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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

Former NEA-NH President and NH State Senator Scott McGilvray Has Passed Away

Image of Scott McGilvray, Professional Firefighters of NH President Dave Lang, and members of the Professional Firefighters of NH.

Just over a month ago, Scott McGilvray took a leave of absence from his position as President of NEA New Hampshire citing growing health concerns.

“In light of some recent health issues, I have requested and been granted leave from my duties as President of NEA-NH so that I can concentrate on getting well and serving my constituents in the State Senate. Last November, the people of District 16 entrusted me with the honor of representing them and the great responsibility of fighting for them in the State Senate. I intend to continue fulfilling my duties as Senator and keeping my commitment to my constituents while I am on leave from my job,” McGilvray stated.  

Today, we have learned that Scott McGilvray has passed away.  

At the moment we do not have any more details about his illness or his passing.   

After hearing the news, Megan Tuttle, Acting NEA-New Hampshire President, issued the following statement:

“NEA-New Hampshire is deeply saddened today by the passing of our President and friend Scott McGilvray. Scott made the lives of countless others better as a teacher, coach, mentor, friend and leader and he will be greatly missed. 

“He was a tireless advocate for students and educators across the state, dedicating his life fighting to assure every child had the opportunity to succeed. Scott McGilvray made New Hampshire a better place for children.”

AFT-NH President Douglas Ley released the following statement on the passing of labor leader and State Senator Scott McGilvray.

“AFT-NH is shocked and saddened to learn of the passing of State Senator Scott McGilvray. On behalf of AFT-NH members, we express our deepest sympathy and condolences to the family of Scott McGilvray, and to our colleagues at NEA-NH.”

“Scott dedicated his life to advocating for New Hampshire’s children, public education, educators and working families. He was a strong labor leader and his career was marked by public service at its finest culminating with his election to the NH State Senate this past fall.”

“The passing of Senator McGilvray is a great loss to public education, the labor movement and the entire state of New Hampshire. He was taken from us far too soon, and leaves a void that will be difficult to fill.”

In 2016, Scott took the leap and decided to run for State Senator in District 16 and won.  He was a great addition to the Senate with his years of knowledge and experience as an educator and as President of NEA-NH.  Scott was well received in the Senate by members of both parties.

After receiving the news of his passing, Senate President Chuck Morse (R-Salem) and Senate Minority Leader Jeff Woodburn (D-Whitefield) issued the following statements:

“It is with great sorrow that we learn of our fellow colleague Senator Scott McGilvray’s passing this morning. Both my wife Susan and I would like to extend our deepest, heartfelt sympathies, warm thoughts and prayers to Senator McGilvray’s wife Patti and his two daughters, Meaghan and Molly, as well as all of his family, friends and loved ones during this immensely difficult time,” said Senate President Chuck Morse (R-Salem). “Senator McGilvrary was well respected within in his community and has touched countless young lives through his dedication to education as well as coaching youth sports.”

“Losing a member of the Senate is always difficult and the loss of Senator McGilvrary so early in his career is especially sad. Each day in the Senate we all work hard to make our state better, and though his tenure serving Senate District 16 was far too brief, Senator McGilvray’s service to his community will certainly have a positive and memorable impact for many years to come,” said Morse.

“Scott’s time in the NH Senate, just as his life, was too brief. He devoted his life to teaching, coaching, and advocating for our children and he left an indelible impression with all he worked with. I was proud to serve with Scott in the New Hampshire Senate and saw firsthand his dedication to the people of his district and the people of New Hampshire. I join with all my Senate colleagues in expressing our deepest sympathies to his family, particularly his wife Patti and his daughters on their loss. New Hampshire has lost a great public servant and I know that Scott’s friends and family will be in all our thoughts and prayers during this difficult time,” said Senator Jeff Woodburn (D-Whitefield).

Raymond Buckley, Chair of the NH Democratic Party released the following after receiving the news: 

“We are shocked and deeply saddened to hear of Senator Scott McGilvray’s passing. Senator McGilvray will be remembered for his deep dedication to education and for the young people and educators whose lives he has impacted so greatly over his 25 years as a social studies teacher and a football coach. He spent his last months serving his state and fighting for the people of New Hampshire and for that we are endlessly grateful. He will be dearly missed.”

 I am also saddened to hear of the news of Scott McGilvray’s passing today.  Over the years I have collaborated with Scott  in his capacity as President of NEA and helped push for his election to the NH Senate.  He was truly a good man, a strong labor leader, and an outspoken advocate for the children of New Hampshire.

I offer my sincere condolences to the McGilvray family.

(NOTE: at the time of publication no statement has been made by the family.  We will update this post with any new statements and information about possible donations in his honor as they come in.) 

Updated with additional statements.

Statement from Granite State Progress Executive Director Zandra Rice Hawkins on the passing of State Senator Scott McGilvray:

“Granite State Progress is incredibly sad to learn of the passing of our colleague and friend Scott McGilvray. Our organization worked closely with Scott from his time as a local leader with the Manchester Education Association to his election as President of NEA-New Hampshire and then as a State Senator. Scott was always a thoughtful, collaboration-oriented leader who cared deeply about his students, his members, and his community. We are honored to have been able to work with him on so many important endeavors to make New Hampshire a better place for all families. Scott truly left a positive impact on the efforts he worked on and New Hampshire is better for it.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends today, and with the many people whose lives he touched as a dedicated educator, coach, and community leader.”

U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen delivered the following statement after learning of the passing of New Hampshire State Senator Scott McGilvray:

“Billy and I were very saddened to learn of the passing of Scott McGilvray,” said Shaheen. “Scott’s devotion to public service grew out of his passion for students. Whether on the football field, in the classroom or in the New Hampshire Senate, Scott worked tirelessly to help New Hampshire’s children reach their full potential. Scott’s legacy will live on in the many Granite Staters whose lives he changed. I extend my deepest condolences to Scott’s wife Patti, his daughters and his family. My thoughts are with them as we all mourn his passing.”

Today, Senator Maggie Hassan released the following statement on the passing of New Hampshire State Senator Scott McGilvray:

“Countless students had a brighter future because they had Scott McGilvray in their corner as a teacher or as a football coach. Although his time in the State Senate was far too brief, Scott was already bringing the same energy and dedication to building a better future for young people across the Granite State. Scott embodied the spirit of civic engagement we are known for in New Hampshire, and the Manchester community and entire state are stronger because of his devotion to public service. I was proud to call him a friend, and Tom and I extend our deepest sympathies to his wife Patti, and his daughters, Meaghan and Molly.”

Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter today released the following statement on the passing of State Senator and New Hampshire National Education Association President Scott McGilvray:

“I was deeply saddened to learn this morning of Senator Scott McGilvray’s passing. Senator McGilvray was a leader in our community and a fierce advocate for students and teachers. His wife Patti, his daughters Meaghan and Molly, and the countless Granite Staters whose lives he touched will be in my thoughts and prayers.”

Congresswoman Annie Kuster (NH-02) released the following statement on the passing of Senator Scott McGilvray:

“I’m deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Scott McGilvray. Over the years, I’ve been lucky enough to know and work with Scott. His determination and dedication to improving education in New Hampshire has left our state a better place for all of us. Scott touched the lives of countless young people in his decades as an educator and his legacy will live on in the hearts of those who knew him. My husband Brad and I extend our deepest condolences to Scott’s wife Patti and his daughters Meaghan and Molly at this very difficult time.”

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

“On behalf of the House Democratic Caucus, I express my deepest condolences to Senator McGilvray’s family during this difficult time. As an educator, labor leader, and coach, Senator McGilvray dedicated his life to public service and improving the lives of children. With the passing of Senator McGilvray, the state of New Hampshire has lost a great person, and great public servant, far too soon.”

US House Passes Bill To Arbitrarily Fire Workers At The VA, Bypassing The Union’s Due Process

Yesterday, in a largely party line vote of 237-178, the U.S. House passed, “H.R.1259 – VA Accountability First Act of 2017.” A bill that would allow the Secretary of the VA to arbitrarily fire workers without any due process. HR 1259 was written and sponsored by Tennessee Republican, Rep David Roe (R-TN-1) who also cosponsored legislation to revoke the Department of Labor’s new rule mandating employers keep records on all workplace injuries.

The Hill explains:

The bill would give the VA secretary expedited removal authority, meaning any employee fired by the secretary would be out of a job and off the department’s rolls that day.

…One point of conflict in the legislation was the elimination of the union grievance process available to represented employees as a means to appeal negative personnel actions. About 76 percent of VA’s workforce is represented by a union, and Rep. Phil Roe, R-Tenn., chairman of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee and author of the accountability bill, has complained the grievance process takes an average of 350 days to complete. The American Federation of Government Employees, which represents 230,000 VA employees, called the legislation ‘a union-busting bill, plain and simple.

…A spokeswoman for Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., chairman of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, said the senator is still “exploring options” for a bill that can pass the Senate. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., has introduced companion legislation for Roe’s House-backed measure. Isakson himself said he is committed to working with his House colleagues and Democrats on his committee to move accountability legislation forward.

“I’m committed to moving legislation that gives Secretary Shulkin the tools to discipline bad employees,” Isakson said. “Accountability reform is a top priority.” The senator authored bipartisan legislation in the last Congress to expedite the firing process at VA, but it stalled in the Senate after clearing his committee.

This bill is designed to bypass the American Federation of Government Employees grievance procedures and weaken the union’s ability to represent workers.  David Cox Sr., National President of AFGE released the following after the bill passed the House.

“The House has passed a venomous piece of legislation from Rep. Phil Roe of Tennessee that would undermine the government’s sacred obligation to serve our veterans by gutting frontline employees’ basic worker rights at the Department of Veterans Affairs.

“Make no mistake – this legislation is not about improving accountability at the VA, and it certainly won’t improve veterans’ access to quality care and earned benefits. This is part of an orchestrated attack on the rights of federal workers and employee unions that’s ripped from the playbook of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.

“While we are deterred by the House’s action, we are not defeated. We will fight this bill when it goes before the Senate, and we will continue to make the case to lawmakers and the public that attacking the rights of working-class men and women at the VA and across government is counterproductive to our shared goal of providing the best service to the American taxpayers.”

The AFl-CIO was also displeased with the passage of this legislation calling it a “slap in the face” to the workers at the VA.

“Yesterday, instead of standing up for working families, 10 Democrats in Congress joined with Republicans in attacking workers at the VA. Their support of this anti-worker legislation is not only a slap in the face to the 120,000 VA employees who are themselves veterans, but a betrayal of the promise to treat all VA workers fairly,” said Bill Samuel, AFL-CIO Director of Government Affairs. 

Everyone agrees that the VA needs help.  They are understaffed, overloaded, and underfunded, but the ability to arbitrarily fire hard working people at the VA will do nothing to solve any of these problems.

The reforms Congress should be looking for would include ones like the amendment submitted by Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter (D-NH01) to improve VA hiring of mental health professionals.

Congress must also accept that additional resources are necessary to hire more doctors and nurses at VA health centers and to reduce the delays many veterans face in getting the care they need.  This would include spending money to merge the DOD’s and the VA health records system.

Another major issue facing the VA is that 20 veterans commit suicide every day.  Many of these vets are suffering from PTSD and are unable to get the care they need. NH Congresswoman Annie Kuster (D-NH-1), a member of the House Committee on Veterans Affairs, is working with the newly appointed Secretary of Veterans Affairs, David Shulkin, to address this ongoing epidemic.

“The men and women who have served our nation in uniform cannot be cast aside once they have returned home,” said Congresswoman Kuster. “The suicide rate among veterans is a tragedy and it’s long past time we came together to address this challenge.”

“The president and I have made it clear that suicide prevention is one of our top priorities,” Secretary Shulkin said in a statement. “We know the rate of death by suicide among Veterans who do not use VA care is increasing at a greater rate than Veterans who use VA care. This is a national emergency that requires bold action. We must and we will do all that we can to help former service members who may be at risk. When we say even one Veteran suicide is one too many, we mean it.”

So while 20 veterans a day commit suicide and the thousands that die every year awaiting care should be the top priority of the President and Congress, but instead they are choosing to attack the very workers who are trying to help fix this broken system and get care to those who desperately need it.

Trump’s Budget Is A Disaster

NH Elected Leaders Along With National Labor And
Environmental Leaders Respond To Trump’s Proposed Cuts.

President Trump unveiled his $1.1 trillion dollar budget for discretionary spending yesterday. Elected leaders, labor unions, environmental groups, and advocates for working people are outraged at the massive cuts.

The Hill reports:

The 54-page “America First” document, focused primarily on fiscal 2018, would boost the Defense Department and related programs at Energy by $54 billion, and Homeland Security by $2.8 billion. It would offset such increases by cutting the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development by $10.1 billion (28 percent) and the Environmental Protection Agency by $2.6 billion (31 percent). The latter cut would eliminate approximately 3,200 positions, according to the document.

The agency-by-agency plans include eliminating dozens of grant programs at the Education and Commerce departments—many of them related to climate change. And Trump would eliminate the following agencies:

The African Development Foundation; the Appalachian Regional Commission; the Chemical Safety Board; the Corporation for National and Community Service; the Corporation for Public Broadcasting; the Delta Regional Authority; the Denali Commission; the Institute of Museum and Library Services; the Inter-American Foundation; the U.S. Trade and Development Agency; the Legal Services Corporation; the National Endowment for the Arts; the National Endowment for the Humanities; the Neighborhood Reinvestment Corporation; the Northern Border Regional Commission; the Overseas Private Investment Corporation; the United States Institute of Peace; the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness; and the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.

“The Trump administration should immediately go back to the drawing board,” said Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH). “This budget is a blueprint for undermining the health and well-being of Granite Staters and would be particularly devastating for seniors. It’s needless and cruel to drastically cut programs that so many people in New Hampshire depend on like Meals on Wheels and heating assistance. It also makes no sense to cut clean air and water programs, coastal protection, and economic development to struggling rural communities.

“President Trump’s budget is built for corporate special interests, not hard-working families and small businesses. The Trump budget makes indiscriminate cuts that will make it harder for entrepreneurs to grow job-creating small businesses, harder for children to access a high-quality public education, and harder for seniors to stay in their own homes and live independently,” said Senator Maggie Hassan (D-NH).  “President Trump’s budget would undermine efforts to strengthen our health care workforce, making it more difficult to combat the heroin, fentanyl and opioid crisis. It would slash funding for life-saving medical research. And it would cripple our ability to fight climate change, which threatens New Hampshire’s economy and our way of life.”

“A budget is a moral document. As an American, I’m deeply concerned about the drastic cuts President Trump has proposed in this budget blueprint, which fail to reflect our shared morals and values. As your representative in Congress, I will fight to stop this budget, which would hurt New Hampshire in so many ways,” said Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter (D-NH01). “As a member of the House Armed Services Committee, I’m particularly concerned that this budget reflects an incomplete understanding of how we keep our nation safe. Since World War II, our international affairs budget has been key to maintaining stability around the globe, and cutting critical international aid and diplomatic funding would be disastrous for our national security.”

“Today’s budget would even eliminate programs that feed the hungry, including after-school nutrition assistance and Meals on Wheels. Contrary to the Administration’s outrageous statements at this afternoon’s press briefing, these programs do work, and cutting them is the exact opposite of ‘compassionate.’ I will not stand by while this Administration uses falsehoods to justify destroying vital support systems for our most vulnerable citizens. Today I will be sending the Trump administration just a few of the dozens of peer-reviewed studies that show Meals on Wheels improves seniors’ overall health and nutritional intake and reduces social isolation. This budget is yet one more example of President Trump turning his back on the very people he claimed he was there to help,” Shea-Porter added. 

“President Trump’s preliminary budget proposal is simply a disaster for our economy, environment, seniors, and hardworking families in New Hampshire and across the country,” said Congresswoman Annie Kuster (D-NH02). “This budget proposal should raise red flags for anyone who wants to grow our middle class, create good paying jobs, protect human health and our environment, and fight climate change. We can’t turn back the clock on the progress we’ve made in recent years to get our economy pointed in the right direction and this budget is little more than a return to the same failed policies of the past. President Trump needs to seriously reconsider this approach and focus on crafting a budget proposal that benefits all Americans, not just those at the very top.”

Kuster also highlighted cuts to programs that directly impact New Hampshire working families.

“In New Hampshire, we know the serious impact toxic contamination can have on drinking water, public health, and quality of life. Slashing thirty one percent of the Environmental Protection Agency’s budget will only make defending public health and our environment more difficult. Cutting the Department of Health and Human Services by thirteen percent will eliminate the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) and harm programs like Meals on Wheels and home visits that our seniors and low-income families rely on.”

Richard Trumka, President of the AFL-CIO called this budget proposal “destructive and dangerous.”

“Working people in states like Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin didn’t vote for a budget that slashes workforce training and fails to invest in our nation’s infrastructure. President Trump’s proposed budget attempts to balance the budget on the backs of working families. The $54 billion cut to programs that benefit working families is dangerous and destructive. Huge cuts to the departments of Labor, Education and Transportation will make workplaces less safe, put more children at risk and make improving our failing infrastructure much more difficult. The administration can and should do better.”

David Cox Sr., National President of the American Federation of Government Employees warned that this budget would lead to massive layoffs. 

“This budget shirks our nation’s responsibility to care for its citizens and ensure the public’s health and safety, help our struggling neighbors secure better jobs and safe housing, and promote democracy around the world,” Cox stated. “The severity of the budget cuts proposed by President Trump could require mass layoffs of employees at federal departments and agencies, although the budget blueprint released by the White House does not detail how many federal employees could lose their jobs.

“This cuts, if implemented, would have devastating and lasting consequences on the nation. Every American should study the facts, reject the rhetoric, and decide for themselves if they share the bleak vision of America that President Trump is promoting,” Cox added. 

Ed Wytkind, President of the Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO (TTD), said these cuts take our transportation infrastructure in the wrong direction. 

“The austerity measures offered for transportation in the President’s budget blueprint go in the wrong direction and must be rejected. We cannot cut our way to a better and more modern transportation system. The President has rightfully called for a historic $1 trillion investment in our transportation system and infrastructure. But the budget released today does not advance that vision and instead would deal a severe blow to many key investment programs that are critical to our passenger and freight transportation network.”  

“This budget proposal makes it even more clear that Trump has no intention of protecting our communities or preserving our future,” said 350.org Executive Director May Boeve. “Slashing the EPA’s funding only helps make fossil fuel executives richer while wrecking the climate and leaving workers and families by the wayside. What we really need is investment in a 100% renewable energy economy that creates jobs and curbs the climate crisis, and our movements will keep fighting until we get it.”

Republicans In The NH Senate Stick It To Low Income Workers Twice In One Day

Yesterday in a very busy day in the NH State Senate, Republicans voted on two bills that specifically effect low income families in New Hampshire.  They voted on an increase in the minimum wage and a bill to kick thousands off of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) also referred to as food stamps.

The Senate rejected the minimum wage increase that would have raised the minimum wage to $12 over the next few years, right down party lines.  The bill would have raised the wages of over 100,000 people in the Granite State.  

“While 29 states and D.C. have increased their minimum wage in the last 4 years, Senate Republicans have voted to kill a New Hampshire increase for the fourth time, making us the only New England state that maintains a $7.25 hourly wage. I am disappointed that my Republican colleagues continue to turn their backs on working people. This is not only an economic issue, but a moral issue,” said Senator Donna Soucy (D-Manchester), Deputy Democratic Leader and sponsor of SB 83.

“This Republican logic that you can limit access to food assistance programs like SNAP while also voting to maintain a minimum wage of $7.25 per hour that is keeping working people in poverty fails to pass muster. People working full-time in New Hampshire should be able to earn enough to support themselves and their families.”

“Paying decent wages just makes good economic sense,” added Senator Soucy. “Volumes of research have shown that well-paid workers are better employees, better customers and are more likely to spend their dollars on necessities. The more workers feel financially secure in our state, the stronger and more robust our economy and the greater our ability to attract and retain skilled workers. While I’m disappointed our Republican colleagues continue to fail our workers, Senate Democrats will continue to push for an increase in our minimum wage and will continue fighting to expand opportunity for all.”

It is important to remember that some of the Republican senators are business owners that would be directly effected by an increase in the minimum wage.

In his opposition to raising the minimum wage last year, Senator  Andy Sanborn stated that raising the minimum wage is a “war on employers” but fails to mention that his vote against an increase is all about protecting his own self interest.

The Chairman of the NH Democratic Party, Ray Buckley, blasted the NH GOP for failing workers yet again.

“For four years, Governor Maggie Hassan worked to make our state number one in the nation for economic opportunity, with the lowest unemployment rate in the country. Building on that progress means making sure everyone with a job can provide for themselves and their family. For the second time in two weeks, Republicans have denied New Hampshire workers a raise by voting down a minimum wage.

By default, New Hampshire is tied for last in the country when it comes to paying its workers. The Granite State also has by far the lowest minimum wage in New England and that’s a legacy New Hampshire Republicans should be ashamed of. If Governor Sununu is truly committed to strengthening our economy and expanding opportunity, he should first make sure the people who live here are making enough to get by.”

“Raising the minimum wage to $12 per hour would come at the expense of entry level jobs,” said Senator Dan Innis as he argued against the increase.  Obviously Innis is mis-informed.  Study after study continues to show real life examples of how raising the minimum wage spurs economic growth, creating new jobs, and increases spending in the local community.

In January, Maine’s newly increased minimum wage went into effect and the results show what most economist routinely say, it will help create jobs.

“Average hourly earnings for private-sector Maine workers increased to $22.70 an hour and total employment increased to an all-time high, with a gain of more than 4,000 seasonally-adjusted jobs from December….Significant employment gains were seen among Maine’s restaurants and hotels, with the accommodation and food service sector gaining 700 jobs,” reported the Maine Beacon.

Then just to show how much Republicans care about low income workers they also voted to pass SB 7, a bill to change the eligibility of low income families to receive SNAP benefits.  

Senator Martha Fuller Clark was very disappointed in this partisan attack on low income families. 

“In the same day that we are discussing increased tax breaks for businesses and voting against the long overdue increase to the state’s minimum wage, Senate Republicans are passing legislation that prevents thousands of food insecure Granite Staters from accessing the SNAP benefits they so desperately need. I have to wonder – why are my Republican colleagues making it so hard for working families to succeed in New Hampshire?”

Senate Bill 7 restricts the Department of Health and Human Services from requesting or renewing a waiver of the federal work requirements for food stamp eligibility without legislative approval and requires that the department use the federal resource limits for food stamp eligibility for anyone denied a waiver. Food service providers, including the New Hampshire Food Bank, remain concerned that this legislation will have a significant, negative impact on the thousands of individuals who rely on SNAP to secure stable access to nutritious food. Moreover, significant research demonstrates that abuse of food assistance programs is extremely low. 

“139,730 people in New Hampshire are food insecure and 24% of those individuals are veterans. No one in our state should have to choose between paying their bills and buying food for their family,”  continued Fuller Clark. “This legislation puts vulnerable Granite Staters needlessly at risk and places an undue burden on municipalities and already strained food bank services. Democrats will continue to fight against these dangerous and misguided policies that put our state’s families at risk.”

Sarah Mattson Dustin is a staff advocate with The NH Legal Assistance, who testified against the proposed bill,  was also displeased with this vote and vows to continue fighting for low income families.

“NHLA and our allies who work on behalf of low-income New Hampshire families recognize the improvements the NH Senate made to SB 7 today. But this bill as amended still makes it harder for the food stamps program to continue serving low-income working families with kids. We will keep advocating for these essential benefits, which are 100 percent federally funded and a crucial tool in the fight against child hunger. We heard in the debate that New Hampshire’s senators received HUNDREDS of messages against the bill. That is a great sign that New Hampshire voters are engaged and committed to protecting our most vulnerable neighbors. There is still much work to be done, but we are deeply grateful to everyone who stood with us and with low-income working New Hampshire families.”

Opponents of SB 7 continued to point out the SNAP is a federally funded program and the State only pays a portion of the administrative costs.  The changes proposed would increase administrative costs at the state level while kicking more than 10,000 people off the program.

SB 7, submitted by Senator Kevin Avard (R-Nashua), was “word-for-word from The Foundation for Government Accountability, a Florida “welfare reform” think tank and member of the right-wing State Policy Network,” wrote Granite State Progress.  GSP also posted Avard’s “Tirade Against Poor Families, Food Stamps, and the Bible on YouTube.

Hard working, low-income workers just got completely screwed by the Republican led Senate who once again blocked an increase in the minimum wage and simultaneously making it hard for them to feed their families.

Good And Bad News On Senator Lasky’s Bills To Make The Voting Process Easier

This week the Senate held two votes on legislation submitted by Senator Bette Lasky to expand access and ease the voting process.

The first SB 113, which passed the Senate with a voice vote, would allow cities and towns to “conduct a trial of electronic poll book devices for voter registration and check-in for elections.” This would simplify check in procedures as the lists would continually be updated through an online database.

“I’m thrilled that the Senate has taken this pragmatic step forward in modernizing our election process. New Hampshire prides itself on a tradition of strong citizen participation in elections. But we also know that high voter turnout can create long lines at the polls. We must do everything we can to ensure that voting is accessible and efficient for everyone,” said Senator Lasky.

“This pilot program gives communities the opportunity to test electronic poll books in upcoming elections in the hope that this resource will help election workers process voters more quickly and ensure that busy Granite Staters have every opportunity to participate. The program also provides enhanced protections against fraud, and the increased efficiency provided by this technology also helps free up election workers to move more quickly through their post-election responsibilities.” 

Several states have successfully adopted the electronic poll book system. Proponents of the program cite the tool’s ability to help election workers access a statewide voter database to quickly look up and identify eligible voters, redirect individuals who are in the wrong polling location to the correct polling site, scan a driver’s license and sign in electronically, and reduce wait times at high traffic polling locations. Access to increased information also helps prevent against voter fraud.

The second, SB 194, was killed by Republicans in party line vote. The bill would have authorized online voter registration in New Hampshire. When tied with electronic poll books, voters could register online and then go vote without having to wait in long lines at the polling place.  Typically the longest line in a polling place is those registering to vote.   

“Making the process of registering to vote and casting your ballot more secure and accessible is something we should all be able to agree on,” said Lasky.Allowing our citizens to register to vote online would help make the process more efficient and increase the number of citizens exercising one of their most important rights. I remain confused as to why Republicans continue to block legislation that makes voting more accessible to the people of New Hampshire.” 

38 states have already implemented online voter registration. Research shows that the convenience of online voter registration greatly increases registration and participation.

This is only the first in a long line of proposed legislation that affects our voting process.  The Governor and Republican leadership are pushing for “stronger Voter ID” laws, which have been proven to lower turnout and disenfranchise voters.  They are also considering eliminating same day voter registration.  

Ending same day voter registration and blocking online voter registration could result in a drastic drop in voter participation, especially in Presidential election years.  Then again, maybe that is what Republicans want, as records show that higher turnout elections tend to favor Democrats.  

Why Senator Dan Innis Is Wrong In Opposition To Raising The Minimum Wage

Small Businesses want a higher minimum wage because it increases local spending and spurs economic growth.

Inflation from raising the minimum wage will be hardly noticeable to most people.

Here we go again. Senator Donna Soucy introduced a bill to raise the NH Minimum Wage to $12 an hour and Republicans are already trying to convince the people that raising the minimum wage is wrong.

Today Republican State Senator Dan Innis opined that we should let New Hampshire businesses raise wages and the government should not force an increase.

Innis talks about how raising the Minimum Wage hurts businesses and hurts Granite Staters who would be forced to pay higher prices for the increased cost in labor.

“Raising the minimum wage doesn’t transfer costs from wealthy businesses to the workers. It simply transfers costs to customers.”

Which is it Senator: Are the businesses going to absorb those costs or are the people of NH going to have to pay for them?

Don’t worry, I will tell you why both statements are wrong.

First lets start with the fact that the majority of minimum wage workers do not work for “small businesses,” they actually work for large multi-national corporations.

Nobody actually expects greedy corporations to absorb all of the costs of raising wages, even though all of them could. Most of these multi-national employers spend more money buying back their own stocks to artificially inflate their stock prices or paying out dividends to their shareholders. Both of these options push obscene amounts of money to the CEO’s and Executive Boards who are given millions of “stock options” as compensation every year.

Contrary to what Sen. Innis says small businesses actually support increasing the minimum wage.

“A July 2015 survey found that 3 out of 5 small business owners with employees support a gradual increase in the minimum wage to $12. The survey reports that small business owners say an increase ‘would immediately put more money in the pocket of low-wage workers who will then spend the money on things like housing, food, and gas. This boost in demand for goods and services will help stimulate the economy and help create opportunities,’” stated the Department of Labor in a recent blog post.

Even the Small Business Majority, a group run by small business owners who “focus on solving the biggest problems facing small businesses today,” have come out in support a national $12 hour minimum wage.

Increased labor cost will inevitably be pushed on to the consumers.

Oh the inflation! Milk prices will skyrocket, food prices will triple, restaurant prices will make going out to eat unaffordable….and so on and so on.

Yeah, we will hear all of that. The fact is that it is completely untrue.

Yes, there will be some minor inflation as a result of pushing wages up but it will hardly be noticeable.

Lets take Wal-Mart for example: If Wal-Mart raised their minimum wage to $12 an hour and passed all of the $3 billion in additional labor costs onto the consumer (instead of taking anything from their $12 billion in profits).

How much more do you think the average Wal-Mart shopper would be forced to pay? The answer is around $12.49 a year.

The average Wal-Mart shopper would end up paying less than $.50 cents per visit to ensure that all Wal-Mart employees made at least $12 an hour.   We are talking about $1 a month in additional costs. That increase will hardly break your wallet.

Lastly, can we finally stop promoting this lie that all minimum and low-wage workers are teenagers! The facts just do not support this and common sense proves it cannot possibly be true.

Think about it: when you buy a coffee on your way into work is it a teenager at the counter? Who is working the counter at McDonalds when you go to buy lunch?

Odds say that the answer to both question are that it is a woman over the age of 25.


Below is a snapshot of who in New Hampshire would be affected if we raised the minimum wage to $12 by 2020.  For example, 93,000 workers over the age of 20 would see a raise in wages, compared to the 22,000 below age 20.

(Data from EPI.org)

NH State Senate Passes Ban On Conversion Therapy

Last week, we posted a story about the horrors associated with “conversion therapy” and why it should be banned in New Hampshire (and throughout the country).  Today we have some good news: The New Hampshire Senate just passed SB224, a bill to ban “conversion therapy on minors under 18.”

“I applaud my Senate colleagues for taking this important step to eliminate this dangerous practice in New Hampshire. No child should be told that they are not equal, not worthy, or should somehow conform to be like everybody else. That is the antithesis of freedom and human dignity,” said Senator Fuller Clark, prime sponsor of SB 224.

“All children should have the opportunity to grow up without being told that they should not be who they are. I commend my colleagues for their bipartisan passage of this bill to protect our children from the damaging effects of this practice,” Fuller Clark added. 

“As a young LGBTQ Granite Stater, it is unconscionable that it would be legal in this state for a child to be told that they are not equal, not worthy, or that they are somehow not normal,” said Brenna Connolly, a UNH Manchester student from Nashua. “Conversion therapy is a dangerous, discredited practice and is nothing more than sanctioned discrimination that does incredible physical and mental harm to LGBTQ children.” 

“While we are thankful that the Senate passed SB 224 today, we are calling on Governor Sununu to vocally support this bill and commit to signing it if it reaches his desk. Given the fact he nominated someone who has defended conversion therapy to be our new Education Commissioner, it is Governor Sununu’s responsibility to stand up and let all LGBTQ children know that he will protect them from dangerous practices like conversion therapy. Anything short will be unacceptable to our state’s proud tradition of advancing LGBTQ rights,” Connolly added.  

“Edelblut compared anti-LGBTQ counseling – and therefore, being gay or lesbian – to counseling to end a smoking, drinking, or drug addiction,” said Zandra Rice-Hawkins, Executive Director of Granite State Progress, who released the video of Edelblut testifying against banning conversion therapy last year.  

Edelblut is not the only one who defends this type of child torture.  GOP State Senator Bob Giuda defended conversion therapy’s ability to “protect societal norms.” Senator Giuda once compared same-sex marriage to “bestiality.”

“Senator Giuda’s comments are horribly inhumane. Referring to gay children as ‘outside of the societal norm’ is precisely the reason they face bullying, physical harm, and question their own worth. This kind of thinking builds on the intolerance we saw in Washington this week as the Trump administration stripped away the trans rights enshrined into law during the Obama administration,” said Raymond Buckley, Chair of the NH Democratic Party. 

“Fortunately, Sen. Giuda’s thinking isn’t in the majority. In a bipartisan fashion, the New Hampshire Senate stood up against the cruel practice of conversion therapy. We encourage the House to do the same and send this bill to the Governor’s desk. Governor Sununu has been silent on the issue of conversion therapy, and it’s time he make his position known,” added Buckley. 

Next the bill will move to the NH House where it will once again be debated before it is voted on.  Hopefully the House will follow the Senate’s bi-partisan support of this bill and ban conversion therapy for minors in NH.

Sen Avard, Along With His Lobbyist Friends, Push Bill To Toss Thousands Off SNAP Program

State Senator Kevin Avard just submitted a new piece of legislation (SB7), co-written by out-of-state lobbyists, to cut the number of people eligible for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) commonly referred to as “Food Stamps.”

Avard stated in his press release:

“The intent of this legislation is to strengthen New Hampshire’s food stamp program so that it can remain solvent for those who truly need the benefits for years to come.”

That all sounds good but there are a few things Granite Staters should know about SNAP before considering applauding this legislation.

SNAP is fully funded by the federal government. The State of NH pays nothing towards the benefits low-income families are receiving through the program.

The State of NH does have to cover 50% of the administration costs of running the program in New Hampshire, passing this bill is likely to increase the amount the state pays in administration costs.

So what would this bill accomplish?

It is all about changing the eligibility of recipients and forcing them to file additional paperwork to continue to receive benefits. It would also lower the threshold of eligibility based on gross income that does not take into account the high cost of child care.

“In 2014, there were 45,000 children in New Hampshire living in food insecure households. That means that in the previous twelve months there was an uncertainty of having, or an inability to acquire, enough food for all household members due to insufficient money or other resources. My concern with this legislation is that it will most likely increase the number of hungry children in our state,” said Marylou Beaver, Executive Director of Every Child Matters in New Hampshire during her testimony to the Senate Health and Human Services Committee.

“With child food insecurity at an unacceptable number, child poverty creeping upward, and a Food Stamp program that works for children, families, and the State, now is not the time to be making changes,” Beaver added.

“SB 7 would increase the complexity of the Food Stamps application process by eliminating expanded categorical eligibility and requiring cooperation with the Division of Child Support Services. These changes will undoubtedly increase administrative spending, for which New Hampshire must pay fifty percent,” said Sarah Mattson Dustin, an attorney for the NH Legal Assistance in her testimony opposing the bill.

The changes to eligibility requirements are much more complex than most people need to understand but Mattson sums up how the NH Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) applies the income limits.

“Expanded categorical eligibility is a targeted method of determining eligibility for Food Stamps that applies to families with children that have incomes up to 185 percent of the federal poverty level ($3,108 a month for a family of three).

Again, expanded categorical eligibility only applies to families with children. If a family with children has gross income of 185 percent of the federal poverty level or less, DHHS waives the resource limit and the gross income limit that would otherwise apply.

DHHS does not waive the net income limit; families that have expanded categorical eligibility still have to meet the net income limit.”

The key is that DHHS takes into account the cost of housing, utilities, and child-care expenses before saying they exceed the income cap. This added flexibility in DHHS allows them to help struggling families above what the federal guideline would suggest but not above the federal “net income” level.

Avard admitted that he “co-wrote” this legislation with help from lobbyists at “the Foundation for Government Accountability (FGA),” a well known right-wing advocacy group that is “pushing similar measures in statehouses around the country.”

The FGA is part of the right-wing “State Policy Network” that the Center for Media and Democracy describes as, “a web of state pressure groups that denote themselves as ‘think tanks’ and drive a right-wing agenda in statehouses nationwide.”

The FGA has direct ties to the nationwide corporate lobbying and policy development group, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). The CEO of FGA, Tarren Bragdon, presented on Florida’s ‘drug testing for welfare recipients bill’ at ALEC’s 2011 conference.

The former director of ALEC’s “Health and Human Services Task Force, Christie Herrera, went on to become FGA’s vice president of policy.”

Tarren was also the Executive Director of the “Maine Heritage Policy Center, a Koch-funded and affiliated right-wing think tank described as very influential within the Maine GOP establishment.”

Sen. Avard pointed to Maine as a model for how this legislation would reduce the number of people receiving SNAP benefits as a positive role model.

Since Governor Paul LePage pushed similar legislation through more than 60,000 Mainers lost access to SNAP benefits. This drastic cut resulted in many people being forced to rely on local food pantries for help in feeding their families.

“Food pantries were conceived as a source of emergency food assistance. Instead, they have become a regular source of food for many low-income Americans, including thousands of Mainers” wrote the Good Shepard Food Bank in their “Hunger Pains” report released this month.

The Hunger Pains report is based off of over 2,000 food pantry users across all 16 counties in Maine.

“Most survey respondents (86 percent) report using the food pantry at least once a month, with 29 percent visiting a pantry every week and 15 percent visiting a pantry every two weeks.”

It also has not helped childhood hunger, as 1-in-4 Maine children are “food insecure.”

Since adding these changes, Maine ranks 22nd in overall poverty and 19th in child poverty compared to New Hampshire that has the lowest rate of poverty and the lowest rate of child poverty in the Nation.

Poverty in Maine

Poverty in NH

While New Hampshire is doing well to combat poverty there is a growing number of people who are food insecure. New Hampshire ranks 6th in the nation, with 10.1% of the population reporting food insecurity, whereas Maine ranks 43rd with a whopping 15.8% reporting food insecurity.

Food Insecurity New Hampshire

Food Insecurity Maine

We do not want New Hampshire to be more like Maine. They should be striving to be more like New Hampshire.

Avard’s bill also introduces an additional provision to require all Food Stamps applicants and recipients to cooperate with the Division of Child Support Services.

“This means that custodial and non-custodial parents would have to work with the Division to establish paternity and child support in court. This is a sweeping eligibility change which will add complexity to the Food Stamps application process for program participants and enormous administrative burdens for DHHS,” testified Mattson Dustin.

This legislation would actually harm the low-income families already struggling to put food on their tables. These out of state lobbyists are trying to get New Hampshire to push thousands of Granite Staters out of the SNAP program forcing them to rely on local food banks and the charity of others to feed their families.

The Senate should reject this bill and tell the lobbyists in Washington that they should follow our lead when it comes to helping combat poverty and food insecurity.

End Child Abuse In The Name Of “Therapy”

‘The Plight of the Transgender’
Image by Rose Morelli, www.facebook.com/Rosemorelliphotography

This coming week the New Hampshire State Senate will debate and ultimately vote on a bill to prohibit “conversion therapy” to change a person’s gender presentation or identity for children under 18.

New Hampshire looks to join the five states and the District of Columbia that have already banned conversion therapy on minors.

“No child should be told that they are not equal, not worthy, or should somehow conform to be like everybody else. That is the antithesis of freedom and human dignity,” said Senator Fuller Clark, prime sponsor of SB 224.

“Conversion therapy is a dangerous and discredited practice that is aimed at young people in order to change their sexual orientation or gender identity. This harmful practice uses shame, rejection, and psychological abuse and can lead to depression, decreased self-esteem, substance abuse, and even suicide,” the Senator added.

“It is not therapy but child abuse that can lead to suicide; and should be illegal,” said Mo Baxley, Former Executive Director of New Hampshire Freedom To Marry.

Conversion therapy is highly controversial due to the unproven tactics and the fact it has continually been deemed as ineffective.

“Research suggests the treatment can worsen feelings of self-hatred and anxiety, because it encourages people to fight or hate a sexual orientation that can’t be changed [5 Surprising Facts About Gay Conversion Therapy],” wrote Tia Ghose for LiveScience.

Ghose goes on to describe the practice of conversion therapy as “a method reminiscent of the one used in ‘A Clockwork Orange.’ In aversion therapy, gay people were exposed to a negative stimulus (such as being shocked, given nausea drugs or imagining such exposures) while viewing same-sex erotic material.”

Conversion Therapy has not been proven to “convert” people but is actually harmful to “patients.”

American Academy of Child Adolescent Psychiatry wrote in their 2012 study, Practice Parameter on Gay, Lesbian, or Bisexual Orientation, Gender Nonconformity, and Gender Discordance in Children and Adolescents:

“Clinicians should be aware that there is no evidence that sexual orientation can be altered through therapy, and that attempts to do so may be harmful. There is no empirical evidence adult homosexuality can be prevented if gender nonconforming children are influenced to be more gender conforming. Indeed, there is no medically valid basis for attempting to prevent homosexuality, which is not an illness. On the contrary, such efforts may encourage family rejection and undermine self-esteem, connectedness and caring, important protective factors against suicidal ideation and attempts. Given that there is no evidence that efforts to alter sexual orientation are effective, beneficial or necessary, and the possibility that they carry the risk of significant harm, such interventions are contraindicated.”

“There is no published scientific evidence supporting the efficacy of “reparative therapy” as a treatment to change one’s sexual orientation,” stated the American Psychiatric Association in a 1997 study. They go on to say, “The potential risks of “reparative therapy” are great and include depression, anxiety, and self-destructive behavior, since therapist alignment with societal prejudices against homosexuality may reinforce self-hatred already experienced by the patient.”

The Human Rights Coalition cites at least a dozen other organizations that show “conversion” or “reparative” therapy does not work and can cause more harm to young adults.

“People who have gone through conversion therapy face 8.9 times the rates of suicide ideation, face depression at 5.9 times the rate of their peers and are three times more likely to use illegal drugs and be at high risk for sexually transmitted infections,” wrote Zach Stafford in the Guardian.

It is time to end this inhumane practice, especially on children. This bill will be heard in the NH Senate this Thursday, Feb 23rd. Contact your State Senator and tell them you want them to support SB 224, a ban on conversion therapy in NH.

Right To Work Goes Down In The NH House, New Hampshire Labor Rejoices

To the great “disappointment” of Governor Sununu, SB 11, the so-called “Right to Work” for less bill, goes down in flames.  By a bi-partisan vote of 200 to 177 the members of the NH House voted to kill the bill.  “I am deeply disappointed today by the House’s failure to pass Right to Work,” stated Governor Chris Sununu.

“Today’s vote was a confirmation of what we determined in the House Labor Committee, where Democrats and Republicans worked together to recommend defeat of so-called ‘right to work,’” said Representative Doug Ley (D-Jaffrey), the Ranking Democrat on the House Labor Committee. “With a strong economy and the lowest unemployment rate in America, legislation that reduces wages and interferes with the employer/employee relationship is the last thing our state needs.  I am very pleased that the full House agreed with the bipartisan Labor Committee recommendation, and that we can finally put this issue behind us.”

“Today a bi-partisan majority confirmed that ‘Right to Work’ is still wrong for New Hampshire, and this vote should be the final nail in the coffin,” said NH AFL-CIO President Glenn Brackett. “Across the Granite State, working people stood together against this corporate-backed legislation that would cripple our ability to speak up on job. We thank the legislators who let workers’ voices rise above special interests’.” 

AFT-NH, that represents 4,000 teachers, school support staff, city and town employees, police officers, library employees, and higher education faculty, was “extremely pleased” with Right to Work’s defeat.

“We are extremely pleased that the NH House defeated Right to Work by a 200-177 vote today,” said Doug Ley, President of AFT-NH. “The defeat of this bill was the result of cooperation across party lines and hard work by our members, fellow union brothers and sisters in the labor movement and community allies. The actions by the NH House today puts to bed this divisive legislation for at least another 2 years. We thank legislators who stood with working families.”

NEA-NH, the state’s largest public employee union, representing over 17,000 members, praised the vote.

“Educators’ working conditions are our child’s learning conditions,” said Megan Tuttle acting NEA-NH President. “By weakening the ability of educators to advocate for students, kids across New Hampshire stood to lose things like smaller class sizes, safe classrooms and drinking water, up-to-date resources, and expanded curriculum choices. Our ability to advocate for every public-school student was preserved today.”

“When out-of-state interests with pre-written legislation and lots of money try to set legislative priorities in New Hampshire, kids lose. Today’s vote prevented that from happening.”

“The 17,000 members of NEA-New Hampshire extend our thanks to those voting against SB11 today, especially those members who stood strong against the pressure applied by the majority leadership on this issue. Their resolve helped ensure that kids and educators across the state will continue to have a strong voice,” concluded Tuttle. 

Richard Gulla, President of the NH State Employees Association was “proud” of the legislators who stood with working families.

“Today, the New Hampshire House of Representatives voted SB 11 Inexpedient to Legislate. We are proud of the legislators for standing with Granite State workers today and putting the so-called Right to Work bill behind us, where it belongs. The New Hampshire House recognized that there was no constituency supporting this legislation and proved out-of-state special interests have no place in our politics. It took courage to stand against the constant stream of pressure from outside funding – and Granite State families can now celebrate this accomplishment.”

“We are incredibly grateful to our elected officials for continuing to stand up for what is important. We look forward to working with Governor Sununu and the legislature to continue helping New Hampshire families,” Gulla added. 

Democrats also rejoiced as Sununu’s highest priority piece of legislation was defeated.

“New Hampshire proved once again that it’s a friend to workers’ rights. Despite Governor Sununu and NHGOP Chair Forrester’s brazen attempts, Republicans and Democrats in the State House stood together and made clear that this issue is above partisan politics,” said NHDP Chairman Ray Buckey. 

“Today’s defeat of the so-called Right to Work for Less legislation is a great victory for New Hampshire’s working families,” said Jeff Woodburn, NH Senate Minority Leader.  “Right to Work for Less makes it harder for people to earn a living, harder for people to make ends meet, and harder for people to support a family. I congratulate the bipartisan coalition in the House that recognized the damage it would have caused and came together to defeat this harmful legislation.”

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