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Kelly Ayotte Votes Against New Hampshire’s Best Interests In Budget

Senator Kelly Ayotte 2 (Gage Skidmore)

Senator Kelly Ayotte at CPAC in 2013 (Image by Gage Skidmore FLIKR)

As the Senate wrapped up a slew of budget amendment votes Kelly Ayotte’s priorities were on full display, and now she has to begin the difficult work of trying to explain her indefensible votes to her constituents back home.

Below is just a sampling of where Kelly Ayotte voted against New Hampshire’s best interests:

  • Voted against an amendment to prevent companies from getting tax benefits for shipping jobs overseas. Over 106,000 jobs in New Hampshire are at risk of being outsourced
  • Opposed an amendment to adopt the Paycheck Fairness Act to give women more tools to fight pay discrimination.
  • Voted against measures to protect Social Security against privatization and benefit cuts and prevent Medicare from being turned into a voucher program
  • Voted against an amendment that would let young people refinance their student loans, which would help 129,000 borrowers in New Hampshire, and against restoring cuts to the Pell Grant program
  • Opposed a measure to provide two free years of community college by raising revenue through requiring millionaires and billionaires to pay their fair share of taxes

Kelly Ayotte’s priorities are clear, and New Hampshire students, seniors families and workers don’t make the list.

“If anyone wasn’t clear about how extreme Kelly Ayotte truly is, they don’t need to look any further than her votes on this budget against New Hampshire students, seniors, families and workers,” said Sadie Weiner, DSCC National Press Secretary. “New Hampshire voters deserve better than Kelly Ayotte’s refusal to stand up for their best interests and they’ll hold her accountable in 2016.”

These are not the priorities of New Hampshire working families.  These are the priorities of the rich, elite 1% who want to take more from the hard working middle class and refuse to pay their fair share.

“From voting to protect tax benefits for companies that outsource jobs to opposing a measure that would let young people refinance their student loans, Kelly Ayotte proved once again that her focus in Washington is looking out for her special interest allies and not the best interests of New Hampshire,” said New Hampshire Democratic Party Chair Ray Buckley.

This budget will not help Granite State families, it will only hurt them.  Slashing social programs that low income families rely on, reducing benefits to seniors who are already struggling to pay their bills on a fixed income, and gives more tax breaks to wealthy corporations who skirt paying their fair share in taxes.

It is obvious that Senator Ayotte is more interested in following her out of touch party leadership than doing what is right for New Hampshire families.  She is also setting herself up nicely for a potential GOP Vice President nomination, building a hefty war chest and voting right down party lines.

The Americans For Prosperity – NH (AKA Koch Brothers NH Mouthpiece) Approve Of House Budget. One More Reason To Oppose It

Today the New Hampshire chapter of the Americans For Prosperity, a Koch funded advocacy group, came out to show their support for the massive cuts proposed in the budget.

From NHPR:

The state’s chapter of Americans for Prosperity, a conservative political advocacy group backed by the Koch brothers,  are behind the House Finance version of the state’s spending plan, which passed committee along party lines Thursday.

The $11 billion budget trimmed hundreds of millions from Governor Maggie Hassan’s proposal including reducing spending for the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Transportation and University funding.

AFP State Director Greg Moore said the budget isn’t perfect but it is fiscally responsible.

“The House did a fantastic job of making New Hampshire more free market and more competitive, and forth and for most it takes out all the tax increases,” Moore said.

The plan removes tax increases including two tax increases on businesses, a cigarette tax as well as increasing the registration fee.

Governor Hassan warns that these cuts will hurt our economy.

“Earlier this week, the House Finance Committee recommended a budget with harmful, unnecessary reductions that will hurt families, undermine business growth and take our economy backward. Today, instead of fixing the problems with that budget, they are making things worse.

“Instead of responsibly addressing the issues facing our Highway Fund with a modest revenue solution, they are proposing further reductions to the priorities that are critical to the success of our people, families and businesses. These irresponsible cuts threaten to shut down local road and bridge projects, increase the cost of higher education, raid the dedicated Renewable Energy Fund and further downshift the burden on local property tax rate-payers.

“Combined with cuts already proposed to critical services for seniors like Meals on Wheals, to substance misuse, to mental health, to developmental disabilities, to travel and tourism promotion, to municipalities and more, this irresponsible plan will hurt our economic competitiveness and have a significant impact on our ability to continue building the foundation of a more innovative economy. I continue to urge legislators from both parties to do the responsible thing and invest in the success of our people, our businesses and our economy.” 

“The Koch Brothers’ endorsement of the O’Brien – Jasper budget proves just how bad this budget truly is for New Hampshire’s people, businesses and economy,” said New Hampshire Democratic Chair Ray Buckley. “Combined with Senate Republicans’ push for more tax giveaways for big out-of-state businesses, it’s as clear as ever that the legislature is fully under the control of the Koch Brothers.”

“Shawn Jasper has finally accomplished his goal: cut enough of New Hampshire’s priorities to satisfy Bill O’Brien and the Koch Brothers. It makes perfect sense that out-of-state oil tycoons would support a budget that raids $50 million in dedicated funds for renewable energy, slashes critical economic priorities for small businesses and middle class families, and downshifts costs onto local property taxpayers,” concluded Buckley.

We here at the NH Labor News are vehemently opposed to these cuts proposed by the NH House.  They will strip healthcare from tens of thousands of people, and force hundreds of hard working DOT workers on the streets.  Then I ask, “who will ploy the roads“?

Please take a minute to sign out petition urging legislators to stop these reckless cuts.

Petition Text:

We call on members of the state House & Senate to pass a responsible, balanced budget that protects taxpayers without sacrificing the essential programs and services New Hampshire families and communities depend on for our health, safety, and quality of life.

Click here to sign the Petition

Join activists from across the state as we stand in opposition to these devastating draconian cuts to NH Families.

Senators Shaheen and Portman’s Energy Efficiency Bill Passes Senate. 

Shaheen Portman Bill HEADER

Bipartisan Legislation will save energy, protect the environment, save consumers money, create jobs

 

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – Bipartisan energy efficiency legislation authored by U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Rob Portman (R-OH) today passed the U.S. Senate. The Energy Efficiency Improvement Act of 2015 contains key energy efficiency provisions that will strengthen the economy and reduce pollution.

The provisions that passed today come from H.R. 2126, which passed the U.S. House of Representatives with overwhelming support last Congress.

“Energy efficiency has received such strong bipartisan support because it’s the cheapest and fastest way to address our nation’s energy challenges,” Shaheen said. “Today we passed a bill that will create jobs, save consumers money, and reduce pollution in a smart, effective and affordable way. Energy efficiency holds enormous potential for America’s energy future and the Senate has taken an important step toward realizing that future.”

“This bill has garnered such widespread support because of a simple fact – it is good for the economy and good for the environment. It’s part of an energy plan for America that can help bring the jobs back, help fix our trade deficit, help make our manufacturers more competitive, and actually help to protect the environment,” said Portman. “I’m pleased that these key portions of our energy efficiency bill passed the Senate today.”

The Energy Efficiency Improvement Act of 2015 includes four simple but effective provisions that have been scored by the Congressional Budget Office to be budget neutral.  Title I establishes a voluntary, market-driven approach to aligning the interests of commercial building owners and their tenants to reduce energy consumption.  Title II exempts certain electric resistance water heaters used for demand response from pending Department of Energy regulation.  Title III requires federal agencies to coordinate with OMB, DOE, and EPA to develop an implementation strategy – that includes best practices, measurement, and verification techniques – for the maintenance, purchase, and use of energy-efficient and energy saving information technologies.  Title IV requires that federally-leased buildings without Energy Star labels benchmark and disclose their energy usage data, where practical.

NH Leaders Applaud Senate Vote for Constitutional Amendment to Stop Unlimited Campaign Spending, Urge House to Follow Suit

Open Democracy, the New Hampshire nonprofit committed to transparent and accountable government, congratulated the New Hampshire Senate for unanimously approving SB 136 on Thursday, a bill calling on Congress to amend the U.S. Constitution to address the Citizens United U.S. Supreme Court ruling.
 
Open Democracy leaders and activists from both political parties, together with allied groups, simultaneously renewed their calls for the New Hampshire House to approve a similar measure. If adopted by the House, New Hampshire would become the 17th state to call for a Constitutional Amendment five years after the controversial Citizens United decision was handed down.
 
“New Hampshire citizens are frankly disgusted with the amount of special interest money flooding our elections,” said Daniel Weeks, Executive Director of Open Democracy, citing town resolutions adopted by 67 New Hampshire towns in 2014-15 calling for a Constitutional Amendment and the roughly 12,000 citizen petitioners across the state. “It is precisely because the First Amendment is so sacred that we need to protect the rights of ordinary Americans to speak and be heard in the public square, rather than be shouted down by big spenders with an agenda of their own,” Weeks said.
 
“We applaud the full Senate for responding to their constituents’ demands and passing this historic call for a 28th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution to rid our democracy of unlimited special interest spending in elections,” said Gordon Allen, co-chair of the Open Democracy Board. “We are especially thankful to Senators Martha Fuller-Clark (D-21) and Russell Prescott (R-23) for leading this important push.”
 
Members of the Open Democracy Advisory Board John Broderick and Brad Cook, the former NH Chief Justice and Republican Chairman of the Election Law Commission, respectively, called on elected representatives in the House to follow the Senate’s lead and pass the “bipartisan resolution opposing the disastrous Citizens United Supreme Court decision that opened the floodgates to unlimited spending in elections.”
 
“Although we may not agree on some issues, we both believe there is nothing more destructive of good politics and good policy than secret special interest money in elections,” Broderick and Cook wrote. “Left unchecked, it will consume our electoral process and silence the voice of the people.”
 
The issue of money in politics has attracted near-unanimous public sentiment from across the political spectrum, with 96 percent of New Hampshire residents polled believing that money has too much influence over politics. Meanwhile, more than two-thirds of state residents across party lines support a Constitutional Amendment to limit campaign contributions and spending, according to a University of New Hampshire Survey Center poll.
 
As evidence of their frustration with the status quo, approximately 500 citizens took to the streets of New Hampshire this January, walking 300 miles across the state to protest money in politics as part of the NH Rebellion. The Rebellion activists and allied groups plan to continue marching and are also challenging the presidential candidates to support systemic campaign finance reform during the state’s first-in-the-national primary.
 
- – -
 
The Senate-approved legislation, as amended, asserts “the need for a United States Constitutional Amendment to address the Citizens United ruling and related cases, that protects New Hampshire’s ability to make its own laws regarding campaign finance while protecting the First Amendment.” To bill also establishes a study committee to examine the impact of the Citizens United ruling and related cases in New Hampshire elections; to evaluate the different Constitutional Amendment options being proposed in Congress; and to consider short-term solutions to issues raised by Citizens United.
 
One such measure, disclosure of independent spending in state elections, was approved by the legislature and signed into law by Governor Hassan in 2014. However, insufficient compliance with SB 120 in the 2014 election led Open Democracy to file complaints against both liberal and conservative political committees with the New Hampshire Attorney General. As of March 2015, the Attorney General’s investigations are still ongoing.
 
A forthcoming Open Democracy analysis of the 2014 mid-term election in New Hampshire reveals that approximately $100 million was spent by candidates, parties, and third-party groups – the highest level of election spending in state history. More than half of the total spending came from so-called “independent” groups, with the majority of their funding coming from out-of-state and/or undisclosed sources, according to the non-partisan Center for Responsive Politics. New Hampshire’s U.S. Senate contest also ranked as the most negative race in the country with over 90 percent of all television ads characterized as attacks. 
 
Although efforts to overturn Citizens United in Congress have stalled in recent years for lack of bipartisan support, liberal and conservative leaders alike have called for state and congressional action to mitigate what they describe as the ruling’s adverse effects on elections and representation. As early as 2010 when the decision was handed down, New Hampshire’s late Republican Senator Warren Rudman wrote in The Washington Post, “Supreme Court opinion notwithstanding, corporations are not defined as people under the Constitution, and free speech can hardly be called free when only the rich are heard.”
 
To mitigate the corrupting influence of money in politics, Senator Rudman went on to urge “Republicans and Democrats in Congress [to] work together to expand political speech for all citizens by replacing special-interest money in politics with small donations and public matching funds.”
 
Open Democracy, a 501(c)(3) non-profit based in Concord, advocates for a range of campaign finance and election reforms including citizen-funded elections, overturning Citizens United, election modernization, and full rapid disclosure of campaign contributions and spending. 

Arnie Alpert: Will NH Privatize Youth Corrections?

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

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

Devil is in the Details of Budget Proposal

Another version of this was published in the Concord Monitor.

The budget proposal now under consideration in the House Finance Committee calls for a $7 million cut in the budget of the Sununu Youth Services Center, the state’s residential detention center for juvenile offenders. It also mandates “the option for the Department to enter into contracts to operate the facility.” The outsourcing provision would be included in HB 2, the budget “trailer bill.”

We’ve been around this block before.

In 2011, the budget trailer bill, HB 2, mandated creation of “a committee to develop a plan for privatizing the department of corrections,” and specified that “on or before September 1, 2011, the commissioner of administrative services shall issue a request for proposals by vendors for provision of correctional services or any other services provided by the department of corrections.”

That line, buried in what became Chaptered Law 0224 when it passed on June 22, 2011 and became law without the signature of Governor John Lynch eight days later, set in motion a costly two-year investigation into the possibility of outsourcing the state’s prisons to a for-profit firm.

First, staff at the Departments of Corrections and Administrative Services spent five months preparing three lengthy “Requests for Proposals” to solicit interest from private firms.

The responses from four companies, which arrived between late January and early March. There was so much paper in the bid documents — said to be so bulky they filled a room at the State House Annex – that the State needed an outside consultant. It took four more months, and an appropriation of $177,000, for the state to hire MGT of America to analyze the proposals.

It took nine months for MGT to compete its report. 

Among its findings were that the “annual compensation for security staff” in the bidders’ business plans “was one-half the current compensation currently paid to similar positions in the state.”

High Turnover, Low Safety

“The state should be concerned that this significantly lower wage may make it difficult to maintain a trained and experience staff,” MGT said. “This could result in high turnover and ultimately impact and safety and security of the correctional facilities.” In other words, the way to make a correctional facility profitable is to lower the wages and benefits paid to workers. That dooms the facilities to dependence on workers who hope to leave and find a better job, not the kind of people we want to manage adult or juvenile corrections.

Based on the consultant’s report, the State “determined that it was in the best interest of the State to cancel the solicitation process,” according to a report released in April 2013, nearly two years after the process started.

“The decision to cancel, after having invested so much time and consideration, was not made lightly,” the Departments of Corrections and Administration said.

With that in mind, we should not go lightly into a new privatization process, this time for youth corrections.

Evidence from around the country has shown that for-profit companies are ill equipped to handle the responsibility of incarceration, whether the prisoners are juveniles or adults. Their facilities tend to be under-staffed, less secure, and don’t even save money for taxpayers.

Riots and Abuse in Florida

Just last week a riot broke out at the Les Peters Academy, a juvenile correctional facility near Tampa, Florida. It’s the third time violence has broken out at one of G4S Corporation’s juvenile facilities, and that’s just in the Tampa area. The State of Florida is investigating “whether all policies and procedures were followed.”

Last summer Florida cancelled a contract with another for-profit operator of youth detention facilities, Youth Services International, after evidence of excessive or unnecessary use of force. The company is barred for a year from bidding on new contracts, but it still runs nine other Florida facilities.

A lengthy report by Chris Kirkham for Huffington Post says “those held at YSI facilities across the country have frequently faced beatings, neglect, sexual abuse and unsanitary food over the past two decades.” Not only that, according to Kirkham, Florida’s “sweeping privatization of its juvenile incarceration system has produced some of the worst re-offending rates in the nation.”

Caroline Isaacs of the American Friends Service Committee, who has documented abuses at for-profit facilities in Arizona and nationwide, says “the track record in juvenile facilities is even more horrifying than the usual for adult prisons.”

We’ve been around this block before. Let’s not go there again.

NH Senate Unanimously Calls for Constitutional Amendment to Overturn Citizens United

2015-03-26 Senate Passes SB136 3The New Hampshire Senate just passed a bill supporting the amendment of the US Constitution to overturn Citizens United. The voice vote was apparently unanimous. The bill, SB 136, establishes a study committee to review the various proposed constitutional amendments, and issue a report by November 1st regarding which approach should be supported by the New Hampshire congressional delegation.

“Fair elections are the cornerstone of our democracy and the consequences of the Citizens United ruling on our elections must be addressed,” said Senator Martha Fuller Clark.​ “The issue of such large amounts of money influencing our elections is not a partisan one; it affects all of us. That’s why 67 of our municipalities have passed warrant articles calling for action on this very serious issue which threatens our democracy.”

“In 2014 alone, over $49 million was spent on NH Congressional races from outside groups, drowning out the voices of ordinary citizens,” she said. “I’m pleased that my Senate colleagues have finally agreed that it is time to do something about the corrupting influence of such large amounts of out-of-state money on our elections. I urge the House to agree as well.”

2015-03-26 Senate Passes SB136“The Senate’s action today is a huge step forward in the grassroots effort to make New Hampshire the 17th state to call for a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United,” said Paul Brochu, the Stamp Stampede’s Lead Organizer in New Hampshire.

“We’re very hopeful that the House will also pass this bill.  The House called for a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United in 2013 and 2014; and earlier this year the House passed a resolution seeking an Article V Constitutional Convention to overturn Citizens United,” he said. “I think we’re all tired of out-of-state special interests trying to buy our elections.  It’s time for some common-sense limits – and that common sense starts by telling the Supreme Court that no, corporations are not ‘people.’ ”

“Today, thanks to the bipartisan leadership of Senators Russell Prescott (R-23) and Martha Fuller Clark (D-21), the Senate at last voted to pass a version of SB 136 that includes language specifically calling for a constitutional amendment,” said Jonah Minkoff-Zern, Co-Director of Public Citizen’s Democracy Is For People Campaign.  “This reflects what the people of New Hampshire have been urging their elected officials to do in response to the surge of outside money being spent on state and federal elections.”

2015-03-26 Senate Passes SB136 2 (2)“The pressing question before the nation today is whether it is ‘we the people’ or ‘we the corporations and big money interests.’ This not a Democratic issue or a Republican issue. This is a deeply American issue. Whatever our political differences may be, we all share the common vision of government of, by, and for the people,” said John Bonifaz, President of Free Speech for People.

“This victory also demonstrates that a sustained people-powered movement can win,” he added. “New Hampshire citizens from throughout the state have repeatedly called on their legislators to take this action. They have rallied. They have marched. They have traveled to their state capitol to stand up and be heard. And, today, the people were heard. When the history of the 28th Amendment is written, it will include the story of New Hampshire citizens demanding their democracy back.”

“All across New Hampshire, people from both parties are saying they’ve had enough of Big Money in politics,” Brochu said.  “In town after town, Town Meeting after Town Meeting, Granite State voters have said ‘no more!’  It’s been amazing to watch all these people – many of whom have never been politically active before in their lives – suddenly step forward and lead their hometowns to take a stand and say the Constitution should be amended.”

“Many of the people who have stepped forward on this issue had never before called or written to or met with their elected officials.  They’re acting as ‘citizen lobbyists’ for the very first time, trying to take back their government from the special interests and Big Money donors,” Brochu added.  “This is what democracy is supposed to be about – and it is beautiful to see.”

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Stamp_StampedeThe Stamp Stampede is tens of thousands of Americans legally stamping messages on our nation’s currency to #GetMoneyOut of Politics. As more and more stamped money spreads, so will the movement to amend the Constitution and overturn Citizens United.

You can get your own stamp online at www.stampstampede.org. Or, if you’re a member of CWA, you can get a stamp from your LPAT coordinator. The average stamped bill is seen by 875 people – which makes stamping a highly-effective way to get the message out about how money in politics is corrupting our government.

It’s time to #GetMoneyOut of politics and take back our government.

Senate Democrats’ Comments on Senate GOP Making it Harder to Vote

CONCORD – Senator Bette Lasky, Senator David Pierce and Senator Molly Kelly condemned the passage of Senate Bill 179, which imposes an unconstitutional burden on the right to vote.

 

“This bill will only serve to further complicate the voting process for New Hampshire citizens. SB 179 proposes a new standard for what constitutes a domicile that is more confusing and less concise than the current law,” said Sen. Bette Lasky. “Voters need consistency and clarity when it comes to eligibility standards and this bill fails that test.”

 

In 1972, the Supreme Court ruled in Dunn v. Blumstein that durational residency requirements for voting in state and local elections were unconstitutional.  

 

“I am disappointed to see my Republican colleagues support such legislation even though the Supreme Court has been clear on this issue,” said Sen. David Pierce. “These unconstitutional assaults on our constituents’ right to vote in free and fair elections have got to stop. Unfortunately, the Republican majority won’t stop.”  

 

“Unlike other states, our constitution explicitly guarantees the equal right of every citizen to vote,” said Sen. Molly Kelly. “As we mark the 50thanniversary of the Selma march where some of our fellow Americans lost their very lives to secure the right to vote and as we approach the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, we should be encouraging all eligible citizens to vote instead of making the process more confusing.”

Kuster Statement on Passage of Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015

Washington, DC – This afternoon, Congresswoman Annie Kuster (NH-02) released the following statement regarding the passage of the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Actof 2015, which would end the threat of harmful cuts to Medicare reimbursements and prevent millions of children from losing access to health insurance:

 

“Since taking office, I’ve made fighting to protect Medicare one of my top priorities. Today, I was proud to join an overwhelming majority of members from both sides of the aisle in passing legislation to replace the broken Sustainable Growth Rate formula – which threatened to prevent many Granite State seniors from continuing to see their own doctors – with a new model that protects access to care for our seniors, ensures cost-savings, and most importantly, helps support the sustainability of Medicare for generations to come. 

 

“This bill also included important measures to protect the Granite State’s most vulnerable: it will extend the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) for two years and prevent millions of children from losing access to health care, expand funding for Community Health Centers (CHC), and protect vital assistance for low-income seniors.

 

“This is not a perfect bill, and I will continue to fight for a long-term extension of the Children’s Health Insurance Program. But this legislation will help protect access to medical care for older Americans and shore up Medicare for future generations, and I look forward to working with my colleagues in the Senate to improve this bill and see it signed into law.”

Climate Disruption Not So Sweet for Maple Syrup

Speakers together_Wilhelm, Carlson, Lane and Presby

Event Speakers Whilelm, Carson, Lane and Presby

Over 80 Flock for Stacks, Speakers and Climate Action

DURHAM, NH – Pancakes and maple syrup brightens even the darkest corners of cabin fever as days get longer and spring slowly emerges from snow driven days to the official mud season. At the University of New Hampshire’s Halloway Commons, the Climate Impacts Pancake Breakfast highlighted the impacts of climate disruption taking place in New Hampshire on the tasty amber colored syrup. Over 80 people came to enjoy maple syrup, hear the speakers and take action to protect our environment. The forum was hosted by the UNH Sustainability Institute and Student Environmental Action Coalition with sponsors Moms Clean Air Force, Union of Concerned Scientists, National Wildlife Federation, League of Conservation Voters, Environment New Hampshire and New Hampshire Sierra Club.

Speaker Dr. Martha Carlson spoke on the specific climate impacts on maple trees and syrup production in New Hampshire and the region. As a maple farmer in Sandwich, NH, Doctor Carlson has researched the ways changing climate trends have affected the level of sweetness in the maple syrup and the timing for tapping over the years.

The tone of the event was squarely focused on solutions and innovation to help preserve the traditional coming of spring in New England – maple syrup. One such solution is the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan that will help reduce climate changing pollution from power plants, the largest source of carbon and greenhouse gases. The Clean Power Plan allows states to adjust the most effective technologies and methods to best reduce pollution to the emissions standards for their state. Flexibility and planning are the hallmarks of the Clean Power Plan – and New Hampshire is expected to be at the front of creating a plan because the state participates in a carbon reduction program already, called the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.

“The Clean Power Plan is our best defense to help save maple syrup in New Hampshire,” stated New Hampshire Sierra Club Chapter Director Catherine M. Corkery. “Lowering carbon from power plants and shifting our energy to more renewable sources is the way we can protect our maple trees and local food economy.”

Quotations from Speakers:

Martha Carlson, Scientist and maple farmer in Sandwich
For eight to ten millennia human beings have known precisely when to tap the sugar maples.  We knew by the watery blue sky, the warmth of the bark on the tree, the angle of the sun.  We developed methods and technologies fitted to a four to six week season.  We could count on mild nights just below freezing and warm days just above freezing.  The sap always ran just before the Spring Equinox.

Today, something is out of balance. The sap runs earlier than ever before or later than usual, for fewer days or more days.  Sap is less sweet than it was a century ago. The filters in the saphouse turn black with sugar sand and the syrup is dark.  In summer, the leaves of the sugar maple have more insect damage and in autumn, the leaves turn a dull brown and drop off earlier than usual.

This year with record cold persisting well into spring, with nights so cold even sugary sap can freeze, many of us have not made a drop of syrup yet.  And, now, as our orchards thaw out, we may find popped spiles and leaking equipment.  Our technologies and methods are not designed for climate disruption. Sugar producers are intelligent and adaptable.  So are the maple trees.  But there are very few of us.  If the sugar maple can be seen as an icon of our culture and environment in New England, then perhaps everyone can help us confront climate change.

What can we do?  We have to stop using fossil fuels.  We have to invest in alternative energy.  We need innovation in science and technology.  We need artificial photosynthesis and a new battery that is as easy to use, as portable and as clever as a sugar molecule.

Erin Lane of the USDA Northeast Climate Hub
“In a synthesis of assessed vulnerabilities in northeastern agriculture and forestry, we found that tree fruit and maple syrup are among the region’s MOST vulnerable products,” said Erin Lane, Director for Partnerships with the USDA Northeast Climate Hub. “The threats include extreme precipitation, drought, pests and early spring followed by frost. On the flip side, a longer growing season could provide opportunities in the northeast. Adaptation can mean BOTH adjusting to and taking advantage of variable weather conditions.”

Jennifer Wilhelm, New Hampshire Food Alliance

“A Network and Strategy approach allows us to leverage opportunities while addressing challenges and managing risk. It gives us the adaptive capacity to be more resilient to the effects climate change will have on the food system.

Chris Keeley, NH Sea Grant, UNH Cooperative Extension
New Hampshire Seacoast communities are taking action to prepare for climate change. They are hosting community conversations, reviewing vulnerabilities assessments, and identifying appropriate actions based on the impacts and vulnerabilities made visible by storms in recent years, and based on local research from the University of New Hampshire as well as regional and national research. We are fortunate in New Hampshire to have a collaboration called the New Hampshire Coastal Adaptation Workgroup that combines skills and knowledge of about 20 different organizations to assist communities by providing education, facilitation, and technical assistance.

Northeast Climate Hub: The Northeast Climate Hub includes the region stretching from Maine to West Virginia. A USDA multi-agency effort, the USDA Climate Hubs deliver science-based knowledge, practical information and program support to farmers, ranchers, forest landowners, and resource managers to support decision-making related to the impacts of a changing climate. Climate Hubs are led by the Agricultural Research Service, Forest Service and the Natural Resources Conservation Service.

Congresswoman Annie Kuster Helps Reintroduce the Paycheck Fairness Act

Equal Pay for Equal Work (lilly ledbetter act)

Washington, DC – Yesterday afternoon, Congresswoman Annie Kuster (NH-02) helped reintroduce the Paycheck Fairness Act, legislation she has championed since taking office. The Paycheck Fairness Act would help eliminate pay disparities based on gender.

“On average today, women in New Hampshire continue to make only 78 cents to every dollar their male counterparts make. That’s simply unacceptable, and I was proud to reintroduce legislation to help close the gap and level the playing field for female workers and the families who rely on them,” said Congresswoman Annie Kuster. “No woman should ever make less money than a man doing the same job. I urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to join together and pass this legislation now, so we can move one step closer towards pay equity for every American, regardless of his or her gender.”

The Paycheck Fairness Act would institute a number of new safeguards against pay inequity, and would provide recourse for individuals who may be experiencing pay discrimination based on gender. It would also prohibit employers from retaliating against workers who share salary information with their coworkers – an important tool for victims of pay discrimination. Congresswoman Kuster also cosponsored this legislation last year, and has long pushed for its passage.

A strong advocate for paycheck fairness, Kuster believes pay inequity is not just a women’s issue, but a family issue. Since taking office, she’s worked to level the playing field for women and their families, and she’s fought to create equal opportunities for female professionals and women-owned businesses.  Last year, Kuster authored a Women’s Economic Agenda, a plan for Congress to prioritize initiatives to reduce pay disparities based on gender and support Granite State women and their families. In her first term in office, Kuster successfully pushed the President to issue executive orders to support fair pay for federally contracted employees. She has also hosted a series of roundtables to hear directly from women business owners and other professionals all across New Hampshire about what more Congress can do to help Granite State women succeed and receive fair pay in the workplace.

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