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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.

Even Trump Voters Oppose Eliminating Prevailing Wage Laws

National Poll: Most Voters Support Prevailing Wage
on Public Infrastructure Projects

A new national survey shows that strong majorities of Democrats and Republicans each oppose the elimination of prevailing wage laws, which establish local-market minimum wages for different skilled crafts on government funded construction projects.

The new polling comes as several states consider changes to their prevailing wage laws, and the Trump Administration prepares to roll out a national infrastructure plan.

“While voters may have disagreed on many issues this past November, they agree that prevailing wage laws should be preserved by a wide margin,” said pollster Brian Stryker. “Only 21% of voters want to eliminate prevailing wage lawseven after hearing a commonly referenced argument for doing so. And support for prevailing wage extends to large majorities of Democrats, Republicans, Independents and Trump voters.”

The polling also shows that support for labor unions is growing as 52% had a favorable opinion of labor unions.  33% of self proclaimed Trump supporters had a favorable opinion of labor unions.

When it comes to the prevailing wage, 54% of Trump voters and 69% of likely 2018 voters, oppose legislation to eliminate the prevailing wage.

Construction is America’s fourth largest industry, and directly supports more than 6.6 million jobs. About a quarter of annual construction output, or $363 billion, is spent on government owned construction projects—including roads, bridges, schools, transit systems, water projects and municipal buildings.

Prevailing Wages are determined by surveys of existing market wage and benefit rates for skilled craft workers—such as carpenters, plumbers, electricians, ironworkers, cement masons, heavy equipment operators and othersin more than 3,000 communities across America. The Davis Bacon Act requires prevailing wage on most federally funded construction projects while about thirty states have laws requiring prevailing wages on state or locally funded projects.

Most peer-reviewed research has linked prevailing wage laws with increased local hiring, lower poverty, safer worksites and better economic outcomes. These studies have concluded that prevailing wage laws have no significant impact on public construction costs because they boost workforce productivity and efficiency, while reducing spending on Medicaid, Food Stamps and other public assistance programs for construction workers.

Research has also revealed that these laws disproportionately benefit military veterans, prevent skilled workforce shortages by increasing apprenticeship training, and help to close wage gaps for women and people of color.

Despite the overwhelming public support for prevailing wage laws, three states have recently eliminated these standards (West Virginia, Indiana, Kentucky) on state funded public works, and  proposals to weaken or repeal these laws have been introduced in at least three other states (Missouri, Wisconsin, and Ohio).

The Federal Davis-Bacon Act was written by Republicans and signed into law by Republican President Herbert Hoover in 1931. The law has long enjoyed broad bi-partisan support. In 2015, fifty-four House Republicans joined with Democrats to reaffirm support for the Davis Bacon Act.

Click Here to read a summary of the polling results.


This story based on a press release from Smart Cities Prevail.

Smart Cities Prevail is a non-partisan, national non-profit research and education organization, focused on construction industry wage and contracting standards. Learn more at www.smartcitiesprevail.org

AFT-NH Legislative Bulletin: A Triple Crown Victory for Public Education

 

Bow, NH – April 25, 2017

As we all know, public education is under assault here in New Hampshire. Yesterday, though, we won three important victories, and it is time to take a moment to celebrate and to reflect. Days like today don’t come about too often, especially when opponents of public education control seemingly control every branch of NH government. But, through the hard work of thousands of people testifying in Concord, protesting outside the State House, writing letters and emails and calling their senators and representative, you won some important victories. So congratulations, rest up for a day, and get ready for the battles yet to come!

Edelblut Power Grab Halted! The Senate Education Committee defeated the amendment put forth by Sen Reagan, and supported by Commissioner Edelblut, which would have totally reorganized the Department of Education and consolidated much power in the hands of the commissioner. Sen. David Watters put forth an amendment which will have the reorganization and commissioner’s power referred to a study committee. Quick response by AFT-NH members and supporters of public education helped defeat this grab for power which could have had significant consequences for public education in NH.

Please take a moment, send an email or make a phone call and thank the three members of the Senate committee who listened to their constituents and defeated this power grab.

Senator Jay Kahn (D-Keene), 603-271-8631 or Jay.Kahn@leg.state.nh.us

Senator Ruth Ward (R-Stoddard), 603-271-6733 or ruth.ward@leg.state.nh.us

Senator David Watters (D-Dover), 603-271-8631 or david.watters@leg.state.nh.us

SB 193 Retained in Committee     The House Education Committee voted 15-4 today to retain SB 193 , the school voucher bill. This bill would have drained public tax dollars from public schools and diverted to education savings accounts for students in private and religious schools along with home-schooled children. By retaining this bill in committee, no action will be taken this year. There was overwhelming opposition to this bill. We will remain vigilant on any efforts to divert tax dollars from public education. There is no question that direct citizen outreach to state representatives made the difference!

Please be sure to write to the House Education committee and thank them for the defeat of this bill. You can contact the entire committee at the following address: HouseEducationCommittee@leg.state.nh.us

Full-Day Kindergarten Funding   SB 191, the kindergarten funding bill, came before the House Education Committee today and the Committee voted to recommend funding for full day kindergarten. This amended bill would go beyond the targeted funding proposed by
Governor Sununu. The bill will now go to the full House and will be subject to the scrutiny of House Finance since $5 million was added to the original $9 million in funding. If passed, this would be a great advancement for our schools and NH’s five-year olds. We’ll keep you apprised of the need for action as this bill proceeds.

In Solidarity,

Douglas Ley

AFT-NH, President

Waiting For Rep Fisher To Resign

Yesterday morning, The Daily Beast published an incredibly disturbing report in which Young Republican State Representative Robert Fisher (R-Laconia) was unmasked as one of the secret architects of the Internet’s misogynistic “Manosphere” as the founder of the “Red Pill” forum.

On the forum, Rep. Fisher went on numerous offensive, baseless, and misogynistic rants against women. For example  he attacked women for what he perceived to be their “sub-par intelligence,” accused women for getting a free ride because a woman’s body “grants [them] equal footing with somebody bringing intelligence or a personality,” and that rape isn’t “an absolute bad, because the rapist I think probably likes it a lot.”

Executive Director of the Young Democrats, State Representative Amelia Keane of Nashua issued the following statement in response to this damning report:

“Representative Fisher’s behavior is nothing short of repulsive. He should be deeply ashamed of himself. There is no excuse for the type of hateful and ignorant rhetoric anywhere in our state, none the less from someone elected to our State House to serve the men and women in his community.  If Rep. Fisher has any semblance of decency or shame left, he will resign his seat.

This is particularly disturbing given the fact that legislation to strengthen the rape-shield law is working its way through the legislature.  We hope and expect his Republican colleagues to call for his resignation, particularly given their support of a rape-shield and in clear contrast, Representative Fisher’s clear predatory and misogynistic behavior as well as creating an permission structure for disrespect and abuse.”

House Democratic Leader Steve Shurtleff (D-Penacook) released the following statement after seeing the report:

“I am shocked and disturbed by the report linking Representative Robert Fisher to deeply offensive statements and the creation of a misogynistic online forum.  The posts linked to Representative Fisher, which include chilling comments in defense of rape, are beyond reprehensible and have absolutely no place in civilized discourse.  If these allegations are true, I urge Speaker Jasper to join with me in requesting that Representative Fisher resign his seat in the New Hampshire House of Representatives.”

Today, after multiple calls for Fisher’s resignation including Republican Speaker of the House Shawn Jasper,  Governor Sununu has been completely silent.

“It is deeply discouraging but not surprising to see Governor Sununu remain silent on Robert Fisher’s unmasking, the same way he has hemmed and hawed on so many issues. True leaders lead by example by standing up to bullies and misogynists, something Sununu has still yet to do. Is this the kind of rhetoric and behavior Sununu thinks is acceptable in the Republican Party? He should follow the lead of both parties in the House by expressing his desire for Fisher’s resignation. This is not a partisan issue, it’s an issue of right and wrong. Perhaps it is time for Speaker Jasper and Governor Sununu to start speaking again so that, at the very least, they can be united on this one issue,” stated NHDP Chair Ray Buckley.

UPDATE 1PM

“Representative Fisher’s comments are horrendous and repulsive and his resignation is certainly in order,” Sununu said in a statement emailed to WMUR by his office.

See below for notable excerpts from the Daily Beast exposé:

The Republican Lawmaker Who Secretly Created Reddit’s Women-Hating ‘Red Pill’

An investigation into Fisher’s online aliases found a trail of posts linking the lawmaker to the username Pk_atheist, the creator of The Red Pill—an online Reddit community of nearly 200,000 subscribers which promotes itself as a “discussion of sexual strategy in a culture increasingly lacking a positive identity for men.”

In a state with one representative to every 3,200 people, many of Fisher’s female constituents are likely to know him personally—whether or not they know what he’d once posted about women online. And those comments were just the start.

…this community also subscribes to the beliefs that women lack both intelligence and substance, are programed to cheat on their partners, and expire after the age of 30. Its darkest sections are heavy with rape denialand apologia.

On The Red Pill, Fisher commonly expressed disappointment that the institutions of marriage and religion were destroyed by women’s equality. He maintained that as a result of financial independence, women were no longer compelled to remain faithful and as a result, men needed to protectively adapt their sexual strategy.

“To give women autonomy is to take away the very thing that made marriage a realistic institution…  what I dislike is the general attitude that somehow we owe [women] something for sex… Women enjoy the autonomy that feminism has afforded them… But don’t expect the relics from back in the day to continue to benefit you without the sacrifices you were making,” Fisher wroteon his blog Dating American, in 2012—just weeks before establishing The Red Pill.

Feminism took the lid off pandora’s box, but the mothers, and the daughters of those mothers never internalized, learned, or passed down the concept of responsibility for their freedoms, only the freedom itself.” Fisher wrote in 2013.

Of gaming women, Fisher said, “[women have] absolutely done this to themselves. I feel zero regret or shame pumping and dumping.”

He felt it was unjust that women get a free ride, believing “a pair of boobs grants [them] equal footing with somebody bringing intelligence or a personality.”

Fisher said he was not paranoid, but rather “statistically I’m overdue for a false rape allegation.”

“You can’t have sex with this many women without getting one,” he argued.

He wrote, “I’m going to say it- Rape isn’t an absolute bad, because the rapist I think probably likes it a lot. I think he’d say it’s quite good, really.”

Though he stated he “doesn’t advocate breaking the law,” Fisher said online in 2012 that a 40-year-old man asking to see the breasts of a 15-year-old wasn’t creepy. Instead, he said it was “evolutionarily advantageous and perfectly natural.”

In service of this freedom, Fishers claimed he installed a video recorder in his room. “There is literally no legal protection I can think of that could eliminate the risk of a previous sexual partner of mine falsely accusing me of rape, no matter what the circumstances. I now have a video recorder in my room,” he posted.

Since the story broke yesterday there have been many local articles on Rep Fisher.  Below are just a few. 

WMUR: State lawmaker admits saying ‘some injudicious things’ about women

House Speaker Shawn Jasper, R-Hudson, told WMUR in an interview he was “absolutely disgusted” by the posts attributed to Fisher in The Daily Beast report. Jasper said that because Fisher has not broken any laws, he cannot call on him to resign from his seat, but the speaker said, “I wish he would resign. It would be the honorable thing to do under the circumstances…”

“I would imagine that his constituents will see this information and I can only hope that this is addressed at the ballot box,” Jasper said.

Fisher told WMUR in a brief telephone call, however, that he has no intention of resigning…

Union Leader: ‘Red Pill’ puts online spotlight on NH rep

Fisher concluded his statement to the Union Leader by writing: “Here’s my message to the public: I am not disappearing. I will continue to stand strong for men’s rights and the rights of all…

Concord Monitor: State representative takes flak for misogynist online forum

Boston Magazine: Report: N.H. State Rep Created “Red Pill,” Reddit’s Misogyny Forum

New York Magazine: Reddit’s Hypermisogynist ‘Red Pill’ Forum Was Started by a New Hampshire State Legislator

A new report from the Daily Beast has seemingly unmasked the creator of Reddit’s infamous Red Pill forum. The /r/TheRedPill subreddit is the site’s main hub for discussing pickup-artist (PUA) techniques and the struggle for men’s rights. It counts just shy of 200,000 subscribers (and far more readers), mostly there to discuss how feminism is not really about equality, but about oppressing men.

Uproxx: A GOP Lawmaker has been revealed as the creator of Reddit’s Anti-Woman ‘Red Pill’ Forum

The far right tends to use the term “red pill” as a catch-all to describe social attitudes and indoctrination… but it mostly comes from the notorious anti-woman Reddit forum r/redpill. Now, the founder of that forum has been tracked down, and he’s a GOP lawmaker.

Yesterday Was Big Day In Concord For The Future Of Education In NH

Senate Stops Edelblut’s Power Grab, House Kills Voucher Bill And Funds Full Day Kindergarten

Governor Sununu’s Education Commissioner Edelblut requested broad new authority to make unilateral decisions impacting the future of education in New Hampshire 

Concord, NH – The NH State Senate Education Committee voted 3-2 yesterday to reject an amendment requested by Governor Sununu’s Education Commissioner Frank Edelblut. The amendment to otherwise non-controversial bill HB 356 would have given the new Commissioner broad authority to make unilateral decisions impacting education in the Granite State.

Granite State Progress Executive Director Zandra Rice Hawkins applauded the Senate’s actions:

“We applaud the Senate Education committee for rejecting the attempted power grab by Governor Sununu’s Education Commissioner Frank Edelblut. Much of the public opposition to Frank Edelblut’s nomination and confirmation highlighted concerns over how he would operate within the Department of Education, and actions like this confirm Governor Sununu and the Executive Council should have listened to their constituents. This amendment was not the routine organizational realignment Commissioner Edelblut tried to characterize it as but a naked power grab for political purposes. Since taking office Edelblut has consistently used his Commissioner status to act in a unilateral manner to try to implement the strongly held beliefs he downplayed during the confirmation process.”

Just two months into his position as Education Commissioner, Edelblut has already made waves for trying to re-open the Next Generation Science Standards that were just approved last year; he initially refused to come clean about making a donation to a school privatization lawsuit against the Department he now leads; he forwarded an internal job posting to one of his Free State Project friends and then sent that individual’s resume to the HR director (that individual is also on the Board of an off-shoot group organizing for New Hampshire to secede from the rest of the country); he is using his position to lobby for SB 193, school vouchers/privatization; and he tried to usurp the State Board of Education’s rule-making responsibilities by injecting himself between the State Board and JLCAR – all without informing the State Board.

The NH Democratic Party Chairman Ray Buckley said the Senate made the right move:

“After promising to be ‘an implementation guy’ who wouldn’t create policy, Education Commissioner Frank Edelblut went back on his word in an attempted agency power grab. Edelblut would have taken this massive increase in power to radically transform the education system in his distorted image and seriously damaged education for children in the Granite State.

Edelblut is anti-transgender rights, supports conversion therapy, and opposes full-day kindergarten on the basis of a crackpot theory that it would increase misdiagnoses of ADHD.  Most recently, Edelblut broadcast his views that climate change is mentioned too often in science classes, openly disagreeing with the state Board of Education, in an interview with NHPR. The Senate Education Committee’s vote rightly prevents Edelblut from implementing these destructive policies.”

On the other side of the Capitol, the House was making some big decisions as well.

Yesterday, the House Education Committee voted to retain SB 193, a bill that sought to establish taxpayer-funded vouchers for religious schools, private schools, and home school parents. The bill was defeated amidst backlash from concerned Superintendents, School Boards, teachers, and parents throughout New Hampshire.

Governor Sununu and former Governor Jeb Bush both penned op-eds in favor of exactly the type of legislation House Republicans retained today, supporting public money for private schools and home schoolers. The bill also appears to violate the New Hampshire Constitution. The Committee’s vote to retain SB 193 effectively kills its prospects for another year.

“No matter how quietly Governor Sununu tries to back away from this bill, the defeat of SB 193 is a big blow to his education agenda. Sununu’s own party effectively killed legislation that he campaigned on, and that he and former Governor Jeb Bush penned op-eds in favor of. Governor Sununu and his unqualified Education Commissioner Frank Edelblut are trying to reshape the education system in their image and Edelblut, a homeschool parent, would have been eligible to receive taxpayer dollars had this bill passed,” said NHDP Chair Ray Buckley.

“New Hampshire parents are breathing a sigh of relief with SB 193’s bipartisan retention. This ill-conceived bill would have cost taxpayers an additional $25 million dollars to remove students from our public schools. SB 193 would have violated the New Hampshire Constitution in the name of benefits for private and religious schools with no mandate to comply with education standards, decreased funding towards public schools, and limited options for families in rural towns,” added Buckley.

Lastly, The House Education Committee also moved forward on SB191 a bill to fund full day kindergarten for all New Hampshire children.

Governor Sununu who campaigned on Full Day Kindergarten surprised many when his budget only funded the program for a select few areas in the state.

SB191 would set aside $14 million to fund full day kindergarten for all students in New Hampshire.

Governor Sununu is said to be in support of SB191, but did not advocate for the to provide all children in NH access to full day kindergarten. The bill will move to the full house soon.

Senator Hassan Highlights Cuts To EPA At NH Based ReVision Energy

At ReVision Energy, Senator Hassan Highlights Harmful Impact of President Trump’s Proposed Budget Cuts on New Hampshire’s Renewable Energy Industry

Senator Hassan speaking with employees at ReVision Energy in Brentwood.

BRENTWOOD – Today, building on her efforts to create a more innovative and affordable clean energy future for New Hampshire’s people and businesses, Senator Maggie Hassan visited ReVision Energy, a solar energy company that is helping to create jobs and reduce New Hampshire’s carbon footprint while cutting energy costs for consumers.

The Senator toured the facility, met with employees, and emphasized how President Trump’s proposed budget cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and other federal programs that promote local renewable energy efforts would hurt New Hampshire’s people, businesses, and economy.

“ReVision Energy is helping to protect our environment while creating jobs and building a more innovative and affordable clean energy future for our people and businesses in the Granite State,” Senator Hassan said.  “Unfortunately, President Trump’s proposed budget undermines the important work of businesses like ReVision Energy, drastically cutting research programs at the EPA and the Department of Energy that focus on promoting energy efficiency and reducing our carbon footprint. I will continue to fight against these reckless cuts and work to achieve a cleaner environment and stronger energy future that will help our citizens, businesses, and economy thrive.”

ReVision Energy is working to build a cleaner, more innovative energy future in New Hampshire by leading the way in solar design, installation, and service for homes, businesses, municipal buildings, and nonprofits throughout the state and region. ReVision Energy is also a partner in the community-led effort, Energize 360, which encourages residents to measure, reduce, and renew energy use.

Senator Hassan has been a vocal opponent of President Trump’s proposed budget cuts to the EPA. Senator Hassan joined Senator Shaheen and others in sending a letter to the President expressing extreme concern over the cuts and the threat they pose to the EPA’s ability to protect public health and ensure that citizens have clean air and clean water.

AFGE President Cox: “In a government shutdown, it’s the American people who pay the price.”

AFGE president calls for Congress to pass budget to keep government open past April 28

WASHINGTON – J. David Cox Sr., national president of the American Federation of Government Employees, the nation’s largest federal employee union, today called on Congress to pass a federal budget and keep the government open for business.

“Congress shouldn’t be playing chicken with funding federal programs and services that veterans, seniors, and other hardworking people rely on,” Cox said. “In a government shutdown, it’s the American people who pay the price.”

Unless Congress passes legislation to fund the government past April 28, when the current continuing resolution expires, federal agencies will be forced to shut down most operations.

“The casualties during a government shutdown are endless,” Cox said. “There will be no more federal loans issued to small businesses or new home buyers. Federal research into cures for cancer or other deadly diseases will abruptly end. No more applications will be accepted for new Social Security cards, veterans’ benefits, and housing assistance. Our national parks, monuments, and museums will be forced to close.”

Cox also called on Congress to reject a White House proposal to cut $18 billion from federal agency budgets this fiscal year.

“The administration wants to slash funding for programs that help Americans find affordable housing, protect our environment, educate our children, and deliver mental and public health services to millions,” Cox said. “Those who need our help the most would be hit the hardest by these cuts.”

AFT-NH Legislative Bulletin 4-21-17: Protecting Public Schools From Edelblut’s Power Grab

In terms of public activity, this was a relatively quiet week at the State House, but be assured, wheels are turning. The House met in session yesterday for only two hours, passing a number of smaller or less important bills, while work continues on the big pieces of legislation. Probably the most noteworthy moment was the brief set of comments offered by Representative Kat Rogers in commemoration of the Columbine school shooting. Her remarks were brief, pointed, and applauded by many, but not all (you can imagine what ideological element of the House refused to honor her efforts). In similar fashion, the Senate also met and rendered decisions on a number of pieces of legislation, each important to certain constituencies but none of major, state-wide importance. The big issues and the controversial legislation is yet to come forth; likewise, work continues on the Senate’s budget proposal.

Protect Public Schools   The Senate will convene next week (April 27) while the House will not convene again until May 4, 2017. In the meantime, committee work continues. The House Education Committee held a working session on SB 193, the voucher bill, this week, and it was a rather contentious occasion. Much of the energy focused upon a potential amendment/rewrite of the bill being put together by supporters of vouchers and those who wish to starve the public schools of funding. Thus far, it does not appear they have solved either of two major problems—the fact that NH’s Constitution bars use of public monies to support religious schools, and the reality that vouchers will siphon money from public schools and thereby lead to higher local property taxes. The Attorney General’s office again warned of constitutional problems with SB193, and there was continuing discussion regarding the financial impact of this legislation. What hampered the committee, however, was the lack of any actual language or text of an amendment, meaning that member were debating and arguing over ideas lacking any specificity or detail. Voucher proponents have yet to reveal their grand plans to rescue SB193 and it now appears that time is running out. The committee will vote on SB193 and any amendments on April 25, recommending the House either pass or kill the bill. Don’t be surprised, however, if the committee decides to instead “retain” the bill, allowing it to be re-introduced in 2018 and providing time to work on the myriad problems bedeviling this bad piece of legislation.

Actions Needed   Let us be sure to maintain contact with members of the NH House Education Committee and ask them to defeat SB 193 in any form. You can contact the entire committee at the following address: HouseEducationCommittee@leg.state.nh.us

Also, please also take just a moment to tell your state representatives to vote NO to SB 193.  

More Edelblut  One strong advocate for SB193 is Commissioner of Education Frank Edelblut. To no one’s surprise, the man who claimed in his confirmation hearing that he would be a mere administrator and not a policy-maker is now out waving the voucher flag and slamming public schools. At the same time, he continues to push for legislation granting him broad powers over budgets and personnel in the Department of Education, so as to remake it into a State agency leading the fight for vouchers and privatization of education. Having no experience or interaction with public schools in his entire adult life, Edelblut unsurprisingly advocates what he knows best, homeschooling and private schools. What is fascinating is that while voucher advocates demand accountability and transparency for all those supposed cheaters using food stamps, they are ready to give millions to private and religious schools and home-schoolers, with nary a peep about accounting for how the money is spent or providing any transparency in the expenditure of public funds. The inconsistencies abound.

NH Department of Education   The Senate Education Committee heard the amendment from Sen. Reagan which is a power grab by Education Commissioner Edelblut to completely revamp the Department of Education. The Committee will meet next week on Tuesday, April 25th on HB 356 to consider this non-germane and rushed amendment. Senator David Watters has submitted a revision that would properly slow down this last minute amendment and have the matter studied thoroughly. And we learned this week that Governor Sununu will not reappoint State Board of Education Chair, Tom Raffio and instead has nominated conservative consultant, Drew Cline, who worked for the Union Leader for 14 years. Edelblut is working hard to consolidate power so he can move forward with his extreme agenda. We must keep a watchful eye on the actions at the Board of Education.

Voting Rights   Finally, there are two other legislative issues of note. SB 3, the voter suppression bill, has yet to come out of the House Election Law Committee, but action will soon be forthcoming. Don’t be surprised if the committee recommends passage to the full House, where we will assuredly hear more tales of ghostlike busloads of Massachusetts citizens crossing into New Hampshire, buying cigarettes and liquor, and then going to cast illegal ballots on election day.

NHRS- Double-Dipping   Lastly, the Senate is still considering the fate of HB 561, a bill to limit ‘double-dipping’ into the NH Retirement System by providing enforcement penalties for those who exceed hourly work limitations and establishing greater accountability by having towns and cities pay into the system when reclassifying positions as part-time or interim. The bill easily passed through the House but is facing opposition in the Senate, despite being supported by an odd coalition of organized labor and conservative legislators. Politics does indeed lead to strange bedfellows at times, and the wheels continue to turn!

In Solidarity,

Douglas Ley

New Report Shows Significant Gains Could Be Made If Governor Sununu Reduces Power Plant Pollution

Tilton, NH – As the federal government attempts to roll back programs that limit air pollution, Toxics Action Center, Environment New Hampshire and other partner groups released a new report showing that Governor Sununu could increase the benefits of reducing power plant pollution. The report, Doubling Down on Climate Progress, concludes that increasing the emissions reduction goals from 2.5% to 5% doubles the strength of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative would cut dangerous pollution from power plants in half by 2030 and double our investment in clean energy – enough to weatherize 380,000 homes, or well over half of the homes in the state.

“Right now, we’re counting on Governor Sununu to take action to protect our health and the climate,” said Dan Westervelt, Vermont and New Hampshire Community Organizer with Toxics Action Center. “Tomorrow, on April 20th, the public comment period of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, the regional clean air and climate protection program, will be opened. We are urging Granite Staters to call on Governor Sununu to double the strength of the program so we can reap the benefits we receive from less pollution and more clean energy.”

The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, RGGI (pronounced “Reggie”) is the best regional clean air and climate protection program in the country. This program limits dangerous pollution from power plants in New Hampshire and across the region – helping to slow the warming of our planet. It also fuels investment in clean energy by making polluters pay to pollute.

The report, co-authored by the Frontier Group, illustrates the opportunity before the governor. It finds that doubling the strength of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (compared to simply keeping the program on its current trajectory) would:

  • Avoid up to an additional 100 million tons of pollution over a decade, the equivalent of making more than 1 million homes run entirely on solar power.

  • Help New Hampshire invest twice as much in clean energy – on the order of $84 million over ten years, or enough to weatherize 380,000 homes.

“Kinder Morgan’s Northeast Energy Direct (NED) pipeline served as a wakeup call for us to fund and support RGGI,” said Pat Martin, an activist who worked on stopping Kinder Morgan’s Northeast Energy Direct (NED) pipeline with the community New Hampshire Pipeline Awareness Network (NH PLAN). “To tackle the climate crisis, we need to quickly shift away from dirty fuels like coal and gas, and move to renewable energy and energy efficiency. The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative can help us get there faster.”

The report also reviewed the impressive benefits the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative has achieved for New Hampshire since it was created in 2005. Key findings include:

  • It has helped to cut global warming pollution from power plants 67%. That is the equivalent of retiring 1.6 coal-fired power plants. On average, power plant pollution in the region has been falling by almost 5 percent per year. In 2016, pollution went down by 4.8 percent.

  • It has helped to clean our air, saving 10 lives over its first six years in operation.

  • It has driven a $116 million investment in clean energy, energy efficiency and consumer benefit programs in New Hampshire. Across the whole region, those programs have locked in more than $4.6 billion in long term savings on our energy bills. That’s an incredible $3.5 in savings for every dollar spent on clean energy.

“The energy efficiency project that we did at the Winnisquam School District took advantage of approximately $31,000 in (RGGI-funded) rebates for lighting and variable frequency drive pumps” said former State Representative of Belknap 4, Ian Raymond. “Of the funding for the project, $31,770 came from RGGI. We replaced old pumps with newer energy efficient pumps with Variable Frequency Drives, and replaced approximately 2400 lighting units with energy efficient lights. All of the efficiency upgrades all together has saved the taxpayers $1.38 million so far and is projected to save over $5 million over the life of the project.”

In February, more than 500 organizations, businesses, health professionals, lawmakers and community leaders from the Northeast called on Governor Sununu and other regional governors to double the strength of the program and close several loopholes.

“As good as the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative is, we can make it better,” said Madeline Page, of Environment New Hampshire. “We need Governor Sununu and governors across the region to accelerate our progress in the fight against global warming, and magnify the important benefits that come from reducing pollution.”

 

Shea-Porter Discusses Health Care with Manchester Community Health Center Leaders

Roundtable Highlights Progress, Next Steps on Expanding Access to Care & Addressing Opioid Crisis

MANCHESTER — Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter (NH-01) today hosted a roundtable discussion with Manchester Community Health Center (MCHC) leaders and staff. The discussion highlighted the key role community health centers play in serving the Manchester community, including in addressing the heroin, fentanyl, and prescription opioid crisis, and how the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and its Medicaid expansion have improved community health centers’ ability to provide care. Shea-Porter shared her commitment to continuing that progress and discussed how her newly introduced bill, the Medicare You Can Opt Into Act of 2017, would do that.

“Community health centers know better than anyone that this would be the worst time to yank the rug out from under people who now have access to care, because it’s working,” Shea-Porter said. “It’s impressive to see the innovation here at Manchester Community Health Center, especially in integrating behavioral health and substance use disorder treatment in care, because for so many years this was siloed.”

 

Shea-Porter speaks with MCHC staff and community members

“Health centers find a way to stretch that dollar and be creative,” said Kris McCracken, MCHC President and CEO, highlighting community health centers’ impressive return on investment and the need to continue the Affordable Care Act’s investment in the Community Health Center Fund. Shea-Porter recently wrote to Congressional appropriators in support of the funding, together with 288 bipartisan Members of Congress.

Julie Hazell-Felch, MCHC’s Director of Behavioral Health, discussed how the ACA and its Medicaid expansion have allowed MCHC to address the substance use disorder crisis in New Hampshire, highlighting its medication assisted treatment (MAT) program for patients with opioid and alcohol use disorder and its school-based outreach and prevention efforts, saying: “If we lost Medicaid expansion we wouldn’t be able to offer these programs, and you aren’t going to find this amount of diversified programs anywhere else.”

Cecilia Skerry, who directs MCHC’s patient navigator services, highlighted the benefits of being able to connect previously uninsured patients with coverage, saying: “Since the ACA was enacted in 2010, my team has been able to provide better quality assistance. Now, we can get anywhere from 350 to 500 new patients a month” enrolled in coverage through the ACA’s Marketplace or Medicaid expansion (the New Hampshire Health Protection Program).

AFT NH Legislative Bulletin 4-17-17: School Vouchers, Voter Suppression, and Edelblut’s Power Grab

In the aftermath of the House’s stunning failure to pass a budget (due to Republican intra-party feuding), the Senate becomes the focal point of attention, as it works to develop a budget proposal. Using Governor Sununu’s budget proposal as a starting point, the Senate will craft a budget and attach it as an amendment to a House bill. That amended bill will then be sent back to the House, which will of course reject the bill, forcing a committee of conference to hammer out the final details of the State’s 2017-18 biennial budget. So, much remains to be done, but much of it will occur behind the scenes, in negotiations between the Senate, the Governor, and the House. Stay tuned-this will not be finished until June 2017.

Voter Suppression Meanwhile, the legislative wheels continue to turn, though many House committees are now finishing up their work for the year, having held hearings on Senate bills and sent them on to the House floor for a vote. Two bills still awaiting final committee action are SB 3 (to restrict and limit voting rights in NH) and SB 193 (the voucher bill). The House Election Law committee held its hearing on SB 3 this past week, but has yet to vote on a recommendation for the House. In essence, this is a voter suppression bill, aimed at limiting voting by groups such as college students on the specious grounds of voter fraud in prior elections. You know, the mythical busloads of people coming over the border from Massachusetts to vote in NH. I live in a border town where my town moderator has labeled these tales as pure fiction. Nor is he alone—other town moderators and even the NH Secretary of State, Bill Gardner, have denied the occurrence of identifiable voter fraud. But in an age of “fake news,” we now are on the verge of making policy based not on proven facts, but on rumor, innuendo, and outright falsehoods.

SB 193-School Vouchers The other bill which bears close observation is SB 193, the education voucher bill. After being slammed in front of the House Education Committee by a parade of witnesses, including the head of the Finance Committee and a representative from the Attorney General’s office, the sponsors of the bill have retreated and are working feverishly to draw up an amendment to modify or even replace the entire bill. We will likely see the text of this amendment this coming Wednesday, when the House Education Committee holds a full committee work session on the bill. It is expected that sponsors will seek to limit the financial impact of the bill by capping the number of students who can be withdrawn from public schools and thereby obtain vouchers (formally known as education savings accounts funded by monies provided by the State and withdrawn from supporting public schools). Whatever the formula, the goal is to get the proverbial “camel’s nose under the edge of the tent,” meaning to start the program and then expand upon it in years to come. Many of the same Republican members of the House who voted to torpedo the House budget proposal are now working assiduously to try to render SB 193 palatable, although in any form it will reduce public funding of public schools and thereby raise local property taxes. This bill must be halted! Here is the AFT-NH HANDOUT VS. SB 193 Please take action to contact your representative and tell them NO to SB 193.

Edelblut Power Grab One final note. You make recall that in January we opposed the confirmation of Frank Edelblut as Commissioner of Education, based on his complete lack of experience in public education. At his confirmation hearing, Edelblut repeatedly claimed he would be an administrator, not a policy-maker, merely carrying out the wishes of the legislature and the State Board of Education. Well, we now see his true colors emerging, for at Edelblut’s urging, an AMENDMENT has been offered in the Senate which would give Edelblut power to completely redraw the Department of Education, move personnel around as he wishes, and move monies between budgets and budget lines as he sees fit. This is a non-germane amendment offered to HB 356. In other words, a huge power boost for the “administrator” and a means by which he can easily shape educational policy and practice. Executive Councilor Andru Volinsky, who grilled Edelblut during his confirmation hearing, characterizes this as “an unprecedented, naked power grab by the commissioner.” Edelblut, known as a champion of home-schooling, charter schools, vouchers, and even creationism, is clearly seeking to expand his power and do so in a way (via legislative amendment) where there will likely be no public hearing or public input. We will be following this unfolding drama very closely.

Now is the time to remain focused as this is the time when we may see breaking news as all of the behind the scenes work is underway. Please be sure to like us on Facebook at AFT New Hampshire or follow us on Twitter @AFTNewHampshire to receive the latest news.

Please remember your actions do matter. One more letter and phone call could just make the difference. Thank you.

In Solidarity,

Douglas Ley

AFT-NH, President


ACTIONS NEEDED

Your Action Needed Now   So, if you have not already done so, please join us in opposing SB193 by completing the two following actions:

  1. The House Education Committee has scheduled the committee vote for Tuesday, April 25th at 9:30am at the Legislative Office Building, Room 207, 33 North State Street, Concord, NH. As noted above, it appears an amendment will be offered at a work session of the committee this Wednesday. No version of education savings accounts or vouchers should see the light of day here in NH. We still have plenty of time to reach out to committee members before they vote.

Please mail the full House Education Committee directly: HouseEducationCommittee@leg.state.nh.us.

For more resources on this issue to assist you with writing a quick note, please visit our web site at: http://nh.aft.org/2017-nh-state-house-news#.

AND 

  1. Regardless of what happens in the Committee, SB 193 will be voted on by the full House after the committee vote. So let’s get ahead of this and contact your State Representative(s) by clicking the following one-click action to stop school vouchers!

Defeat SB 193       

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