Beware Of The Free Staters Running For Office

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In case you missed it, the Nashua Telegraph (http://bit.ly/1tJQE9j) and the Concord Monitor (http://bit.ly/1tJQPRU) both ran an Op-Ed written by me, about the Free State Project and Dan Hynes a “Free State Mover” who is running for the NH Senate in Merrimack, Amherst, and Milford.

Here is an excerpt from the Op-Ed. Please visit one of these two site to read the full editorial.

You see, New Hampshire is the focus of a unique political experiment, started in 2001 by then-Yale University doctoral student Jason Sorens. His idea was to get 20,000 activists to move to a single state with a small population and an easily-accessible government.

As he said in his introduction to The Free State Project: “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.”

Snowplowing? Bridge safety? An adequately-funded judicial system? Public colleges? These things are nowhere on the Free Staters’ priority list.

Free Staters – at least those in Keene – seem more interested in marijuana and videotaping the city’s parking enforcement officers.

Congresswoman Kuster Urges Acting VA Secretary Gibson to Address Systemic Issues of Integrity at VA

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – This morning during a House Veterans’ Affairs Committee hearing, Congresswoman Annie Kuster (NH-02) questioned Acting VA Secretary Sloan Gibson about his plan to restore integrity to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Mr. Gibson was chosen to head up the VA after former VA Secretary Eric Shinseki resigned amidst reports of extreme mismanagement at VA medical centers across the country. Congresswoman Kuster was one of the first members of the Committee to call for Secretary Shinseki’s resignation, and during today’s hearing she pushed Acting Secretary Gibson to immediately address the issues that led to his predecessor’s resignation.

“For the past few months, witnesses have testified before the Veterans’ Affairs Committee about the appalling conditions at some of our nation’s VA medical centers, including long wait times, manipulated wait lists, and lying, deceitful employees who put their own monetary interests before the needs of our nation’s veterans,” said Congresswoman Annie Kuster. “This mismanagement is absolutely unacceptable, and today I urged Acting Secretary Sloan Gibson to outline his plan to restore integrity to the VA so nothing like this can ever happen again. First and foremost, the VA must completely overhaul its system for awarding bonuses, and must fire any employees who made veterans wait for care in order to receive higher bonuses – and I was proud to cosponsor legislation that would give the VA power to do just that.”

“Our veterans put their lives on the line to fight for the American ideals we Granite Staters all hold dear. We owe every one of our veterans an extreme debt of gratitude, and they should never – under any circumstances – have to wait for the care they need and deserve. I hope Acting Secretary Gibson takes my concerns to heart, and does everything in his power to ensure that every employee has both the resources and the intent to do what they were hired to do – provide our nation’s veterans with excellent, high quality physical and mental health care services.”

Since allegations of long wait times at the Phoenix VA were first discovered by the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee, Congresswoman Kuster has joined her fellow Committee members in leading an investigation into any and all allegations of mismanagement at VA centers across the nation. She has repeatedly called for increased oversight and immediate action at the VA to prevent any further mismanagement, and was one of the first members to call for a thorough, nationwide audit to uncover any other instances of abuse.

Kuster has also provided strict oversight over the VA medical centers serving New Hampshire, and she has called on the New England VA Network Director to conduct a complete review of wait times and to provide whistleblower protection for staff who come forward with information about mismanagement. She also held a roundtable discussion with Veteran Service Organizations and veteran leaders to hear about their experiences at the VA medical centers, and she continues to monitor their care in New Hampshire.

The NH State Employee’s Association (SEIU 1984) Announce The Endorsement Of Jennifer Daler For NH Executive Council District 5

Jennifer Daler

Jennifer DalerThe SEA/SEIU Local 1984 Board of Directors announced its endorsement of Jennifer Daler in the race for the open Executive Council seat in District 5. Daler lives in Temple and is running to represent Executive Council District 5, which includes 33 communities, extending along the state’s southern border, from Richmond and Swanzey in the west to Nashua and Hudson in the east, and as far north as Hillsborough and Dunbarton.  The Executive Council seat opened up when Debora Pignatelli announced she would not be seeking re-election.

After interviewing and reviewing records of the candidates, the organization’s Political Education Committee selected Daler, a former state representative, as the candidate who will best represent the district’s constituents and SEA/SEIU Local 1984 members.  Originally elected to the state House of Representatives in 2006, Daler’s special election win in 2011 became a pivotal point in helping turn the tide against the attacks on working families of the Bill O’Brien-led legislature.

“We believe Jen’s experience in the House will serve her well on the Executive Council, as she understands the value of civility and the importance of working together,” said Ken Roos, chair of the committee. “In addition, we know she is committed to making the best use of our tax dollars and keeping our economy moving in the right direction.”

While serving in the House, Daler worked hard for our most vulnerable citizens, serving on the Health and Human Services and Elderly Affairs Committee.  Daler fought for working people across the state by voting against the right to work for less bill, which drives wages and benefits lower for those families that work hard and struggle to keep their homes.

“In 2011, at a critical time for our state, Jen prevailed in a tough House district despite facing crushing attacks for her stand against right to work for less,” Roos said. “She’s not afraid to stand up for what she believes in, and we’re confident she’ll always put our families ahead of partisan politics.”

The five-member Executive Council is a critical body for SEA members and their families.  The council votes on all state expenditures over $10,000, approves all appointments of civil commissions, judges and commissioners and directors in state government. Each council district represents around 250,000 voters and is elected every two years.

Committee members said Daler is the candidate that best represents the organization’s electoral vision for the state – the Granite Strong Vision. This vision is comprised of ten points SEA/SEIU 1984 has identified as essential for the success of the state’s working families. The points are:

  • Good full-time jobs
  • Robust small and large business environment
  • Quality, affordable and accessible health care
  • Quality, affordable public education from early childhood through post-secondary
  • Clean air and water
  • Public safety
  • Strong infrastructure
  • Strong consumer protections
  • Worker rights and protections
  • Strong safety net for our most vulnerable

Guest Column: The Age Of A Fractured Political System

ILWU - longshoremen union

Dr. Thomas J. Mackell, Jr.By Thomas J. Mackell, Jr., Ed.D.

This is an age of fractured jobs, a fractured economy, fractured families, a fractured political system, a terribly fractured American Dream and where the political protagonists, our elected leaders, are in need of spinal transplants.

The soon-to-retire greying generation is experiencing no pensions. Those pensions are promises that will not be kept, leaving thousands of employees in dire straits when they are most vulnerable. Roller-coaster retirement accounts subject to the whims of the market. Longer life spans and higher health care costs. Children in college. Young adults with staggering student-loan debt who are financially incapable of purchasing a home. Aging and ailing parents. A will to work but fewer jobs to be had.

America is dying for a champion who makes preserving the middle class a top priority. They want somebody who can level the playing field so that Main Street doesn’t always come second to Wall Street. Someone who is not running networks of oligarchs who take advantage of our weakened campaign finance laws to manipulate the democratic process in pursuit of their self-interests.

This is the scenario as we head into the 2014 Congressional elections with predictions that Republicans will hold the House of Representatives and, perhaps, gain control of the Senate.

If that happens, forget a Congress that looks out for the little guy.  In conjunction with a non-caring Congress, today, unfortunately, the concept of freedom has come to mean the freedom of the wealthy to do whatever they want, without regard to the consequences for the rest of us. In reality, the 1 percent has undertaken a serious effort to buy elections.

At any kind of gathering whether it be at work or at home, Americans are expressing disappointment about the way things run in Washington. They don’t see them dealing with the multitude of problems facing our nation. Their approval rating is at an all-time low. Many citizens say they see no value in bothering to vote.

Clearly, the constant bickering between the Republicans and Democrats is wearing thin on Main Street and leads to a notion of false equivalency. The Pew Research Center says that Republicans and Democrats are more divided along ideological lines than at any point in the last two decades.

The GOP has done all it can to undercut the Obama presidency. Democrats had to fight back. The line is drawn in the sand which has resulted in blind allegiance or blind hatred.

But let’s put the blame where it belongs: on the Republican side of the aisle. The Republicans must end their internal civil war between the moderates and the Tea Party aficionados.

Recently, a number of the members of Congress who have announced their plans to retire have expressed their frustration with the cantankerous environment in Washington and their inability to get things done.

When even the pols start complaining, you know that things are really bad. If they can’t find solutions then we are, truly, in deep trouble.

Despite this horrendous dilemma, failing to vote surely will make things worse. We have a solemn obligation to go to the polls. Neglecting the most fundamental responsibility of citizenship invites complacency and encourages political abuse. Showing up on Election Day proves we are in the game, that we care and that we want to see change.

There are areas of this country where people have been removed from the ranks of eligible voters and GOP operatives are doing all they can to suppress participation by traditional Democratic constituencies.

Today, the American workplace is plagued with wage theft, disrespect of culture, pressure, unsafe environments, unbridled automation and more. Everything solid is melting into air. This should not be tolerated in modern America. We must vote our pocketbook to protect our livelihoods and our well-being.

We must encourage our union memberships, thoughtful young folks and retirees to go out on Election Day and exercise their right to vote. They must be engaged in their communities and serve as an example to those who might stay away. Staying home is not an option. It will only continue and calcify this dangerous divisiveness.

Dr. Thomas J. Mackell, Jr. is Senior Consultant to the International Longshoremen’s Association, AFL-CIO for political, legislative and public affairs.

GOP Candidates in New Hampshire Celebrate Potential Tax Hike on Granite State Working Families

Frank Guinta 1 (Image by Mark Nassal)

 Frank Guinta 1 (Image by Mark Nassal)

Scott Brown, Frank Guinta, Andrew Hemingway, Bill O’Brien celebrate court ruling that would raise taxes for 48,000 NH working families while sending their money to other states; Potential tax hike only possible because NH Republicans refused to create a New Hampshire-run health care exchange

Concord, NH – GOP candidates up and down the ballot in New Hampshire are celebrating a potential tax hike on Granite State working families. A federal district court in Washington, D.C. today issued a ruling in the Halbig v. Burwell case that would take away health care tax credits from families and small businesses that live in states where conservative Republicans blocked a state-based exchange.

The ruling trumpeted by U.S. Senate candidate Scott Brown, Congressional candidate Frank Guinta, Gubernatorial candidate Andrew Hemingway, and Speaker of the House candidate Bill O’Brien – all Republicans – would raise costs on average $3,480 for the 48,000 Granite Staters who currently use the Affordable Care Act subsidy to afford quality health care coverage or who are eligible to do so.

“On average, these Granite Staters stand to lose an annual $3,480 tax credit and yet politicians like Scott Brown and Frank Guinta are cheering,” said Zandra Rice Hawkins, executive director of Granite State Progress. “Scott Brown voted to continue $24 billion in tax breaks for the five largest oil companies in the United States, but he supports taking away a $3,480 tax credit from tens of thousands of New Hampshire working families. Worse, New Hampshire taxpayers would continue to pay for health care coverage for residents of other states.”

“Some of the same politicians celebrating this ruling are the very ones who got us in this predicament to start. Bill O’Brien and Andrew Hemingway worked to block New Hampshire from creating and running its own health care exchange; doing so would have allowed us to have our own uniquely New Hampshire approach and would have guarded us against this court decision,” Rice Hawkins said.

Despite the celebratory campaign statements, it is questionable whether the district court ruling will be upheld. Today’s ruling was made by a majority conservative 3-judge panel and may be overturned by the full DC Circuit en banc panel, especially in light of a separate unanimous ruling today by the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals that upholds the subsidies.

Governor Hassan Signs Paycheck Fairness Bill Into Law, Advocates And Legislators Applaud

Gov. Hassan Signs Paycheck Fairness  (image by Kary Jencks, NH Citizens Alliance)
Gov. Hassan Signs Paycheck Fairness  (image by Kary Jencks, NH Citizens Alliance)

Gov. Hassan Signs Paycheck Fairness (image by Kary Jencks, NH Citizens Alliance)

 Paycheck Fairness Act to become law January 1, 2015 

CONCORD, NH – Today Governor Maggie Hassan ceremoniously signed SB 207 and HB 1188, the New Hampshire Paycheck Fairness Act into law. The Paycheck Fairness Act will eliminate loopholes, increase transparency in wages, and ensure that all workers have the appropriate tools and resources to help them earn a fair and equal paycheck, without fear of retaliation.

“Ensuring that women and men can earn equal pay for an equal day’s work isn’t just an issue of fairness, it’s essential to our economic future. I am proud to sign this common-sense, bipartisan legislation that will strengthen the economic security of hard-working Granite Staters and eliminate an unnecessary strain on New Hampshire families,” said Governor Maggie Hassan in a written statement.

“While paycheck fairness legislation remains stalled in our nation’s capital, here in New Hampshire we’ve shown once again that we can come together to expand middle class opportunity and move our economy forward. I want to thank Senator Larsen, Speaker Norelli and legislators from both parties for coming together to pass the most significant piece of legislation for women in New Hampshire’s workforce in over a decade,” concluded Gov. Hassan.

“Thank you to ​Governor Hassan, ​House Speaker Norelli​, and the members of the Legislature​ for reinforcing New Hampshire’s commitment to the fundamental principle of an equal day’s work deserves an equal day’s pay. ​The enactment of this new law affirms that we must ​continue our efforts to close the wage gap in New Hampshire,​” said Senator Sylvia Larsen.​ “With Governor Hassan signing SB 207 in law, New Hampshire ​is sending a crystal clear message that the ​State of New Hampshire is on the side of all workers guaranteeing a fair and equal paycheck, without fear of retaliation.​”​

Senate Bill 207 was cited by Senate and House Democrats as a top priority for the 2014 legislative session. SB 207 sponsors include all Senate Democrats along with House Speaker Terie Norelli, Rep. Shannon Chandley (D-Amherst), Rep. MaryAnn Knowles (D-Hudson), and Rep. Marjorie Porter (D-Hillsboro). HB 1188 sponsors included Rep. Chuck Weed (D-Keene), Rep. Michael Cahill (D-Newmarket), Rep. Larry Phillips (D-Keene), Rep. Doug Ley (D-Jaffrey), Rep. Marcia Moody (D-Newmarket), Sen. Martha Fuller Clark (D-Portsmouth).

“It’s distressing that, in the year 2014, women in New Hampshire, who are working full-time jobs, still earn only 77 cents on the dollar compared to men. National studies have found that a pay gap exists between men and women in nearly every occupation,” said Larsen.​

“However, the New Hampshire Paycheck Fairness Act will give women hard-working in today’s economy, the much-needed tools they need to combat the wage gap,” concluded Senator Larsen.​

NH Citizens Alliance for Action, Granite State Progress, and the New Hampshire Women’s Initiative applaud Governor Hassan for signing SB 207 and HB 1188, the New Hampshire Paycheck Fairness Act into law.

“Ensuring equal pay for equal work is integral to the economic security of individuals and families,” said Kary Jencks, Executive Director of NH Citizens Alliance for Action. “On behalf of our 20,000 members, NH Citizens Alliance commends Governor Hassan and her progressive colleagues in the state legislature for passing the Paycheck Fairness Act and their continued efforts to build a New Hampshire that works for all of us.”

“Granite State Progress is proud to have worked with leaders like Governor Hassan, Senator Larsen, and Speaker Norelli to ensure that New Hampshire’s Paycheck Fairness Act became law,” said Zandra Rice Hawkins, Executive Director of Granite State Progress. “We commend the bipartisan support of our legislature to ensure the adoption of this legislation, and encourage our federal delegation to follow suit. This law will give employees the tools they need to challenge wage gaps and help create a climate where wage discrimination is no longer tolerated.”

“The New Hampshire Women’s Initiative is proud to have played a role in championing SB207,” said Mary Jo Brown, Chair of the New Hampshire Women’s Initiative. “We applaud the collaboration and consensus this bill promoted, and look forward to future work that will advance gender equality in both economic, social and political arenas.”

AFT Hails Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act Law

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WASHINGTON—Statement by American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten on President Obama’s signing of the bipartisan Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act:

“Career and technical education programs provide incredibly important pathways to success. The bipartisan bill that President Obama signed today extends the ladder of opportunity to middle-class Americans by providing the guidance, skills and training needed to compete for good 21st-century jobs. The law will help young people, the disabled, the long-term unemployed and those barely getting by on hourly wages to become economically self-sufficient.

“The workforce law provides a blueprint for the reauthorization of the Carl D. Perkins Act, which has been a lifeline for job training opportunities and focuses on career and technical education programs and collaborative partnerships among employers, communities, schools and labor. We hope that as Congress works on the Perkins reauthorization, it provides much-needed funding for guidance counselors, who can help students explore career options as they contemplate their futures.

“I have witnessed how great career and technical education high schools change lives, such as New York City’s Aviation High School; New York City’s Pathways in Technology Early College High School, or P-Tech, which has IBM and the City College of New York as core partners; and the Toledo (Ohio) Technology Academy, whose partners include the United Auto Workers union. The Albert Shanker Institute and the AFT have been stalwart advocates of career and technical education programs, and we will continue our efforts to help high-quality CTE programs flourish to create innovative pathways to a high school diploma and college and career readiness.”

Education Program Gutted for At-Risk Youth at State Facility

Sununu Youth Services-Manchester (image by Prime Roofing Corp)
SununuYouthServices-Manchester (image by Prime Roofing Corp)

Sununu Youth Services-Manchester (image by Prime Roofing Corp)

School Taking Brunt of Budget Cuts Seen as Suspicious 

The Sununu Youth Services Center (SYSC) educational services for the state’s most troubled youth may soon face legal challenges after 75% of targeted budget cuts are taken out on teaching staff.  Services for middle school through high school youth are expected to greatly suffer once personnel reductions of the uniquely qualified teaching staff are completed.

SYSC is the state’s residential detention and school facility for youth ages 13 to 17 who have either been found to be delinquent (SYSC program) or are awaiting that determination (YDSU program). Both programs are approved by NH Dept. of Education Bureau of Special Education to serve students in all disability categories. The programs include academics, special education, electives and vocational training for the youth that are taught in four distinct educational settings within the institution.

“The legislature ordered that $1.25 million dollars be directly cut from SYSC’s budget,” said Diana Lacey, President of SEA/SEIU 1984. “The Legislature also decided to cut an additional $7 million dollars from all of DHHS.”

At issue is the SYSC administration’s strategy for making those budget cuts.  “It defies logic that anyone would put 75% of the cuts on the department that educates the at-risk youth; it’s only going to hurt the kids.  They need their education to become independent and successful adults,” said Brad Asbury, former SYSC employee and current SEA/SEIU 1984 manager working with the educators.

“It took tremendous work to make the school what it is today.  Principal Claire Pstragowski has done a fine job and over the years we’ve seen the difference it’s made for the kids,” said Asbury.

“The teachers have worked tirelessly reaching out to state senators and representatives, executive councilors and the Governor to sound the alarm of what this cut will mean to the kids.  Some also believe there is no coincidence in the administration’s choice to slash the teaching force,” said Jay Ward, Political Director at SEA/SEIU 1984.

Multiple meetings with the administration, area lawmakers, and Governor Maggie Hassan have failed to yield a more balanced approach to the execution of the SYSC specific budget cut.  “We’ve suggested several ways to meet the savings requirement that have not been accepted, and remain suspicious that the teachers’ concerns that they were being specifically targeted are true,” said Ward.

Astutely, teachers had predicted this would happen in early 2012 – several months before legislators first raised the million plus cut in budget hearings.  Newly assigned director to the center, Maggie Bishop, asked teachers at the time to provide unpaid, after school voluntary extracurricular programs to youth.  When the teachers declined, due to legal liability and increased risk concerns, as well as labor law violation likelihood, Bishop expressed concern about the future.

“The teachers reached out to us after the director told them it would be difficult for her to justify their salaries and the cost of running the school in the future,” said Asbury.  The warning given was taken seriously and a later consultation with HHS Commissioner, Nick Toumpas, soon revealed the teachers’ account of the discussion with Bishop wasn’t far off.  “She was in that meeting and admitted she made the statements but that the teachers just took it the wrong way.  Then she said she would issue a request for information to see if there was any interest in privatizing the school and what it would cost.”

The strategy, as described by Bishop in the meeting, would enable her to better manage a budgetary challenge lawmakers might give her in the following budget cycle.

“It was then that the teachers predicted the education department would be gutted in the new budget,” said Lacey.  “More than twenty of them kept saying, she’s coming after us – just wait and see.”

Prior to moving the plan forward, Bishop sought to cut teacher pay by thirteen to twenty percent with an expectation that they would all remain at the school but for a few teaching layoffs.  “We believe that violates current New Hampshire law and is in conflict with the prescribed tools for meeting budget cuts,” said SEA Attorney, Lauren Snow-Chadwick.

“Gutting the education department by a 30% reduction in teaching staff makes no sense.  These kids need their teachers.  It’s very disturbing to think this may have all started as retaliation,” said Lacey.

The current school provides full day instruction to 60-70 youth, with a potential capacity of over 100, through fully certified and highly talented, grade/subject specific teachers.  The design came after a 1990’s class action lawsuit proved the youth’s constitutional rights were being violated because they were not receiving an appropriate education.  The improvements weren’t easily won; a court retained jurisdiction of the suit’s settlement agreement after the plaintiffs raised concerns about the state’s continued compliance.  Eventually, the plaintiffs and court agreed that the state succeeded in delivering an appropriate program.

It is likely, through this action, that the education program at the school will wind up in litigation again.

Interestingly The Center’s belief statement in a 2010 document states:

  • It is our belief every student be enrolled into approved educational programs and courses respective of individual needs.
  • It is our belief and practice that educational programs must be appropriate to the students’ academic potential, and competency-based
  • It is our belief and practice to teach vocational education, which meets the needs of the communities while also meeting the needs and interest of students.

Jerry DeLemus: Fear and Hate Mongering In New Hampshire

Child in poverty (Image Tim Grable FLIKR)

Today Foster Daily Democrat published a story about how Tea Party activist, organizer for Glenn Beck’s 9-12 project, and right wing whack-a-do Jerry DeLemus held a protest on a highway overpass to protest illegal immigration.

“The goal is to make the American people aware that there are people opposed to illegal immigration,” said event organizer Jerry DeLemus during the protest. “And also let our government know.”

DeLemus was taking part in a national day of action to protest what he is calling  “illegal immigration” of children from Central America.

“The solution,” said DeLemus during the protest, “is that our federal government and our state government should follow the law.”

So which law exactly would you like them to follow?

The one that takes these children into custody, puts them into a detention facility until they can receive a deportation trail to determine if or when they will be deported.

What mister fear and hate monger does not say, or does not simply understand, is that these children are not living in the United States illegally. They are walking up to border agents and asking to be taken into custody.

These children are walking hundreds, if not thousands of miles, to claim sanctuary from the horrific death and violence in their own countries. Many of them were sent here by their parents who would rather send them to the United States, knowing they may never see their child again, than to raise them in their home country.

These are innocent children who have nothing but the clothes on their back. Some of them are less than five years old.

This is a humanitarian crisis, not a function of illegal immigration.

Where is your humanity Jerry? Are you so self absorbed and full of hate for these little children that you would rather see these kids dropped off on a street corner in some Central American country with a pat on the head, saying “good luck,” as you walk away.

It is evil and disgusting that someone could even think like that.    Jerry is just another example of an ignorant racist Tea Party Republican who thinks, “America needs more patrolling of the nearly 2,000-mile-long border,” to fix this crisis.

 

More people patrolling does not stop the children from coming Jerry, it would just make it easier for the kids to turn themselves in.

Kuster Helps Introduce Constitutional Amendment to Reform Campaign Finance System

Ann kuster head shot LG

Democracy for All Amendment would restore state and federal authority to limit money in political campaigns

Ann kuster head shot LGWASHINGTON, D.C. – Congresswoman Annie Kuster (NH-02), has helped introduce a constitutional amendment that would reform the campaign finance system by giving Congress and state governments the right to pass legislation to limit the influence of money in federal elections. H. J. Res. 119, the Democracy for All Amendment, would largely overturn the controversial Supreme Court decisions in Citizens United v. FEC and McCutcheon v. FEC., which ruled that corporations and Super PACs can spend unlimited amounts of money to benefit political campaigns.

“The Citizens United and McCutcheon Supreme court decisions made a bad situation much worse by opening the floodgates for even more outside spending and undue influence on our elections,” said Congresswoman Kuster. “For our democratic government to be truly accountable and responsive to the American people, we must reform our electoral system so that every American can play an active and equal role in our elections. This amendment will go a long way towards restoring the voices of everyday people in our democracy.”

“I additionally urge Congress to pass the Government by the People Act, which would help return the power to the people by implementing a number of initiatives to boost the voices of small, grassroots donors. Together, this bill and the Democracy for All Amendment would help return us to the days when individuals, not corporations, had the greatest sway over our election results,” Kuster continued.

The Democracy for All Amendment is the House companion to S. J. Res. 19, an amendment that passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee on July 10, 2014, and is scheduled for a vote in the U.S. Senate later this year.

In January, 2014, Congresswoman Kuster helped introduce the Government by the People Act, legislation that would amplify the voices of individuals by creating a number of public financing alternatives for grassroots donors and candidates. As part of her commitment to curbing special interests in the electoral system, Congresswoman Kuster also hosted a roundtable earlier this year with Rep. John Sarbanes (MD-03) and other stakeholders to discuss the importance of campaign finance reform.

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