shea-Porter strongly encourages students of all skill levels to participate and learn how to create their own apps. Winners will be selected by a panel of judges and be given Congressional recognition for their achievements in STEM and Computer Science. Their apps may be eligible to be featured in a display in the U.S. Capitol in Washington D.C. and on the Congressional App Challenge website.

The Challenge was created because Congress recognized that STEM and computer-based skills are essential for economic growth and innovation, and that the U.S. has been falling behind on these fronts. By some estimates, the U.S. may be short as many as a million programmers by 2020. These are high-paying, high-demand jobs. To maintain American competitiveness, it’s crucial that the United States invests in our youth now, and helps them acquire these valuable skills.

The deadline for entries is November 1st. For more information or to submit an entry, constituents may visit shea-porter.house.gov/services/appchallenge.  For further information about the Congressional App Challenge, please visit www.CongressionalAppChallenge.us.

Latest Poverty Numbers Do Not Show The Real Struggles Of NH Working Families

New Hampshire Poverty Rate Continues to Decline, but Many
Granite Staters Still Struggle with Very Limited Income

Concord, NH – New data released today by the U.S. Census Bureau finds that New Hampshire’s poverty rate declined to 7.3 percent in 2016, down from 8.2 percent in 2015. New Hampshire continues to boast the lowest state poverty rate in the country, a distinction it has held for the last decade.

“New Hampshire’s low poverty rate masks the experiences of far too many Granite Staters who live above the federal poverty threshold and struggle to afford basic necessities,” said John Shea, executive director of the New Hampshire Fiscal Policy Institute. “In particular, the state’s high cost of housing leaves many working families with little income left to put food on the table and acquire other essentials.”

The Census Bureau data finds an estimated 94,289 people in New Hampshire lived below the federal poverty line in 2016. The poverty threshold used by the Census Bureau for income in the twelve months preceding July 2016 is $12,391 for an individual under 65 years of age and $19,171 for a family of three with one child.

NHFPI analysis of the 2016 Census poverty data for New Hampshire finds that females were more likely than males to live in poverty, with estimated poverty rates of 8.1 percent and 6.5 percent, respectively. Those 65 years of age or older were less likely to live in poverty, with an estimated poverty rate of 4.6 percent, than those under 18 years old, who faced a poverty rate of 7.9 percent. Child poverty declined 2.8 percent from the 2015 level. NHFPI’s analysis is available here.

The official poverty threshold understates the degree of economic insecurity in New Hampshire and elsewhere. Due to a relatively high cost of living, New Hampshire families require a significantly higher level of income in order to afford housing, child care, health care, transportation, and food, among other basic necessities. NHFPI’s 2016 report, Taking the Measure of Need in the Granite State, outlines the shortcomings of the official poverty measures and examines alternate methods of assessing what it takes to afford a modest standard of living in various regions of the state.

New Hampshire’s low poverty rate does not provide an accurate measure of the numbers of workers struggling to get by. NHFPI analysis of the 2016 Census poverty data finds that approximately 117,000 households, or more than one in five households, collected less than $35,000 in income and benefits in 2016. In contrast, the state’s estimated median household income for 2016 was $70,936.

Despite a strong economy and low unemployment rate, much of the recent job growth in New Hampshire has occurred in sectors that typically offer low wages, such as the health care, social assistance, accommodation and food services industries, and wages for many low-income workers have not kept pace with inflation. NHFPI’s Snapshot of the State’s Labor Market outlines average weekly wages in these fields and additional information.

“As New Hampshire endeavors to sustain a strong workforce, policymakers should strive to ensure that all residents have access to the necessary education and training that will prepare them for new employment opportunities and help them achieve economic stability,” added NHFPI Executive Director John Shea. “In addition, policymakers should find ways to increase the availability of housing and child care services, which are affordable to all residents.”


The New Hampshire Fiscal Policy Institute is an independent, non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to exploring, developing, and promoting public policies that foster economic opportunity and prosperity for all New Hampshire residents, with an emphasis on low- and moderate-income families and individuals. Learn more at www.nhfpi.org.

Workplace Safety Groups Head To Houston To Train Reconstruction Workers

After Harvey, Immigrant and Labor Rights Groups Team Up to Provide Ongoing Health and Safety Training for Reconstruction Workers 

Harvey Flood and Damage by Jill Carlson (jillcarlson.org) FLIKR CC

Fe y Justicia Worker Center, National COSH, Chemical Workers Union and National Day Laborer Organizing Network deliver “Train-the-Trainers” sessions and prepare Reconstruction Works campaign to support recovery workers facing severe toxic health and safety hazards in the workplace 

HOUSTON, TX:  With recovery efforts underway from the devastating effect of Hurricane Harvey – and new storm damage now confronting Puerto Rico, Florida and the Caribbean – health and safety trainers as well as workers and immigrant rights advocates from local and national safety groups will be in Houston this week to train workers and community members on safe clean up procedures and their rights to a safe workplace.

Ongoing efforts are currently underway to expand and build upon past “Reconstruction Works” campaigns that have played a critical role in supporting reconstruction workers after Hurricane Sandy, Hurricane Rita and other disasters.

During previous cleanup efforts recovery workers exposed to flood waters suffered skin infections, lesions, asthma attacks, allergic reactions and other conditions. Workers are also exposed to the risk of lead poisoning and asbestos exposure when working in damaged or collapsed buildings.

This week, experienced health and safety trainers from National COSH and other COSH affiliates from around the country will join local advocates from the Houston-based COSH affiliate Fe y Justicia (Faith and Justice) Worker Center to provide “Train-the-Trainer” classes for workers and advocates, who will in turn provide awareness training in workplaces and communities throughout Houston.

“The response from COSH groups and our allies to the emergency on the Gulf Coast has been amazing,” said National COSH co-executive director Jessica Martinez, who is joining the “Train-the-Trainer” session in Houston. “Groups are sending people, sharing information and resources and helping to raise funds so that recovery workers can stay safe while rebuilding their communities.”

“Most Houston neighborhoods were somehow impacted, so workers and neighbors are cleaning up a wide range of water and wind damage that can get people seriously hurt,” said Marianela Acuña Arreaza, executive director of Faith and Justice Worker Center (Centro de Trabajadores Fe y Justicia), the premier worker center in the Houston area coordinating local efforts.

“Day laborers, construction workers, utility workers, domestic workers, as well as neighbors and volunteers, are already going into flooded and damaged buildings, where they will encounter mold, sewage, and air and water that may have been contaminated with toxic pollutants,” said Acuña Arreaza. “Our goal is to equip them with the tools and information they need to reduce the risk of getting sick, injured or killed while taking on these difficult assignments.”

“Gulf Coast communities face a massive, urgent rebuilding job, as will Florida, Puerto Rico and Caribbean islands,” said Frank Cyphers, President of the Akron, Ohio-based International Chemical Workers Union Council (ICWUC). The ICWUC, a council of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union, is assisting the worker and community training effort in Houston, with support from federal grants from the National Institute of Environmental and Health Sciences (NIEHS).

“This is no time to cut corners on worker safety,” said Cyphers. “We need to build on lessons learned during recovery from 9/11, Hurricane Katrina, Hurricane Sandy and other disasters: Workers must know their rights – and know how to assess and prevent potential hazards.”

BACKGROUND: The three-day, bilingual “Train-the-Trainer” sessions, in English and Spanish, begins today, September 13th at the Dominican Sisters of Houston campus. The curriculum will develop trainers to teach safety awareness, workplace safety rights, and information about mold, sewage, airborne and waterborne contaminants, and other hazards associated with disaster recovery.

In addition to upcoming training sessions, National COSH has partnered with NYCOSH to provide a series of fact sheets on safe clean up procedures. The fact sheets describe known hazards experienced during previous recovery efforts, including asphyxiation, building collapse, electrocution, explosion, mold, sewage, toxic contaminants and other conditions.

As recovery efforts continue in the coming weeks and months, Fe y Justicia Worker Center will operate a hotline for affected workers and provide ongoing safety awareness training at worksites and community centers.  A donation page at youcaring.com gives concerned citizens a way to support safe and sustainable recovery efforts.


Fe y Justicia (Faith and Justice) Worker Center, based in Houston, campaigns for justice and dignity for day laborers, domestic workers and other vulnerable workers.

National COSH links the efforts of local worker health and safety coalitions in communities across the United States, advocating for elimination of preventable hazards in the workplace. For more information, please visit coshnetwork.org

The International Chemical Workers Union Council (ICWUC), based in Akron, Ohio, represents workers in the chemical industry and other occupations in the U.S. The ICWUC has six worker health and safety federal grants and collaborates with 10 other union partners, including National COSH, to conduct a range of worker safety and health programs and develop rank and file worker trainers.

The National Day Laborer Organizing Network works to improve the lives of day laborers in the United States. NDLON works to unify and strengthen its member organizations to be more strategic and effective in their efforts to develop leadership, mobilize and organize day laborers.

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