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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.

Legislators Consider Prohibiting Union Dues Deductions From Public Employees

On March 1st, the NH House Labor Committee will hear public testimony on HB 438, a bill to prohibit a “public employer from withholding union dues from a public employee’s wages.” Essentially this would prohibit workers from choosing how they want to spend their own money and how they choose to spend their own money.

According to RSA 275:48 an employee can elect to have money deducted from their paycheck and sent directly to the account of their choice for dozens of reasons.  A public employee could have their rent deducted, their utilities deducted, their medical bills deducted, send money to their personal savings accounts, or to make a donation to the charity of their choice.

This bill is singling out our police, firefighters, teachers, plow drivers, public health professionals, and state employees from being allowed to have their union dues automatically deducted from their paychecks.

What benefit does the State gain by taking away the option to deduct union dues?  None.  There is no cost to have the deductions automatically withdrawn and there is no savings to be found by prohibiting automatic dues deductions.

For a state that boasts “live free or die” why would we want legislation that infringes on a workers freedom to choose how they spend their paycheck.  It is not for the government to decide how and when I spend my own paycheck.

This is a purely an assault by out-of-state lobbying groups on unions in an attempt to weaken and destroy the public unions in New Hampshire. These are the same out-of-state lobbyists who pushed so-called “Right to Work” and the repeal of collective bargaining bills in the past.  They only have one goal, destroy unions.  Since they already lost the “Right to Work” fight they are grasping at anything in an attempt to weaken the public employee unions in New Hampshire.

The Labor Committee should reject this bill again this year as they have done in years past.

Justice and Injustice in The Big City — Part One

 (NB: This article was based on interviews with attorneys, court employees, police officers, defendants, and personal observations by this reporter in actual courtrooms.)

You probably watch “Law & Order.” Most people do. There you get to see the justice system chugging along like a sausage factory. The police think someone has committed a crime. A detective digs through the facts, interviews witnesses, and examines all of the evidence before going to a prosecutor to seek an indictment. The accused is brought before a judge in person to be charged in a wood-paneled courtroom, a defense attorney protests their innocence, the prosecutor must show what they have to indict, and if the judge thinks it’s more likely than not that a crime has been committed the defendant is charged, and a reasonable bail is usually set. The bail is paid, and the defendant is able to return to their life and assist in their defense. Their attorney has the resources to investigate the alleged crime, find exculpatory evidence, and go to trial. A trial eventually happens, all of the facts are put before a judge and jury, and if they are innocent, they will walk away full of puppies and rainbows – because the system worked. You turn off the tv basking in the glow of the American Justice System. All is right – or white – with the world, and you’ll sleep soundly knowing that the rule of law works for everyone.

That is a terrible lie. You’ve been suckered. That’s not what happens. It’s a fantasy. Let’s use the example of my hometown – Philadelphia.

So, the police hear that you’ve committed a crime. Maybe someone called in a tip. Maybe your neighbor was mad at you and wanted to get even. Maybe your girlfriend is mad at you. Maybe the police were simply bored and needed to look good to their commanding officer. They don’t investigate it. Based solely on a statement against you they go to the Charging Unit of the District Attorney’s Office and ask for a arrest warrant. They usually always get one. It’s a rubber stamp.

Handcuffs and a car (houstondwiPhotos mp FLIKR CC)

You’re arrested. You get put into a van and taken to a police station. You are scared. Nobody tells you what’s happening. Your things are taken from you. You’re photographed and fingerprints are taken. You may get an invasive body search. You’re led to a cell. If you’re lucky you get a few cheese sandwiches (one slice of processed cheese and two slices of bread) and water. You’ll have to ask (beg) for toilet paper. The cell will be filthy, the sink and toilet a horror show, and you’ll sleep on a hard metal bench with no pillow or blanket. There are cockroaches. There are rats. If it’s night time, the lights will remain on and it will be impossible to sleep. One person told me of police who enjoyed keeping a radio blasting gospel music all night at the cells because “Y’all need Jesus in your life.” Jesus is nowhere to be found. If you called The Hague you’d have a good case for a crimes against humanity charge.

Exhausted, you will suddenly be taken to a room with a monitor. You’ll be arraigned via closed-circuit television. No wood-paneled courtroom. No attorney by your side. In fact, you haven’t spoken to an attorney yet. You can’t utter a word during this arraignment. You begin to pray. You might cry. If you’re lucky you’ll get bail.

I hope you thought to bring change. If you did, you get one phone call to get someone to pay your bail. Do you remember their phone number? It may be late, and no one will answer. Too bad. It sucks to be you. If you get someone who can pay your bail, they have to travel to the bail payment window in a far away building to do so. Then you wait for the system to grind along before you’re released. The police won’t call anyone for you. Your partner is probably freaking out and has no idea where you are.

Huzzah! You got someone to pay your bail and you’re released! You get your things back. Never mind the money that’s missing from your wallet and the fancy watch that’s not on your property sheet, you’re free to go.

How will you get home? You’re in a strange neighborhood late at night. How will you explain it to your boss if your missed work? How will you afford an attorney? You probably can’t, so you’re assigned a public defender.

You get home. You are shaking. “How did this happen to me? I didn’t do it!” you’re asking yourself. You look at the paperwork and see that you’re expected to go to the Public Defender’s Office to discuss your case. You and your wife argue. Your children cry. The whole neighborhood knows by now that you’ve been arrested. They stare.

You lose another day from work to go speak to the public defender (do you still have a job?). You wait for your name to be called. You have about ten minutes to tell the harried public defender your tale of woe. They ask questions as if they assume you’re guilty. You can’t believe this is happening to you.

They suggest a deal right off the bat. They don’t have the time or resources to investigate every crime, and just want to clear their desk for more serious cases. They’ll urge in very strong terms to take a deal. In fact, 63% of cases in one year in Philadelphia ended in defendants taking plea deals. If every case went to trial, the system would collapse, and the system knows it. Forget your right to a trial and to confront witnesses against you. Take the deal, they urge.

But you didn’t do it! The public defender will not-so-patiently explain that innocence is not a defense. The deck is stacked against you. Take the deal.

You refuse, because you don’t want to be a convicted criminal. You’ll never find a good job or place to live with a criminal record.

Exasperated, the public defender prepares for a trial. During your first hearing weeks later (more lost work), the District Attorney calls their witness against you. They aren’t there. The case is continued for another month or so.

During the second hearing, the witness still doesn’t appear. It’s continued again. If you some much as look at anyone in the courtroom you are yelled at. You’ve been arrested – you must have done something.

Finally, at the third hearing, the witness shows up. But the ADA needs to collect more evidence. Another date is set. More missed work. More stress. More relationships under enormous pressure. Have you been evicted yet? At this point they’ve offered a deal more than once – they may even have lowered the charges to sweeten the pot. Your public defender begins to pressure you to take it. You still refuse – but you’re tempted because you just want it to end. All you have to do is sign this paper and it will all be over. You’ll probably argue that you didn’t do it.

It. Doesn’t. Matter. Your public defender gets angry but tells the ADA and the court you want a trial.

Courtroom Karen Neoh – Flikr CC

Fast forward a few months. The date is finally here, you’re going to trial! For the sake of brevity, let’s assume that you’re going with a bench trial – where a judge and not a jury decides your fate – because your public defender knows that this particular judge is fair. Many aren’t. Many have no criminal trial experience before running for judge (yes, ours are elected). You’re in luck because this judge was a criminal defense attorney and actually knows the law. Fingers crossed!

But wait. Your subpoena said you had to be there at 9:00 am. Where is everyone? If you were late you’d be in contempt of court, your bail could be revoked, and you’d in a lot of trouble. So you, your lawyer, the ADA, the police witnesses, the state’s witnesses, and a gaggle of court employees sit and wait. And wait. And wait.

Finally at 11:00 am the judge finally wanders in. They chat up the clerks. Two hours you’ve waited. An no one dares say a word of complaint to the judge. I asked dozens of attorneys to talk about this on the record. They were all afraid to – for fear of never being able to try a case and win again. But I did find one criminal defense attorney, Zac Shaffer, to explain the dire impact on these delays on defendants and the police:

“Consistent start times help defendants, witnesses and police officers. Defendants and witnesses may have a job to run back to. Many of these people are living paycheck to paycheck. An entire day off of work might mean a missed rent check or a utility turned off. Shaffer continued, “I have personally seen alibi witnesses with a  9:00AM subpoena leave court before testifying because they cannot miss a whole day of work and their case wasn’t even statused, let alone     started, until 11:00AM when the judge takes the bench. Oftentimes last out officers are in court after finishing a shift that started at midnight just to find out they are not needed for court at 10:30AM or 11:00AM. An earlier start time lets them leave to rest up for the next shift. Their job requires split second decision making where being rested can mean the difference between life and death.”

After waiting for hours, you have your trial. If you’re lucky, your public defender has prepped for the case. They may have spent an entire hour on it. Did I mention that because of the rotation system that this is your third/fourth/fifth public defender, and that they probably forgot what you even look like? Before the trial they’ll pressure you again to take the damned deal. You argue. This is the person who’s supposed to zealously defend you and they’re mad at you for making their life harder.

The trial goes on. It’s obvious that the police have been coached. I’ve seen this with my own eyes, as ADA’s hand the case file to them before the trial to “refresh their recollection.” They even have a tiny special room for this purpose. Their testimony sounds like a script – because it is. Shocker: the police are trained to lie. They do it every day.

After everyone’s testified and been cross-examined, and evidence presented, the state rests. It’s in the hands of the judge. You start praying.

Court Gavel (wp paarz – FLIKR CC)

You’re stunned. You heard “Not Guilty on All Counts.” You’re free to go. You shake hands with your lawyer and wander out into the sunlight. You might cry in the hallway on the way there.

You’re free!

No apology. No help getting home. No one will even acknowledge you. Your reputation is destroyed and there’s no one you can sue. No place to get your good name back.

You go home. A month later your bail check finally arrives. For one last insult, the court keeps 1/3 of your bail monies for “processing.”

You file the papers to expunge your record. If you’re lucky, the DA’s Office won’t fight it. This process takes months. Meanwhile, your record is still there for every employer to see – and good luck getting a job.

Your life destroyed and you have nowhere to turn for help.

Ok. You’re probably white and wondering how this applies to you. You think anyone who’s been arrested probably did something, and deserves to go to jail. You’ve never committed a crime. Or so you say.

Have you ever added up your checking account wrong and bounced a check? Have you ever forgotten to pay a parking ticket? Have you ever argued with your wife? Have you left home without your wallet and don’t have identification when you blow through a red light? Has someone ever stolen your identity? Can you prove you were home at 9:24 pm three months ago when your neighbor claims you stole their snowblower after the argument you just had over their dog?

Then congratulations! You’re going to jail!

Start carrying quarters. You’re going to need them.


(Part Two of this series, publishes on Feb 27th at 4pm, will be about the office that’s trying to put you away: the prosecutor. You won’t believe it until you read it.)

 

 

 

 

 

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.

Senators Shaheen And Hassan Take To The Senate Floor To Oppose EPA Nominee Scott Pruitt

U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) spoke on the Senate floor today in opposition of Scott Pruitt, President Trump’s nominee to serve as Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Shaheen voiced her concerns about Pruitt’s record as Attorney General of Oklahoma, including his many lawsuits in favor of the oil and gas companies, and his outspoken position denying climate change, which puts him at odds with the mission of the EPA. “Mr. Pruitt has been nominated not to lead the EPA forward, but to prevent it from carrying out its mission,” said Shaheen. “Make no mistake, Mr. Pruitt and his extreme agenda are a threat to the environment, to the planet, and to public health.”

Shaheen spoke of climate change impacts in New Hampshire, where warmer temperatures are affecting tourism and outdoor recreation as well as maple syrup production and the moose population. “People in my State of New Hampshire have no doubt about the reality of climate change… we see it and experience it every day.” Shaheen also cited the significant progress New Hampshire has made reducing its power-sector carbon pollution through the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, putting the state on track to meet the Clean Power Plan’s carbon-reduction goals 10 years early. “Across New England, we are demonstrating that smart energy choices can benefit the environment and strengthen job-creation and the economy overall,” Shaheen said. 

Shaheen went on to read letters that her office received from Granite Staters, both Democrats and Republicans, who “not only oppose Mr. Pruitt’s nomination, they genuinely fear the consequences of putting him in charge of the EPA.” Christopher Morgan of Amherst, NH wrote: “This is my first message I have ever sent to my senator in my 32 years as a voting American. . . . As a registered Republican . . . I am vehemently opposed to Mr. Pruitt leading the EPA. He has consistently shown he does not believe in the threat posed by climate change. Climate change affects every citizen in this country and has had a detrimental effect on the NH climate specifically.”

“Mr. Pruitt’s nomination is not about ‘shaking things up in Washington,’” said Shaheen. “It is about turning over control of the EPA to the fossil fuel industry – and turning back the clock on a half century of bipartisan efforts – in Democratic and Republican administrations alike – to protect clean air and clean water, and to pass on to our children a livable environment and habitable Earth.”

Shaheen urged her Senate colleagues to oppose Pruitt’s confirmation and “reject this effort to un-do nearly five decades of bipartisan efforts to protect our environment and planet.”

Watch Shaheen’s Video

Senator Maggie Hassan also delivered remarks on the Senate floor, opposing the nomination of Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to serve as Administrator of the Environmental Protecting Agency.

“It is clear from Mr. Pruitt’s history of opposition to the agency he will be tasked to lead, his record of working to weaken critical environmental protections that our citizens need to thrive, and his unwillingness to fight climate change that he is unfit to serve in this position,” Senator Hassan said on the Senate floor today. 

In her remarks, Senator Hassan highlighted the work done in New Hampshire to protect the state’s beautiful natural resources, environment, and citizens. The Senator also noted how Mr. Pruitt has been a consistent opponent of the EPA, taking legal action against the agency over 20 times and fighting against the EPA’s efforts to combat climate change and protect our land, air, and water. 

“The foundation of a future where all Americans have an opportunity to thrive starts with a healthy environment and healthy families. And the EPA serves an important role in protecting the health of our people. We must do better than having an administrator who has fought so tirelessly to undermine the work this agency does,” said Senator Hassan. 

Additionally, Senator Hassan explained that it is unacceptable that Mr. Pruitt is a climate change skeptic, putting him at odds with the world’s leading climate scientists.

“Mr. Pruitt, however, has been a consistent skeptic on the role of climate change has on our environment. Mr. Pruitt has stated that we do not know the extent of human impact on climate change, and has called it a natural occurrence… The EPA is a science-based organization, and it is unacceptable for the EPA Administrator to be at odds with the well-established views of leading scientists,” the Senator said.

Senator Hassan concluded her remarks by noting the critical role a cleaner environment plays in New Hampshire’s economy and that we should be building on the EPA’s efforts on climate change and protecting public health, not rolling them back. 

“We know that a cleaner environment plays a key role in the economy of New Hampshire and our entire nation. And we should be building on the critical efforts the EPA has taken to combat change and protect public health – not rolling them back.  Mr. Pruitt’s hostility to the basic functions of the Environmental Protection Agency, and his work to undermine protections for our air, land, and water make clear that he should not serve in this role,” added Senator Hassan.

Watch Senator Hassan’s Video 

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.”

Democracy Fails As Executive Councilors Vote To Confirm Edelblut, Against Constituents Overwhelming Objections

Today our elected representatives have failed us and took another step toward the destruction of our democracy.

With a party line vote of 3-2, the NH Executive Council voted to confirm, the completely unqualified Frank Edelblut, as Commissioner of Education against the wishes of their own constituents.

“Republicans on the Executive Council let down Granite State students and young families today by confirming Frank Edelblut, despite overwhelming grassroots opposition, a vote of no confidence by the State Board of Education, and a remarkably unqualified resume for this important position,” said Granite State teacher Matthew Gerding.

“As a school teacher and a young LGBT Granite Stater hoping to raise my family here, I find it incredibly disheartening to see Republican leaders chose to confirm someone who opposes full-day kindergarten, refuses to oppose the dangerous and discredited practice of conversion therapy, and calls education a ‘product’ not a public good.”

“Governor Sununu has taken every opportunity in his short time in office to turn young people away from our state. From nominating Mr. Edelblut, to raising tuitions at our state and community colleges in his budget, Governor Sununu is sending a clear message that he values politics over people,” concluded Gerding.

“Like DeVos, Edelblut has no experience or inter­action with the public education system of New Hampshire. Overseeing a state department of education requires an in-depth knowl­edge of how public schools are governed, how they are man­aged, and the challenges employees in public schools face. Mr. Edelblut possesses no such knowledge or experience. Other than overseeing the management functions of the employees under his direct supervision, the business skills Mr. Edelblut possess are not transferable to ensuring our children’s educational experi­ence is exceptional. Our chil­dren’s futures are too important to rely on someone who cannot hit the ground running on day one,” stated NEA-New Hampshire.

“Educators throughout New Hampshire strive to reach every child in their classroom, develop effective and engaging lesson plans, spend hours correcting papers and encouraging students to keep persevering. Every day for educators the theory and practice of pedagogy becomes real in the lives of the young people entrusted to their care. To have the highest ranking education official in the state bring only system level management and communication skills to the job threatens the future of every public school student in New Hampshire,” continued NEA-NH.

“The fundamental promise of a great public education for all students is under attack here, and across the country,” said Megan Tuttle, NEA-NH Vice-president. “We’re not just arguing over budget questions any longer; we’re in a full-on ideolog­ical battle with people who do not believe that every child deserves the same opportunity to succeed.”

“We are disappointed that a majority of the Executive Council did not listen to voices of thousands of parents and educators across the state or to the concerns expressed by the NH Board of Education about the appointment of Frank Edelblut as our next Commissioner of Education,” stated Doug Ley, President of AFT-NH. “We remain gravely concerned about a Commissioner of Education who, when running for governor, supported further diverting much needed funding and resources from our public schools.   There still has been presented no evidence, after a lengthy public hearing, to suggest Mr. Edelblut either has the experience or qualifications in education to lead NH schools and serve more than 180,000 students, our State’s most precious resource.”

“Our teachers and school district employees pour their hearts into the education of NH’s students, are highly trained and have dedicated a lifetime to serving NH students. They deserve a Commissioner who cares deeply about public education.”

“AFT-NH will remain vigilant in protecting our public schools and our cherished public education system in NH. We will always extend a hand to anyone, including Mr. Edelblut, willing to strengthen and support public schools but we will speak up and act in fierce opposition to any extreme agenda or attack on our schools. We sincerely hope that Mr. Edelblut will retreat from his past positions and start anew by listening to NH parents, educators and stakeholders in our schools,” concluded Ley.

“During the confirmation process, Frank Edelblut demonstrated he lacks both experience with and support for our state’s public schools,” wrote Executive Councilor Chris Pappas just after the vote. “It is clear that Mr. Edelblut is unable to be the type of non-partisan, consensus-building commissioner that our education system deserves. He holds political views on a range of issues that place him outside the mainstream, from his opposition to full-day kindergarten to support for gay conversion therapy. We do not need a commissioner who will interject ideology into the role, and I didn’t receive assurances that he would abandon past positions or steer clear of political activities after he is confirmed.”

It is plainly clear that the confirmation vote for Edelblut was purely partisan politics as usual. Two of the Executive Councilors openly admitted that they would vote to confirm despite overwhelming opposition to Edelblut’s nomination.

“Executive Councilors Joseph Kenney and Russell Prescott told us all about the concerns they heard from parents and educators about Frank Edelblut. Instead of listening to their constituents, they decided to put in earplugs and vote to confirm him in a blindly political move,” said NHDP Chairman Ray Buckley. “It’s shameful that Governor Sununu didn’t consult the Board of Education before he made the pick. Instead, he followed the Trump model by appointing an unqualified businessman rather than looking out for the future of New Hampshire.”

“We are disappointed that Executive Councilors Russ Prescott, Joe Kenney, and David Wheeler decided to rubber stamp Governor Sununu’s blatantly unqualified nominee despite widespread opposition from the State Board of Education and their constituents,” stated Zandra Rice-Hawkins, Executive Director of Granite State Progress. “Councilors Kenney and Prescott specifically mentioned that their constituents were overwhelming in opposition to Frank Edelblut before going on to say that they would vote for him anyway.

“Community members should be on notice that Prescott and Kenney fully acknowledged that they were voting against their constituents on this nomination,” Rice-Hawkins added.

It is obscene that our elected representatives are completely ignoring the will of the people in a partisan political vote. It takes a lot to get people to engage in politics, especially when it comes to political appointments like this. Yet hundreds if not thousands of Granite Staters took the time to write letters, emails, and call their Executive Councilors asking them to oppose Edelblut’s nomination.

To Councilors Prescott and Kenney, those constituents do not matter.

This is where democracy dies. When our elected leaders only do what is good for their political careers and reject the will of the people we can no longer say we live in a democracy. The people spoke out and overwhelmingly opposed Frank Edelblut’s nomination, yet they confirmed him anyway.

This is a sad day for the future of our public schools and our democracy.


I would like to join Granite State Progress in saying:

“We thank Councilors Andru Volinsky and Chris Pappas for standing with the majority of constituents and experts who voiced concern over Governor Sununu’s unqualified nominee.”

(Featured image of Russ Prescott by Granite State Progress on Twitter)

NH Board Of Education Sends Letter Of No Confidence In Edelblut As Commissioner Of Education

Letter cites gaps in qualifications and overwhelming concern from “a broad and extensive cross-section of the public” that “virtually all have expressed concerns about the appointment”

Concord, NH – The NH State Board of Education released a letter of no confidence in Governor Sununu’s Education Commissioner nominee. The letter was sent to the Governor and Executive Council yesterday afternoon after the Governor’s late consultation with the Board; the Executive Council is scheduled to vote on the nomination this morning.

“The State Board of Education has a statutory responsibility to ensure the Department of Education is staffed with qualified individuals and that all children in our state receive an adequate education. We applaud the members for doing their due diligence on the nominee,” said Zandra Rice Hawkins, Executive Director ofGranite State Progress. “We strongly urge the Executive Council to vote down this nomination and urge the Governor to find a candidate better suited to the position.”

“After discussions with the public and among board members, we have to say, Governor, that we share the public’s concern about Mr. Edelblut’s qualifications for the role of New Hampshire Education Commissioner. The high level of concern parents have voiced about this nomination that is so important to them puts the State Board of Education on notice. We owe parents the Board’s full commitment to our statutory responsibility as the board of directors of New Hampshire public education.  We are prepared for that role and will exercise it with full transparency,”  stated Tom Raffio, Chairman of the State Board of Education.

Along with the letter from the Board, Raffio included 57 pages of individual messages, emails, and communications “from concerned citizens, mostly parents in opposition to this nomination.”

Full Letter here and below.

State Board of Education Consultation Letter to Governor Sununu

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