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“Supreme Court Justices” Convene At Senator Ayotte’s Nashua Office

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 Constituents bring the court to Ayotte’s office, call on her to do her job and fill the vacant U.S. Supreme Court seat

NASHUA, NH – Eight U.S. Supreme Court “Justices” held court outside of U.S. Senator Kelly Ayotte’s Nashua district office today to highlight Ayotte’s continued obstruction to filling the vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court.

“Senator Ayotte tries hard to brand herself as independent and bipartisan, but her continued obstruction around the U.S. Supreme Court nominee shows otherwise,” said Linds Jakows, New Hampshire Campaign Organizer with progressive advocacy group People For the American Way. “Merrick Garland has received the highest possible rating from the American Bar Association and has waited longer for a hearing than any nominee. Public polling shows that Ayotte is out of touch with her constituents who disagree with her handling of the U.S. Supreme Court vacancy.”

President Obama nominated Chief Judge Merrick Garland to fill the Supreme Court vacancy created earlier this year by Justice Scalia’s passing, but Ayotte and the Republican-led Senate refuse to hold a timely hearing and confirmation vote. Ayotte and her colleagues now hold the record for the longest number of days from nomination to confirmation in SCOTUS history, continuing their pattern of partisan obstruction for judicial confirmations. The Why Courts Matter New Hampshire coalition – including Granite State Progress and People For the American Way – are hosting events during Congressional Recess and beyond to highlight Ayotte’s obstructionism and call on her to #FilltheSeat because #WeNeedNine.

“Granite Staters are tired of Ayotte playing politics with the Constitution by refusing to consider the President’s nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court. Senate Republicans refusing to do their jobs and leaving the Supreme Court to operate with just eight justices means justice is jeopardized or delayed for millions of Americans,” said Zandra Rice Hawkins, executive director of Granite State Progress.

Kelly Ayotte’s Misleading New Seniors Ad Features State Legislators Who Voted to Privatize Social Security, Cut Medicare Protections and Alzheimer’s Program Funding

Ayotte releases new ad to buffer her credentials on Social Security, Medicare, and Alzheimer’s research support, but instead features two NH State Representatives who supported privatizing Social Security, dismantling Medicare, and cutting funding for an Alzheimer’s caregiver respite program

photo of Sen. Kelly Ayotte by Gage Skidmore via Flickr Creative Commons

Concord, NH – Sensitive to a recent TV ad critical of her votes to dismantle key programs for seniors, Kelly Ayotte has released a misleading response ad intended to buffer her credentials on Social Security, Medicare, and Alzheimer’s research support. The ad, however, features two New Hampshire State Representatives who are in lockstep with efforts to dismantle key programs.

NH State Representatives Mary Griffin (R) and Walter Kolodziej (R) – along with Kolodziej’s wife and one other individual – claim that Ayotte has protected seniors despite an ample vote record that shows Ayotte voted to turn Medicare into a voucher program and raise the eligibility age. The ad and copy also attempt to bolster Ayotte’s record in other areas, such as Alzheimer’s research funding. However, the voting records of Ayotte and those she trusts on senior issues would harm seniors on issues regarding Medicare, Social Security, and Alzheimer’s support:

  • Ayotte effectively voted for FY 2012 Ryan Budget, which replaced Medicare with a premium support plan. The plan would more than double out-of-pocket costs for the average Medicare enrollee. (Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 4/7/11; Wall Street Journal, 4/4/11)
  • Ayotte effectively voted for the FY2013 Ryan Budget, which replaced Medicare with a voucher program, increased the eligibility age, reopened the donut hole, and repealed the Affordable Care Act. (Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 3/28/12; AARP, Letter to Congress, 3/21/12)
  • Ayotte voted for FY 2014 Ryan Budget plan which would “replace Medicare’s guarantee of health coverage with a premium-support voucher.” (Senate Vote 46, 3/21/13; Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 3/15/13)
  • Ayotte voted for FY 2011 budget with deep cuts to agencies responsible for Alzheimer’s research. In congressional testimony on March 11, 2011, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said that the proposed cuts would mean that “about half of the hundred largest clinical studies including those on cancer and Alzheimer’s would probably be canceled.” (Vote 36, 3/9/11; Politifact, 4/15/11)
  • Ayotte surrogates Kolodziej and Griffin voted for urging Congress to privatize all aspects of Social Security. Privatizing social security puts at risk benefits for New Hampshire’s current and future retirees. (HCR39, Roll Call #190, 3/21/2012)
  • Ayotte surrogates Kolodziej and Griffin voted for an Interstate Health Care Compact that sought to allow New Hampshire to opt-out of Medicare and other programs, and eliminate all federal minimum benefit guarantees and protections for New Hampshire seniors and others. (HB1560, Roll Call #87, 2/15/2012)
  • Ayotte surrogates Kolodziej and Griffin voted for suspending funding for the Alzheimer’s disease and related disorders (ADRD) program. The program provides temporary respite services to family members, partners and other informal caregivers who are caring for an individual diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or other related dementia. (HB2, Roll Call #143, 3/30/2011; DHHS, Accessed 21.16)

“Kelly Ayotte’s votes hurt Granite State seniors,” said Zandra Rice Hawkins, executive director of Granite State Progress. “Kelly Ayotte’s decision to feature individuals who support privatizing all aspects of Social Security and undermining protections for New Hampshire seniors and their caregivers sends a strong message regarding where her priorities sit.”

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 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.

Full Fact Check Citations

Ayotte effectively voted for FY 2012 Ryan Budget, which replaced Medicare with a premium support plan. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, “CBO also finds that this beneficiary’s [a typical 65-year-old] annual out-of-pocket costs would more than double — from $6,150 to $12,500. In later years, as the value of the voucher eroded, the increase in out-of-pocket costs would be even greater.” [Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 4/7/11] The Wall Street Journal wrote that “The plan would essentially end Medicare, which now pays most of the health-care bills for 48 million elderly and disabled Americans, as a program that directly pays those bills.” [Wall Street Journal, 4/4/11]

Ayotte effectively voted for the FY2013 Ryan Budget, which replaced Medicare with a voucher program, increased the eligibility age, reopened the donut hole, and repealed the Affordable Care Act. “The budget resolution developed by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) would make significant changes to Medicare. It would replace Medicare’s current guarantee of coverage with a premium-support voucher, raise the age of eligibility from 65 to 67, and reopen the “doughnut hole” in Medicare’s coverage of prescription drugs. Together, these changes would shift substantial costs to Medicare beneficiaries and (with the simultaneous repeal of health reform) leave many 65- and 66-year olds without any health coverage at all.” (Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 3/28/12) AARP CEO Barry Rand said: “ … the proposal is likely to simply increase costs for beneficiaries while removing Medicare’s promise of secure health coverage — a guarantee that future seniors have contributed to through a lifetime of hard work.” (AARP, Letter to Congress, 3/21/12)

Ayotte voted for FY 2014 Ryan Budget plan which would “replace Medicare’s guarantee of health coverage with a premium-support voucher.” According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, “The Medicare proposals in the 2014 budget resolution developed by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) are essentially the same as those in last year’s Ryan budget.  Once again, Chairman Ryan proposes to replace Medicare’s guarantee of health coverage with a premium-support voucher and raise the age of eligibility for Medicare from 65 to 67.” The vote was largely along party lines; Ayotte voted with Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell. (Senate Vote 46, 3/21/13; Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 3/15/13)

Ayotte voted for FY 2011 budget with deep cuts to agencies responsible for Alzheimer’s research. In congressional testimony on March 11, 2011, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said that the proposed cuts would mean that “about half of the hundred largest clinical studies including those on cancer and Alzheimer’s would probably be canceled.” (Vote 36, 3/9/11; Politifact, 4/15/11)

Ayotte surrogates Kolodziej and Griffin voted for urging Congress to privatize all aspects of Social Security. Privatizing social security puts at risk benefits for New Hampshire’s current and future retirees. (HCR39, Roll Call #190, 3/21/2012)

Ayotte surrogates Kolodziej and Griffin voted for an Interstate Health Care Compact that – with permission from Congress – would give participating states the authority to opt out of all federal health care protections and programs, including Medicare, Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act. This would have taken away not just all federal oversight, but all federal minimum benefit guarantees and protections for New Hampshire’s most vulnerable populations: states could drop seniors from Medicare coverage, eliminate our Medicaid and CHIP protections for vulnerable children, end Medicaid-sponsored long-term care services for elders and people with disabilities, terminate protections for children with pre-existing conditions, and stop the enforcement of laws protecting medical privacy. A compact state would be free to replace any and all of these previous federal programs and protections with risky and/or inadequate state-based schemes or, if a state so chose, not replace them at all. (HB1560, Roll Call #87, 2/15/2012)

Ayotte surrogates Kolodziej and Griffin voted for suspending funding for the Alzheimer’s disease and related disorders (ADRD) program. The program provides temporary respite services to family members, partners and other informal caregivers who are caring for an individual diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or other related dementia. (HB2, Roll Call #143, 3/30/2011; DHHS, Accessed 7.21.16)

Join Us At The 2016 NH Progressive Summit

NH Progressive Summit 2016 LogoSave the Date for the 2016 NH Progressive Summit, Saturday, June 25th at Southern NH University in Manchester!

Once again, Granite State Progress and the NH Citizens Alliance for Action will co-host the NH Progressive Summit, along with sponsoring organizations. This annual event provides space for new and existing activists to come together and hear from inspiring speakers, as we collectively learn, train, and mobilize for the many issue and electoral challenges and opportunities we face together.

Last year’s NH Progressive Summit theme was “Investing in Our Future.” This year’s theme is “Standing on the Brink.” Our state and country are at a critical juncture, and the decisions we make in the near future will have lasting implications for the legacy we leave behind us. Whether it’s advancing pro-active legislation at the state and federal level, guarding against conservative rhetoric, or challenging corporate political corruption of our legislative and electoral process – the 2016 NH Progressive Summit will confront the diverging paths forward and what we can do.

The 2016 NH Progressive Summit will be a jam-packed, action-oriented, day-long event, with workshops and fabulous speakers – you won’t want to miss it! Registration is $25 per participant for a full day or $15 for a half day in advance or $35 at the door, with a limited number of scholarships available.

Register for the 2016 NH Progressive Summit

Apply for a Scholarship

Submit a Workshop Proposal

Volunteer at the Summit

More information will be available shortly. In the meantime, visit the NH Progressive Summit website at https://nhprogressivesummit.org/ to learn more.

See you there!

House Passes Flexible Work Arrangements Bill, Awaits Governor Hassan’s Signature

woman working computer officeYesterday, the New Hampshire House took a big step toward helping working families in the Granite State.  The NH House passed SB 416, which prohibits employers from retaliating against employees who request flexible work arrangements.  

Senator Dan Feltes, the bill’s prime sponsor, was pleased to hear the news and awaits the Governor’s signature.

“Hardworking Granite Staters should not have to choose between work and family,” said Senator Dan Feltes. “By prohibiting retaliation against workers who request a flexible work arrangement, SB 416 empowers workers to make those requests for flexibility, and it enables employers to keep good workers.” 

“This legislation sends a strong, positive message to our families, our businesses, and our economy. Workplace flexibility means greater worker retention and greater productivity, and it helps to attract and retain more young working families. I am pleased at the progress we’ve made on this important issue, and I thank our colleagues in the House for their support of this bipartisan legislation to continue our efforts to make New Hampshire the best place to live, work, and raise a family,” added Feltes.

The NH Citizens Alliance and the Granite State Progress Education Fund have been leading the charge to get this important legislation through the legislature.Together they formed the Stand With Women campaign that pushed for legislation that helped working women.  Kary Jencks of the NH Citizens Alliance and Zandra Rice-Hawkins of Granite State Progress further explain the benefits of this newly passed legislation.

“Currently if an employee asks an employer about flexibility in their schedule they have no obligation to consider that request, and there is nothing that stops them from retaliating because the employee asked,” said Kary Jencks, executive director for NH Citizens Alliance. “SB 416 encourages employers and employees to have an open and direct conversation when scheduling needs arise. This could be coming in 30 minutes early so you can leave in time for your child’s soccer game, or regularly adjusting your schedule for pick up or drop off times for children or elderly or disabled family members.  This bill will help with worker retention, worker productivity, and expand opportunity for all workers, especially women.”

“Forty-seven percent of New Hampshire’s workforce are women, the majority of whom are of sound reproductive age who due to family life may need at certain times in their career to request a flexible work arrangement without fear of being fired from their job,” said Zandra Rice Hawkins, executive director of Granite State Progress Education Fund.  “The same legislators who voted against this bill in committee are the ones who voted against access to reproductive health care, including birth control, and who oppose opportunities to raise wages for workers. These politicians stand in the way of women by making it harder for them to decide when and if to start a family, and by opposing policies that ensure they have the economic stability and family friendly workplace policies to thrive if they do. We applaud the majority of the House for supporting SB 416.”

The bill expected to be signed by Governor Hassan in June.

NH House Labor Committe SB 416: Non-Retaliation for Flexible Work Schedule Requests

Bipartisan vote guards against retaliation for employees who request a flexible work schedule for child care or to take care of an elderly or disabled family member, among other things

CONCORD, NH – The New Hampshire House Labor Committee voted 13-5 today to pass SB 416, a bill that guards against retaliation for employees who request a flexible work schedule for child care or to take care of an elderly or disabled family member, among other things. Amended and passed in the Senate, SB 416 simply states it is against the law for an employer to retaliate against an employee for requesting a flexible work schedule.

“Currently if an employee asks an employer about flexibility in their schedule they have no obligation to consider that request, and there is nothing that stops them from retaliating because the employee asked,” said Kary Jencks, executive director for NH Citizens Alliance. “SB 416 encourages employers and employees to have an open and direct conversation when scheduling needs arise. This could be coming in 30 minutes early so you can leave in time for your child’s soccer game, or regularly adjusting your schedule for pick up or drop off times for children or elderly or disabled family members.  This bill will help with worker retention, worker productivity, and expand opportunity for all workers, especially women.”

“Forty-seven percent of New Hampshire’s workforce are women, the majority of whom are of sound reproductive age who due to family life may need at certain times in their career to request a flexible work arrangement without fear of being fired from their job,” said Zandra Rice Hawkins, executive director of Granite State Progress Education Fund.  “The same legislators who voted against this bill in committee are the ones who voted against access to reproductive health care, including birth control, and who oppose opportunities to raise wages for workers. These politicians stand in the way of women by making it harder for them to decide when and if to start a family, and by opposing policies that ensure they have the economic stability and family friendly workplace policies to thrive if they do. We applaud the majority of the committee for supporting SB 416.”

The prime sponsor of SB 416 is Senator Dan Feltes, (D-Concord). Co-sponsors include Sen. D’Allesandro, Dist 20; Sen. Fuller Clark, Dist 21; Sen. Kelly, Dist 10; Sen. Soucy, Dist 18; Sen. Woodburn, Dist 1; Rep. LeBrun, Hills. 32; Rep. Webb, Rock. 6; Rep. Rosenwald, Hills. 30; Rep. Luneau, Merr. 10; and Rep. Gile, Merr. 27. The Senate previously passed the amended version of SB 416 by a roll call vote of 13-10.


The Stand With Women or Stand in the Way campaign of NH Citizens Alliance and Granite State Progress Education Fund believes that instead of protecting outdated workplace policies that discriminate against women and limiting reproductive rights, our priority in New Hampshire should be to guarantee fair opportunities for women to succeed and to take care of their families.

On Earth Day, A Reminder of U.S. Senator Kelly Ayotte’s Big Oil and Dirty Energy Support

 Oil and Gas Contributions to Ayotte Put Her in Top 10 of All U.S. Senators 

Concord, NH – According to Open Secrets, U.S. Senator Kelly Ayotte is one of the top ten recipients of oil and gas contributions in the U.S. Senate this cycle. Ayotte has received $142,025 in funds from oil and gas thus far. Donations include those from Koch PAC, the largest oil and gas campaign contributor in the nation — even surpassing ExxonMobil — as well as ExxonMobil itself and Chevron.

The Koch network in particular is investing heavily in Kelly Ayotte: Koch Industries is listed as Ayotte’s 12th largest contributor over her political career. In the last six months alone, Ayotte has received $10,800 from billionaire conservative and oil refining magnate David Koch and his wife Julia, in addition to the Koch’s hosting a $10,000 a plate fundraiser for her in Manhattan. Koch-funded Americans for Prosperity has already spent more than $1 million attacking Ayotte’s campaign opponent, Governor Maggie Hassan.

At the same time, Ayotte finished the 113th legislative session with a 100% score from Americans for Prosperity on selected “Energy and the Environment” bills, and has an 83% lifetime score from the Koch-funded group. In 2012, Kelly Ayotte voted against repealing $24 billion in tax breaks for the five largest oil companies operating in the United States; the same bill Ayotte opposed would have instead promoted renewable energy and alternative fuels. 

“Kelly Ayotte and her dirty energy friends want to keep our country dependent on fossil fuels instead of growing a clean energy economy that increases jobs and protects our environment,” said Zandra Rice Hawkins, executive director of Granite State Progress. “On Earth Day, and every day, our elected officials should look for opportunities to provide stewardship and vision to protect our natural resources, rather than cozying up to polluters. There is no doubt that dirty energy contributes significantly to climate change. Politicians should address that problem head-on instead of looking to Big Oil for handouts.”


Sources:

Koch Donations: Open Secrets, U.S. Senator Kelly Ayotte, Donors – Career, Accessed 4.21.16 Donations include Koch Industries’ PACs, individual members or employees or owners, and those individuals’ immediate families.; FEC, Friends of Kelly Ayotte, Filing thru 3.31.16; The CT Mirror, Koch brother hosting fundraiser for Blumenthal rival, 10.19.15; WMUR, Updated New Hampshire Primary Source: Record first-in-nation primary turnout confirmed; 542,459 votes cast, 2.20.16; Americans for Prosperity, Scorecard: Sen. Kelly Ayotte, 113th (2013-2014) Score on Energy and Environment (100%), Accessed 4.21.16; Americans for Prosperity, Scorecard: Sen. Kelly Ayotte, Lifetime Score on Energy and Environment (83%), Accessed 4.21.16; Senate Vote 63, 3.29.12

Local Businesses to Offer Women a Discount on Equal Pay Day to Highlight the Wage Gap

 Businesses in Portsmouth, Durham, Concord, and Keene will charge women 79% of their bill to highlight the wage gap that finds women earning only 79 cents to a man’s dollar

equalpayCONCORD, NH – In collaboration with the Stand With Women campaign of NH Citizens Alliance and Granite State Progress Education Fund, local businesses across New Hampshire will mark this year’s Equal Pay Day on Tuesday, April 12th by providing a discount to women equivalent to the percentage in wage gap. Businesses in Portsmouth, Durham, Concord, and Keene will stand in solidarity with women by charging them only 79% of their bill to highlight the wage gap that finds women earning 79 cents to a man’s dollar.

Equal Pay Day is the date each year that symbolizes how far into the year women must work to earn what men earned in the previous year. According to the latest data, female full time workers are paid 79 cents for every dollar paid to a male worker. Pay disparity is worse for women of color: black female full time workers make 60 cents to a white male workers dollar, and Latino and Hispanic women make the lowest at 55 cents. These numbers reflect the difference in men’s and women’s typical earnings, using the median earnings of women and men full-time, year-round workers, and are 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 and exclusion of women from higher-paying, nontraditional 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.

Five of the participating businesses will offer the discount all day long, on all menu items, and host media availabilities featuring the business owner and/or manager, along with local elected officials and advocates. Please note the following locations and times:

Portsmouth: The Works Bakery Cafe, 9 Congress St. Hours: 6am-5pm

RSVP on Facebook or to sheila@granitestateprogress.org

Durham: The Works Bakery Cafe, 5a Mill Road Plaza. Hours 6am-6pm

RSVP on Facebook or to sheila@granitestateprogress.org

Keene: The Works Bakery Cafe, 120 Main St. Hours 6am-6pm

RSVP on Facebook or to sheila@granitestateprogress.org 

Concord: VIBES Gourmet Burgers, 25 South Main Street. Hours 11:30am-8pm

*** Extra: Join us for a Stand With Women “Unhappy Hour” from 5:30-7:30 ***

RSVP on Facebook or to sheila@granitestateprogress.org 

Concord: The Works Bakery Cafe, 42 North Main St. Hours 6am-5pm

RSVP on Facebook or to sheila@granitestateprogress.org 

Concord: Gondwana & Divine Clothing Co., 13 North Main Street. Hours 10am – 6pm

*** Gondwana has been doing Equal Pay Day discounts for more than 20 years! ***

NH Senate Failure to Pass SB 507 and Strengthen Integrity, Innovation for Voting in New Hampshire

Legislation sought to bring New Hampshire voting, democracy into the 21st century

CONCORD, NH – The New Hampshire Senate voted today against SB 507-FN, authorizing online voter registration, by a vote of 13-11. Statements from voting rights advocates:

“New Hampshire is missing out on an opportunity to bring elections into the 21st century and expand access to voter registration. Thirty-one states and the District of Columbia have, with bipartisan support, implemented this approach to election modernization, and have seen savings in time, money and other resources,” said Brittnie Baker, Staff Counsel at Fair Elections Legal Network. “We need to continue to fight for common sense elections reforms that would help New Hampshire residents participate in elections.”

“New Hampshire’s voter registration system should be modernized and brought online to give every eligible voter an opportunity to participate in our democracy. Citizens can file taxes, apply for jobs, receive financial aid and register vehicles online,” said Paula Hodges, State Director of America Votes-NH. “Allowing for voter registration online ensures our democracy is keeping up with the technological world we live in.”

“Enabling fellow Granite Staters to securely exercise their right to vote should not be a partisan matter,” stated Devon Chaffee, Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union of New Hampshire. “Online voter registration has been adopted in blue and red states throughout the country, precisely because it lessens the burden on local election officials and improves the integrity of the election system as a whole.”

“As the “First in the Nation” Primary state with one of the highest voter participation rates in the country, we believe New Hampshire can become a model for the nation in administering inclusive, transparent, and high integrity elections,” said Zandra Rice Hawkins, Executive Director of Granite State Progress & Education Fund. “Updating our voting systems to ensure that all voters have equal access, regardless of income, race, gender, disability, or age strengthens our democracy.”

SB 507-FN had previously passed the Senate on a voice vote, but was re-referred to the Finance committee. Voting rights advocates questioned the steep fiscal note that was attached to the bill, which was more than it cost the State of California to overhaul its entire voting system.

“The League of Women Voters NH is very disappointed with the Senate’s decision to kill the opportunity for New Hampshire to move to online voter registration. This was a good piece of legislation that was undermined by a fiscal note that was not credible. It’s not possible for online voter registration in New Hampshire to cost more than it costs for the entire state of California when most states have found the costs to be modest or nonexistent,” said Liz Tentarelli, President of LWVNH. “More than 30 states now have online voter registration, and election officials across the country have praised the benefits of a modernized voting system. Online voter registration increases voter roll accuracy and security, it reduces workload and costs for municipalities, and it encourages citizens to register and vote.”


The New Hampshire Campaign for Voting Rights is a three pronged plan to strengthen integrity and build transparency into the voting process and improve access to the ballot box. The coalition includes America Votes-New Hampshire, Open Democracy, New Hampshire Civil Liberties Union, League of Women Voters-New Hampshire, NextGen New Hampshire, New Hampshire Citizens Alliance, People for the American Way, Granite State Progress & Education Fund, and Fair Elections Legal Network.

Urgent Call to Action for New Hampshire Legislators on International Women’s Day

On International Women’s Day we celebrate the accomplishments of the women’s rights movement and call on our local legislators to continue to take action on gender parity

CONCORD, NH –International Women’s Day is celebrated worldwide today, March 8, 2016. Statements from Granite State Progress Education Fund and NH Citizens Alliance are below. 

Statement from Granite State Progress Education Fund Executive Director Zandra Rice Hawkins:

Granite State Progress“On International Women’s Day we applaud the accomplishments of Governor Maggie Hassan, U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen, and Congresswoman Annie Kuster who have continuously championed women’s rights and equality. We also applaud the dedicated leaders within the New Hampshire House and Senate who are working toward creating a better and more inclusive future for women and girls in the Granite State. We specifically want to highlight the legislators who have stood up to support and sponsor bills such as SB 488, which prevents discrimination against pregnant women and their families in the workplace, and HB 1346, which eliminates the sub-minimum tipped wage that disproportionately impacts the economic security of women and people of color. Bills like these will help end discrimination against women, and pave the way for equal participation in all aspects of professional and personal lives.”

Statement from NH Citizens Alliance Executive Director Kary Jencks:

NH Citizens Alliance“This week the House will convene to vote on some of the most oppressive reproductive rights bills against women our state has seen since the Bill O’Brien legislature. Bills such as HB 1328, HB 1623, HB 1625, and HB 1636, which all seek to limit or ban abortion, and HB 1684, which would remove funding from any health facility that offers abortion services, jeopardize a woman’s right to self-determination and economic security. We urge these legislators to take today to really think about their constituents and to reflect on whether they plan to Stand with Women or Stand in the Way during the House session.”

NH Senate Commerce Committee Passes SB 488, Pregnant Workers Fairness Act

Bipartisan vote calls for an end to workplace
discrimination against pregnant women
 

Pregnant Woman (Image John Ted Daganato Flickr)CONCORD, NH – The New Hampshire Senate Commerce Committee voted today to pass SB 488, the New Hampshire Pregnant Workers Fairness Act. The bipartisan bill is a companion bill to the federal Pregnant Workers Fairness Act sponsored by both of New Hampshire’s US Senators, Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D) and Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R). 

SB 488 would guarantee the rights of pregnant women in the workplace. It calls on employers to offer reasonable accommodations for pregnant workers, including more frequent or longer breaks, temporary transfer to a less strenuous or hazardous position, job restructuring, and other temporary modifications.

“Despite existing protections, pregnant workers in the United States still face discrimination,” said Kary Jencks, executive director of NH Citizens Alliance. “Pregnant workers are too often forced out of their jobs and denied reasonable accommodations that would enable them to continue working and supporting their families. Pregnancy discrimination complaints are actually on the rise nationally, and the nearly 70% of New Hampshire women who work throughout their pregnancy deserve workplace protections that guard against discrimination.”

“No woman should have to choose between her job and a healthy pregnancy,” said Zandra Rice Hawkins, executive director of Granite State Progress & Education Fund. “We applaud the Senate Commerce committee for standing with women and their families to ensure they have the workplace protections they need to remain in the workforce. The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act seeks to end discrimination and promote healthy pregnancies and the economic security of pregnant women and their families.”

SB 488 passed Senate Commerce Committee with only minor changes, including removing the section stating that “the employer shall have the burden of proving undue hardship.” The bill is expected to be voted on by the full Senate next week. If it becomes law, New Hampshire will join fifteen states, the District of Columbia and four cities that have already passed laws requiring some employers to provide reasonable accommodations to pregnant workers.

The prime sponsor is Sen. Martha Fuller Clark (D-Portsmouth). Co-sponsors include Senator Molly Kelly, Dist 10; Senator Bette Lasky, Dist 13; Senator David Boutin, Dist 16; Rep. Tom Sherman, Rock. 24; Rep. Cindy Rosenwald, Hills. 30; Rep. Becky McBeath, Rock. 26; and Rep. P. Gordon, Rock. 29.


The Stand With Women or Stand in the Way campaign of NH Citizens Alliance and Granite State Progress Education Fund believes that instead of protecting outdated workplace policies that discriminate against women and limiting reproductive rights, our priority in New Hampshire should be to guarantee fair opportunities for women to succeed and to take care of their families.

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