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Granite State Rumbling: Every Child Matters NH’s Goals For 2017

Now that the elections and Thanksgiving are in our rearview mirror, our attention turns to the holidays of December and the hope of what a new year will bring.

2016 has been a long year for the advocates, organizations, and agencies across the state and across the country who have worked tirelessly to ensure that basic needs are met for our most vulnerable populations. It has been an even longer and much harder year for the children and families who continue to feel the effects of a shredded safety net and an opiate crisis that shows no mercy on those who are afflicted with the disease and the innocent victims caught in the current.

We have watched more of our children slip into poverty, go to bed hungry, and wonder where that bed is going to be tomorrow night. And as December’s cold winds blow through the state we now fear for those who have no place warm to escape them.

The Thanksgiving break afforded me the time to spend time with loved ones, eat some great desserts, watch some football, and reflect on the feelings of frustration and anger I have felt lately. I have regrouped and am now ready to get back to work. That work means playing offense instead of playing defense (stealing some football terminology).

We have gotten pretty good at playing defense when it comes to addressing the difficult challenges that face our state. The primary obstacle we face is not related to a lack of goodwill, but rather to the fundamental way we understand the nature of the problems we face. More times than not, we merely respond to symptoms of a given problem [defense] and don’t pay adequate attention to the problem that is producing the symptoms [offense]. All of which puts the cart before the horse and keeps us from truly moving forward.

Take, for instance, the growing issue of child poverty. When we think about helping those in need (“giving back to those less fortunate,” as the popular adage goes), many of us usually focus on acts of charitable giving. After all it is the season of giving. In the malls we find Christmas trees with cards on them asking for a gift for a child in need. At the grocery store are pre-packaged groceries that we can purchase for a family in need. Charity in its many forms tries to help people who are in need, which is certainly important and worthy of our best efforts.

But even more important is figuring out why people are in need in the first place, and then working toward alleviating the root causes of such need (it’s one thing to give food to a person who is hungry, but it’s another thing entirely to eliminate the reasons they are hungry in the first place). While we can of course celebrate acts of charity that take place in our community, the ultimate goal isn’t simply about responding to symptoms, but abolishing the problems that produce the symptoms.

So, don’t you think that at a time when we see the income gap widening, ninety-five percent of the recovery gains since 2009 going to the top 1%, over ¼ of all jobs in the U.S. paying below poverty wages, and child well-being indicators falling in our state, now is the right time for all of us to rally around a set of common goals that will strengthen families and put them on a course leading to economic security?

Take a look at Every Child Matters’ 5 priority areas in the section below. Is there an area that catches your attention? Give us a call or send us an e-mail and we’ll give you some ideas about how you can help advocate. Your voice is especially important now.  

Many New Hampshire kids are doing fine – but many are not.

1. Equal Opportunity:  Children remain more likely to be poor than any other age group, with more than one in ten in poverty in New Hampshire in 2015 (10.7 percent), and the gap between the haves and have-nots continues to grow.

2. Family and Work:  The Census Bureau data shows that in 58 percent of poor New Hampshire families, at least one person worked, although not always full time or year-round. Even when work and other income helps people to live up to twice the poverty line (up to $37,742 for a family of three), most people recognize that making ends meet is not that easy for those this near poverty. One in five Granite Staters are trying to get by with incomes this low. 

The average cost in New Hampshire for an infant in a child care center is more than $11,800 a year for an infant and for a 4-year-old, it’s more than $21,250.

3. Access to Education:  New Hampshire currently does not have a state-funded preschool program. Only 4 percent of 3-year-olds and 6 percent of 4-year-olds are enrolled in a public preschool program. A year of tuition for an instate student at the University of New Hampshire costs $16,017 plus room, board, books and incidentals $27,000+. The maximum Pell grant award covers only $5,775.

4. Children’s Healthcare:  12,000 New Hampshire children were without health insurance in 2014 and 94,153 children in New Hampshire were enrolled in Medicaid in 2014, increasing 15.1% from 2013. 

5. Children’s Safety: In 2014, New Hampshire had 15,184 total referrals for child abuse and neglect. Of those, 9,289 reports were referred for investigation.

In 2014, there were 646 victims of abuse or neglect in New Hampshire, a rate of 2.4 per 1,000 children, decreasing 21.4% from 2013. Of these children, 79.1% were neglected, 8.7% were physically abused, and 15.5% were sexually abused.

Equal Opportunity. Individual outcomes will always vary. But when every child gets a fair shot at success, America’s families, communities and the economy as a whole will benefit. Lifting children from poverty and removing discrimination or other barriers to development and achievement are a key government function. As noted by the eminent researcher and author Robert Putnam, denial of equal opportunity is a dagger to the heart of the American Dream.

Family and Work. Stagnant incomes and workplace practices that pit being a parent against being a provider strain families and harm kids. Working and having a family shouldn’t be so hard. Paid sick and family medical leave, access to affordable childcare and better incomes can help provide the economic security and flexibility that parents need to build their careers and support their families

Access to Education.  Research demonstrates that 80 percent of a child’s brain development occurs between the ages of zero and five. Yet little is invested at the federal level in early childhood education. All kids should have access to high-quality preschool regardless of parental income or where they live. Later in life, a teenager willing to work hard in college to get skills needed for success should not be blocked due to race and should not be burdened with a level of debt more crushing than that endured by any previous generation.

Children’s Healthcare.  More children have access to health care than ever due to the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (S-CHIP) and children’s protections in the Affordable Care Act (ACA). While not perfect, these laws prohibit insurance company discrimination against children with pre-existing conditions, require insurance companies to cover child preventive care, and help ensure families won’t go broke when their child gets sick. Proposed policy changes must detail how children’s protections will be maintained or enhanced.

Children’s Safety. Every child needs a safe environment in their home, school and neighborhood. Preventing child abuse and neglect, as well as minimizing gun violence, a leading killer of children and teens, are top priorities for voters.

New Poll Shows Gun Violence Prevention is Key Issue for NH Voters; Most State House Candidates Have a Record on Background Checks

On Friday, the Center for American Progress Action Fund released new polling, conducted by Public Policy Polling (PPP), of voters in Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. In the six battleground states, voters across the aisle expressed strong support for commonsense gun safety legislation, finding that candidates who endorse these policies are set to perform well on Election Day.

nh-ayotte-background-checks-pollIn New Hampshire, 42% of likely voters were LESS likely to vote for Kelly Ayotte because of her opposition to comprehensive background checks on gun sales. Only 14% were more likely to vote for Ayotte because of her position. Additionally, the poll found strong support from Democrats, Republicans, and Independents alike for a number of gun violence prevention policies, and also that voters are more likely to vote for state legislators who support expanded background checks.

Of the 705 State House candidates on the ballot tomorrow, 307 of them already have a vote record on background checks. Granite State Progress compiled those votes from the past two legislative sessions and matched them with this year’s State House candidate list — take a look and see whether your State House candidates side with the gun lobby like U.S. Senator Kelly Ayotte, or with the overwhelming majority of Granite Staters who support common sense gun violence prevention.

GSP Brief: NH State House Candidates on Background Checks, 2016

GSP Brief: NH State House Candidates on Background Checks, 2016



Granite State Progress Releases List of 30+ Free State Project Candidates Running for State Legislature

Free State Project members running for political office often hide or deny their FSP affiliation; Granite State Progress’ Free State Project Watch exposes those connections

Concord, NH – Granite State Progress released a list of more than 30 Free State Project members running for the New Hampshire state legislature, including two State Senate candidates and dozens of House candidates.

“Granite State Progress has been tracking the Free State Project and its influence since 2008, paying particular attention to Free Stater activity in elections and legislation,” said Zandra Rice Hawkins, executive director of Granite State Progress. “Free State Project members running for political office often hide or deny their FSP affiliation from voters and downplay their extreme beliefs when asked. To challenge this, Granite State Progress researches and compiles a list of Free State Project candidates running for office so voters know about the extreme affiliation of those candidates.”

New Hampshire’s role started more than a decade ago when the ultra-extreme Free State Project voted on a state to move 20,000 libertarians to with the stated purpose to take over state government and dismantle it, and New Hampshire was the unlucky recipient of that vote. The Free State Project seeks to create a libertarian “utopia” void of public infrastructure and common laws, and to use their numbers to dramatically change New Hampshire. The Free State Project even threatens to secede from the rest of the country once it meets its initial goals:

“Once we’ve taken over the state government, we can slash state and local budgets, which make up a sizeable proportion of the tax and regulatory burden we face every day. Furthermore, we can eliminate substantial federal interference by refusing to take highway funds and the strings attached to them. Once we’ve accomplished these things, we can bargain with the national government over reducing the role of the national government in our state. We can use the threat of secession as leverage to do this.” – Announcement:
The Free State Project by Founder Jason Sorens

To date, the Free State Project has recruited more than 20,000 people to sign the pledge to move to New Hampshire, hitting their goal to “Trigger the Move” – all those who signed up are supposed to start moving once the agreed upon goal was met. More than 2,015 people have already moved.

“Free State Project members sign a pledge to move to New Hampshire and work to change the way of life in our state. They do not move here for a job, or for family, or even because they like what New Hampshire has to offer. Instead, they move here because a political group they are affiliated with voted on a state to move to and take over, and New Hampshire is the unlucky recipient of that vote,” Rice Hawkins said. “It is not surprising that so many Free Staters run for public office. Free State Project members uproot their families and move to New Hampshire purely to enact a political agenda, and running for office only further helps them reach that goal. Local communities who have dealt with them first-hand know how extreme their ideology can be, and that’s why we’ve seen push back from both Republicans and Democrats to expose them.”

The Free State Project candidate list is part of the Free State Project Watch of Granite State Progress, and can be found online at https://freestateprojectwatch.org/. The website includes the candidate list as well as individual candidate profiles.

Granite State Progress released similar candidate lists in 2012 and 2014. Members of the media and public are encouraged to ask FSP candidates whether they disclose their Free State Project affiliation in campaign materials and if not, why.

New Report Shows Senator Ayotte’s Office Is Worse Than National Average On Pay Equity

Women Earned Only 66 Cents for Every Dollar Men Earned in U.S. Senator Kelly Ayotte’s Office, According to New Report

 In contrast, Governor Maggie Hassan and Senator Jeanne Shaheen’s offices are exemplars of equal treatment 

CONCORD, NH – A new report by Granite State Progress shows that women earned only 66 cents for every dollar men earned in U.S. Senator Kelly Ayotte’s office. In contrast, women in Governor Maggie Hassan and U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen’s offices earned exactly or close to a dollar for every dollar men earned in years reviewed. Women also serve in several leadership roles in the offices of Hassan and Shaheen’s offices, while the majority of Ayotte’s top paid staff members year after year are men. Key findings from the report:

Women earned only 66 cents for every dollar men earned in Kelly Ayotte’s Senate office – and even earned less than their male counterparts with the exact same job title. 

  • Women earned an average of $50,060.46 from 2012-2015, whereas men for the same period earned an average of $75,703.52.
  • Women working for Sen. Ayotte have only fared worse the longer she has been in office; in FY 2012, Senator Ayotte’s first full year in office, women earned 72 cents for every dollar men earned.
  • This pay gap exists at all levels in the Senator’s office: In FY 2015, a female with the title of Staff Assistant earned $18,183.19 annually, whereas a male with the same title earned $32,360.96 annually – nearly twice as much as a woman with the same job title. In FY 2013, a male with the title of Legislative Assistant (LA) earned $79,999.92 annually, whereas a female LA that same year earned only $60,000 – a 33 percent pay gap, or 75 cents for every dollar the male LA makes.
  • Senator Ayotte consistently employs men for the most senior roles in her office. In all years but one, the four highest paid employees in her office have been men. Women are consistently underrepresented in her office. 

In contrast, women fare much better under U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen.

  • Women earned an average of $61,530.91 from 2012-15, whereas men for the same period earned an average of $61,131.15 –  virtually no pay gap at all.
  • Women are also well-represented in senior roles in Senator Shaheen’s office; in every year reviewed, women held at least 2 of the 4 highest paid positions in the Senator’s office.

Governor Maggie Hassan – a vocal proponent of equal pay and signer of the New Hampshire Paycheck Fairness Act – also has women well-represented in senior roles and virtually no pay gap in her office. 

  • Women who worked for Governor Hassan earned an average of $38,295.14 from 2013-15, whereas men for the same period earned an average of $38,313.74 – virtually no pay gap at all.
  • Women are also well-represented in senior roles in Governor Hassan’s office; in every year reviewed, women held at least 2 or 3 of the 4 highest paid positions in the Governor’s office.

The data on Senator Shaheen and Ayotte came from Legistorm, which collects publicly available data, and only those employed for a full fiscal year were included in this analysis. The data on Governor Maggie Hassan was gleaned from publicly available information by calendar year, without any indication as to if the person was employed for the full or partial year. 

The staff salary differences reflect the legislative record of each of the public officials: Senator Shaheen and Governor Hassan are strong proponents of equal pay, with Hassan signing the New Hampshire Paycheck Fairness Act into law in 2014 and regularly issuing Equal Pay Day proclamations. Meanwhile, Senator Ayotte voted against the federal Paycheck Fairness Act – a bill that would strengthen federal equal pay laws, and protect employees who speak up about unequal pay – four times.

Statement from Granite State Progress Executive Director Zandra Rice Hawkins:

“Women have made great strides in achieving success in the workplace, breaking through multiple glass ceilings to get there and achieving parity in many ways. However, women today still face a wage gap that hurts their families in the form of lower salaries, decreased benefits, and smaller retirements. In 2015, women, on average, earned just 79 cents for every dollar men earned, and that pay disparity is even worse for women of color. For mothers, of whom 40 percent are the sole or primary breadwinner in their family, a mother earns only 71 cents for every dollar fathers earn. 

“The wage gap is impacted by the many discriminatory barriers to equal pay—including lower pay for women in the same job, the segregation of women into lower-paying jobs, bias against women with caregiving responsibilities, and lack of workplace policies to allow workers to care for families without paying a stiff economic penalty. On the issue of equal pay for equal work, Senator Kelly Ayotte claims she supports fair workplaces, and that she’s even “leading common sense efforts” on this issue. However, Senator Ayotte voted against the federal Paycheck Fairness Act, a bill that would strengthen federal equal pay laws, and protect employees who speak up about unequal pay, four times. Not only did Kelly Ayotte vote against the very measure she publicly claims to support, she has consistently paid men more than women in her own Senate office. The pay gap in Senator Ayotte’s office is even worse than the national gender wage gap. Senator Ayotte needs to square her public position with her own practices, and even more importantly, with her votes in the United States Senate to pay women a fair wage.” 

The full report and data is attached. Granite State Progress has worked on several efforts related to equal pay over the years, including toward successful passage of the New Hampshire Paycheck Fairness Act in 2014 and most recently working with several New Hampshire businesses to offer women discounts on Equal Pay Day to highlight the pay gap and generate public awareness. In each instance, Granite State Progress has called on Congress – and in particular, U.S. Senator Kelly Ayotte – to pass the federal Paycheck Fairness Act in support of New Hampshire families.

Granite State Progress report on Senator Kelly Ayotte:



Granite State Progress report on Governor Maggie Hassan:



Granite State Progress report on Senator Jeanne Shaheen:


State Senate Candidate Joe Duarte Questioned Whether a Female Applicant for a Town Committee Could Fulfill Responsibilities Because She is a Mother

In 2007, Duarte participated in a discussion about whether a woman – who was the only candidate for a Zoning Board of Adjustments alternate position – could dedicate the necessary time because she is a mother

Joe Duarte

Joe Duarte

Concord, NH – During a Candia Selectman meeting on April 23, 2007, several selectmen – including Senate District 16 candidate Joe Duarte – debated whether an applicant for a vacant zoning board of adjustments alternate position could dedicate the necessary time to the position because she was the mother of a young child.

The applicant, Amanda Soares, was the only person to apply for the position. While some public officials in the room stated that the applicant’s personal family commitments weren’t up to the board to comment on – and that the question would likely not come up for a male applicant – Duarte persisted:

“Selectman Lazott stated he did not want to stretch her too thin. Selectman Duarte stated he was not on with the ZBA appointment because she was just appointed to the Planning Board as an alternate. Selectman Brennan stated he did not think the appointment was a big deal pointing out that he holds a full-time job and serves on many Boards and Committees. One Selectman noted that Selectman Brennan did not have a family and this requestor does.

Selectman Giffen reiterated that Mrs. Soares was extremely capable and that the ZBA meetings were typically short. Selectman Giffen advised he would not want to turn any volunteers down. Tax Collector Sanders mentioned she was aware that Mrs. Soares no longer had a daily commute to Massachusetts. Road Agent Lewis stated some months the ZBA does not meet. Selectman Giffen motioned to appoint Amanda Soares to the Zoning Board as an alternate member. Seconded by Selectman Brennan. Chairman Kelley stated he was still deciding because he was not sure about her time considering she has a small child. Selectman Brennan said the Board should let her make her own decisions regarding her time. Selectman Duarte stated attendance for two alternates for the Planning Board last year was poor and both had families. Ingrid Byrd of Depot Road wondered if the Board would be having the family discussion if the applicant was a man … Selectman Giffen mentioned that Mrs. Soares had perfect attendance when she was on the Solid Waste Committee and Conservation Commission. (Candia Selectmen, Approved Candia Selectmen’s Public Meeting Minutes, April 23, 2007)

The vote was postponed, but during the same meeting Duarte seconded a motion to approve two men for a town committee with no discussion of whether they have domestic responsibilities at home.

“Selectman Giffen to make recommendations on members for a Town of Candia Website Committee: Selectman Giffen advised public notice was placed in the paper for Public Meeting held on 4/19/07 for the purpose of establishing a website Committee. Selectman Giffen stated only two individuals showed up to volunteer. Selectman Giffen motioned to appoint Joe Miele and Larry Twitchell as members of the Town’s website committee with one-year terms, term to expire 4/23/08 effective today’s date. Seconded by Selectman Duarte. All in favor. Motion carried.” (Candia Selectmen, Approved Candia Selectmen’s Public Meeting Minutes, April 23, 2007)

In a follow-up meeting about the appointment, Duarte directly questioned the female applicant about her “full agenda” including other time commitments. Soares responded by saying her husband could be home to run the household in the evenings.

Selectman Duarte noted Mrs. Soares had a full agenda and asked her if she had enough time to devote to another Board. Mrs. Soares stated most of the meetings were held in the evenings when her husband is home and able to maintain the household … ZBA Chair Boyd Chivers pointed out that Mrs. Soares was the only person who expressed interest and did not know how the Board could turn her down. Secretary Chabot verified an advertisement was run for the position and Mrs. Soares was the only interested party. Selectman Giffen moved to accept the recommendation of the ZBA for the appointment of Amanda Soares as an alternate member with a term to expire on 10/28/08. Selectmen Lazott and Duarte indicated they were opposed. ZBA Chair Chivers noted the ZBA unanimously recommended her appointment.” (Candia Selectmen, Approved Candia Selectmen’s Public Meeting Minutes, May 14, 2007)

Statement from Granite State Progress Executive Director Zandra Rice Hawkins:

“It appears Joe Duarte judges women based on his own personal opinion of what her domestic roles and responsibilities should be, rather than letting a woman decide for herself. While other public officials pushed back, Duarte persisted in making this an issue of a woman’s assumed role in a household and at no time raised concerns about the sexist nature of the conversation. In fact, he asserted that it was relevant despite the candidate’s demonstrated commitment to other town committees and the fact that she was the only applicant for the position. Duarte, himself, was serving on multiple committees at the time.”

This is not the only time Duarte has stood in the way of women. In 2014 Duarte voted against the New Hampshire Paycheck Fairness Act, an act to ensure women receive equal pay for an equal day’s work; and in 2012 he voted to allow any employer to deny coverage for contraception based on the employer’s own personal beliefs. (SB207, Roll Call #235, 5/14/2014; HB1546, Roll Call #117, 3/7/2012) Duarte also endorsed Donald Trump for President.

Note: Soares later went on to successfully complete 5 years of service on the Candia Board of Selectmen. She resigned in early 2015 when her family moved out of the area. (Candia Selectman, Candia’s Selectmen’s Public Meeting Minutes, 1.12.15)

Granite State Progress is a progressive advocacy organization that addresses issues of immediate state and local concern. Granite State Progress works as a communications hub for the progressive community to provide a strong, credible voice in advancing progressive solutions to critical community problems.

Activists Deliver Empty Chairs To Sen. Ayotte For Obstructing Judicial Nominees

92 Empty Chairs Delivered to U.S. Senator Kelly Ayotte’s Nashua Office to Symbolize Unprecedented GOP Obstruction of Judicial Nominees 

NASHUA, NH – Constituents delivered 92 empty chairs to U.S. Senator Kelly Ayotte’s Nashua district today to symbolize the seats on the federal courts left vacant by Republican obstruction of the President’s judicial nominees.  Today is the first day of oral arguments for the new term of the U.S. Supreme Court and, for the first time, an individual’s nomination to fill a Supreme Court vacancy has spanned two terms of the Court. Overall, there are 92 federal court vacancies due to Senate obstructionism.

“Senate Republicans have blocked Merrick Garland’s nomination for 202 days, building on years of obstruction on judicial nominations. There are way too many empty chairs on our federal courts: 92 overall.  And when courts don’t have their full complement of justices, they can’t do the job they’re supposed to do of protecting our rights and freedoms,” said Linds Jakows, New Hampshire Campaign Organizer with People For the American Way. “It’s a real crisis and we’re fed up with the Republican partisanship in the Senate that led to this mess. We’re delivering 92 chairs to Senator Ayotte with the message to do your job and fill the vacancies.” 

The delivery took place as part of a nationwide Day of Action to call attention to the nearly one hundred unfilled vacancies on the federal courts.  Hundreds of demonstrators also gathered at the US Supreme Court today to highlight the unconscionable delay on the nomination of Judge Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court.

“The federal courts have a huge impact on our daily lives. If you care about civil liberties, clean air, privacy, reproductive rights, social justice, corporate accountability, equality, and fairness, then you care about our federal courts,” said Zandra Rice Hawkins, executive director of Granite State Progress. “Senator Ayotte needs to stop playing politics with our judicial system. We depend on the courts to protect our Constitutional rights and they need to remain strong and staffed to do so.”

The Why Courts Matter New Hampshire coalition – including Granite State Progress, People For the American Way, and Alliance for Justice – delivered the 92 chairs to Ayotte’s office with a message to #DoYourJob and move forward on the nominations that partisan Republicans in the Senate have blocked. 

In Party Line Vote, Senate Sustains Veto Of SB 336, The Repeal Of Licensing For Concealed Carry

Granite State Progress Applauds NH State Senate for Sustaining Governor’s Veto of SB 336, Which Would Have Allowed Dangerous People to Legally Carry Hidden, Loaded Guns

In party-line vote, Democrats stand with NH Association of Chiefs of Police, public safety advocates to keep 93 year old New Hampshire law in place

Concord, NH – The New Hampshire State Senate voted on party lines today to sustain Governor Maggie Hassan’s veto of SB 336, which sought to repeal a 93 year old concealed carry licensing law that requires an individual to be a suitable person to carry a hidden, loaded handgun in New Hampshire. Statement from Granite State Progress Executive Director Zandra Rice Hawkins:

“SB 336 was another attempt by the gun lobby to allow anyone in New Hampshire to legally carry a hidden, loaded handgun. Requiring a license to carry a concealed weapon has worked well for New Hampshire for more than 90 years. These licenses are very easy and quick to obtain and do not place an unreasonable burden on law abiding citizens. SB 336 was a radical piece of legislation that would have jeopardized public safety. New Hampshire does not require people to have a specific reason to conceal carry but it does require that the applicant be a suitable person. This common sense law allows local police departments to deny a license when there is reason to believe a person is a danger to themselves or others. For example, if an individual in a community is a known domestic abuser but has yet to be indicted, or has a hot temper and a habit of getting into bar fights, New Hampshire thankfully provides our local police departments with the ability to reject their concealed carry application. New Hampshire is one of more than 40 states that currently require a license to carry concealed weapons and we should not weaken our public safety laws now.”

After the vote, Governor Maggie Hassan released the following:

“New Hampshire’s current concealed carry law – which former Republican Governor Mel Thomson called a ‘sensible handgun law’ – has worked well for nearly a century, safeguarding the Second Amendment rights of our citizens while helping to keep the Granite State one of the safest states in the nation. I shared the same public safety concerns that law enforcement, public safety officials and citizens had about Senate Bill 336, which would have undermined our efforts to maintain public safety by removing the protections that the permitting process offers to help ensure that potentially dangerous individuals are not allowed to carry hidden weapons. As I always have, I continue to support the Second Amendment and the right of Americans to responsibly own guns for personal safety, hunting, and recreation, and I will continue working with law enforcement, public safety officials and citizens across New Hampshire to ensure that we continue balancing the rights of gun owners with the rights of all New Hampshire citizens to be safe in their communities.”

After the vote, Sen. David Watters (D-Dover) released the following comments: 

“New Hampshire is continually rated one of the safest states in the nation and there is no overriding reason to make changes to our concealed carry law that has served us well for close to a century. As a strong supporter of our Second Amendment rights, I know that our current permitting process provides an important oversight role to our local law enforcement, an appeal process, and a common sense way to ensure that potentially dangerous individuals are not allowed to carry hidden weapons.” 

“I am proud that the Senate sustained the Governor’s veto and I am proud to stand with our law enforcement, public safety officials, and citizens across New Hampshire who are concerned with any adverse effects this legislation may have caused and maintained our common sense concealed carry law so that we can ensure that New Hampshire remains one of the safest states in the nation.”

The New Hampshire Association of Chiefs of Police testified against SB 336, and in 2004 Senate President Chuck Morse and several Republicans voted against a similar repeal bill. This is the third time the Governor has vetoed this legislation.  A copy of Granite State Progress testimony in opposition to SB 336 is available by request, along with more information about how concealed carry laws work.

NH Congressional Delegation Must Help In Flint Water Crisis

Granite State Progress Calls on New Hampshire Congressional Delegation to Take Immediate Action on Critical Flint Water Assistance 

Years into the crisis, Flint families still can’t drink the water

CONCORD, NH – In response to news that Republicans in Congress are blocking Flint funding from the budget bill they will vote on as early as Monday, Granite State Progress is urgently calling on the New Hampshire Congressional Delegation to support a short-term federal funding bill that includes assistance for Flint, Michigan. Republicans in Congress have dragged their feet in helping the city and there are efforts underway this weekend to get Flint the help they need. Granite State Progress is one of twenty-two ProgressNow affiliates across the country standing in support of Flint residents and demanding action from their Congressional leadership.

“As we know all too well here in New Hampshire, access to safe, clean drinking water is critically important,” said Zandra Rice Hawkins, executive director of Granite State Progress. “What happened in Flint should serve as a warning to every community of what can happen when the bottom line is put above peoples’ lives. No American should be deprived of the basic human right to clean, safe water. Flint families have had to deal with this for far too long and our Congressional delegation needs to do the right thing and get the people of Flint the help they deserve.” 

The Flint Water Crisis began in 2014 when an unelected emergency manager decided to switch the city’s water source without applying the proper corrosion controls as a fiscal austerity measure. Lead and other harmful chemicals leached from the pipes into the drinking water supply causing a litany of health issues for families. To this day, people cannot safely drink the water from their taps without a filter, which often fail. Families continue to rely on bottled water for their daily needs. 

“Republicans in Michigan caused this mess but have done little to help Flint, so we need Congress to step up. The people of Flint are fighting every day for justice and access to clean water, but we cannot do it alone,” said Lonnie Scott, executive director of ProgressNow. “We need allies from around the country to stand with Flint residents in this fight in Washington D.C. They can no longer live with inaction and bottled water and this funding is a step in the right direction. We need Congress to act immediately to provide relief for Flint.”

For Three Years, Ayotte Refused to Meet with Gun Violence Prevention Advocates In-State, So Two of Them Flew to Washington DC to Talk with Her

NH advocate, gun violence survivor attend “Coffee with Kelly” in Washington DC, ask Ayotte to meet with constituents about gun violence prevention; Meeting took place just one day before NH voters barred from Ayotte campaign town hall for wearing gun violence prevention t-shirts

WASHINGTON, DC – Gun violence survivor Clai Lasher-Sommers of Westmoreland and gun violence prevention advocate Sonia Prince of Nashua flew to Washington, DC last Thursday to attend U.S. Senator Kelly Ayotte’s weekly constituent ‘Coffee with Kelly’ after Ayotte has refused to meet with gun violence prevention advocates in New Hampshire despite several requests over the last three years.

“Senator Ayotte sided with the gun lobby over the 89 percent of her constituents who support common sense background checks, and she’s avoided meetings about it ever since,” said Prince, a mother of three whose children attend school in the same district as Ayotte’s own children. “I told her that every time I buzz into the school I think of mass shootings, and that it’s sad our children are coming home concerned because they did a shooting drill at school. We need to take action to end gun violence.”

Lasher-Sommers, a gun violence survivor who was shot in the back when she was just 13 years old and who has become an outspoken advocate on gun violence prevention, talked to Ayotte about her personal experience and the need to close the background checks loophole and the terror gap.

“This is the second time I’ve been in Washington DC to meet with Senator Ayotte during a Coffee with Kelly this year,” said Lasher-Sommers. “It was the first time I felt that she really listened, although she did not make any commitments regarding future votes or conversations. I delivered a letter from Granite State Progress and other organizations asking the Senator to host a gun violence prevention town hall – a request that has been made for the past three years and echoed by many of her constituents – and offered my assistance in pulling it together. The public is ahead of politicians on gun violence prevention measures, and Senator Ayotte needs to sit down and hear directly from her constituents even if they do not have the time or funds to travel to Washington, DC.”

Lasher-Sommers and Prince said the meeting was a cordial one. The women are members of Granite State Progress and several other organizations working to reduce gun violence. The letter they delivered is a request for Ayotte to host a town hall specifically on gun violence prevention; Granite State Progress first issued the call on April 30, 2013 after Ayotte hosted three poorly publicized town halls where moderators such as former Congressman and current State Senator Jeb Bradley publicly admitted to screening out questions regarding Sen. Ayotte’s vote against background checks and the 89% of her constituents who support them. Granite State Progress, OFA-NH, Project for Safer Communities, and other organizations have re-issued the call during August Congressional recesses since then, and Granite State Progress members additionally host periodic coffee sit-ins in the Senator’s district offices to highlight her absence and remind her of the meeting request. Americans for Responsible Solutions and the Brady Campaign joined in the call for a town hall this year. For 3 years, 4 months, and 15 days, Ayotte has refused and additionally has avoided constituents’ requests for meetings on gun violence prevention.

On Friday, New Hampshire voters were barred from an Ayotte campaign town hall because they were wearing t-shirts promoting gun violence prevention.


Statement from Granite State Progress Executive Director Zandra Rice Hawkins: “Ayotte’s constituents shouldn’t have to fly to Washington, DC to talk with her about issues of national concern. We appreciate her new support to help close the terror gap just months after voting against it, but if Ayotte wants us to truly believe that she is interested in gun violence prevention and not just election year posturing she can prove it by accepting our invitation to meet with survivors of gun violence and the family members of victims, advocates, faith leaders, law enforcement officials, mental health advocates, and responsible gun owners.”

Rep. Mary Stuart Gile files for Paid Family & Medical Leave Insurance

Concord – Today, Rep. Mary Stuart Gile filed a legislative service request for paid family and medical leave insurance. Rep. Gile has worked on this issue for almost two decades, including a number of study committees. Rep. Gile and Sen. Dan Feltes serve on the Taskforce on Work and Family, which helped work on a successful grant application to the US Department of Labor to study the costs and benefits of paid family and medical leave insurance in New Hampshire.

Recent research shows that 80% of Granite Staters support paid family and medical leave insurance, and 69% would be willing to allow a withdraw of $5 per week from their wages to establish the insurance.

Rep. Gile, and co-sponsor Sen. Feltes, released the following joint statement:

“After years of study, it’s time to finally move forward with paid family and medical leave insurance, and Granite Staters of all backgrounds and political affiliations agree – in fact, eighty percent (80%) of Granite Staters agree. This legislation will be uniquely New Hampshire, it will be bipartisan, and it’ll help us attract younger working families to New Hampshire. Insuring some short-term wage replacement will allow workers to care for an aging family member, care for a new child, and care for themselves, including getting needed substance misuse treatment. We look forward to working with members of both parties, the business community, and all stakeholders, including at the Paid Family and Medical Leave Insurance Summit hosted by the N.H. Women’s Foundation on September 21,” said Rep. Gile and Sen. Feltes.

Granite State Progress and the New Hampshire Citizens Alliance for Action helped to push for paid medical leave as part of their Stand With Women campaign last year.

“Workers need time off to care for themselves and their loved ones,” said Zandra Rice Hawkins, executive director of Granite State Progress. “It’s unreasonable that most families in our country cannot take time off during medical emergencies or for the birth of a new child without fear of losing their job. Paid family and medical leave insurance is an opportunity to put systems in place so that during these limited but intense times, families can focus on staying strong and healthy instead of facing economic insecurity.”

In early 2016, Rep Gile and Sen. Feltes were successful in passing SB 416 (13-10), a bill to prohibit retaliation against employees who request “flexible work schedules.”

We will continue to follow this bill as it makes it way through the Legislature next year.

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