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About Matt Murray

Matt Murray is the creator and an author on the NH Labor News. He is a union member and advocate for labor and progressive politics. He also works with other unions and members to help spread our message. Follow him on Twitter @NHLabor_News

Disability Advocates Speak Out Against The GOP Tax Scam

Granite Staters return to New Hampshire and tell their stories after risking arrest in Washington D.C. protesting the GOP Tax Bill 

A delegation of Granite State disability rights and health care advocates who traveled to Washington, DC this week to protest the damaging Senate bill that guts Medicaid and Medicare for working families to fund massive tax breaks for the rich and corporations held a press briefing about the bill and their participation in a large-scale protest this week in the nation’s capital – which in some cases, included being arrested –  in Concord yesterday.

In a fast-tracked process that required Senators to vote on a 500-page draft bill with notes still in the margins, Senate Republicans passed a tax giveaway to the very wealthy and big corporations that will pave the way for massive Medicaid and Medicare cuts, strip 13 million Americans of health care coverage and increase insurance premiums by 10 percent for millions more. Millions of people with disabilities and seniors, working families, and children will be stuck with the bill and cuts to critical services and basic human rights all so the rich can get richer. Governor Chris Sununu has praised the bill as a “net positive.” 

The press conference highlighted the actual impact on middle and lower income Granite Staters and share the personal stories of those who traveled to Washington DC to protest it.

“I traveled to Washington D.C. to protest this bill because I know this bill will hurt the people who can least afford to be hurt, the struggling middle class and the working poor,” said Melissa Hinebauch, Human Rights Co-Chair of the Kent Street Coalition. The mother of three spoke out against the GOP Tax Bill highlighting the harm working families will suffer under the proposal.

Hinebauch also spoke about how the bill will add over $1 trillion dollars to the national debt while Senator Orin Hatch said “we no longer have the money” to fund essential programs like the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). “This tax bill is just mean and heartless.”

Video of Melissa Hinebauch

“People with disabilities will be the hardest hit by this tax bill for the wealthy,” said Forrest Beaudoin-Friede a member of ABLE-NH who traveled also traveled to Washington D.C. to protest this GOP tax bill.  “This tax bill takes away tax credits that help small businesses become ADA (Americans with Disabilities) compliant. This credit is equal to half of their expenses above $250 dollars. This effectively raises taxes on small businesses who want to open their doors to both customers and workers with disabilities who need reasonable accommodations.”

“This bill will force cuts to Medicaid that will harm people with disabilities, like me, and some will die,” Beaudoin-Friede stated.

Eddie Gomez went to Washington to speak out against this tax bill on behalf of his seven year old nephew who suffers from the genetic disease, Muscular Dystrophy.   The program that helps Gomez’s sister, a single parent, is funded through charitable donations and receives no federal funding.

“This tax bill eliminates deductions for charitable contributions and discourages charitable giving while threatening enormous cuts to Medicare and Medicaid. How will my sister be able to afford the care for my nephew on a lower-middle class income?” asked Gomez.

Gomez explained that over 8 million working families used the medical device deduction, that would be eliminated under the GOP tax plan, to help offset the costs of high priced equipment and medical expenses.

Video of Forrest Beaudoin-Friede and Eddie Gomez members of ABLE-NH

“We are fighting against this ‘Reverse Robin Hood’ tax bill” said Lisa Beaudoin, Executive Director of ABLE NH.  This tax bill makes “deep cuts to a whole range of programs that are critical to people with disabilities.”

“This tax bill will be a slow death sentence to people with developmental disabilities,” she added.

Video of  Lisa Beaudoin, Executive Director of ABLE NH

This bill will cause “13 million people to lose their healthcare and increase the premiums of millions more,” said Zandra Rice-Hawkins, Executive Director of Granite State Progress.

The GOP Tax Bill passed the senate in a 51-49 party line vote and now moves to a committee of conference to hash out differences between the House and Senate versions of the bill.

Republicans In The House Take Aim At NH Labor Laws

Republican legislators in the New Hampshire House of Representatives want to change the current labor laws to allow kids to work “any time” of the day or night, remove requirements to display wage and discrimination laws, and handicap the State Department of Labor.

State Rep. Laurie Sanborn (Bedford), introduced the self titled “Red Tape Reduction Act” (HB1762-FN) aimed at what she says is to “reduce the excessive and unnecessary documentation and regulatory (red tape) burdens.” She claims that these “burdens” are inhibiting employers from hiring and growing their businesses.

What it really does it make it easier for employers to screw over workers and reduces the penalties if they get caught.

Some of the “burdens” that Rep. Sanborn wants to eliminate:

  • Eliminate the requirement to pay a worker “two hours of pay” when they show up to work and their shift is canceled
  • Eliminated the employees right to refuse to take part in “tip sharing”
  • Allow 16-17 year olds to “work any hours” and eliminates the Department of Labor’s requirement to randomly inspect worksites with young workers
  • Make unpaid interns responsible for their own Workers Compensation Insurance
  • Create a new “volunteer” worker category where an employee can “volunteer to learn” while working, without pay for up to 6 months
  • Remove the requirement to display safety, wage, hour, and discrimination laws in highly visible or “conspicuous” space
  • Removes the requirement that all wages and payment schedule changes must be made in writing
  • Changes the rules about employers providing uniforms and apparel with the “company logo” to be used in the work environment. (First uniform is free but employee may be required to pay for additional uniforms.)
  • Eliminate the Department of Labor’s rulemaking authority regarding wages and child labor laws; all relevant rulemaking changes must go through the legislature
  • Eliminate need for employers to file a “written safety plan, joint loss management committee, and safety summary form”
  • Expands the Department of Labor’s ability to waive fines, offers a 30 grace period on violations to avoid fines, and eliminates a number of mandatory fines for things like: “failure to pay a worker on time”, “failure to pay a worker in full”, and “requiring an employee to perform any illegal activities under threat of job loss.”

Of all of these the most egregious is the changes to child labor law allowing 16-17 year olds to work “any hours” of the day and night.   These are high school kids. Should they be working overnight shifts at the local mini-mart or working till midnight at the local fast food joint? No. These hour restrictions were put in place to ensure that children do not work too much or too late because it would have a detrimental affect on their education.

Under this new bill it would be the employee’s responsibility to know all of the laws concerning wages, overtime, discrimination, and safety regulations yet the employer is no longer required to display them. Does anyone actually think a 16 year old in their first job knows anything about child labor laws?

There have also been a couple of bills to increase the minimum wage with a caveat for 16-17 year old workers. These young workers would be allowed to work a sub-minimum wage or “training wage”. Rep. Sanborn’s proposed legislation coupled with the proposed “training wage” would allow employers to hire 16-17 year olds to work any time at a rate below the state’s minimum wage. How many low-wage workers would lose their jobs only to be replaced by 16-17 year olds earning “training” wages?

The bill has a number of co-sponsors, including Laurie’s husband, and first Congressional District Candidate, Sen. Andy Sanborn. The Sanborn’s have used their small business, The Draft bar and grill, to justify their votes against raising the minimum wage and eliminating the tipped minimum wage.  In 2014, in a speech on the Senate floor, Sen. Andy Sanborn called a minimum wage increase to $9.00 an hour a “job killer” but failed to mention how much a minimum wage increase would impact his personal business.

These proposed changes would also force reductions in the Department of Labor’s annual budget. The Department of Labor estimates that the proposed changes would have cost the state over $500,000 dollars in fines paid over the last three years. They also noted that the new regulations would require a “follow up inspection” which would “decrease in worker efficiency” and decrease the number of worksites inspected each year.

New Hampshire already has one of the lowest rates of unemployment in the country. There are lots of jobs available but many of our young adult workers are leaving New Hampshire in search of better wages in other states. Repealing these regulations will do nothing to help spur growth in our economy but it will allow employers to cheat worker without any fear of penalty.

Honestly does anyone really believe that removing the requirement to display wage and discrimination laws will somehow create jobs? Are they really expanding jobs and boosting the economy by hiring unpaid interns and “volunteer” workers?

This race to the bottom must end. We need in strengthen our labor laws not destroy them. We need to empower the Department of Labor to inflict harsher penalties on employers who violate the law not lessen worksite inspections and eliminate fines. This would be a step back for the hard working people of the Granite State if this somehow makes it through.


Full copy of the proposed legislation below

HB1762

Northern Pass Advocates Angry Over ‘Dark Money’ In Local Fight. Well Get In Line

This weekend the Union Leader published ‘No names, please: Mystery money out to kill Northern Pass’ highlighting how Northern Pass advocates are upset over ‘Protect the Granite State‘ use of money from unknown donors to push back against Northern Pass.

“Protect the Granite State is spreading false and misleading information about the project,” said Eversource spokesman Martin Murray. “Because their funders are secret, there is no one to hold accountable. Regardless of your opinion on Northern Pass, it should be concerning that an anonymous group has invested so much money into misleading the public as it attempts to stymie a clean energy project and influence New Hampshire energy policy.”

Though Eversource may not like it, “Donald Kreis, head of New Hampshire’s Office of the Consumer Advocate, says Protect the Granite State (PTGS) is within its rights to protect the identity of its donors.”

“The organization is a 501(C)(4) whose donors choose to remain anonymous,” said Protect the Granite State spokesman Jim Merrill. And that’s about all Merrill and another PTGS operative will say. They declined to answer a list of questions submitted by the New Hampshire Union Leader and Sunday News.

The article also clearly differentiates union political action funds and dark money C4’s.

There is money flowing from both sides as the adjudicatory hearings before a statewide planning board for big energy projects grind on toward a 2018 conclusion. Northern Pass partners have invested in promoting the project, as have supporters like the IBEW electrical workers union, but those sources are identified.

This article highlights what many of us have been saying for years. Since the Citizens United decision there has been a significant rise in “social welfare” programs (501(C)(4)) using unknown donors to influence political decisions.

From OpenSecrets

Take for example the ongoing fight to pass Right to Work in New Hampshire.  Every year this bill is submitted and every year the people of New Hampshire speak out against it and the bill dies.  Yet every time the bill gets submitted the National Right To Work Committee (NRTWC) spends money to lobby the legislature, take out advertisements to sway the public, and dump tens of thousands of dollars into campaign coffers.

But who is really behind the NRTWC?  There are many theories but NRTWC has every right to disclose who funds their PAC. The NRTWC raised over $25 million dollars to push Right to Work laws across the country.

Chart created by Center for Media & Democracy

Another example is Americans For Prosperity, a 501(C)(4) that was started with seed money from the Koch Brothers, was instrumental in building and funding the Tea Party movement.  Along with the NRTWC, AFP pushes for anti-worker legislation like Right to Work and to take away workers rights to collectively bargain.

AFP spent over $13 million in nine federal elections in 2016 and all of that money was spend attacking Democratic candidates.  AFP raised and spent $122 million dollars in 2012 elections most of it going to “communications, ads, and media” attacking President Obama and Congressional Democrats.

Don’t Hate The Player, Hate The Game

The system has be rigged by those who are using their money to buy politicians and mislead the public for their own personal gains.  We do not need to know who is behind Protect the Granite State, we need to know who is behind all of these dark money groups. We need to know who is buying our political system.

We need to change the game and eliminate all of this outside, dark money.

House Republicans Push Through Their Tax Hike On Middle Class Families

Last night, straight down party lines, Republicans voted to give millionaires and billionaires a massive tax cut and to raise taxes on millions of hard working Americans.

“Today’s vote is a missed opportunity to deliver the tax reform we need for middle class families and small businesses,” said Congresswoman Annie Kuster. “I strongly support reform that starts with the goal of providing tax relief for those in the economy who need it most. This bill is little more than a giveaway to big corporate interests and wealthy individuals while creating losers among many middle class families who will see their taxes increase in the coming years.”

“The tax bill that House Republicans passed today seeks to steal from the vast majority of Americans to benefit the very few. This is an attack on our economic security and on the fabric of our nation,” said Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter. “House Republicans’ tax scam is loaded with provisions to help the wealthiest: it eliminates the estate tax, which will only be paid by an estimated 5,500 super-wealthy Americans this year, and slashes the corporate tax rate claimed by the biggest businesses. Meanwhile, it raises taxes on many middle-class families, and it sets small benefits for working families to expire in five years – while making cuts for corporations permanent. And make no mistake about it: these cuts will take money away from needed national security investments at this dangerous moment in time.”

The Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, confirmed Shea-Porter’s claim by stating, “12 percent of taxpayers would pay more in 2019 and 13 percent would pay more in 2027.” These increases unfairly hit middle class families.

This tax increase to the middle class comes primarily from the loss of “itemized deductions” that allow taxpayers to deduct things like mortgage interest, state and local taxes, student loan interest, qualifying work related expenses, and medical expenses.

“One reason for the variation across states is that taxpayers who live in places with higher state and local taxes may be more heavily impacted because those taxes would no longer be deductible on federal tax returns,” ITEP added.

“The bill the House approved today hurts older Americans now and in the future,” said Richard Fiesta, Executive Director of the Alliance for Retired Americans. “Eliminating the medical expense deduction means it will be harder for families with high medical expenses, most of whom are seniors, to make ends meet. The House Republican tax bill axes deductions that help working people so it can give more to the wealthiest.”

“The wealthy and corporations do not need these tax breaks. The vast majority of Americans understand that trickle-down economics does not work, and they disapprove of this plan. Retirees and working Americans know who this plan helps and who it hurts. And they will remember this when they vote in 2018,” Fiesta concluded.

Shea-Porter added, “This bill eliminates the deduction for high medical expenses claimed by over 40,000 Granite Staters and the student loan interest deduction that helps people saddled with student debt. It even takes away the modest $250 above-the-line deduction I fought to make permanent for almost 20,000 New Hampshire teachers – while keeping the golf course tax loophole. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office says the plan would explode the deficit by $1.7 trillion, triggering automatic cuts to Medicare. We all know our tax code desperately needs reform – but those reforms need to help the working people who are already losing out under our tax code, not give even more to the wealthiest 1% and the biggest corporations.”

The AFL-CIO says the bill is a “job killer” and rewards corporations for offshoring American jobs. Under the House proposal “U.S. tax rate on offshore profits from 35% to 0%,” creating a subsidy for outsourcing jobs that would cost taxpayers “$208 billion over 10 years.”

In their letter of opposition to the proposed tax plan, William Samuel, Director

Government Affairs Department at the AFL-CIO, called the proposal the “poster child for the failed ‘trickle-down’ economic theory that has never worked and has repeatedly stuck working people with the tab for tax giveaways for millionaires, big corporations, and Wall Street.”

Republicans are trying to pull the wool over our eyes in this massive tax scam. The plan would slash the corporate tax rate from 35% to 20% and repeals the Alternative Minimum Tax on “pass-through” businesses. A couple of examples of a “pass through” business are “small businesses” like hedge funds, law firms, realty investment companies, and some large corporations like Bechtel construction (the 9th largest single owned business in the US). Without the Alternative Minimum Tax these “pass through” businesses would not be required to pay any federal taxes at all.

NBC News is reporting “Trump and his heirs potentially could save more than $1 billion overall under the GOP tax proposal that the House of Representatives passed Thursday,” though he continues to say that the plan will not benefit him.

The progressive coalition, Not One Penny, supports tax reforms but not one penny in reductions to “millionaires, billionaires, and wealthy corporations.”

“The tax bill that passed the House today is an affront to the people that our leaders in Washington claim to represent. The GOP voted to cut taxes for millionaires, billionaires, and wealthy corporations, inevitably forcing cuts to programs working families depend on like Medicaid, Medicare, public education, and Social Security. While passing the largest middle-class tax hike in a generation, the GOP said ‘no thanks’ to helping working families this Thanksgiving,” said Not One Penny spokesman Tim Hogan. “The tax proposal that passed today is wildly unpopular with a majority of Americans, and voters won’t forget those who enabled this hypocrisy. Republicans’ vote today is one that will haunt them in the weeks and months ahead.”

Over the last month, in mobilizing against Republicans’ disastrous tax plan, the Not One Penny coalition has coordinated more than a hundred events and actions across the country to hold congressional Republicans accountable for pushing tax cuts for the wealthy and well-connected at the expense of working families.

Advocates and activists continue to mobilize in opposition to Republicans’ tax scam. From hundreds gathering together at rallies alongside Leaders Pelosi and Schumer, Members of Congress, and progressive allies on November 1 and November 15, to local grassroots activity across the country, Americans will continue to resist this toxic tax plan.

“Progressive groups have come together to prevent Republicans from rigging the system even further for the wealthy and well-connected, and we will not quit until this taxpayer-funded giveaway to millionaires, billionaires, and wealthy corporations is stopped dead in its tracks. After months of activity, we continue to mobilize thousands of activists to stop Republicans attempts to raise taxes on middle-class families. Congressional Republicans should take note: we will hold you accountable for every vote you take that threatens the health and financial security of your constituents,” Hogan added.

“This bill has always been about giving massive tax cuts to the wealthy and corporations, paid for by the rest of us — and our groups have been fired up about that from the beginning,” said Ezra Levin, Co-Executive Director of Indivisible, a member of the Not One Penny coalition. “Even before this tax fight became a health care fight, we had over 100 events in every corner of this country to oppose the Trump Tax Scam. Now that Republicans have explicitly included ACA repeal, our groups are even more energized than before.”

The bill now moves to the Senate where it is sure to face stiff opposition, especially after the news that Senator McConnell added the repeal of the Affordable Care Act to their tax plan.

Should-be Republican supporters are beginning to defect from the GOP tax plan because of the disastrous impact it would have on the American economy and the harm it would have on millions of middle-class families. Opposition to the plan includes:

  • Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson, who said the plan benefits corporations over small businesses, and he finds the process being used to rush the bill “offensive.”
  • Arizona Senator Jeff Flake said, “I remain concerned over how the current tax reform proposals will grow the already staggering national debt by opting for short-term fixes while ignoring long-term problems for taxpayers and the economy.”
  • MaineSenator Susan Collins said, “I don’t think it’s a good idea from either a political or policy perspective.” Tennessee Senator Bob Corker said, “If I believe it’s going to add to the deficit, I’m not going to vote for it.”
  • Oklahoma Senator James Lankfordsaid, “It’s one thing to be able to cut taxes. It’s another thing to say how are we going to deal with our debt and deficit.”
  • Texas Senator Ted Cruzsaid, “Right now, they don’t have my vote.”

Make sure to let your Senators know how you feel about this new proposal. The Senate Democrats are unanimous against the bill but in order to ensure this bill never reaches the President’s desk we need to get at least three Republicans to vote it down.

“We need bipartisan tax reform that simplifies our tax code to help small businesses and delivers meaningful relief to middle-class families. Sadly, the tax bill approved last night is a partisan effort that doesn’t meet any of those goals,” said Senator Shaheen. “This bill would add over one and a half trillion dollars to our national debt and hurt Granite State students, seniors and working families, all to provide tax cuts to the very wealthy and large corporations. I stand ready to work with Republicans and Democrats to reform our tax code, but we need a bill that’s fiscally responsible, helps grow our economy and prioritizes the middle class.”

Congressional Candidate Wants More “Evidence-Based” Policy Making

Almost every day we can read about another unqualified crony being appointed to run any number of federal agencies. The Trump administration has made a joke out of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) by appointing Scott Pruitt to lead the organization. As the Attorney General for the state of Oklahoma, Pruitt fought the EPA’s regulations and continually denied the science on climate change.

Another example is the nomination of Sam Clovis to be the top scientist at the US Food and Drug Administration despite the fact he is not a scientist. Clovis, a former radio talk show host, economics professor, and Trump campaign aide, openly admitted to having no degrees in agricultural or natural sciences and called climate change “junk science”.

Clovis has since withdrawn his consideration for the under-secretary position but clearly shows the Trump administration’s pattern of nominating anti-climate change, anti-science, political cronies to lead federal agencies.

With the heads of major natural science agencies being run by anti-science ideologues, it would then fall on Congress to address some of the environmental issues facing the country.

That is just one of the reasons Rye State Rep, Mindi Messmer, has decided to run for Congress. As an environmental scientist, she brings nearly 30 years of experience working to clean up the environment and protecting communities from the harmful toxins that lay dormant underground.

“I am running for Congress to ensure clean drinking water for all Americans, to take precautions to mitigate the environmental causes of cancer, and to stand up to industry-backed attacks on science federal agencies like the EPA by Scott Pruitt and others,” said Messmer. “At a time when the EPA is being dismantled, and environmental policy and regulations are being decimated, I vow to fiercely advocate for evidence-based policy if elected to Congress.”

“It​ ​is​ ​encouraging​ ​to​ ​see​ ​candidates​ ​like​ ​Mindi,​ ​with​ ​a​ ​proven​ ​track​ ​record​ ​of standing​ ​up​ ​for​ ​science​ ​science,​ ​stepping​ ​up​ ​to​ ​the​ ​plate​ ​to​ ​run​ ​for​ ​office,” said Joshua​ ​Morrow,​​Executive​ ​Director​ ​of​ ​314​ ​Action after hearing of Messmer’s decision to run.​ ​”In​ ​an era​ ​where​ ​alternative​ ​facts​ ​and​ ​attacks​ ​on​ ​science​ ​are​ ​the​ ​norm​ ​at​ ​the​ ​hands​ ​of the​ ​Trump​ ​Administration,​ ​Congress​ ​needs​ ​the​ ​perspective​ ​of​ ​scientists​ ​who​ ​will base​ ​policy​ ​on​ ​evidence​ ​rather​ ​than​ ​intuition.”

For 28 years, Messmer has run Terra Nova Environmental, a consulting firm that focuses on the “evaluation, design, development, and implementation of conventional and innovative in-situ and on-site technologies for remediation of contaminated sites.”

Most notably she was the first to identify and report a “pediatric cancer cluster” in five Seacoast NH towns. Her work prompted then Governor, Maggie Hassan to create a task force to investigate the “rhabdomyosarcoma and pleuropulmonary blastoma double pediatric cancer cluster.”

As head of the task force subcommittee, Messmer coordinated with the EPA and the NH Department of Environmental Services to investigate the Coakley Landfill Superfund Site, as the possible cause of the cancer cluster.

Messmer has also been leading the charge on the contaminated ground water in Merrimack, Bedford, and Litchfield linked to the Saint Gobain factory as well as groundwater contaminations linked to the Pease Air Force Base.

As a consultant, Messmer could only do so much. But as a state legislator she could write her own legislation to get the state to address these water issues. And that is exactly what she did.

Messmer was elected to the NH House of Representatives in 2016 and has already submitted a number of bills, three of which have already become law. Messmer’s bills created commissions to further study the cancer cluster and water contamination on the Seacoast as well as a commission to study “environmentally triggered illnesses” in New Hampshire.

In a brief conversation with Messmer after her announcement to run for Congress she talked about how there are more than 150 “superfund sites” similar to those at Pease AFB all across the country that need to be investigated.

Messmer is a longtime resident of Rye, NH where she lives with her husband and two teenage sons.


You can read her full campaign announcement here. Be sure to subscribe to the NH Labor News to get more news on the Congressional races in NH.

Veterans Day 2017: Honoring Our Veterans

Today we stop and take a moment to honor the hundreds of thousands of men and women who stepped up and served to protect our nation by serving in the armed forces.

“On Veterans Day, the nation honors our Veterans and their unique role safeguarding our freedom as a people,” wrote Department of Veteran Affairs Secretary, David Shulkin. “Our 16th President, Abraham Lincoln envisioned the honoring of our war dead, in what later became Memorial Day, and caring for the living of those who engaged our enemies on the battlefield on what today is Veterans Day.  That promise includes both the Veteran who walked a post, stood on the deck of a great ship, or flew in the skies, and the families who provided them so much support.”

Shulkin added, “On this day, we remember those who have sworn an oath to honor and defend this great nation.”

It is true that President Trump, Sec. Shulkin, and elected leaders from both parties have been working diligently to address some of the issues facing Veterans across the country. Most of their efforts have been focused on addressing VA healthcare and ensuring Veterans have access to care at VA hospitals.

However there are still other issues that need to be addressed.  As of January of 2016, the latest data available, there are still more than 39,000 homeless Veterans scattered across the country.  Veterans make up more than 10% of the overall homeless population and over 20% of the male homeless population.  They predominately live in large cities and the majority suffer from a disability, mental illness, or substance abuse problems.

The Trump administration also pushed for a 27% cut to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), commonly referred to as ‘Food Stamps’.  SNAP help keep 42 million Americans from starving, of that an estimated 1.7 million are Veterans.  To make it worse, more than 23,000 active duty service members rely on food stamps to feed their families.  Reports also show that nearly 50% of children at Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) schools qualify for free or reduced lunches.

Trump and his Republican allies have been attacking Veterans by attacking healthcare.  Trump wants to repeal the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare and put an end to the Medicaid Expansion.  If Republicans had succeeded in gutting Medicaid Expansion an estimated 340,000 Veterans would likely lose their healthcare coverage. In 2015,  1.7 million Veterans relied on Medicaid for some portion of their healthcare.

“Veterans and their family members depend on Medicaid. Sometimes it supplements VA or other coverage; for many, it is their only source of coverage,” wrote VoteVets.og in May of this year. “Congressional actions such as capping and cutting Medicaid or ending or phasing out the Medicaid expansion would make it harder for veterans to get the health care they need.”

Lastly, Republicans have repeatedly blocked efforts to raise the federal minimum wage.  The Union Veterans Council (AFL-CIO) estimates that 16% of all Veterans in the workforce make less than $15 an hour. Raising the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour would boost the wages of more than 3.2 million Veterans alone.

While Trump and Congressional Republicans spend their days giving lip service to Veterans,  labor unions are actually doing something to help Veterans find meaningful employment and work their way into the middle class. Labor has been helping Veterans as far back as the Civil War.

The Building Trades Unions created apprentice programs specifically for Veterans called the Helmets to Hardhats program. In the last six years alone, the North American Building Trades have spent $1.2 billion dollars training Veterans to reenter the workforce after their time in the service.

Aside from training exiting service members before they leave the armed services, unions have also fought to preserve veterans preferences for hiring, opposed cuts to healthcare, continue to fight for a fully funded and fully staffed VA, and pushing for a higher minimum wage.

It is easy to see who truly honors and supports our nations Veterans and who is using them for political fodder.

Democrats Win Big In NH And In Major Elections In Virginia And New Jersey

Yesterday was a big day for Democrats in New Hampshire.  Manchester elected Joyce Craig as their new mayor after 14 years of Republican control.

Democrats also picked up two House seats in special elections held last night.

Erika Connors defeated Albert MacArthur Jr. 1,198 votes to 1,178 votes to become the newest State Representative in Hillsborough County District 15. Erika’s victory comes in a district with 5% more registered Republicans than Democrats, where President Trump received 53% of the vote. Connors win marks Democrats fifth win in a Republican district in seven tries.

Brian Sullivan won the Sullivan County District 1 state House special election, 1,327-671 (66%-34%), defeating Republican opponent Margaret Drye. Representative-elect Conley will replace Rep. Andrew Smith who resigned in June.

Tonight’s victories mark New Hampshire’s seventh and eighth special election wins in ten tries in 2017.

“Congratulations to our two newest Representatives-elect on their victories tonight,” said New Hampshire House Democratic Leader Steve Shurtleff. “In Brian Sullivan, the House gains a public servant who has spent his career fighting to improve New Hampshire schools and to help working families. In Erika Connors, we gain a passionate, dedicated champion of public schools who will always fight for Manchester Ward 8. Their commitment to fighting for Democratic values will make them wonderful additions to the New Hampshire House of Representatives.”

“Tonight’s victories are yet another example of Granite Staters showing up in unprecedented numbers to support strong Democratic candidates,” said NHDP Chair Ray Buckley. “New Hampshire Democrats have now won 8 out of 10 special elections this year. New Hampshire voters are rejecting the Trump-Sununu agenda by showing up to the polls and electing Democrats to office. There is no seat Democrats can’t compete for in 2017 and these wins put us that much closer to taking back state and national majorities a year from now.”

“Democrats in New Hampshire just keep winning,” said Tom Perez, Chair of the DNC.  “Thanks to the hard work of the New Hampshire Democratic Party, the energy of grassroots organizers, and the will of voters across the Granite State, Democrats won two state House seats, flipping one in an area that voted for Trump a year ago. And with Joyce Craig’s historical mayoral victory tonight in Manchester, Democrats have now flipped six seats in New Hampshire from red to blue in 2017. This is just the beginning. Democrats are going to keep organizing and leading with our values, and that’s why we’re going to flip even more seats up and down the ballot in 2018 and beyond.”

In Nashua, young Democrats won three Aldermanic seats.

“Tonight’s victory is a clear statement that Nashua is hungry for fresh innovative leadership to lead it into the future and make it a more appealing place for young people to live, work, learn and raise a family,” said New Hampshire Young Democrats Executive Director Amelia Keane. “Time and again, leaders in our city have put roadblocks in the way of common sense policies that will attract and retain more Millennials such as the development of passenger rail, compassionate solutions to the opioid crisis, and meaningful investments in our public schools. With Shoshanna, Dave, and Brandon now sitting at the table representing a more progressive vision for Nashua, real change is about to come to the Gate City.”

Along with these Democratic wins in New Hampshire, voters in other states chose to elect Democrats to lead them over the next few years.

In Virginia, Democrat Ralph Northam defeated his Republican opponent by ten full points.  The Daily Kos reported this morning, “Democrats also held Virginia’s two other statewide posts, as Justin Fairfax won the open lieutenant governorship and Mark Herring was re-elected as attorney general, both by 53-47 margins. ”

The same was true in New Jersey as voters elected the Democratic candidate, Phil Murphy, to be their next governor by almost fourteen points.  Democrats also retained the NJ Senate and the NJ Assembly.  “That once again gives Democrats complete control of state government, the so-called “trifecta,” and the chance to enact progressive policies long thwarted by outgoing Gov. Chris Christie. Enjoy the beach!” wrote the Daily Kos.

It is obvious with these major victories in New Jersey and Virginia coupled with the large number of Democratic victories in municipal elections across New Hampshire that change is coming.

Will Democrats be able to take back the NH House and Senate in 2018?

Will Democrats be able to take back the US House and Senate in 2018?

Will Democrats continue to build momentum all the way to the critical 2020 elections?

Time will tell, but if last night is any indication, we are off to a strong start.

Allies, Advocates, And Friends Praise Joyce Craig’s Historic Mayoral Win

Last night, Joyce Craig made history by becoming the first woman elected to be mayor of Manchester. Craig won 12,053-10,554 (53%-47%), defeating four-term incumbent Republican Ted Gatsas in bid to run the largest city in New Hampshire.

“I’m incredibly honored and humbled to stand here tonight as the next mayor of Manchester,” Craig told the crowd at her election night party. “As your mayor I will focus on the things that matter most for residents: improving our schools, making our streets safer, supporting our existing businesses and bringing new businesses to our city. And making real and lasting progress against the opioid crisis.”

“Today, Manchester made history,” said Senator Shaheen. “As the first woman elected mayor of the city, Joyce adds to New Hampshire’s outstanding legacy of electing strong woman leaders. I want to congratulate Joyce on running a tremendous campaign that focused on her positive vision for Manchester, and I look forward to working with her to achieve this vision.”

“Congratulations to my friend, Mayor-elect Joyce Craig, on her historic election,” Senator Hassan said. “Joyce ran a strong campaign focused on her positive vision for moving Manchester forward, and the Queen City will be stronger thanks to her bipartisan leadership in City Hall. I look forward to working with Joyce as she fights to position Manchester to thrive in the innovation economy, improve the school system, and strengthen public safety.”

“Congratulations to Manchester Mayor-elect Joyce Craig, the first woman ever elected mayor in Manchester,” said Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter. “Joyce has a clear, positive vision of what she wants Manchester’s future to look like, and I look forward to working with her.”

Mayor-elect Joyce Craig is the first Democrat to be elected mayor of Manchester in 14 years. Tonight’s victory mark’s the fifth time New Hampshire Democrats have flipped a seat from red to blue in seven tries.

“Tonight’s historic victory is bound to send shockwaves across the state. After 12 years of Republican control, Manchester is back in Democratic hands on the heels of electing their first woman as mayor in the city’s 171 year history,” said NH Democratic Party Chair, Ray Buckley. “Congratulations to Mayor-elect Joyce Craig for running and winning a positive campaign based on the issues. There is no better person to make the most of our incredible potential, tackle our challenges head-on and lead this city to new heights.”

Running a campaign of this size takes a lot of help. Craig relied on hundreds of campaign volunteers who help spread her message across the city.

“Our campaign knocked on thousands and thousands of doors,” Craig told the crowd. “We worked hard for every vote and tonight we know that our hard work paid off.”

The New Hampshire Young Democrats launched an unprecedented organizing effort to help elect Joyce Craig for Mayor, and fielded a historic number of down ballot candidates. In Manchester alone, Young Democrats knocked on thousands doors this election season and helped run numerous aggressive down ballot races through our 603 Forward program.

“We are thrilled about Joyce Craig’s win. Throughout her career in public service, she has been a strong advocate for policies that make Manchester a better place for young families to live and work and for innovative business to thrive,” said New Hampshire Young Democrats President Lucas Meyer on tonight’s victory. “It was clear throughout the campaign that Millennials across the city are excited about Joyce Craig, and fully embraced her forward-thinking vision for the city. Hundreds of volunteers came out in the months leading up to the election to knock on doors and talk to their neighbors about why they should support Joyce for mayor. We know we can count on Joyce to enact the forward thinking policies that will help attract and retain young people in the Queen City.”

Planned Parenthood New Hampshire Action Fund supporters knocked on over a thousand doors and made hundreds phone calls all over the Queen City. The women, men, and young people of Manchester who supported Craig in this race understood the importance of electing a leader who strives to make Manchester a healthier and safer city.

“We are thrilled with the victory of Joyce Craig tonight. She shares our vision for a healthier Manchester – where all residents, no matter who they are, where they’re from, or how they identify – have access to affordable health care, can exercise their rights, and live in a safe community,” stated Jennifer Frizzell, Chair of the Planned Parenthood New Hampshire Action Fund.

“Congratulations to Joyce Craig for her historic victory in the Queen City tonight. As the first woman to ever serve as mayor of Manchester, Joyce will lead the city she loves with the same vision and energy that she’s brought to her previous decade of public service,” said Tom Perez, Chair of the Democratic National Committee. “After eight years of failed Republican leadership, it’s time for a new era of economic vibrancy, and Mayor-elect Craig has what it takes to make it happen. The DNC has been proud to stand with the New Hampshire Democratic Party, and we look forward to seeing all that Mayor-elect Craig accomplishes in Manchester.”

“Joyce Craig represents the best of Manchester and has committed to protecting voting rights as the city’s mayor,” said Jason Kander, President of Let America Vote. “That’s why Let America Vote was so proud to endorse Joyce earlier this year and support her by sending a field team to Manchester that knocked on over 9,400 doors on her behalf. We’ll continue standing with Joyce Craig as mayor because we know she’ll be a strong voting rights advocate for her city and state.”

“We are proud to congratulate Joyce Craig on her history-making victory today,” said EMILY’s List President Stephanie Schriock. “Joyce is a committed public servant and passionate education advocate who is clearly the right person to move Manchester forward. EMILY’s List endorsed her because we know she will bring strong policy solutions and much-needed new leadership to her city.”

Today begins a new era in Manchester and we are all looking forward to what Mayor Joyce Craig will do.

House GOP Tax Plan Hurts Working Families

Today, the House Republicans released their new tax plan that would lower taxes for the ultra-wealthy and add trillions to the national debt. The plan would also drastically reduce the corporate tax rate while continuing to reward companies for offshoring American jobs.

“This tax bill is a job killer. It gives hundreds of billions of dollars in tax breaks to companies that outsource jobs and profits,” said Richard Trumka, President of the AFL-CIO. “No matter how it’s spun by Republican politicians, their tax bill is nothing but giveaways to Wall Street, big corporations and millionaires, paid for on the backs of working families.”

“It’s shameless to propose cutting Medicaid, Medicare, education and infrastructure to pay for tax breaks for the 1%. History tells us, commonsense tells us and careful analysis of this tax bill tells us that these tax giveaways for the wealthy and big corporations will never trickle down to the rest of us. Real tax reform actually can put money back in the pockets of working people, but this is not that kind of plan,” Trumka added.

“The Republican tax plan is a handout to millionaires, billionaires, and big corporations that will raise taxes on working families and give corporations new incentives to send more U.S. jobs overseas,” stated Chris Shelton, President of the Communication Workers of America (CWA). “Republicans and White House staff have been working overtime to spin this deal as a ‘middle class tax cut.’ It’s not.”

Shelton explained just a few of the ways the new tax proposal will hurt CWA members and working families across the nation.

  • It limits the ability to deduct property taxes and completely eliminates the ability to deduct state and local taxes.
  • It gets rid of tax deductions that help families pay education expenses. It will tax directly the value of employer-provided education assistance that at least 10,000 CWA members use.
  • It restricts the amount of home mortgage interest that can be deducted, hurting CWA members and working people especially in areas like California, New York, New Jersey, and other states with high housing costs.
  • It wipes out the ability of families to deduct their medical expenses.
  • Any employer-provided child care benefit will be taxed, and assistance from employers to help CWA families adopt a child also will be taxed.

“We cannot allow tax cuts for the wealthy to harm millions of working families. CWA and our allies are fighting back against this massive transfer of dollars from working families to the richest 1 percent,” added Shelton.

David J Cox, President of the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) also spoke out against the new tax plan.

“The tax plan unveiled by House leadership would mostly benefit those who need the help the least: wealthy individuals and large corporations. While the plan would lower the tax rate for many middle-income families, most would end up having more of their income taxed. And the plan would actually raise taxes on our poorest citizens.”

“Too many American workers have been suffering from stagnant wages, rising costs for health care and other essentials, and an economic system that favors the millionaires and billionaires. This plan does nothing to help them,” he concluded.

The new plan angered the Alliance for Retired Americans, a national advocacy group for seniors.

“This is the latest cruel scheme. The tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans are so massive that they plan to cut nearly $500 billion from Medicare and more than $1 trillion from Medicaid over the next 10 years to pay for them – but they will still add $1.5 trillion to the deficit,” said Richard Fiesta, Executive Director of the Alliance for Retired Americans.

“Exacerbating the problems they are creating, the House and the Trump Administration would no longer allow Americans, including retirees, to deduct their medical expenses, including nursing home costs or out of pocket medical or dental expenses from their taxes.”

Even some on the right oppose this new tax proposal. The Concord Coalition, a self proclaimed “non-partisan, grassroots organization,” heavily funded by former Sec. of Commerce Peter G Peterson, spoke out against this new proposal calling it “fiscally irresponsible.”

“True tax reform should aim to grow the economy without growing the debt ” said Robert L. Bixby, Concord’s executive director. “This plan would move U.S. fiscal policy in a dangerous direction, openly inviting higher deficits in the face of unsustainable debt.”

The federal debt recently passed the $20 trillion mark, and the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projects that under current law the government is on track to add more than $10 trillion to that in the next 10 years. This version of the tax plan will add at least another $1.5 trillion onto that projection.

“It is important that any changes made to this draft to accommodate interest group concerns and increase potential support be paid for by reducing tax cuts rather than increasing the number of budget gimmicks,” Bixby added.

Working people across the country should not be made to suffer to give the top 1% more tax breaks.

Former Sec. of Labor and respected economist Robert Reich said, “The proposed tax cuts are tiny and temporary. And some middle class Americans will actually get a tax increase.”

Reich calls this tax plan a “Trojan Horse” in this short video released today.

“Meanwhile, the top 1 percent will get a gigantic tax cut. The Tax Policy Center estimates that the current plan will save the bottom 80 percent between $50 and $450 in taxes per year, but that it saves each person in the top 1 percent an average of $129,000 a year. For people at the very top, like Trump himself, the tax cuts are humongous. And the corporations they own will also get a massive tax cut,” Reich added.

Working people have suffered through decades of stagnant wages, budget cuts to programs that help them and provide healthcare when they get old.  Enough is enough. We must stop this massive giveaway to the wealthy 1%.

Joyce Craig Releases Plan To Address Opioids and Crime While Gatsas Plays Games With Voters

This week, the Manchester mayoral race ratcheted up a notch as Joyce Craig unveiled her plan to address the opioid epidemic and the current Mayor, Ted Gatsas, looks to score political points with additional funding to the ‘Safe Station’ program and a new solar power project.

On Tuesday morning, Joyce Craig released her plan to address the opioid crisis and crime in the city, titled “Safe Streets, Opioid Crisis, and Recovery Services Plan.” The plan includes important provisions involving early education, support for expanded Medicaid, and receiving support from the state.

“The opioid crisis is continuing to harm Manchester. Programs like Safe Station are vital to our response, but we need to be doing more. I believe we need a comprehensive approach including early education, prevention, peer recovery support, strong enforcement, and increased advocacy. As the largest city in the state, Manchester needs to lead the effort to combat the opioid crisis. As mayor, I will fight for state and federal resources and empower our community service providers to respond effectively. The safety of every resident of Manchester is my first priority, and my plan reflects the steadfast approach I will take to addressing opioid and safety issues in our city,” Craig said.

Although the city of Manchester has been making efforts to combat the opioid crisis, the problem is as severe as ever and remains a top concern for residents. This past September saw the most overdoses in Manchester in a single month with 147, and every month this summer saw increased overdoses from last year. Policies such as Safe Station are important, but more must be done if we want to see an end to this crisis.

Craig’s plan includes:

  • Continue regular ride-alongs with the police and fire departments to understand the challenges our community and first responders face
  • Develop and implement an evidence-based substance use prevention education program for schools and the community
  • Hold landlords accountable for problem properties where drugs are being sold and used and crimes are committed
  • Lead weekly interdepartmental meetings between the mayor, fire, health, police, office of youth services, the superintendent and key community organizations to ensure we are working together to comprehensively address the opioid crisis
  • Track and report outcomes based on funding to identify the most effective programs and improve services that combat the opioid crisis
  • Monitor indicators such as arrest data, emergency room admission rates, respite center admission rates and average wait time to identify key areas that need improvement
  • Compile citywide overdose data and utilize the data to identify and target interventions to reduce overdoses and overall opioid misuse
  • Establish partnership with the state to address this statewide problem. Over 65% of Safe Station entrants come from outside of Manchester, we need the state to recognize and invest in this program as a statewide resource
  • Advocate for resources from state and federal agencies that city departments and community service providers need to make a lasting difference in this fight, such as recovery housing throughout the state
  • Maintain a full police complement at all times to ensure resident safety
  • Support and advocate for expanded Medicaid. Without it, Safe Station would end and treatment options in Manchester would significantly decrease
  • Develop and implement a comprehensive plan to address chronic homelessness

In a surprising announcement yesterday, Mayor Gatsas and Governor Sununu announced additional funding for the ‘Safe Station’ program.

“I want to thank Governor Chris Sununu, Drug Czar David Mara, and Health and Human Services Commissioner Jeff Meyers for working with the City of Manchester to ensure the continued success of the Manchester Safe Station program. The immediate $150,000 commitment by Governor Sununu and his leadership team will assure the continuation of Manchester Safe Station and the programs in place to provide the services to Safe Station. I am confident that as we move forward we will secure additional funding for the future,” Gatsas said.

This announcement is surprising because it was Mayor Gatsas who opposed an additional $50,000 requested by Chief Goonan to be moved to Serenity Place as part of the Safe Station program in July of this year.

Gatsas is hoping that with today’s announcement people will forget about all of the times he opposed increased spending on the Safe Station program.

During her campaign for mayor, Joyce Craig has advocated on multiple occasions for state funding for Safe Station. Joyce recognized that Safe Station is a statewide resource in the fight against the opioid crisis and should receive support from the state.

In a written statement, Craig said, “This is good news for Manchester’s Safe Station program and those dealing with substance misuse. Safe Station has been a great tool to help people receive recovery services and I am thankful to our first responders for implementing this program.

Unfortunately, Ted Gatsas didn’t bother to take action to make sure Safe Station is recognized as a statewide resource until three weeks before his next election. I’ve advocated for state recognition for months and I am glad Mayor Gatsas decided to take my lead and ask for funding in Concord this week. We need a mayor who works for Manchester every day, not just in the weeks leading up to an election.”

Another example of Gatsas playing games with the people of Manchester is his new solar power project.

“The proposal consists of a twenty five-year power purchase agreement for solar energy and the construction of a solar array on Mount Manchester, also known as the former city dump, that will generate at least three mega watts of power,” reported Girard at Large.

In 2015, Gatsas killed a proposal that was fully supported by the Board of Alderman to install solar panels at the former landfill in Ward 12.

Craig called out this proposal for what it is, a half-baked idea to “score political points” with voters just prior to the election.

“It was clear from the presentation this evening that this proposal was nowhere near ready to be presented to the full Board of Mayor and Alderman. Although he acknowledged being aware of the issue for weeks, Mayor Gatsas failed to provide any information to the Aldermen until tonight. Mayor Gatsas is attempting to rush this issue through the board to score political points before the election. He should have followed the usual protocol and sent this to the city’s energy committee for proper vetting.”

Craig was also quick to criticize Gatsas for his failure to support a similar proposal in 2015.

“Manchester would already be realizing energy savings and revenue if Mayor Gatsas didn’t kill a fully vetted and approved solar project for the landfill in Ward 12 that was overwhelmingly supported by the aldermen in 2015.

I’ve been a strong advocate for renewable energy as an alderman and during my campaign for mayor. While I appreciate Mayor Gatsas is finally endorsing renewable energy, the city would have been better served had the mayor supported a fully vetted project two years ago. Manchester needs a mayor who serves the city every day. Unfortunately, Mayor Gatsas is scrambling to fix his record with rushed plans three weeks before the election.”

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