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Seniors Group And NH Congressional Delegation United Against ACA Repeal

The Alliance for Retired Americans join with Congresswomen Shea-Porter and Kuster in opposing the repeal of the Affordable Care Act.

This week, Republicans in the US House took the first bold step to strip millions of Americans of their healthcare by repealing the Affordable Care Act.

Repealing the signature healthcare law would have significant impacts on all working people and seniors. Americans would see a massive jump in prescription drug prices as the ACA closed the “donut hole” in Medicare. People with pre-existing condition could once again be discriminated against leaving them unable to acquire any insurance at all. Families would no longer be able to cover their children up to age 25 and preventative care for women would no longer be covered.

Richard Fiesta, Executive Director of the Alliance for Retired Americans, released the following:

“With today’s vote, 227 members of the House of Representatives started the process of eliminating many valuable and affordable health care benefits that American retirees rely on.

From free wellness checks and preventive screenings to lowering prescription drug prices for Medicare beneficiaries, to eliminating pre-existing conditions and limiting what older Americans not yet eligible for Medicare can be charged for insurance, the ACA has made health care better and more affordable for millions.

Depending on the actions of the House Committees that will take the next steps, all of these benefits are now in jeopardy.

The burden for developing a replacement plan that improves health care and keeps it affordable is on these members. Retirees are watching and will loudly defend the guaranteed Medicare and Medicaid health care benefits they have earned through a lifetime of hard work.

The price for health care in America is likely to rise quickly, to the detriment of millions of workers and retirees.”

The New Hampshire Congressional delegation is united in opposition to repealing the ACA.

“Today’s vote by House Republicans sets in motion a dangerous and irresponsible plan to strip health care coverage from millions of Americans, including 118,000 people in New Hampshire,” said Congresswoman Shea-Porter. “They broke their promise to American families – there is no replacement. New Hampshire families deserve better: Congress should work to build on the progress we’ve made so far, making health care more accessible and more affordable, instead of going back to the days before the ACA, when thousands of Granite Staters were locked out of coverage.”

“I am also profoundly disappointed that the Republican leadership in the House rejected my attempt to protect seniors and those with disabilities. Speaker Ryan is using procedural gimmicks to force repeal legislation through the House and destroy what we have accomplished: coverage for people with preexisting conditions, Medicaid expansion, adequate coverage for women and seniors, and no-cost preventive health care screenings and services. Protections for millions of Americans are being jeopardized for political purposes,” Shea-Porter added.

Repealing the Affordable Care Act would strip coverage from 118,000 people in New Hampshire, and 13,000 people in the state could lose their jobs.

In New Hampshire, the ACA:

  • Requires insurance providers to cover the 600,000 New Hampshire residents with preexisting conditions
  • Lowered the uninsured rate by 43%
  • Saved seniors an average of $1,047 on prescriptions
  • Provided substance abuse treatment services for 7,500 people
  • Covered 9,000 young adults on their parents’ health insurance

Shea-Porter offered her own amendment to protect the most vulnerable in our communities. Shea-Porter’s amendment stated that nothing in the Budget Resolution should allow for the denial of care based on patient age or disability.

Unfortunately, the Rules Committee refused to allow the House to vote on this common-sense proposal to protect our seniors and those with disabilities.

Shea-Porter has been a fierce advocate for keeping and improving the health care law. She successfully led the fight to close the Medicare Part D doughnut hole and save seniors thousands on prescription drug costs. While the House has voted repeatedly to destroy the law’s critical protections for all Americans, Shea-Porter has consistently voted to improve the law instead.

“It’s disappointing that Republicans in Congress have moved ahead with efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act without regard for the negative impact it will have on millions of Americans and thousands of Granite Staters,” said Congresswoman Kuster. “I’ve expressed my willingness to work across the aisle to make improvements to the law and foster a system that works for everyone. In the past, I have joined my Republican colleagues to make changes to the ACA, and I firmly believe that is the course we should follow.

“If the ACA is repealed, seniors on Medicare would see the costs of their prescription drugs increase. The Republican budget would also defund Planned Parenthood, reducing access to healthcare for thousands of Granite State women. In New Hampshire, one-in-ten of our friends and neighbors are benefiting from the ACA, and Medicaid expansion has improved access to mental health and addiction recovery services. Young adults are able to stay on their families’ plans and those with preexisting conditions cannot be denied coverage. We simply can’t jeopardize this progress,” Kuster added.

Kuster joined 30 of her colleagues in a letter to Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, offering to be constructive partners in improving the law.

The repeal process is far from over and the fight has only begun.  We must stand united against that assault on working people and the Republicans plan to strip vital healthcare options from millions of Americans.

Senators Push Legislation To Increase Child Care Tax Credit

Shaheen, Gillibrand, Schatz Introduce ‘Right Start’ Bill to Expand Child Care Tax Credit for Working Families

 The Right Start Child Care and Education Act would make child care more affordable, strengthening the economy 

(Washington, D.C.) – U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Kristen Gillibrand (D-NY), and Brian Schatz (D-HI) introduced the Right Start Child Care and Education Act, legislation that would expand the child care tax credit and provide other assistance to help families afford child care. The legislation would expand the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit (CDCTC), which was first enacted in 1976 to help working families pay for child care. The tax credit does not reflect the current costs of child care, which have risen since the CDCTC was first enacted and can exceed $10,000 annually. In New Hampshire, the cost of child care is nearly $12,000 for a single child. 

“The rising costs of child care is a real burden on families in New Hampshire and across the country, and the Right Start Child Care and Education Act would provide much-needed relief for parents working to make ends meet,” said Senator Shaheen. “Making child care more affordable will help parents, especially working mothers, re-join the workforce, and strengthen our economy.”

“This bill would help reduce the enormous financial burden that comes from paying for child care,” said Senator Gillibrand. “Child care is essential for many families with new babies and young children, but in some states, including New York, it costs as much as college tuition. This legislation would go a long way toward making child care more affordable for families, and I will continue urging all of my colleagues to support it in the new Congress.” 

“Increasing the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit will provide much-needed assistance for working families,” said Senator Schatz. “In Hawai‘i, child care can cost more than $10,000 per year, and nationally costs are rising. This tax credit will help provide economic security for families and allow parents to go back to work.” 

The Right Start Child Care and Education Act would increase the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit, making it equal to 35 to 50 percent of eligible expenses, up significantly from the current range of 20 to 35 percent, and increase the maximum eligible expenses from $3,000 per child to $6,000 per child. The bill would also improve assistance for lower-income families by making the credit refundable, and make it easier for employers to provide working parents with childcare by increasing the tax credit for employer-provided childcare.  It also aims to improve the availability of high-quality child care by adding a new tax credit for college graduates who become childcare professionals. 

The Right Start Child Care and Education Act was introduced in the 113th Congress, and again in the 114th Congress, by fmr. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and co-sponsored by Senators Shaheen, Gillibrand and Schatz.

Human Rights Campaign Highlights NH LGBTQ Protections, Laws and Legislative Proposals in New National Report

HRC’s State Equality Index finds that, despite historic federal progress, anti-LGBTQ state bills seek to undermine rights and target vulnerable populations, such as transgender youth 

WASHINGTON – The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Foundation, the educational arm of the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) civil rights organization, in partnership with the Equality Federation, today released its third annual national report assessing the status of state legislation affecting LGBTQ equality across America, including in New Hampshire.

HRC’s State Equality Index reveals that in many states opponents of equality are ramping up efforts to sanction discrimination against LGBTQ people by proposing state-level laws that would undermine existing protections, erode marital rights of legally-joined same-sex couples, target transgender people — including youth — and limit the ability of cities and towns to pass their own inclusive laws.

New Hampshire falls into the category, “Building Equality.” New Hampshire is one of 30 states in the country that lack explicit state-level workplace protections for all LGBTQ employees.

“State governments have a clear choice between sowing the seeds of division and discrimination or building an economy that works for everyone by fostering fairness and inclusion,” said HRC President Chad Griffin, “Unfortunately, too many lawmakers have decided to target LGBTQ people for state-sanctioned discrimination and to interfere with local protections for workers, customers, and residents. Now more than ever, it is crucial that legislators across the country stand on the right side of history and ensure full equality for all their citizens – nothing more and nothing less.”

“Last year our community faced a barrage of attacks on our freedoms, but we are more united and better prepared than ever to continue our momentum toward equality for all,” said Rebecca Isaacs, executive director of Equality Federation Institute. “This report serves as an important tool for advocates to keep pushing forward. We’re not going to stop until all LGBTQ people and their families are able to reach their full potential, free from discrimination, no matter what state they live in.”

While more than 111 million people live in states where LGBTQ people lack clear state-level protections against discrimination in the workplace, the SEI points to a few encouraging signs — particularly in areas related to LGBTQ youth, health and safety and protections for the transgender community. States like Vermont and New York took steps to protect LGBTQ youth by banning conversion therapy. Massachusetts expanded the state’s non-discrimination law to include gender identity in public accommodations.  Hawaii passed a law to make it easier for transgender residents to update their name and gender marker on a birth certificate or driver’s license. Five states, including Delaware, Hawaii, Maryland, Michigan and Pennsylvania banned transgender exclusions in health care insurance, a sizable increase from 2015.

The SEI assesses statewide LGBTQ-related legislation and policies, good and bad, in five areas: parenting laws and policies; non-discrimination laws and policies; hate crimes laws; youth-related laws and policies; and health and safety laws and policies. Based on that review, the SEI assigns states to one of four distinct categories.

Nine states and the District of Columbia are in the highest-rated category, “Working Toward Innovative Equality

California, Colorado, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Illinois, Massachusetts, New York, Oregon, Vermont, Washington

These states and the nation’s capital have robust LGBTQ non-discrimination laws covering employment, housing and public accommodations, as well as protections in the areas of credit, insurance and jury selection. Most allow transgender people to change official documents to reflect their gender identity, and almost all bar private insurers from banning transition-related healthcare. LGBTQ youth are protected by anti-bullying laws, as well as innovative measures in some states that address conversion therapy, inclusive juvenile justice policies, homelessness and sexual health education.

Seven states are in the category “Solidifying Equality

Delaware, Iowa, Maine, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey and Rhode Island

These states have non-discrimination protections and are considered high-performing, but have not yet adopted innovative equality measures. Many of these states allow transgender individuals to change gender markers on official documents and more than half do not allow second-parent adoption. These states have relatively robust anti-bullying laws, but bad laws begin to crop up in this category.

Six states are in the category “Building Equality

Hawaii, Maryland, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Utah and Wisconsin

These states have taken steps toward more robust LGBTQ equality, including passing basic non-discrimination and hate crimes laws. They allow gender markers to be changed on official documents, but have few protections guaranteeing access to transgender health care. Some lack explicit gender identity protections and several lack comprehensive anti-bullying laws. Bad laws are more common, so advocates are working to stop bills that could undermine LGBTQ equality and pass more comprehensive non-discrimination laws.

Twenty-eight states are in the lowest-rated category “High Priority to Achieve Basic Equality

Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia and Wyoming

Most of these states, including Arizona, North Carolina, South Dakota and Florida, have many laws that undermine LGBTQ equality, from those that criminalize HIV and sodomy, to measures allowing religious-based discrimination against LGBTQ people. None have non-discrimination laws that explicitly include sexual orientation or gender identity protections; few have hate crime laws with those protections. LGBTQ advocates largely work to defeat bad bills and pass municipal protections for LGBTQ people.

The full report, including detailed scorecards for every state, as well as a comprehensive review of 2016 state legislation, is available online at www.hrc.org/sei

Retirees Launch Campaign to Protect Medicare from Privatization

Washington, DC – Alarmed by the House Congressional Leadership’s plans to dismantle Medicare, the Alliance for Retired Americans today kicked off a grass roots campaign to block any attempts to cut or convert guaranteed, earned health benefits into a voucher or privatized scheme. Speaker Paul Ryan and Rep. Tom Price, whom President-elect Trump will nominate to be Secretary of Health and Human Services, both said that they were moving to “reform” Medicare in the next Congress.  

“Alliance members will use all the tools at our disposal to stop any plan to replace our guaranteed earned Medicare benefits with a system of ‘Coupon-care’ vouchers,” said Richard Fiesta, executive director of the Alliance. 

Today the Alliance joined allies in delivering more than one million petitions against the Republican plan to cut and privatize Medicare to House Speaker Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Before delivering the petitions, Fiesta spoke at a Capitol Hill news conference with Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, Sen. Bernie Sanders and Representatives Jan Schakowsky and Ted Deutch. Representatives from several other advocacy groups also spoke against cuts to Medicare. 

Alliance members will be directly lobbying members of Congress and Senators in Washington and in their home districts and stating their opposition to efforts to gut Medicare and Medicaid. More than 100 meetings have been planned so far, and the organization expects to reach 200 offices over the next few weeks.

The Alliance will also campaign online and feature dozens of personal stories about why Medicare’s guaranteed benefits are so important on its website, www.retiredamericans.org, and social media.

 “Our members are irate. They paid into the Medicare system for decades, and heard President-elect Trump repeatedly promise to protect their earned health care benefits. We will fight tooth and nail to protect Medicare from all those who try to turn the earned benefits of Medicare into Coupon-care,” said Fiesta. “Medicare must be protected, preserved and expanded for future generations, not dismantled.”

Rough Road Ahead: Republicans Take Governor, House And Senate In NH

All the votes have been counted and we are looking at a very rough road ahead.

With the election of Donald Trump we will see a revived national effort to cut taxes for business, cut regulations on environmental protections, and repeal the Affordable Care Act.

Here in New Hampshire we about to enter a new era of Republican control.  The NH Senate stayed the same with 14 Republicans and 10 Democrats. In the House, Democrats picked up a few seats but are still in the minority (235-165). With Governor-elect Chris Sununu’s win, we can expect a fast and furious legislative attack on many of the programs working people fought for.

From Dan Touhy’s Granite Status on the election results:

WHAT DOES IT all mean for New Hampshire? Watch for some Republican policy initiatives to be pitched with gusto. In Concord, that includes a return of right-to-work legislation, the “constitutional carry” firearms bill, and proposed business tax reform.

State Rep. Fred Doucette, R-Salem, said veterans issues and tackling the state’s opioid and heroin epidemic are two of his priorities in the coming legislative session.

The combination of a Republican President and Republican controlled Congress could mean the end of the ACA which could mean the end of the New Hampshire Health Partnership Program that protects more than 50,000 Granite Staters.  Even without the repeal of the ACA, Sununu and many of his cohorts in the Legislature have already suggested ending the program in New Hampshire.

The question now is; What other attacks will working people face in the coming year?

Besides Right to Work will Republicans try to repeal our collective bargaining rights like they did in the O’Brien era of 2011-12? Will they attempt to reduce benefits for retiree’s and force workers to contribute more to the pension system?  Will they force through their so-called “school choice” legislation that takes public funds and gives it to private and religious institutions? Will they continue to attack a woman’s right to choose and to attack women’s healthcare providers like Planned Parenthood?

It is time to start organizing so we will be ready when Sununu and his fellow Republicans begin their assault on workers.

Shaheen Announces Grant for the Community College System of NH to Increase Access to Apprenticeships

The ApprenticeshipUSA-NH project will receive a $1.2 million grant from the Department of Labor

The project, supported  by Sen. Shaheen, will serve 133 apprentices in the Granite State with a focus on women, low-income, veterans and other underrepresented populations

(Manchester, NH)— U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) announced today that the Community College System of New Hampshire was awarded $1.2 million by the Department of Labor (DOL) to fund the ApprenticeshipUSA-NH project. The grant is part of the Administration’s ApprenticeshipUSA initiative to expand apprenticeships in diverse industries nationwide. With this new grant, the Community College System of New Hampshire will create a Registered Apprenticeship system in the Granite State that builds upon the momentum of several initiatives aligned with state economic, workforce development and educational goals. The ApprenticeshipUSA-NH project will serve 133 apprentices, with special emphasis on underrepresented populations including low-income, individuals with disabilities, youth, women, and veterans. Senator Shaheen has been a strong supporter of the ApprenticeshipUSA initiative since its creation in 2014.

“This is an important investment in New Hampshire’s workforce,” said Senator Shaheen. “The ApprenticeshipUSA-NH project will invest in Granite State workers to advance their skills and knowledge for today’s job market, while also strengthening our economy. I am proud to have worked with the Administration in support of the ApprenticeshipUSA initiative so we can engage more young people, women, veterans and other underrepresented people in apprenticeships to provide them with the skills they need to find a career they love. This program demonstrates that when we invest in our workers, we are investing in our businesses and economy as a whole.”

“The Community College System of New Hampshire has been integral in our efforts to build an even stronger workforce in New Hampshire, helping to ensure that our young people are equipped with the skills, knowledge and innovative thinking needed for success in the good jobs of the 21st century,” said Governor Maggie Hassan. “The ApprencticeshipUSA grant will support the community college system’s efforts and build on other initiatives already underway to develop a stronger apprenticeship system in New Hampshire that is responsive to industry demand and allows for the inclusion of all Granite Staters. The future economic sustainability of New Hampshire depends greatly on our ability to provide a strong economic foundation where all citizens have access to great jobs that provide a sustainable wage and growth opportunity, and I was proud to support the community college system’s ApprenticeshipUSA grant to help us achieve that goal.”

“I thank Senator Shaheen for her strong support of the ApprenticeshipUSA initiative since its creation in 2014, and I look forward to continue working with members from both parties to build an even stronger, more innovative New Hampshire where all Granite Staters who work hard have the opportunity to get ahead and stay ahead,” Governor Hassan said.  

Job-driven apprenticeships are one of the surest paths to provide American workers with the skills and knowledge they need to acquire good-paying jobs and grow the economy. More than 90 percent of apprentices are employed after completing their programs, with an average starting wage above $60,000. International studies suggest that for every dollar spent on apprenticeship, employers may get an average of $1.47 back in increased productivity and greater front-line innovation.

Hazardous Child Labor Is Still Legal In The U.S. And President Obama Needs To End It

Tobacco, Image by Steve Snodgrass

Tobacco, Image by Steve Snodgrass

Nearly 50 members of Congress ask President Obama to ban child labor in U.S. tobacco before leaving Oval Office 

Washington, DC—Nearly 50 Members of Congress asked President Obama to ban child labor in U.S. tobacco fields in a letter sent to the White House today. U.S. child labor law allows children as young as 12 to work unlimited hours in tobacco fields as long as they are not missing school. “Voluntary policies among tobacco companies have attempted to get children under 16 out of the fields, but it isn’t clear those policies are effective or why they permit 16- and 17-year-old children to do work that is hazardous and makes them ill,” said Sally Greenberg, co-chair of the Child Labor Coalition (CLC) and executive director of the National Consumers League.

“We believe that this work is too dangerous for workers under 18,” said Greenberg. “Children working in tobacco fields suffer regular bouts of nicotine poisoning, otherwise known as Green Tobacco Sickness. They are also subjected to dangerous pesticide residues and use razor-sharp tools. We believe tobacco work should be conducted by adults who are better able to deal with the risks, and kids who have to work or who want to work should be re-directed into safer jobs.”

Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI) authored the letter, which asks the President to designate tobacco work for children as “hazardous child labor” and by doing so, render it illegal. Cicilline has been a persistent advocate of protecting U.S. child tobacco workers since a Human Rights Watch report, “Tobacco’s Hidden Children—Hazardous Child Labor in United States Tobacco Farming,” found that nearly three out of four child tobacco workers interviewed suffered symptoms that correlated with nicotine poisoning.

“Laws that allow children to risk nicotine exposure while working in tobacco fields are hopelessly out of date and put children’s health in jeopardy. President Obama should act immediately to prohibit this hazardous work for children,” said Jo Becker, children’s rights advocacy director for Human Rights Watch (HRW).

In August, the CLC sent a letter signed by 110 groups, representing tens of millions of Americans, to President Obama urging him to ban child labor in U.S. tobacco before he leaves office. The Administration has not responded to the request.

In 2012, under strong pressure from the farm lobby, the Obama Administration withdrew long-overdue occupational protections for child farmworkers that would have banned child labor in tobacco while providing several other life-saving protections.

“We call on President Obama to rectify this decision and protect child tobacco workers from the dangers of nicotine poisoning before another child farmworker becomes ill at work,” said Norma Flores López, chair of the CLC’s Domestic Issues Committee. “Children who work in tobacco fields often wear black plastic garbage bags on their torsos to try to avoid contact with nicotine-laden tobacco leafs. Imagine the heat they experience in broiling sun wearing those bags? How can we subject them to those conditions?”

Both the Washington Post and the New York Times have urged the Obama Administration to issue federal rules to ban child labor in U.S. tobacco.  

On May 5, the Federal Drug Administration announced new regulations prohibiting the sale of e-cigarettes to children. “We’ve agreed for many years that nicotine does not belong in the hands of children,” said Secretary of Health and Human Services Sylvia Mathews Burwell. 

“Despite this concern, the Obama Administration has not yet taken appropriate steps to protect child tobacco workers from nicotine poisoning in the fields,” said HRW’s Becker.

In September, Nobel Peace Prize winner Kailash Satyarthi, a global leader of the movement to end child labor and child slavery tweeted a plea for the President “as a fellow Nobel Prize laureate” to ban child labor in U.S. tobacco.

“The United State has adopted the global sustainable development goal of ending child labor in the next nine years, but refuses to take the important first step of ending hazardous child labor in our tobacco fields,” said Reid Maki, director of child labor advocacy for the National Consumers League and coordinator of the CLC. “How sincerely are we embracing this vital goal if we won’t ban hazardous work that most Americans would agree is too dangerous for children—work that has been already banned in India and Brazil?” 


About the Child Labor Coalition

The Child Labor Coalition, which has 38 member organizations, represents consumers, labor unions, educators, human rights and labor rights groups, child advocacy groups, and religious and women’s groups. It was established in 1989, and is co-chaired by the National Consumers League and the American Federation of Teachers. Its mission is to protect working youth and to promote legislation, programs, and initiatives to end child labor exploitation in the United States and abroad. The CLC’s website and membership list can be found at www.stopchildlabor.org.

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

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

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

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

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

After the vote, Governor Maggie Hassan released the following:

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

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

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

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

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

Congresswoman Annie Kuster, A True Fighter For America’s Veterans

Congresswoman Kuster’s Work for Veterans Praised in New Television Ad

In her second television ad of the 2016 cycle, a Nashua veteran praises Congresswoman Kuster’s work to secure affordable housing and jobs for homeless veterans in New Hampshire.  

In the ad, titled “Thank You,” John Elsten discusses his military experience and his living situation during his unemployment.  A Vietnam veteran, he was forced to sleep under bridges and in alleys in downtown Nashua after losing his job.  He was able to secure housing through the VA Supported Housing program, a rental assistance voucher program through the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Housing and Urban Development, that Congresswoman Kuster has worked to expand.  While touring a shelter in Nashua, Congresswoman Kuster met John, who was living and volunteering at the shelter.  She has made expanding affordable housing for homeless veterans in Nashua, Keene, Plymouth, and throughout New Hampshire a key part of her work to support Granite State veterans.

“I was heartbroken when I heard about John’s struggle, as well as the struggles of so many veterans like him, to find affordable housing and employment,” said Congresswoman Kuster. “I fight every day to help veterans like John who have given so much to our country.  We have a solemn responsibility to support the brave men and women who have served our country, and that includes ensuring they have a roof over their head, as well as gainful employment and accessible health care.”

Click here to watch the ad

Addressing the problem of veteran homelessness is no small task. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) estimates that nearly 40,000 are homeless on any given night.  Specifically in New Hampshire, HUD estimates that there are between 123-138 homeless vets, many who are forced to live in temporary shelters.

Part of ending homelessness for our veterans in providing them with sustainable employment after they return. As the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans notes, “military occupations and training are not always transferable to the civilian workforce, placing some veterans at a disadvantage when competing for employment. NCHV strongly believes that all programs to assist homeless veterans must focus on helping them obtain and sustain employment.”

About 1.4 million other veterans “are considered at risk of homelessness due to poverty, lack of support networks, and dismal living conditions in overcrowded or substandard housing,” NCHV added.

Rep. Kuster talks with student veterans and higher education administrators today in Concord.

Rep. Kuster talks with student veterans and higher education administrators in Concord.

In January of 2016, Kuster met with student veterans and higher education administrators from across New Hampshire to discuss the importance of supporting veterans as they pursue higher education following the completion of their service. This discussion allowed Congresswoman Kuster to learn more about the work being done by New Hampshire colleges to implement education benefits, as well as to hear directly from student veterans about how she can best support them through her work in Congress.

“When our brave men and women return from their service in the Armed Forces, we must ensure that they have access to the tools they need to complete their education and to compete in today’s workforce,” said Congresswoman Kuster. “During today’s conversation, we were able to bring together student veterans and representatives from some of the Granite State’s top institutions of higher education to discuss how we can help returning veterans pursue their college education here in New Hampshire. We are lucky to have such a dedicated group of higher education leaders here in the Granite State who have done an incredible job supporting veterans seeking college degrees.”

As a member of the U.S. House Veterans’ Affairs Committee, Kuster has long worked to ensure that veterans have access to the resources necessary to support their transition back into civilian life and to pursue higher education after completing their service. Kuster has supported legislation for student veterans throughout her time in office, including the GI Bill Tuition Fairness Act of 2013, which proposed allowing veterans to pay in-state tuition for out-of-state schools. This legislation passed the House of Representatives, and its provisions were later passed into law as part of another bill. 

In February, Kuster was pleased to announce that three bills she cosponsored had passed in the House of Representatives.

  • H.R. 2360, the Career Ready Student Veterans Act, will help ensure that educational and training programs serving our nation’s veterans meet state accreditation standards, protecting the quality of education provided for veteran students.
  • H.R. 2915, the Female Veteran Suicide Prevention Act, will direct the VA to identify suicide prevention programs that are proven to be most effective for female veterans in order to ensure the unique needs of women veterans are more effectively addressed.
  • H.R. 3036, the National 9/11 Memorial at the World Trade Center Act, will designate the September 11th Memorial at the World Trade Center as a national memorial, thereby awarding a grant of up to $25 million per fiscal year for the maintenance of the site.

To some politicians, taking care of our veterans is nothing more than lip service. They say they support veterans while they made deep cuts to social programs that help thousands of veterans avoid homelessness and help keep them from falling into poverty.

Congresswoman Kuster does not just talk about supporting veterans; she is fighting to ensure that we end veteran homelessness and provide the best opportunities for our veterans throughout their entire lives.

NH Climate Advocacy Groups Deliver Petitions In Support Of Energy Saving Programs

petition-drop-off-27sept16

CONCORD, NH — A coalition of New Hampshire groups delivered 992 petitions to the governor’s office on Tuesday, calling on the state to strengthen the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). As RGGI undergoes a policy review, environmental advocates are calling on the state to double the strength of the program by lowering the cap on carbon emissions by 5% instead of 2.5% every year.

The coalition includes Environment New Hampshire, League of Conservation Voters, National Wildlife Federation, Mom’s Clean Air Force, Toxics Action Center, Union of Concerned Scientists, and New Hampshire Sierra Club.

“Strengthening the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative is the best way for New Hampshire to do its part in cutting dangerous carbon emissions and investing in a clean energy economy,” said Michelle McCarthy, a campaign organizer for Environment New Hampshire.

“The RGGI program has been very effective in reducing carbon emissions, creating jobs and sparking investments in renewable energy sources” said Rob Werner, State Director of the League of Conservation Voters. “New Hampshire should follow the lead of other RGGI states and allow RGGI proceeds to be used more effectively to support a variety of  approaches to continue to move from a high carbon economy to a low carbon economy.”

“People in New Hampshire want to be part of the solution and want more tools to act on climate,” Catherine Corkery, NH Sierra Club. “The RGGI program has been a great first step for the last 8 years. Now New Hampshire needs to go farther and faster with more energy efficiency, more renewables and more financial tools. We need our leaders to hear us and act on climate with us.” 

The coalition will be hosting a People’s Hearing to focus on supporting and strengthening RGGI at UNH School of Law in Concord on Wednesday, September 28th. The coalition plans to deliver testimony from the hearing to the Governor at a later date.

Petition language below.


To: Honorable Governor Hassan, NHDES Commissioner Thomas Burack, and NHPUC Commissioner Bob Scott,

The connection between climate and energy use is critical because power plants are some of the leading contributors to climate disruption and unhealthy air pollution. The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) is New Hampshire’s program to reduce carbon pollution from those dirty energy sources, helping businesses and families save money on energy bills, improving the local economy, and protecting our climate and health. Currently, there is a review of the regional energy savings program.

For New Hampshire, I support three improvements:

  1. Reducing the amount of carbon pollution power plants are allowed to emit by at least 5% annually from 2020 levels through 2030;
  2. Closing or reforming loopholes in the program including the cost containment reserve and credit banking program; and,
  3. Eliminating the corporate rebate program and instead directing more of the funds to the Energy Efficiency Programs to benefit taxpayers, low income households, and residents.

By improving our climate protections you can make sure New Hampshire is in the driver’s seat when it comes to meeting the goals of the Clean Power Plan, helping consumers save money, reducing pollution, improving the local economy, and protecting our climate and public health.

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