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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.

National COSH on OSHA, Bureau of Labor Statistics Nominees: Transparency Saves Lives

 Advocates call for “open source” policy on workplace fatalities and renewed action on silica, temp workers

SAN DIEGO: As the U.S. Senate prepares for a hearing on nominees to head the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, safety advocates are calling for the two agencies to boost efforts to save lives in U.S. workplaces by collecting and disseminating full information about on-the-job fatalities.

“Transparency saves lives,” said Jessica Martinez, co-executive director of the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health (National COSH.) “The more we know about how and why workers are dying on the job, the more we can do to prevent future tragedies.”

The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) will hold a hearing this coming Tuesday, December 5th at 10:00 am ET to consider the nominations of FedEx safety executive Scott Mugno to serve as Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health and William Beach of George Mason University to serve as Commissioner of the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

“Every day, workers are at risk because of hazards that can be controlled and prevented,” said Marcy Goldstein-Gelb, also a co-executive director of National COSH. “It’s time for OSHA and BLS to adopt an open source policy and tell us all they know about workplace fatalities. That includes identifying – and publicizing – what goes wrong when workers lose their lives because employers fail to provide safe working conditions.”

The BLS conducts an annual Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI), which publishes aggregate information about worker deaths, but does not includes names of workers, employers or additional details. In 2015, the most recent year for which data is available, BLS identified more than 4,800 fatalities due to traumatic events in U.S. workplaces. U.S. OSHA is responsible for investigating workplace deaths.

National COSH is also urging senators to ask Mugno about his plans to limit worker exposure to silica dust and whether he will continue OSHA’s initiative to offer enhanced protection for temporary and contract workers.

Background on silica:

  • Millions of workers every year are exposed to silica dust, a known carcinogen and primary cause of silicosis – a potentially fatal lung disease. OSHA issued a new safety standard in 2016 that limits exposure to silica dust and will save an estimated 700 lives each year.
  • Industry groups have urged Congress to reverse the new standard, issued after years of careful research, with thousands of pages of testimony from scientists and labor and industry stakeholders. OSHA is currently limiting enforcement of the new standard to those employers not acting in “good faith.”

Questions for Scott Mugno on Silica Dust:

What are his views of this life-saving regulation?
What are his plans to carry out inspections and enforcement?

Background on temporary workers:

  • Temporary workers, who represent about two percent of the U.S. workforce, accounted for 17 percent of fatalities from workplace trauma in 2015.
  • Temp and contract workers often do not receive adequate training and have little or no job security.  These and other factors combine to make temp work more hazardous than permanent, full-time employment.
  • In 2013, OSHA began an initiative to protect temporary workers, holding both host employers and contract agencies responsible for following safety laws, including the duty to provide a safe workplace.
  • In September 2017, Patrick Kapust, OSHA’s deputy director of the Directorate of Enforcement Programs, told the National Safety Council: “We are continuing this initiative. We are trying to get forth that staffing employers and host employers both have joint responsibility for their workplaces.”

Questions for Scott Mugno on Temporary Workers:

Does he support OSHA’s temporary worker initiative?
Will he continue the emphasis on joint responsibility for both host employers and contract agencies?

“Nominations to these crucial positions deserve a rigorous review by the U.S. Senate,” said Martinez, “because so much is at stake for American worker and our families.”

Republicans Ram Through Their Tax Scam

Senators were given two hours to read the 400+ page bill before being asked to vote on it.

Unless you have been living under a rock for the last three days by now you have already heard that Republicans in the Senate rammed through their wildly unpopular tax proposal that will raise taxes on the middle class and strip healthcare from 13 million people. The bill would also raise our national deficit by over $1 trillion dollars over the next ten years.

“This partisan tax bill is a giveaway to corporate special interests, not something that will help the middle class,” said Senator Maggie Hassan. “I am extremely disappointed that my Republican colleagues passed a bill that non-partisan experts have shown will raise taxes on millions of hard-working families, increase health care premiums by 10 percent annually, and add $1.5 trillion to the national debt – all to give tax cuts to corporate special interests and the wealthiest few. There is strong bipartisan support for real tax reform that would benefit hard-working people and small businesses, but this is not that bill.”

“We need bipartisan tax reform to simplify our tax code, bolster the middle class, support small businesses and create jobs. But the partisan bill forced through the Senate and passed on a party-line vote failed to address any of these critical needs,” said Senator Jeanne Shaheen. “This legislation asks middle-class families to foot the bill for massive tax breaks for the wealthy and large corporations, and will have serious ramifications for Granite Staters who rely on important tax benefits that are eliminated under this bill. I am tremendously disappointed by the secretive manner in which Senate Republicans crafted this legislation, and I’m concerned about how the middle class, seniors, homeowners, teachers and so many others will suffer as a result of this legislation. As the tax overhaul process moves forward, I’ll continue to push for bipartisanship and to protect essential New Hampshire priorities, including the state and local tax deduction and the student loan interest deduction.”

The Republican tax bill will add nearly $1.5 trillion to the national debt and make most families who earn less than $75,000 a year pay more in taxes by 2027. According to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, by 2019, Americans earning less than $30,000 a year will be worse off. The bill would lead to $25 billion in cuts from Medicare, harming seniors, and repeals part of the Affordable Care Act, which will raise healthcare costs and leave more Americans uninsured. Additionally, the Republican tax plan could prevent homeowners in New Hampshire from deducting state and local taxes and increase the tax burden on work-study students at colleges and universities.

“At a moment when 10,000 Americans are turning 65 every day, members of the Senate have stolen the retirement health benefits that Americans have earned over a lifetime to provide an unneeded windfall to the top 1%. They seem determined to create a retirement crisis that will take decades to reverse,” said Richard Fiesta, Executive Director of the Alliance for Retired Americans.

“The GOP tax bill that passed the Senate by one vote is nothing but an attack on America’s workers,” said Richard Trumka, President of the AFL-CIO. “We will pay more, corporations and billionaires will pay less. It’s a job killer. It gives billions of tax giveaways to big corporations that outsource jobs and profits.”

“President Trump said that he wanted to lower taxes for everyone as a Christmas gift to America, but this bill is simply a lump of coal to working families across the country. The only real gift is the major tax giveaways to Wall Street, big corporations and the super-rich, when what our country needs is investment in our schools and infrastructures that creates jobs,” Trumka added.

“In voting to give a tax break for millionaires, billionaires, and wealthy corporations, Senate Republicans have made an enemy for themselves in their own constituents,” said Tax March Executive Director Nicole Gill. “As a result of this monstrous bill, 87 million middle-class families would pay more in taxes so that Republicans can reward their rich donors with even more unearned tax breaks. Not only would working families see their own taxes go up, this bill threatens massive cuts to Medicaid, Medicare, and critical funding for programs that hardworking Americans rely on. Senators who voted for this scheme should be ashamed and will not avoid the repercussions from voters – we won’t forget.”

“The bill passed today is nothing more than a giveaway to the richest households and corporations, period,” said Josh Bivens, of the Economic Policy Institute. “It will raise taxes on many low- and moderate-income households, and the deficits it will leave in its wake will be used to attack Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid—a strategy clearly telegraphed by both the Republican budget resolution from last month as well as by Senator Rubio more recently. Besides lying about who would benefit most directly from the tax cut, defenders of today’s bill have also lied about the trickle-down benefits that will accrue to workers in the form of higher wages. Simply put, this bill will not raise wages for typical workers—but it will deny health insurance to 13 million workers, a measure Senate Republicans included to help contain the overall cost of giving large tax cuts to rich households and corporations. This bill is a scam through-and-through.”

For years Republicans in the Senate have used the “Debt and Deficit” as a way to justify their votes against a variety of bills. They even shut down the government for almost two weeks because they refused to raise the debt ceiling. Yet, all of those issues seemed to disappear as they voted to increase the national debt by over $1 trillion dollars.

The Concord Coalition is a right-leaning government watchdog group that is focused on reducing the national debt and opposes these cuts.

The Concord Coalition said today that the tax legislation considered by the Senate is based on flawed economics, reckless fiscal policy and blatant budget gimmickry. It would worsen the nation’s fiscal outlook and introduce new complexities in the tax code at a time when policymakers should be aiming to lower deficits and make the tax code more efficient.

“This is the wrong bill at the wrong time,” said Robert L. Bixby, Concord’s executive director. “Like its counterpart in the House, the Senate’s tax bill is based on the flawed premise that another trillion dollars or more of new debt is needed to spur higher economic growth.”

He added: “The economy does not need short-term stimulus from a major tax cut at this time. And over the long term, adding more debt to the already unsustainable path of current fiscal policies would act as a restraint on future growth. Revenue-neutral tax reform would not have this problem.”

Because the Senate version and the House version are different, a committee of conference will be created to iron out the details before it must come back for an “up and down” vote.

Lincoln Soldati To Kick Off Campaign With A Return To Somersworth

Son Emmett Soldati’s Teatotaller Café hosts party for his father’s candidacy for NH First Congressional District

Portsmouth, New Hampshire– Soldati/Somersworth – the names fit so well together. It was 1912 when Arturo and Gemma Soldati, emigrated from Italy to the US, eventually landing in Somersworth. They raised their large family, Arturo worked as a stone mason and Gemma cooked for lodgers in their boardinghouse on Winter Street. Their four sons were legendary football players at Somersworth High School in the 30s, while one of their three daughters, Sophie, was a star basketball player. After the war, in the late 40’s, two of their sons, Lincoln A and Pacifico, opened Soldati’s Restaurant in Durham. In the early 80s, the next generation, Lincoln T. Soldati, moved to his grandparents’ town and over the next 30 years, he and his wife, Kathleen raised four children, including Emmett who now lives in town and runs Teatotaller Café. It’s Emmett’s restaurant that will host Lincoln’s first party for his run for Congress in the first district. It all takes place on Wednesday December 13 6-7:30pm at Teatotaller located at 69 High Street in downtown Somersworth. It’s open to the public. Guests will have a chance to meet Lincoln, hear him talk, and have him answer questions. And, of course, Teatotaller’s delicious pastries and hot beverages will be available. Suggested donation of $15. For more information, visit the event page on Lincoln’s website.

Wednesday December 13 6-7:30pm

69 High Street, Somersworth, NH

Meet Lincoln Soldati
Born and raised in New Hampshire, Lincoln has been a leader in his community his entire life. After serving in the Army, Lincoln used the G.I. Bill to finish at Notre Dame and then law school here in New Hampshire. Lincoln served as Strafford County Attorney for nine terms, where he earned a reputation for aggressively pursuing justice for victims of child abuse and sexual assault. He even created a victims’ assistance program that became the state standard for prosecutions and investigations into sexual assault and child abuse cases. In addition to serving as Strafford County Attorney, Lincoln sat on the Somersworth School Board and served as Secretary for the Somersworth Charter Commission and as Mayor of Somersworth. Lincoln and his wife Kathleen, both lifelong Democrats, raised four children in a house that became home to the community – the door was never locked, the holiday party was for all neighbors of all ages, and Lincoln made breakfast for all visitors.

More information at www.LincolnSoldati.com

 

Are you angry yet? Tax “reform” will be followed by Medicare, Social Security “reform”

Late last night, the Senate passed its version of the tax cut bill.  Next step? According to GOP leaders, it will be “entitlement reform.” Which includes the Social Security and Medicare benefits you have been paying for – with every paycheck – since you started working. Just like they’ve been talking about since the Bush tax cuts.

Congress won’t have to do anything, to cut Medicare by $25 billion next year.  If President Trump signs a final version of this bill, according to the Congressional Budget Office, it will create a budget deficit that will trigger $25 billion in automatic cuts to Medicare.

And if “chained-CPI” is still in the bill, Congress won’t have to do anything to cut Social Security benefits, long term. “Chained-CPI” is a way of calculating inflation that incorporates a ratcheting-down of benefits. It assumes that senior citizens who can’t afford steak don’t need a cost of living increase because they can buy chicken, instead. And those who can’t afford to buy chicken can buy tuna. And if they can’t afford tuna…  It’s the cat food thing. (Read our 2013 post about chained-CPI here.)

BUT they’re already planning more cuts. Because at some point, our government is going to have to do something about our national debt. Which has quadrupled since the Bush tax cuts.  Which is now equal to more than $170,000 per taxpayer. Which has increased by $745 billion – almost 4% — since the debt limit was suspended on September 8th.  Which was only 11 weeks ago.

Having a hard time wrapping your head around what you just read?  Let’s try it again.

On September 8, 2017, Congress suspended the debt limit.  Since then (only 11 weeks), the debt has grown by more than $745 billion. And Congress is cutting taxes in order to add $1.5 Trillion to that number.

It’s pretty clear that Congress is creating a “debt problem” that they’re going to “solve” by going after Social Security and Medicare.

Newsweek: Republicans will cut Social Security and Medicare after tax plan passes, Rubio says
Forbes: How the GOP tax plan scrooges middle class, retired and poor
Washington Post: GOP eyes post-tax-cut changes to welfare, Social Security and Medicare

This isn’t a surprise.  Back in 2004, Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan suggested cutting Social Security and Medicare benefits to pay for the cost of the Bush tax cuts.

Looks like that’s still the strategy. Here’s where it goes from being “strategy” to “theft.”

Since 2012, most workers have been paying more into the Social Security system than they can expect to receive in benefits.

People retiring today are part of the first generation of workers who have paid more in Social Security taxes during their careers than they will receive in benefits after they retire. It’s a historic shift that will only get worse for future retirees, according to an analysis by The Associated Press.

Back in 2001, 57% of Americans wanted to roll back the Bush tax cuts to protect (what was then) the budget surplus. A whopping 92% wanted to prevent Congress from using Social Security for any other purpose. But at last report, about $3 trillion of the national debt is now owed to the Social Security system.

So… if you’ve already put more in to the Social Security system than you can expect to get out of it – and Congress wants to put even more tax cuts on the nation’s credit card – and Congressional leadership wants to pay down that extra debt by cutting Social Security… that means the money to pay for these tax cuts is coming out of your pocket.

Are you angry, yet?

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Public Citizen reports that at least 6,243 Washington lobbyists have been working on this tax bill.  That’s almost 12 lobbyists per legislator! Read about some of the last-minute add-ons – including an amendment that exempts a college in Michigan and a carve-out for cruise ships docking in Alaska – here. Wondering who benefits from this tax bill? Read about analyses done by the Congressional Budget Office and the Joint Committee on Taxation here.

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If you want to contact your elected federal officials about this, please do so on your own time and using your own personal phone/email. (Most employers prohibit using work time or resources for this sort of thing.)

Contact information for President Trump is available here.

You can find contact information for your two US Senators here.

You can find the phone number and website for your US Representative here.  (If you don’t know who your Representative is, check here.)

Faith Groups Convene on Capitol Hill Urging Aid For Hurricane Victims

Urge Increased Aid for Families in Hurricane-Ravaged Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands

WASHINGTON – The National Latino Evangelical Coalition (NaLEC) & PICO National Network today united with Congressman Darren Soto (D-FL), Congressman Luis Gutierrez (D-IL), Congressman José Serrano (D-NY), Congresswoman Stacey Plaskett (D-VI), Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ), and Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) for a briefing on hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The Capitol Hill briefing included testimony from impacted people who discussed the need for additional short-term relief to help families on the islands, many of whom still lack electricity.

“As Latino evangelicals living on the mainland and as a coalition that has been actively responding with compassion to the victims of natural disasters,” said the Rev.

clockwise, from right: Alicia Barnes, Former Commissioner, Department of Planning and Natural Resources, St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands; The Honorable Luis Gutierrez (D-IL); Rev. Dr. Gabriel Salguero, president, National Latino Evangelical Coalition; Denise Collazo, chief of staff, PICO National Network; The Honorable José A. Santiago Rivera, Mayor of Comerío, Puerto Rico; and Nelly Esquilín Perez, Resident, Carolina, Puerto Rico.

Dr. Gabriel Salguero, president of the National Evangelical Coalition. “The National Latino Evangelical Coalition is very concerned that our fellow citizens in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands receive on-going, timely and equitable support and treatment commensurate with the devastation they have faced. Our faith compels us to speak up with the millions of our sisters and brothers.”

Today faith leaders urged Congress to:

Cancel the Debt. Puerto Rico’s debt stands in the way of recovery from hurricanes and austerity Even before the storm hit the island was already struggling to find a way to re-finance a crippling $74 billion in debt and over $50 billion in unfunded pensions. Now the territory is faced with a massive burden of hurricane damage repair. It’s hard to see how Puerto Rico can rebuild and repair billions of dollars’ worth of damage and also meet its obligations to creditors.

Enact a Marshall Plan: Support a bill that would fully fund the relief efforts in Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands, rebuild the islands’ infrastructure – including funding for a new and resilient energy grid – provide full funding parity for federal health care programs on the Island, and enact economic tools so that Puerto Rico’s private sector can once again flourish. There is no sustainable solution to Puerto Rico’s financial and debt crises without economic growth in Puerto Rico.

Modernize the Energy and Electrical Grid: Refrain from spending federal taxpayer dollars on rebuilding an old energy grid that is fragile and subject to collapse with every new storm. They should build a new electricity system that is decentralized, one that maximizes the plentiful sun and wind available in the Island.

End the Jones Act: Urge President Trump to renew and expand the administration’s waiver of the Jones Act in Puerto Rico for at least 5 years. There are several bipartisan bills regarding the Jones Act and its harmful application to Puerto Rico. The costs of these onerous and protectionist shipping laws make consumer prices unnecessarily more expensive and could harm relief efforts from other countries. Economists estimate that the yearly costs to the Puerto Rican economy stemming from the Jones Act ranges from $500 million to $1 billion.

“In organizing this event, we want to raise awareness about the ongoing humanitarian crisis in both Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands,” Denise Collazo, chief of staff for PICO National Network. “While there is tremendous need, there is also tremendous opportunity. Congress must act now to finance rebuilding efforts, ease pressures on the Commonwealth’s budget, and provide resources for displaced residents in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands residents.”

“People of faith cannot look away as millions of U.S. citizens continue to suffer following hurricanes that ravaged Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands,” said Denise Collazo, chief of staff for PICO National Network. “The only thing separating the gulf of compassion that Texans experienced in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey and the concern that Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands experienced is skin color and distance; our sisters and brothers in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands are people of color who reside miles from the mainland. But their devastation is our devastation and we will not allow skin color or distance to cause us, or our elected leaders, to forget that God’s people are in need of immediate help. In hosting this briefing, we are urging Congressional relief now.”

Watch the event in full on our Facebook page by clicking here or watch below.

NH COSH: A Deadly Week For NH Workers

Hooksett, NH – Two New Hampshire workers were killed this week in unrelated incidents bringing the number of NH work related deaths to at least 10 for 2017. Eric LaFramboise, 35, of Epsom was killed on Sunday when a gust of wind blew down a tree he was harvesting, crushing him. Dakota LaBrecque, 23, of Loudon was pulled into a conveyor and killed at the Springfield Power LLC, in Springfield, NH late Monday. Both incidents are under investigation by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

Eric LaFramboise is the second tree service fatality in New Hampshire this year. Frederick Wilhelmi, 32, of Hudson died May 23rd while working for a tree service company. The tree service industry is a high-risk industry with NH worker deaths almost every year. According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), the fatality rate for the landscape services industry, about 80 deaths per year nationally, is similar to that for more recognized high-risk industries such as agriculture and mining.

Dakota LaBrecque was on 23 years old which would qualify him as a “young worker”. Young workers, ages 14-24, are at higher risk of workplace injury because of their inexperience at work and their physical, cognitive, and emotional developmental characteristics. They often hesitate to ask questions and may fail to recognize workplace dangers. According to NIOSH, in 2014 the rate of work-related injuries treated in emergency departments for workers, ages 20–24, was 1.76 times greater than the rate for workers 25 years of age and older.

“Workplace fatalities are rarely random accidents,” said Brian Mitchell of the New Hampshire Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health, “Most of these incidents can be prevented with proper safety training and protective equipment. Two worker deaths is a terrible way to begin the holiday season and we mourn the loss of our fallen brothers.”


Editors note: This Tuesday was #GivingTuesday and I started a fundraiser on Facebook for the NH COSH.  If you missed Giving Tuesday and would like to make a donation, please consider donating to the NH COSH.

NATCA Member To Be Honored For Efforts During Hurricane Harvey

Brian Kelly (left) and Robert Johnson

WASHINGTON – The National Aeronautic Association (NAA), at its fall awards dinner tonight in Arlington, Va., will honor National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) member Brian Kelly. Kelly is a veteran air traffic controller from Dallas-Love Field Air Traffic Control Tower and also a pilot. He is a member of one of the 2017 recipient organizations of NAA’s Public Benefit Flying Teamwork Award, created to honor volunteer pilots, other volunteers, and their organizations engaged in flying to help others. NAA asked Kelly to speak tonight and represent the groups in accepting the team award.

Kelly is being recognized for his dedicated and vitally important volunteer work with Operation Airdrop, one of the largest grassroots general aviation disaster relief groups that delivered supplies to areas in need after Hurricane Harvey struck Texas and Louisiana. Following Harvey, the group undertook nearly 400 missions, delivering 250,000 pounds of donated supplies to various small airports around the Houston/Beaumont, Texas, area. They teamed up with the Central Texas community assistance organization Educated Angels and did 62 missions carrying over 27,000 pounds of supplies.

Kelly also coordinated for pizza to be delivered to Army National Guard soldiers at Hawthorne Field in Hardin County, Texas, and arranged for several truckloads of goods from Educated Angels to be delivered to various organizations, including the Salvation Army in Corpus Christi, Texas.

When Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico, Kelly’s group teamed up with Puerto Rico native and baseball Hall of Famer Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez to get supplies to the island.

“We are incredibly proud of Brian, who is very deserving of this recognition for his dedication to help so many in need after the recent hurricanes,” NATCA Executive Vice President Trish Gilbert said. “Brian exemplifies the compassion, generosity, and desire to help others that is prevalent throughout our Union and which has been on full display during the continuing hurricane relief efforts. Brian and all of our NATCA brothers and sisters who have flown relief and supply delivery missions have made our Union and our represented-professions very proud.”

Operation Airdrop began on Aug. 30 as pilot Robert Johnson and his friend Doug Jackson began to organize their and other pilots’ relief missions to Houston for Harvey victims. Johnson texted Kelly to ask about the air traffic control situation in Houston and get his advice about airspace and temporary flight restrictions. Before his FAA career, Kelly was a C130 navigator in the Air Force and spent time flying in support of the victims of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, so Johnson knew he was aware of what was needed to help Houston. He invited Kelly on his first flight to deliver supplies from Dallas to Conroe, Texas.

“Operation Airdrop quickly grew, and Brian stepped in almost immediately to run operations,” Johnson said. “He took personal vacation time from work and cobbled together a small team of dedicated individuals to coordinate the hundreds of volunteer flights carrying cargo and personnel to the Houston area. They took over a conference room at the Denton Airport to create an ad-hoc command center.

Kelly’s team fielded requests from people on the ground in Houston and also coordinated the “catchers,” the people who would actually receive the cargo, so the pilots didn’t just unload them on the ramp. “They, of course, also managed the volunteer pilots and planes and developed an operational plan each day of where to send the planes and what cargos were needed,” Johnson said.

“The logistical infrastructure that Brian and his team put together on incredibly short notice was simply amazing,” Johnson added. “Brian didn’t see his family for several days, and his team often slept on the FBO’s (airport fixed base operators) couches.”

NH Rebellion “Democracy Dinner” With Special Guest Lawrence Lessig

On Thursday, November 30, NH Rebellion will hold a “Democracy Dinner” starting at 5:30 pm at the Lawrence Barn Community Center, 28 Depot Road, Hollis, NH with special guest Lawrence Lessig.

The speaking program will focus on the group’s campaign for a “Civic Dollars” campaign financing system in New Hampshire.

“Open Democracy believes in an equal voice for all,” said Executive Director Olivia Zink. “Through our NH Rebellion campaign, we are working to stop big money in politics, end partisan gerrymandering, protect the right to vote, and more by engaging thousands of Granite Staters in nonpartisan civic involvement.”

In 2018, the group will be supporting “Civic Dollars” legislation with bipartisan support in Concord. A Civic Dollars system would help balance the influence of out-of-state dark money in New Hampshire’s elections. It would also end the so-called “money primary” that keeps qualified candidates from running for office, empower every citizen to fund the candidate(s) of their choice, and encourage voter participation. Maine, Arizona and Connecticut already have this type of system at the state level; and some cities, including Albuquerque, NM, have also passed this kind of election reform.

When enacted, the measure would allow political candidates to opt-in to a “Civic Dollars” system that will limit campaign contributions to $250 per person.  It would also ban out-of-state donors; require quick disclosure of contributions; create a voluntary program for citizen-funded campaign financing through four $25 “civic dollars” issued to registered voters that could be donated to qualified candidates of the voter’s choice; and establish an agency to enforce campaign finance laws.

“We all want our children and the next generation to have a better life and more opportunities than we did. But too many hard-working Granite Staters are just barely scraping by because wealthy donors and special interests have too much power and make the rules.” Zink said. “If we want our children and the next generation to inherit a free and fair New Hampshire, that will take coming together to make our democracy work for all of us.”

NH Rebellion members have walked a total of more than 40,000 miles, continuing the legacy of New Hampshire’s legendary campaign finance reform activist “Granny D.”  The network of more than 33,000 local activists have organized town meetings, circulated petitions, supported legislation and “Asked The Question” hundreds of times to get candidates on the record about their position on campaign reform.

Scholar-activist Lawrence Lessig draws inspiration from the “rebellion clause” of the New Hampshire Constitution, which empowers citizens “to reform the old or establish a new government” when laws serve a privileged few rather than “the common benefit, protection, and security of the whole community.

NH Rebellion is part of Open Democracy, the Concord-based nonpartisan reform organization founded by Granny D. To learn more,  please visit: www.nhrebellion.org.

Election Law Changes Aimed At Blocking College Students From Voting In NH, Passes Senate Committee

Today, an amendment  to House Bill 372, authored by Republican Senators Regina Birdsell and Jim Gray, passed the Senate Election Law Committee on a 3-2 party-line vote. The bill would redefine “domicile” status for voting purposes, effectively forcing registrants to declare residency upon registering to vote, chilling the right to vote for college students in New Hampshire.

New Hampshire Republicans have previously argued that their voter disenfranchisement laws, like SB3 which passed last spring, are not designed to disenfranchise college students. Birdsell, SB3’s author and an author of the amendment to HB 372, said last year“We are not targeting students.” Birdsell’s amendment to HB 372 would in fact use intimidation tactics to disenfranchise thousands of students attending college in New Hampshire.

“HB 372 serves one purpose: to drastically decrease student turnout on campuses across New Hampshire,” said University of New Hampshire sophomore Isabella Arms. “Thousands of students, like me, move to New Hampshire every year to learn and contribute to our communities, with the hope of staying here to start our careers. However every year, Republicans in Concord make it their priority to disenfranchise the exact group of people they need to attract and retain in order for our state to grow and thrive. The state benefits from students like us when it means getting more federal money or electoral clout, but they don’t think we count when it comes to voting for local issues that affect us, including preventing tuition hikes or investing in workforce training.

When Governor Sununu and Republican leadership raise our tuitions and make it more difficult for us to vote and take part in the democratic process, it’s hard to take them seriously as champions for my generation like they so often claim to be. I speak on behalf of many concerned Granite State students when I say we hope this bill is rejected when it comes to a full Senate vote,” Arms concluded.

“Senator Sanborn’s amendment to House Bill 372 is the New Hampshire GOP’s latest attempt to stop college students from voting,” said Let America Vote President Jason Kander. “Last session’s Senate Bill 3 is still in court, but that isn’t keeping Republicans from trying to further stop eligible New Hampshire voters from voting. When a college student registers to vote, they shouldn’t be threatened with possible legal penalties for how their car is registered. Voter registration should be a simple, straightforward process for all eligible Granite Staters. This is classic voter suppression, and it’s clearly a Republican priority to stop college students in New Hampshire from being able to vote in the state where they spend the most time. When Let America Vote opens its New Hampshire office next year, we’ll make sure that elected officials like Senator Sanborn have to answer for this.”

“For years, Republicans have been slowly eroding voting rights in New Hampshire. HB 372 would effectively disenfranchise thousands of legal Granite State voters,” said Raymond Buckley, Chair of the NH Democratic Party.  “New Hampshire Republicans like Governor Sununu and Senator Birdsell have been trying to trick New Hampshire voters into believing there is widespread voter fraud to create a pretext for voter disenfranchisement legislation that would help swing elections in their favor.”

Buckley added, “Granite Staters who care about their most fundamental right to make their voices heard should stand up and fight this bill until it disappears for good. We will not allow Trump, Sununu & Birdsell to strip away foundational democratic guarantees based on a lie designed to serve their political objectives.”

Small Business Owner Chris Pappas Officially Kicks Off Campaign for Congress  

“I want to live in a country where your journey, your struggle, and your hard work can take you where you want to go.”

Manchester – Today, Chris Pappas, joined by grassroots leaders from across the state, officially launched his campaign for Congress.  At the event, Chris discussed the important challenges Granite Staters face – that our economy and democracy are tilted toward special interests and those at the top. Chris vowed to be steadfast champion of the people, communities, and Main Street businesses that make New Hampshire the best state to call home.

“I am running for Congress because I want to live in a country where your journey, your struggle, and your hard work can take you where you want to go,” said Chris Pappas. “We have to make success attainable again for everyone who works hard in life and plays by the rules. We have to make the American Dream—the one that built the middle class and created opportunity for generations–-a realistic possibility for every man, woman, and child in this country. But instead of making progress on the challenges we face today, our political system is failing us. Our country is divided, and leaders have not summoned the courage to relate to one another and find common ground on issues that directly impact us all.  Big money has poisoned our democracy and weakened the voices of regular people.  And Washington is increasingly slanted toward corporations and special interests at the expense of the rest of us.”

Chris also discussed his plan to focus on the issues that affect Granite Staters’ everyday lives, including creating jobs, addressing the opioid crisis, making health care more accessible and affordable, investing in roads and bridges, taking care of our veterans, and promoting a clean energy future.

Grassroots leaders also discussed why Chris is uniquely qualified to represent the people of New Hampshire:

Josh Bourdon, Derry Town Council Chairman: “My wife and I are proud to support Chris Pappas for Congress because he’s a man of integrity, a talented entrepreneur, extremely smart, respectful, personable, and one of the most important things for me is work ethic.  I’m convinced that Chris will work his heart out day in and day out for as long as his feet are on the earth.” 

Stefany Shaheen, Portsmouth Business Owner: “I’m proud to endorse Chris Pappas. We’re here to stand with Chris because he’s always stood up for us.”

Marjorie Smith, Durham State Representative: “I know that when Chris makes a decision, he does so with integrity, intelligence, decency, and an awareness of the people he represents.  There’s no one that will represent the citizens of the 1st District better than Chris Pappas.”

Andrew Hosmer, Laconia Community and Business Leader: “Chris has demonstrated the ability to work with others, to find solutions, and to make the Granite State the best place to work, live, and raise a family.” 

“To be sure, changing Washington and making progress for the people of New Hampshire won’t be easy,” said Pappas. “The good news is, I have never been one to shy away from hard or even unglamorous work, and I am ready to step up and serve you.”

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