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Longtime Labor Activist Linda Horan To File Suit Against State For Expedited Access To Medical Marijuana

“Terminal Cancer Patient Seeking Expedited Access to Medical Marijuana to File Lawsuit Thursday Against New Hampshire Commissioner of Health and Human Services”

Linda Horan of Alstead wants a New Hampshire medical marijuana ID card, which would allow her to obtain medical marijuana legally in Maine and protect her from arrest and prosecution in New Hampshire

CONCORD — A terminal cancer patient seeking access to medical marijuana will file a lawsuit Thursday in Merrimack County Superior Court against New Hampshire Commissioner of Health and Human Services Nicholas Toumpas.

Linda Horan of Alstead, who is suffering from stage IV lung cancer, filed a pre-registration application to participate in New Hampshire’s medical marijuana program after receiving approval from all five of her physicians. She wants to receive a medical marijuana ID card that will allow her to obtain medical marijuana legally in Maine and protect her from arrest and prosecution in New Hampshire.

Horan will hold a news conference Thursday (11/6) at 10 a.m. in front of the Merrimack County Courthouse just prior to filing the lawsuit. She will be joined by her attorney, Paul Twomey, as well as State Rep. Renny Cushing (D-Hampton) and New Hampshire AFL-CIO President Glenn Brackett.

Gov. Maggie Hassan signed New Hampshire’s medical marijuana program into law on July 23, 2013, but patients are still at risk of arrest and prosecution because program ID cards still have not been issued. Horan pled her case directly to Gov. Hassan on September 7 after receiving a lifetime achievement award during the New Hampshire AFL-CIO Labor Day Breakfast.

A video of her statement is available at https://youtu.be/KNj_SwYtWe8?t=3m20s.

“The state simply needs to issue me an ID card so that I can access the medicine that I need,” Horan said. “It’s hard to imagine why it would take more than two years for that. There are seriously ill people throughout New Hampshire who are suffering everyday they go without it.”


NH Politicians Continue Assault On State Retirees’ Health Benefits

Senator Gerald Little and Representative Ken Weyler
Lead Crusade against State Retirees’ Health Benefits

Earlier today, the NH Fiscal Committee voted to increase the monthly cost share (premium) of retirees who are under age 65. The amount is a 5% increase, which, when announced, caused an audible collective gasp from a room packed with State retirees.  These are the people who have served the State for decades and had planned their lives and retirement according to promises that had been made at the time of employment and are being broken today by state politicians.

The increase moves the monthly cost from 12.5% to 17.5% of the premium, which currently means retirees under age 65 will be paying an additional $46 per individual covered each month.

“This vote is a continuation of breaking promises that were made to people who spent their careers serving this state,” said Rich Gulla, president of SEA/SEIU Local 1984. “Today, a handful of politicians decided the fate of over 3,000 devoted, hard-working former employees and their dependents.  The committee kept talking about no other alternatives. There were plenty of alternative ways to fill the deficit in the retirees’ health benefit plan. They just took the easy way out today – on the backs of retirees.”

Committee members repeatedly attempted a blame game. They tried to blame the Governor, they tried to blame increasing medical costs; they tried to blame everything and everyone other than themselves. However, after all the grandstanding, they were the ones who voted for today’s state retiree’s health plan changes. They could have found another way to plug the budget hole including opening up the State budget and finding the dollars someplace else.

It was apparent to attendees that the outcome of the meeting was pre-determined prior to its convening. “They knew full well how they were going to vote, even before today’s meeting began. They had already made up their minds to put the screws to the retirees who are under age 65,” said Gulla.

Last month, the committee voted to increase the co-payment for prescriptions for all retirees. “In combination, these increases are going to present a significant hardship for our retirees. The average pension for a NH State retiree is about $13,000/year.  Our retirees will literally be deciding between paying their heating and grocery bills or paying for medical care. It just sickens me,” said Gulla.

“The only way to stop this assault on our retirees is to vote out those Representatives and Senators who voted for this atrocity today,” said Gulla.  Senator Little made the motion to accept today’s plan and Representative Weyler seconded the motion.

It is also important to know that Senators Lou D’Allesandro and Andy Sanborn and Representatives Daniel Eaton and Cindy Rosenwald voted against the increases and in favor and respect of our state retirees. “For that, we thank them,” said Gulla.  The remaining Fiscal Committee members voted against the retired workers.  “Our members will not forget this; you can be sure they will remember exactly who was with them and against them next fall as they cast their ballots.”

Governor Hassan Announces New Hampshire Signs Under 2 MOU Climate Agreement

 CONCORD – Continuing her efforts to protect the environment and reduce harmful emissions that lead to climate change, Governor Maggie Hassan announced today that New Hampshire has signed the Under 2 MOU, a global compact among cities, states and provinces worldwide to limit the increase in global average temperature to below two degrees Celsius.

“The science is clear that greenhouse gas emissions and other man-made pollutants are the key contributors to climate change, which threatens our environment, our economy and our way of life,” Governor Hassan said. “We know that a healthy environment and economic development go hand-in-hand, and that’s why doing everything that we can to address climate change is an economic imperative for our state.”

Signatories to the Under 2 MOU agree to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions 80 to 95 percent below 1990 levels or limit to two metric tons CO2-equivalent per capita, by 2050, the same as identified in the 2009 New Hampshire Climate Action Plan (2009) and in line with the 2001 New England Governors/Eastern Canadian Premiers Climate Change Action Plan target of 74-84 percent below 2001 levels. The Under 2 MOU does not include a mandated path to meet reduction targets.

“New Hampshire has long been a leader in efforts to cut carbon emissions and combat climate change, and signing the Under 2 MOU is consistent with our current goals and efforts to address climate change,” Governor Hassan said. “The Under 2 MOU allows flexibility for individual signatories, and it offers new opportunities for collaboration and to share information on best practices in a number of areas regarding climate change.”

In addition to the emissions reduction goals, the Under 2 MOU calls for parties to aim to increase energy efficiency and develop renewable energy; to coordinate on transportation issues and the development of electric vehicle infrastructure; to collaborate on climate change adaption and resilience efforts; and to coordinate in the areas of scientific assessments, communication and public participation.

As a State Senator, Governor Hassan sponsored New Hampshire’s original Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) legislation, which has brought numerous benefits to the Granite State, including reducing harmful emissions and helping to reduce energy costs, create jobs and encourage innovation in the state’s clean-energy economy. She also helped enact the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) law and consistently fights for clean air and water.

As Governor, she has signed bipartisan legislation to help maximize the benefits of RGGI for New Hampshire ratepayers, to update the RPS law and to establish a long-term New Hampshire Energy Strategy.

New Hampshire joins California, Minnesota, New York, Oregon, Vermont and Washington as American states to sign the agreement. The Under 2 MOU has now been signed or endorsed by 49 jurisdictions representing 19 countries and five continents, collectively representing 499 million people and more than $14.7 trillion in GDP. If the signatories represented a single country, it would be the world’s second largest economy behind only the United States. For more information, visit http://under2mou.org/.

Congress Pushes Budget Deal To Avoid Shutdown, Delays Sequester, And Partially Preserve Social Security

Today the White House and congressional leadership announced a budget agreement that sets government funding levels for two years and extends the nation’s borrowing limit through 2017. The agreement provides the defense and domestic discretionary budgets with equal relief from mandatory spending cuts.

“This budget agreement provides a balanced approach to funding the federal government over the next two years,” said Senator Jeanne Shaheen. “I’m very encouraged that leadership in Congress and the White House were able to find a bipartisan compromise that lifts the debt ceiling and provides much needed relief from across the board budget cuts known as sequestration. More blind budget cutting would be disastrous for New Hampshire families and our state’s economy. It’s my hope that Congress can quickly approve this legislation and avoid any last-minute brinkmanship that could threaten the full faith and credit of the United States.”

American Federation of Government Employees National President J. David Cox Sr. praised the deal as it relieved workers from the fear of another government shutdown and forced unpaid furloughs. 

“This budget deal is an exceedingly rare example of what can be accomplished when elected leaders put aside their partisan bickering and govern in a responsible way that benefits working families.

The bipartisan budget deal announced by congressional leaders and the White House would suspend sequestration for the next two years and provide much-needed increases in military and domestic spending.

Federal workers have endured $159 billion in cuts under the guise of fiscal restraint, and our members were united in opposing any budget that would target them for additional sacrifice.

The budget also is good news for federal retirees under the Civil Service Retirement System, who will no longer be facing a 53% increase in their premiums under Medicare Part B.

Federal employees are relieved that they will no longer be facing the threat of another government shutdown or unpaid furloughs. We urge the Congress to repeal the Budget Control Act altogether so that these manufactured crises will no longer occur.”

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka appeared to be more relieved than joyful over the deal.

“Congressional leaders and the President successfully eluded the traps set by a conservative faction in Congress who have tried to hold our economy hostage to achieve their radical agenda.

The full faith and credit of the United States will be preserved as we pay our bills on time – preventing brinksmanship over the debt until 2017.

Tight budget caps on defense and non-defense spending will be eased, restoring funding for vital programs and stimulating the economy. While it fails to provide Medicare beneficiaries with full relief from higher costs, it reduces a spike in deductibles for everyone and avoids a sharp increase in premiums for many. It ensures that 11 million Americans on Social Security Disability Insurance continue to receive full benefits through 2022. It avoids across-the-board benefit cuts of nearly 20 percent starting in 2016. 

While it does not offer long-term solutions for these problems, it provides relief without yielding to the conservatives’ extreme “entitlement reform” approaches that would have done real harm.

Now that we have again kept our country from going over the edge, we hope lawmakers will work on a raising wages agenda that can bring better lives to working families.”

Richard Fiesta, Executive Director of the Alliance for Retired Americans was pleased that Congress avoided massive cuts to Social Security and Medicare and vowed to continue pushing for a more accurate way to calculate the Consumer Price Index for the Elderly. 

“Movement to prevent a default and avert a government shutdown is welcome news for all Americans, but the deal is not perfect.

The Alliance for Retired Americans is relieved that this budget deal would protect millions of seniors from significant increases to their Medicare Part B deductibles while preventing a 20% cut to Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits in 2016.

The reallocation between the Social Security Old-Age and Survivors Insurance (OASI) and SSDI trust funds would prevent a massive cut in benefits for the disabled. The transfer would not impact the long-term solvency of Social Security.

We would have preferred no increase to Medicare Part B premiums; however, limiting the increases of those who are not ‘held harmless’ is a step in the right direction. In early October, Virginia Alliance President Ron Thompson of Ivor, Virginia spoke at a Capitol Hill press conference on how the increase would financially harm him. Over the last two weeks more than 30,000 Alliance members contacted their Members of Congress saying that a 52% premium hike was unfair and unwarranted. Our voices were heard.

While it appears a crisis has been averted, we have not improved retirement security for our nation’s seniors by expanding their earned Social Security benefits. We will continue to fight to make that a reality by urging Congress to implement a more accurate way to calculate cost-of-living adjustments: the Consumer Price Index for the Elderly (CPI-E).”

Granite State Rumblings: Protecting Children From Accidental Gun Violence And Drug Testing Welfare Recipients

This weekend my newsfeed was filled with the story of a 6 year old child who accidently shot his 3 year old brother during a game of “cops and robbers.” The loaded gun had been kept on the top of the refrigerator, wrapped in a pair of pajamas.

In July, two young boys were playing with a gun when it went off and fatally struck one of them in the head. The 11-year-old and 8-year-old found two guns inside an upstairs bedroom at a home in which they were visiting.

In February the father of a 4-year-old Toms River, NJ boy who shot and killed his 6-year-old friend was sentenced to three years in prison for leaving the weapon unsecured and accessible to the children in the house.

Children often have easy access to guns in their homes, according to the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence.

  • 1 in 3 homes with children have guns, many unlocked or loaded.
  • 3 in 4 children ages 5 to 14 knows where firearms are kept in the home.
  • 80% of unintentional firearm deaths of kids under 15 occur in a home.
  • 82% of adolescent suicides involve a gun belonging to a family member.
  • Guns are the 2nd leading cause of death among children and teens.

If you’re like most parents, you probably have some questions the first time your child asks to play with a new friend or in a new place. How will they be supervised? Are the TV shows and games age-appropriate? What about Internet access and pets and allergies?

However, we’ve learned that there’s one important question that over half of parents never think to ask:

“Is there an unlocked gun where my child plays?”

It may feel a little awkward, but it could save a child’s life.

In 2015, 570 Children (age 0-11) and 2,093 Teens (age 12-17) have been killed or injured due to gun violence. Source: Gun Violence Archive

As of October 1, 2015 there have been 294 Mass Shootings in the United States this year. There were a total of 336 in 2014. Source: Mass Shooting Tracker

On October 1st, we witnessed yet another horrific mass shooting in Roseburg, Oregon, this time at a community college. This was the 142nd school shooting since 2013 and the 294th mass shooting so far this year in America.

Here in New Hampshire, someone is killed with a gun every 4 days. From 2002 to 2011, 874 people were killed with guns in our state.

Despite this staggering amount of violence, Congress has done nothing to pass a single sensible gun law since the Sandy Hook tragedy in December 2012. It’s time that we said enough is enough. Americans should be able to feel safe in their schools, churches, and everyday lives, and we need to demand action from our elected officials to #stopgunviolence.

Last Thursday, a number of U.S. Senators announced a plan that will strengthen our nation’s gun laws and save lives. If you agree that this can’t wait any longer, please contact Senator Kelly Ayotte and urge her to take action now on sensible gun legislation.


TWEET / FACEBOOK / Sen. Ayotte


Our NH legislators are filing bill requests for the next session. These are called Legislative Service Requests (LSR’s). These are the beginning of the drafting process to create a bill. The Office of Legislative Services (OLS) processes all legislation that passes through the New Hampshire General Court. The Office has attorneys who draft the legislation as well as other support staff. Only a member of the House of Representatives or a member of the Senate can sponsor an LSR. While the titles of LSRs are published, the actual language is confidential because of an attorney-client relationship between the drafting attorneys and the sponsor. LSRs become public once they are introduced to the appropriate chamber and they become bills. However, you can always ask the sponsor about the content of an LSR, and the sponsor will often share the language.

As of Monday evening there were 688 LSRs for the 2016 session. Every Child Matters in NH tracks the LSRs to determine, as best we are able based on the language, which ones we will want to watch and follow.

There is one LSR in particular that has caught our attention. It is number 2016-2208 HB – requiring drug testing of public assistance recipients.

I have spoken with the sponsor of this LSR (who happens to represent the ward I live in) and, at his request, will be e-mailing to him information on drug testing results from the handful of states that have had or do have drug testing requirements. One piece of information that I will be passing along is the article below from Think Progress.

What 7 States Discovered After Spending More Than $1 Million Drug Testing Welfare Recipients


Proposals keep cropping up to drug test applicants to the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program, or welfare. Bills have been introduced so far in Montana, Texas, and West Virginia, with a handful of others also considering such a move. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) has gone further, proposing to drug test applicants for food stamps and unemployment benefits. They follow recent bills put into action in Maine, Michigan, and Mississippi.

Proponents of these bills claim they will save money by getting drug users off the dole and thus reduce spending on benefits. But states that are looking at bills of their own may want to consider the fact that the drug testing programs that are already up and running haven’t seen such results.

According to state data gathered by ThinkProgress, the seven states with existing programs — Arizona, Kansas, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Utah — are spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to ferret out very few drug users. The statistics show that applicants actually test positive at a lower rate than the drug use of the general population. The national drug use rate is 9.4 percent. In these states, however, the rate of positive drug tests to total welfare applicants ranges from 0.002 percent to 8.3 percent, but all except one have a rate below 1 percent. Meanwhile, they’ve collectively spent nearly $1 million on the effort, and millions more may have to be spent in coming years.

Does Drug Testing Welfare Applicants Work?

Lawmakers who push these bills claim that they will cut down on costs by rooting out drug abusers while also helping to refer those users to treatment. But in reality, they come with few, if any, benefits.

“The main impact of it is first…to spend TANF money that could go into other things,” said Elizabeth Lower-Basch, policy coordinator and director of income and work supports at CLASP, a non-profit focused on policy for low-income individuals. While many states told ThinkProgress that the funds don’t necessarily come out of the pot that would go to TANF benefits, it is still money that could go elsewhere. “The money could certainly be spent on other things if it wasn’t going to drug testing,” she said. “Even if it’s a state where it can’t go to into childcare or cash assistance, it probably comes out of their administration pot, so that’s caseworkers and things like that.”

The other impact is increasing stigma around both welfare and drug use. It can increase the shame people feel around applying for welfare benefits in the first place, which could drive them away from getting assistance they may need to get by. At the same time, it may make drug users less willing to disclose and therefore keep them from connecting with treatment, according to Lower-Basch. “If people are afraid they’ll lose their benefits if they admit to using drugs, it makes it hard for them to say, ‘Hey, actually I have this issue,’” she explained. A study of Florida’s program, which has since been struck down by the courts, found that it didn’t produce any reliable estimates of drug use among welfare recipients.

Even if the policies did unearth drug users in need of help, however, that doesn’t mean states are going to get it to them. Many “don’t guarantee your slot [in treatment facilities] or in some cases pay for it,” she noted. Centers often have long waiting lists, so someone who gets referred may not even be able to get in. Some states used to use TANF money to expand access to drug treatment, but as the money allocated to the program has dropped in real value, those efforts have dried up.

There is one way Lower-Basch thinks drug testing welfare recipients used to be helpful: not to determine eligibility for benefits, but to help them get work. “It was part of the work assessment,” she explained, “what are your barriers to work, what do you need in order to get a job.” If it was a barrier to employment, states could try to help them get what they needed to overcome it.

The High Costs And Few Rewards In Each State

The drug-testing regimes in the seven states all differ slightly, but the lack of effectiveness is widespread.

Missouri – In 2011, Missouri adopted a law to require screening and testing for all TANF applicants, and the testing began in March 2013. In 2014, 446 of the state’s 38,970 applicants were tested. Just 48 tested positive.

Oklahoma – Oklahoma passed its law in 2012, requiring a screening of all applicants and chemical tests for those for whom there is a “reasonable cause” to believe they are using illegal substances. From November 2012 through November 2014, 3,342 applicants were screened and 2,992 selected for further testing (though those numbers could include some who applied more than once). Two-hundred and ninety-seven tested positive for illegal substances.

Utah – Utah also enacted its law in 2012, requiring a written screening and a drug test for anyone with a “reasonable likelihood” of having a “substance use disorder.” Between its implementation in August 2012 and July of 2014, 9,552 applicants were screened and 838 were given drug tests. Just 29 tested positive at a cost of more than $64,000, according to a Utah Department of Workforce Services spokesman.

Kansas – Kansas enacted its drug screening law in 2013, requiring that from 2014 onward, all TANF applicants be tested if a “reasonable suspicion exists” that they might be illegally using “a controlled substance or controlled substance analog.” In the first six months in which the system was in place, Kansas received 2,783 TANF applications. A spokeswoman for the Kansas Department of Children and Families told ThinkProgress, “The first three months of implementation yielded very few drug tests, as staff became comfortable with the criteria. Referrals have increased since that time. So far, 65 individuals have been referred for suspicion-based drug testing. 11 tested positive [and] 12 failed to appear for their scheduled test appointment.” She estimated that the cost to the department over those six months was about $40,000.

Mississippi – Last year, Mississippi passed a law requiring all TANF applicants to complete a written questionnaire about drug use and mandating testing for anyone whose questionnaire suggests a “reasonable likelihood” of a “substance use disorder.” The new system went into effect in August 2014. Over the first five months, 3,656 TANF applicants were screened for use of illegal substances and 38 were referred for drug testing. Just two tested positive.

Tennessee – A 2012 Tennessee law was particularly descriptive about its reasoning for TANF drug testing. After observing that “persons who are not under the pernicious influence of illegal drugs [are] less disruptive of the social fabric, persons and neighborhoods around them are safer as well,” that ” tax dollars should go to persons who are trying to better themselves rather than to persons who violate our state and national laws and support a network of illicit purveyors of misery and disappointment,” and that “the public image of TANF recipients will be enhanced by removing the stigma that is too often attached to such recipients that they use government funds to purchase illegal drugs,” the legislature mandated “suspicion-based drug testing for each applicant” otherwise eligible for TANF.

The program went into effect in July 2014 and, between that time and the end of the year, 16,017 applied for Families First, Tennessee’s TANF program. Of those, 279 were given drug tests and 37 failed then.

Arizona – In 2009, Arizona’s legislature passed a new requirement to “screen and test each adult recipient who is otherwise eligible for temporary assistance for needy families cash benefits and who the department has reasonable cause to believe engages in the illegal use of controlled substances.” Anyone who tested positive would be ineligible to receive the benefits for a year. Supporters claimed this move would save the state $1.7 million annually.

While the legislature has kept the rule each year since its 2010 implementation, very few people have actually even been referred for drug testing after completing a written drug use statement. Since 2014, more than 140,000 Arizona TANF recipients have been screened by the Arizona Department of Economic Security. Just 42 have been referred for a drug test over that time — of the 19 who completed the test, only three have ever tested positive.

Our next door neighbor instituted drug testing requirements in April of this year. Maine Governor Paul LePage argued for legislators to pass this legislation in 2014 saying, “We must ensure that our tax dollars do not enable the continuation of a drug addiction.”

From April through June, the state attempted to screen 15 out of about 5,700 Temporary Assistance for Needy Families recipients, according to an Associated Press investigation, and just one person tested positive.

As you can see drug testing welfare recipients has not created the millions of dollars in projected savings, instead it has cost taxpayers more money in the end. And the stubborn stickiness of the idea that drug testing low-income families is good policy reflects a broader misunderstanding about the lifestyles of the poor. In reality, people who rely on public assistance programs to make ends meet are thriftier than the average American. They have to be. There is not one county in New Hampshire where the amount of a monthly TANF check covers the cost of rent.

So, let’s get ready to work together to insure that Granite State families who need a temporary hand up to make ends meet are not subjected to this humiliating and insulting kind of treatment by our legislature.

Raising The Minimum Wage Is Long Overdue

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I used to say, “It is time to raise the minimum wage.” However that moment has passed and we are seriously behind the 8-ball. We must raise the minimum wage now to help the millions nation-wide who are suffering through life, in poverty, working 40,50, even 60 hours a week.

Right now the National Minimum Wage law is set at $7.25 an hour, and that is completely unacceptable. People are working more hours now than at any point in our history and yet they are still losing ground as Congress and our State Legislatures fail to increase the minimum wage.

Just look at this image from the Economic Policy Institute that shows if the minimum wage would have kept up with productivity they would be earning over $18.00 an hour.


Over 50,000 Granite Staters are earning at or below the Federal Minimum Wage, yet our Republican controlled Senate refuses to raise the NH Minimum Wage.

The economists at MIT calculated what a “living wage” would be in New Hampshire and the results are staggering. A single worker would need to earn $11.51 an hour. If your break that down to todays numbers that is almost 60 hours a week at $7.25 an hour. But it gets much worse. A single parent working would need to earn $24.66 an hour. That equates to about 137 hours a week at minimum wage. Considering there is only 168 in a week, that would leave a whopping 31 hours a week to sleep, raise their child, cook, clean, grocery shop, and whatever else needs to be done.

I know what your thinking, “the minimum wage is for teenagers and part-time employees.” You would be half right, because the majority of these workers are considered part time, not because they do not want to work full time, but because their employer refuses to make them full time to avoid having to pay for any healthcare or retirement options.

As for being only teenagers, yes teenagers make up a quarter (24%) of the minimum wage workforce, but how many of these teenagers are working at Dunkin Donuts at 8 am on a Tuesday? Not many because most of them are still in school.

The fact is that another 25% of minimum wage workers are between 20-24 and 50% of minimum wage workers are over 25. In 2013 it was reported that 27.9% of those effected by raising the minimum wage to $10.10, are parents raising at least one child.

It is time to take action. The New Hampshire AFL-CIO will be hosting a “Raising Wages Summit” with special guest speaker, Richard Trumka, President of the AFL-CIO.

Raising Wages SummitThe summit will include information sessions and workshops designed to expand your knowledge of who is effected by raising the minimum wage, how to talk to legislators (and your crazy Uncle Joe) about why it is important to raising the minimum wage, and to start building a coalition of activists who will stand up for working families here in the Granite State.

The Raising Wages Summit will be held at the IBEW 490 Hall, 48 Airport Road, Concord, NH, on Saturday November 7th, from 9:30a-1:30p.

(More information can be found on the NH AFL-CIO’s Facebook event, or by contacting Judy Stadtman at the New Hampshire AFL-CIO, (603) 632-7302 x19 or email 2015wagesummit@nhaflcio.org.)

Governor Hassan’s Statement on New Hampshire Hospital Association Economic Impact Report on the New Hampshire Health Protection Program

CONCORD – Governor Maggie Hassan today issued the following statement on the economic impact report from the New Hampshire Hospital Association on the New Hampshire Health Protection Program, which shows that with more New Hampshire citizens now receiving health insurance since the bipartisan healthcare expansion plan was adopted, hospitals continue to see a reduction in inpatient, outpatient and emergency department visits from uninsured Granite Staters and  uncompensated care will continue to decline: 

“Thanks to the New Hampshire Protection Program, more than 42,000 hard-working Granite Staters now have the health and financial security that comes with quality, affordable health coverage, and this report is another strong indication of the positive impact that our bipartisan health care expansion plan is having on our people and our economy. As demonstrated by this report, our hospitals have seen a significant decline in inpatient, outpatient and emergency room visits by uninsured Granite Staters since our bipartisan expansion was adopted. As a result, this has led to a decrease in uncompensated care provided by our hospitals, which is in turn reducing healthcare cost-shifting onto all of our people and businesses.

“It is clear that the New Hampshire Health Protection Program is strengthening the health of our workforce and boosting our economy. Not only do we continue to see reductions in uncompensated care and health care cost-shifting, our bipartisan health care expansion plan is playing a critical role in our efforts to combat the substance abuse crisis, providing substance abuse and behavioral health services to thousands of Granite Staters. Reauthorizing expansion is critical to our economy, to the health and well-being of thousands of Granite Staters and to increasing our substance abuse treatment capacity, and I will continue working with legislators from both parties to reauthorize this critical bipartisan program as soon as possible.”

The full report from the New Hampshire Hospital Association can be found here.



Senate Democratic Leader’s Statement on NH Hospital Association Report on Impact of NH Health Protection Program 

Concord – Senate Democratic Leader Jeff Woodburn issued the following statement after the release of a New Hampshire Hospital Association report on the economic impact of the NH Health Protection Program:  

“Today’s report from the NH Hospital Association is great news and confirms that the New Hampshire Health Protection Program is working to drive down the amount uncompensated care provided by our hospitals, which in turn is reducing healthcare cost-shifting onto our families and businesses.”

“But most importantly, more than 42,000 Granite Staters now have access to quality and affordable health care coverage and the financial stability that comes with it. Whatever the metric- reducing uncompensated care and cost-shifting, combating the substance abuse crisis, or strengthening our workforce and boosting our economy- reauthorizing this program makes sense. I look forward to working with my colleagues in the legislature to reauthorize it as soon as possible.” 

National COSH and Local Groups Join Nationwide Fight – backed by Jon Stewart – for 9/11 Survivors and Responders

More Than 72,000 Nationwide Could Lose Benefits,  Medical Aid if Congress Fails to Act

2,000+ at Risk in Florida, but Presidential Candidate Marco Rubio Has Not Signed on to Bipartisan Bill 

PHILADELPHIA – The National Council for Occupational Safety and Health (National COSH) and local safety and health groups across the nation are backing a nationwide fight to renew aid for survivors and responders to the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the Council said today. 

“The 9/11 attacks were an assault against our entire nation, and taking care of those affected is a national responsibility,” said Barbara Rahke, chair of the National COSH Board of Directors and executive director of the Philadelphia Project on Occupational Safety and Health (PhilaPOSH). More than 1,000 9/11 survivors and responders live in Pennsylvania. 

“Survivors who worked or lived near the site of the attacks – and those who came to assist in the days and weeks afterwards – were exposed to a stew of concrete dust, asbestos and other toxins which create long-lasting health hazards,” said Rahke. “Our response has to last just as long.”  

In addition to the lives lost on 9/11, others have since died as a result of toxic exposures at the disaster sites. In addition, tens of thousands of survivors and responders have been diagnosed with cancer and other life-threatening diseases. 

Last week, New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health (NYCOSH) Executive Director Charlene Obernauer joined former Daily Show host Jon Stewart and firefighters, first responders and family members in Washington DC to lobby for renewal of the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Reauthorization Act. On Sept. 11 2015, NYCOSH released ”Health and Hardship: Stories from 9/11’s Unsung Heroes,” a report documenting the ongoing health problems faced by 9/11 responders.

If Congress fails to act, legislation that currently aids more than 72,000 survivors and responders will expire in 2016. A bipartisan coalition is co-sponsoring the bill to renew aid. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), a presidential contender, has yet to endorse the legislation, although more than 2,000 9/11 survivors and responders live in Florida and are part of the World Trade Center Health Program – more than any state outside of New York and New Jersey. 

“I’m sure Sen. Rubio is pretty busy in Iowa and New Hampshire right now,” said Jeanette Smith of the South Florida Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health (South Florida COSH).“But I hope he’s aware of how many people in Florida were affected by the 9/11 attacks – and how important it is to stand up for workers, survivors and their families.” 

To date, Sen. Rubio has not responded to a questionnaire, distributed to all presidential candidates, from Citizens for the Extension of the James Zadroga Act.  The legislation currently has bipartisan support from 46 sponsors in the Senate and 173 in the House.

Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) is a sponsor of the Zadroga Act, along with a bipartisan coalition that includes 10 members of Congress from Florida from both political parties.

Citizens for the Extension of the James Zadroga Act has published a “Take Action” tool on their website, Renew911Health.org, which allows visitors to look up their Senator and member of Congress to find out his or her position on the legislation.  The tool also shows how many affected and injured individuals live in each state and Congressional District. 

The “Take Action” tool can be downloaded and installed by other organizations supporting the campaign to aid 9/11 survivors and responders. Those affected include: 

  • More than 72,000 currently enrolled in the World Trade Center Health Program, living in all 50 states.
  • More than 33,000 survivors or responders who have been diagnosed with at least one injury or illness as a result of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, including such chronic conditions as asthma, obstructive pulmonary disease, and gastroesophageal reflux disease.
  • More than 4,000 responders and survivors who have been diagnosed with cancers caused or made worse by 9/11. This number will grow larger in the years to come, making it especially crucial to continue medical monitoring for those who might be affected.

9/11 survivors and responders live in all 50 states and in 429 out of 435 Congressional districts.

National COSH links the efforts of local worker health and safety coalitions in communities across the United States, advocating for elimination of preventable hazards in the workplace. For more information, please visit coshnetwork.org.  Follow us at National Council for Occupational Safety and Health on Facebook, and @NationalCOSH on Twitter.

Governor Hassan Signs Fiscally Responsible, Bipartisan Budget Agreement But Not Everyone Is Happy About It

 CONCORD – After signing Senate Bill 9 – the fiscally responsible, bipartisan budget agreement – Governor Maggie Hassan issued the following statement:

“This fiscally responsible, bipartisan, compromise budget addresses the central concern that I had with the original budget – unpaid-for tax cuts – by including important safeguards that will help ensure long-term fiscal responsibility and protect our ability to support critical economic priorities in the future. It puts in place a trigger contingent upon state revenues meeting certain targets, ensuring that revenues are at levels that would at least sustain the current budget before additional tax cuts go into effect. It also allows the next legislature to determine what spending or revenue offsets should be made to pay for those additional tax cuts if they go into effect.

“In addition to the safeguards on the business tax cuts that will help us maintain fiscal responsibility, our compromise agreement also includes the previously negotiated modest cost-of-living increase for our hard-working state employees. While this agreement is not perfect and fails to include even higher levels of funding for substance misuse and the immediate reauthorization of the bipartisan New Hampshire Health Protection Program as I proposed, it reflects many of the priorities I laid out in February – funding for mental health, to combat substance misuse, for economic development and for public safety.

“I want to thank Senate President Morse, Speaker Jasper and legislators from both parties who worked over the past few months to reach this fiscally responsible, bipartisan compromise. We still have much work to do to combat the heroin crisis, encourage innovation, support job-creating businesses and attract and retain more young people in New Hampshire, and I look forward to continuing to do that work together. But today, I am proud to sign this fiscally responsible, bipartisan budget compromise into law to help keep our state moving forward.”

The legislation is contingent on an override of the Governor’s budget veto, which the Governor asked Democrats to support if Senate Bill 9 passed.

Senate Democratic Leader Jeff Woodburn also praised the passage of the fiscally responsible budget compromise:

“The passage of the budget compromise is exactly why our constituents sent us to Concord: to work together across party lines to find bipartisan solutions facing our state. While this agreement isn’t perfect and does not contain everything that Senate Democrats would have liked, it is a fiscally responsible, bipartisan path forward that invests in and safeguards critical economic priorities, such as combating the heroin crisis, higher education, roads and bridges, and health care.” 

“The budget contains most of the priorities that Governor Hassan laid out in her budget proposal in February. I’m grateful that under the Governor’s leadership both sides were able to come together like we did two years ago to develop a responsible budget that meets the needs of our people, businesses, and economy.” 

“We can all be proud of this compromise, there is still much to be done as we move forward. And while I had hoped that reauthorization of the bipartisan New Hampshire Health Protection Program would be included in a final compromise, I appreciate and thank my Senate Republican colleagues for committing to take up reauthorization legislation as soon as we return in session in January. This is a vitally important program, not only because it is working to reduce health care cost-shifting onto our hard working families and businesses, but it is the single most important step we can take to combat the heroin and substance abuse crisis facing our state.”

However not everyone was jumping up and down over this new compromise. Jeff McLynch Executive Director of the New Hampshire Fiscal Policy Institute remains “concerned” about these cuts and their long term effects on “New Hampshire’s ability to invest in public services” and the fact that the budget compromise does not include the reauthorization of the New Hampshire Health Protection Program that provides healthcare to 41,000 Granite Staters. 

“Governor Hassan and members of the New Hampshire legislature should be commended for working together to craft a budget that seeks to meet the needs of all New Hampshire’s citizens and, in particular, for ensuring funds are available to support the previously agreed upon contract with state employees. 

“While the agreement ratified today conditions future reductions in the rates of the business profits and business enterprise taxes on attaining a particular revenue threshold, NHFPI remains concerned about the long-term impact of such reductions and the effect they will have on New Hampshire’s ability to invest in public services like education and infrastructure that are critical to the state’s economic future. 

“It should be clear from the past nine months of budget deliberations that New Hampshire already lacks sufficient resources to meet its needs. Reducing revenue still further will only make it harder to maintain our roads, educate our children, and provide health, safety, and other public services essential to a strong economy and shared prosperity for all in the Granite State.

“Hopefully, the bipartisan collaboration that produced today’s agreement lays the foundation for the expeditious reauthorization of the New Hampshire Health Protection Program in early 2016. More than 41,000 Granite Staters now participate in that program. Swift action will be needed to ensure they maintain access to affordable health coverage and that hundreds of millions of federal funds continue to flow into the state’s economy.”

We will see if the Republicans hold true to their word that they will pass a bill to reauthorize the New Hampshire Health Protection Program or are they making more false promises to get tax cuts that we do not need to give.

Granite State Progress Applauds NH State Senate for Sustaining Governor’s Veto of SB 116

Bill Would Have Allowed Dangerous People to Legally Carry Hidden, Loaded Guns

In party-line vote, Democrats stand with NH Association of Chiefs of Police, public safety advocates to keep 92 year old New Hampshire law in place

Concord, NH – The New Hampshire State Senate voted on party lines today to sustain Governor Maggie Hassan’s veto of SB 116, which sought to repeal a 92 year old concealed carry licensing law that requires an individual to be a suitable person to carry a hidden, loaded firearm in New Hampshire. Statement from Granite State Progress Executive Director Zandra Rice Hawkins:

“Requiring a license to carry a concealed weapon has worked well for New Hampshire for more than 90 years. These licenses are very easy and quick to obtain and do not place an unreasonable burden on law abiding citizens. SB 116 was a radical piece of legislation that would have jeopardized public safety. New Hampshire does not require people to have a specific reason to conceal carry but it does require that the applicant be a suitable person. This common sense law allows local police departments to deny a license when there is reason to believe a person is a danger to themselves or others. New Hampshire is one of more than 40 states that currently require a license to carry concealed weapons and we should not weaken our public safety laws now.”

The New Hampshire Association of Chiefs of Police testified against SB 116, and in 2004 Senate President Chuck Morse and several Republicans voted against a similar repeal bill. This year’s version was introduced by Senator Jeb Bradley; a House version was retained in committee.  A copy of Granite State Progress testimony in opposition to SB 116 is available by request, along with more information about how concealed carry laws work.


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