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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.


Legislature Upholds Two Of Governor Hassan’s Vetos

Today the NH House met to vote on a number of items including two bills that were vetoed by Governor Hassan.

The first bill to be considered was SB 179 which would change residency requirements for voting in NH.  The House upheld the veto.  After the vote Governor Hassan said:

“The constitutional right of all citizens to vote is the most fundamental right of our democracy, critical to the robust citizen-led democracy we are so proud of in the Granite State, and while we must be vigilant in our efforts to prevent and aggressively prosecute voter fraud, Senate Bill 179 did not do anything to accomplish those goals. We should not adopt arbitrary restrictions that will prevent lawful residents from taking part in the democratic process, restrictions that have been found unconstitutional in other states. Instead, we must always work to ensure that people who are legally domiciled in New Hampshire are allowed and encouraged to participate in our democracy. Moving forward, I will continue fighting to protect the fundamental right of all citizens to vote.”

 Many people agree that these proposed changes to voting laws is an attempt by the Republicans to block people from under the guise of voter fraud.  Accusations of massive voter fraud have yet to be proven, Republicans continue to push laws making it increasingly hard for people to vote. 

Raymond Buckley, Chair of the NH Democratic Party stated:

“When New Hampshire Republicans can’t win on the issues, they seek to disenfranchise voters – it’s as simple as that. Granite Staters have made clear time and again that we will not stand for blatantly partisan attempts to make it harder for citizens to cast a ballot, and New Hampshire Democrats are grateful for Governor Hassan’s leadership on preserving voting rights for all New Hampshire citizens.”

The House also considered overriding the veto of SB 116, removing the requirement to have a license to carry a concealed weapon. Again the House voted to sustain the Governor’s veto of SB 116. After the vote Gov. Hassan said:

“New Hampshire’s current concealed carry permitting law – which Republican 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. Senate Bill 116 would have been a step away from that appropriate and responsible policy, which is why law enforcement and public safety officials, as well as citizens across New Hampshire, repeatedly expressed public safety concerns about the bill. I support the Second Amendment and I believe that Americans have a right to responsibly own guns for personal safety, hunting, and recreation, but we must also balance the rights of gun owners with the rights of all New Hampshire citizens to be safe in their communities, a balance that existing law appropriately strikes.” 

The radical bill was opposed by many law enforcement leaders and by a majority of Granite Staters.

After the vote, Chairman Buckley added:

“Republicans in the New Hampshire House and Senate have shown once again that their priorities are backward as they continue to try to enact a radical gun bill that is strongly opposed by law enforcement officers and 71% of Granite Staters. We thank Governor Hassan and Democrats in the legislature for again taking a strong stand to support law enforcement and public safety.”

Granite State Rumblings: Over One-Third Of Single Moms Face Food Insecurity In 2014

Nearly Empty Refrigerator (The She-Creature FLIKR)

Nearly Empty Refrigerator (The She-Creature FLIKR)

An estimated 14.0 percent of American households were food insecure at least some time during the year in 2014, meaning they lacked access to enough food for an active, healthy life for all household members. The change from 14.3 percent in 2013 was not statistically significant. The USDA issued this information in a new report released last week; Household Food Security in the United States in 2014 by Alisha Coleman-Jensen, Matthew Rabbitt, Christian Gregory, and Anita Singh.

Most U.S. households have consistent, dependable access to enough food for active, healthy living—they are food secure. But a minority of American households experience food insecurity at times during the year, meaning that their access to adequate food is limited by a lack of money and other resources. USDA’s food and nutrition assistance programs increase food security by providing low-income households access to food, a healthful diet, and nutrition education. USDA also monitors the extent and severity of food insecurity in U.S. households through an annual, nationally representative survey sponsored and analyzed by USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS). Reliable monitoring of food security contributes to the effective operation of the Federal food assistance programs, as well as that of private food assistance programs and other government initiatives aimed at reducing food insecurity.

Here’s a summary of what the report found:

The estimated percentage of U.S. households that were food insecure remained essentially unchanged from 2013 to 2014; however, food insecurity was down from a high of 14.9 percent in 2011. The percentage of households with food insecurity in the severe range—described as very low food security—was unchanged.

  • In 2014, 86.0 percent of U.S. households were food secure throughout the year. The remaining 14.0 percent (17.4 million households) were food insecure. Food-insecure house- holds (those with low and very low food security) had difficulty at some time during the year providing enough food for all their members due to a lack of resources. The changes from 2013 (14.3 percent) and 2012 (14.5 percent) to 2014 were not statistically significant; however, the cumulative decline from 14.9 percent in 2011 was statistically significant.
  • In 2014, 5.6 percent of U.S. households (6.9 million households) had very low food security, unchanged from 5.6 percent in 2013. In this more severe range of food insecurity, the food intake of some household members was reduced and normal eating patterns were disrupted at times during the year due to limited resources.
  • Children were food insecure at times during the year in 9.4 percent of U.S. households with children (3.7 million households), essentially unchanged from 9.9 percent in 2013. These households were unable at times during the year to provide adequate, nutritious food for their children.
  • While children are usually shielded from the disrupted eating patterns and reduced food intake that characterize very low food security, both children and adults experienced instances of very low food security in 1.1 percent of households with children (422,000 households) in 2014. The changes from both 2013 and 2012 were not statistically significant.
  • For households with incomes near or below the Federal poverty line, households with children headed by single women or single men, women living alone, and Black- and Hispanic-headed households, the rates of food insecurity were substantially higher than the national average. In addition, the food insecurity rate was highest in rural areas, moderate in large cities, and lowest in suburban and exurban areas around large cities.
  • The typical (median) food-secure household spent 26 percent more for food than the typical food-insecure household of the same size and composition, including food purchased with Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits (formerly the Food Stamp Program).

Sixty-one percent of food-insecure households in the survey reported that in the previous month, they had participated in one or more of the three largest Federal food and nutrition assistance programs (SNAP; Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC); and National School Lunch Program).

The defining characteristic of “very low food security” is that, at times during the year, the food intake of household members was reduced and their normal eating patterns were disrupted because the household lacked money and other resources for food. In the 2014 survey, households classified as having very low food security (representing an estimated 6.9 million households nationwide) reported the following specific conditions:

  • 98% reported having worried that their food would run out before they got money to buy more.
  • 97% reported that the food they bought just did not last and they did not have money to get more.
  • 97% reported that they could not afford to eat balanced meals.
  • 96% reported that an adult had cut the size of meals or skipped meals because there was not enough money for food.
  • 89% reported that this had occurred in 3 or more months.
  • 96% reported that they had eaten less than they felt they should because there was not enough money for food.
  • 69% reported that they had been hungry but did not eat because they could not afford enough food.
  • 30% reported that an adult did not eat for a whole day because there was not enough money for food.
  • 24% reported that this had occurred in 3 or more months.

Rates of food insecurity were higher than the national average for the following groups:

  • All households with children (19.2 percent)
  • Households with children under age 6 (19.9 percent)
  • Households with children headed by a single woman (35.3 percent) or a single man (21.7 percent) and other households with children (24.4 percent)
  • Households headed by Black, non-Hispanics (26.1 percent), and Hispanics (22.4 percent)
  • Low-income households with incomes below 185 percent of the poverty threshold (33.7 percent

Every Child Matters and many other organizations across the country are calling on Congress and the President to support strategies that increase employment and wage growth for America’s families and to invest more in federally-funded programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and child nutrition programs.

The Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Act authorizes all of the federal child nutrition programs, including the School Breakfast, National School Lunch, Child and Adult Care Food, Summer Food Service, and the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Programs and WIC. These programs provide funding to ensure that low-income children have access to healthy and nutritious foods where they live, play, and learn. The current law, the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 is due for reauthorization by September 30, 2015.

You can help too! Congress is back from August recess – Take these actions as Child Nutrition Reauthorization heats up. Senate markup scheduled for Sept. 17th.

Growing Up Granite

Don’t forget about our upcoming event.


New Petition To Uphold The Governor’s Veto Of This Reckless Budget

Sign the Petition (1)

Governor Hassan vetoed the Republican budget saying;

“I have vetoed the budget passed by the legislature because it is unbalanced, makes false promises about what it funds, and gives unpaid-for tax giveaways to big corporations, many based out-of-state, at the expense of critical economic priorities, including higher education, health care, public safety and transportation. The long-term impact of these unpaid-for corporate tax cuts will create a more than $90 million hole in future budgets, further eroding our ability to encourage economic growth.”

We must uphold Governor Hassan’s veto and end the unfunded tax giveaways written into this unbalanced budget.

We are calling on all of our elected representatives to vote and uphold Governor Hassan’s veto and force the leadership to work together and find a compromise that will keep New Hampshire moving in the right direction.

The Petition reads:

We believe that New Hampshire is moving in the right direction and this reckless budget will only take us backwards. We must end these unfunded tax giveaways to big business that will blow a $90 million dollar hole in our state budget.

We call on you, our elected representatives, to uphold Governor Hassan’s veto and work together to properly fund the needs and priorities of our great state. Priorities like rebuilding our crumbling roads and bridges, investing in our public schools, and providing the needed funds to combat the growing heroin epidemic.

Please sign the petition below or click here to sign.


  When you are done signing the petition, please send a letter to you state reps asking them not to fall victim to the “Kansas Tax Cut Trap” that will blow a $90 million dollar hole in our state budget. Click here to send your letter or fill out the form below.



NH GOP Playing “Games” With Budget By Forcing Tax Cuts That “Do Not Pay For Themselves”

GOP-Appointed CBO Director Makes Clear “Tax Cuts Do Not Pay For Themselves”

Concord, N.H. – As Republicans in Concord continue to refuse to negotiate in good faith on a responsible budget compromise, Senate President Chuck Morse admitted “he could not guarantee” that the unpaid-for corporate tax cuts Republicans are pushing would promote economic growth.

Morse added, “We never came in and said, we’ll lower the business taxes, and we’ll have all this growth.”

House Speaker Shawn Jasper previously admitted that Republicans’ unpaid-for tax cuts would create a massive budget hole, writing “I do not believe that cutting [corporate taxes] will bring in more revenue, nor do I believe that by themselves they will make New Hampshire a more attractive state for businesses to locate to or to expand.”

“It’s completely irresponsible that Republicans like Chuck Morse and Shawn Jasper are continuing to push unpaid-for corporate tax cuts that they themselves admit would create a budget hole while not promoting economic growth,” said New Hampshire Democratic Party Chair Ray Buckley. “All you have to do is look around the country at places like Kansas that have already tried these failed Koch Brothers economic policies to see that all they bring is rivers of red ink and cuts to critical economic priorities.”

The Hill also reports, “The director of the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO), who was appointed by GOP lawmakers earlier this year, said Tuesday that tax cuts don’t pay for themselves… ‘No, the evidence is that tax cuts do not pay for themselves,’ Hall said. ‘And our models that we’re doing, our macroeconomic effects, show that.’”

Yesterday, Neal Kurk said out loud what observers have long known to be true: New Hampshire Republicans are playing political games with the state’s budget and economy.

When asked why Republicans blocked funding to pay for road maintenance, Kurk told NHPR, “some of it has to do with the fact that some of us believe that there are consequences to the Governor’s veto of the budget and one of them is that things that normally would have gotten done, will not get done, or will get delayed.”     

The Concord Monitor also reported, “Partisan politics were on full display at the meeting Wednesday” as Republicans blocked transportation funding and tried to score political points against Governor Hassan.

“At least give Neal Kurk points for honesty for admitting that Republicans are deliberately seeking to hurt New Hampshire’s people, businesses and economy as they try to score political points against Governor Hassan,” said New Hampshire Democratic Party Chair Ray Buckley. “It’s no surprise that the Republican legislature’s approval is under water for the first time since 2012 considering that Republicans are now openly admitting that they are trying to harm the state’s economy for their own political gain.”

Governor Hassan Ceremoniously Signs Legislation Moving NH Closer to Expanding Passenger Rail to Manchester


Governor Maggie Hassan ceremoniously signed two pieces of legislation today at Nashua City Hall aimed at getting the state closer to bringing passenger rail to Manchester. The legislation will make the New Hampshire Rail Transit Authority more efficient and more appealing to state agencies seeking to provide funding for rail infrastructure projects. A second piece of legislation calls for a legislative committee to study public-private partnerships for infrastructure improvements, which will be integral in the effort to expand passenger rail along the New Hampshire Capitol Corridor. Governor Hassan was joined, from left to right, by: Adam Hlasny, Transportation Planner with the Southern New Hampshire Planning Commission; State Senator Bette Lasky; David Preece, Executive Director of the Southern New Hampshire Planning Commission and Vice-Chairman of NHRTA; Michael Skelton, President and CEO of the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce; Nashua Mayor Donnalee Lozeau; NHRTA Chairman Michael Izbicki; and Tracy Hatch, President and CEO of the Greater Nashua Chamber of Commerce.

SB 88 allows NH Rail Transit Authority to operate more efficiently and SB 63 establishes a legislative committee to study public-private partnerships for infrastructure projects

Nashua, NH – Governor Maggie Hassan ceremoniously signed two bills this morning in Nashua pushing the state closer to extending passenger rail to Manchester along the New Hampshire Capitol Corridor. Senate Bill 63 will help make the Rail Transit Authority (NHRTA) both more efficient and more appealing to federal agencies seeking to invest in states with well-organized rail authorities, and Senate Bill 88 establishes a committee to study public-private partnerships for intermodal transportation projects. During the signing ceremony at Nashua City Hall, Governor Hassan was joined by NHRTA Chairman Michael Izbicki, State Senator Bette Lasky, Nashua Mayor Donnalee Lozeau, Michael Skelton, President and CEO of the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce, and Tracy Hatch, President and CEO of the Greater Nashua Chamber of Commerce, along with business leaders and rail supporters.

“Senate Bill 88 and Senate Bill 63 mark important steps in the process of expanding rail along New Hampshire’s Capitol Corridor, which could have a transformative impact on our state’s economy,” said Michael Izbicki, Chairman of the New Hampshire Rail Transit Authority. “Along with helping NHRTA operate more efficiently, this legislation could help open the door for New Hampshire to seek out alternative funding sources for critical infrastructure improvements, including rail. NHRTA, the state’s two largest Chambers of Commerce, 68% percent of New Hampshire residents and a growing list of businesses all agree that we need to invest in the state’s rail infrastructure, and this legislation gets us closer to that goal.”

Along with streamlining the membership of NHRTA’s board of directors, Senate Bill 63 also establishes an advisory board for NHRTA. Under Senate Bill 88, a legislative committee will identify potential revenue sources to fund passenger rail and other intermodal transportation options. These new sources of funding could help shift the burden from the state and enable New Hampshire to invest in its crumbling transportation infrastructure.  The legislative committee has already begun studying these types of partnerships.

“A modern, safe transportation infrastructure is critical to the success of our people and businesses, and bringing commuter rail from Boston to Nashua and Manchester will help ensure that our people and businesses have the full range of modern transportation options that they need, help bring more young people to New Hampshire and help spur economic growth. Commuter rail is one of my priorities for attracting more young people to the Granite State and encouraging innovative economic growth, and I am proud to have signed these two bills that represent an important part of the process to moving commuter rail forward into law.”

Across the country, public-private partnerships are becoming a more viable option for financing needed infrastructure improvements. With $1 billion in private financing, a public-private partnership in Denver called the Eagle P3 Project is helping to construct three new commuter rail lines. The Louisville and Southern Indiana Bridges Authority is developing a major tunnel and bridge project as part of the Ohio River Bridges Project through a public-private partnership. The Virginia Department of Transportation is relying on a public-private partnership to redevelop a 14-mile stretch of its Capital Beltway, creating a managed-lane model.

“These types of partnerships carry a number of potential benefits, like engaging private sector innovation to help drive down costs which can help and sustain price certainty, even in long-term budgeting,” Izbicki added.

The bill signing ceremony today comes on the heels of an announcement last week that the Southern New Hampshire Planning Commission (SNHPC) had been awarded a $30,000 challenge grant to continue public education and advocacy for advancing commuter rail to Manchester. In an effort to keep up the momentum, SNHPC is using the challenge grant to engage key stakeholders, business leaders and the public to continue to build on a still-growing base of rail supporters.

Earlier this year, the state released the NH Capitol Corridor Study, which analyzed the 73-mile corridor from Boston, MA to Concord, NH.  The study indicated that the Manchester Regional Rail alternative, which would serve two stations in Nashua, one in downtown Manchester and one at the Manchester-Boston Regional Airport, would offer the greatest economic benefit with a relatively moderate investment.

The next step in the rail expansion process is the critical project development phase, which costs $4 million and consists of establishing a detailed financial plan, preliminary engineering, environmental permitting and preparation of funding applications for submission to the Federal Transit Administration and Federal Rail Administration.

To learn more about efforts to expand passenger rail in New Hampshire, please visit www.nhrta.org.

About the NH Capitol Corridor Study 

In early 2015, a comprehensive analysis of the 73-mile corridor from Boston, MA to Concord, NH known as the NH Capitol Corridor Study was released which indicated that the Manchester Regional Rail alternative, which would serve two stations in Nashua, one in downtown Manchester and one at the Manchester-Boston Regional Airport, would offer the greatest economic benefit with a relatively moderate investment. After reviewing the results of the study, NHRTA voted to formally support extending passenger rail service to Manchester, with continued interest in extending passenger rail to Concord.

According to the study, the Manchester Regional Rail alternative would create approximately 230 jobs through construction of the rail line and an additional 3,390 construction jobs would be created to build real estate development generated by rail. Beginning in 2030, the expansion of rail would create 1,730 new jobs every year. Real estate development would add $750 million to the state’s output between 2021 and 2030, with reinvested earnings would add $220 million per year beyond 2030.

The total capital investment to bring passenger rail to Manchester is estimated at $245.6 million, but New Hampshire’s investment could shrink to $72 million with contributions from regional partners coupled with 50% federal support.  The investment required to cover debt service on a 20-year bond and annual operating and maintenance costs would be $11 million annually.  

About the NH Rail Transit Authority

The NH Rail Transit Authority (NHRTA) was established in 2007 and is tasked with encouraging and overseeing the redevelopment of passenger rail services throughout New Hampshire with an initial emphasis on the NH Capitol Corridor. The NHRTA is administratively attached to the New Hampshire Department of Transportation and consists of a nine-member board of directors comprised of the NH Department of Transportation, the NH Department of Resources and Economic Development, a member of the NHRTA advisory board, two representatives from the House Transportation Committee and four appointees by the governor. NHRTA’s board of directors takes guidance from an advisory board comprised of broad based membership from 14 cities and towns, 9 regional planning commissions, the NH College and University Council, the Manchester-Boston Regional Airport and three members appointed by the governor. Learn more at www.nhrta.org

On Women’s Equality Day Activists Highlight The Continued Need For Planned Parenthood

Patients, Community Health Providers, and Faith Leaders Hold Events on NH Seacoast to Highlight Harm of Defunding Planned Parenthood

On Women’s Equality Day, events reflect widespread support for Planned Parenthood of Northern New England and the health services PPNNE provides 

NEW HAMPSHIRE – Today, on National Women’s Equality Day, New Hampshire patients, supporters, and allies of Planned Parenthood held events in Executive Councilor Chris Sununu’s backyard—the Seacoast—to illustrate the harmful impact that defunding Planned Parenthood health centers will have on thousands of New Hampshire women and families. 

The morning started with more than two dozen Planned Parenthood New Hampshire Action Fund supporters gathered outside an Executive Council breakfast meeting in Dover to ensure the Councilors understand that New Hampshire voters oppose their decision to end state funding for Planned Parenthood health centers. Later, PPNHAF hosted a press conference and rally that drew dozens of supporters at a Planned Parenthood health center in Exeter that is currently only able to see patients 3 days per week on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays. Pictures of each event are available HERE.

“For 50 years, thousands of Granite Staters have chosen Planned Parenthood of Northern New England as their health care provider. Planned Parenthood health centers deliver birth control, family planning counseling, cancer screenings, STI screenings and treatment to more than 12,000 New Hampshire residents each year,” said Jennifer Frizzell of Planned Parenthood New Hampshire Action Fund. “We are not giving up the fight to restore funding for the health care that was rejected by Councilors Chris Sununu, David Wheeler and Joe Kenney and we will always stand by Planned Parenthood patients, and the women of New Hampshire in their fight for access to reproductive health services and, ultimately, the ability to lead a successful, equal life.”

The Women’s Equality Day events on the Seacoast came after Councilor Sununu spearheaded the Executive Council vote to reject a long-standing state contract that had previously helped ensure Planned Parenthood provide basic preventive health services to low-income New Hampshire residents for the past four deacdes.

“The recent attacks on Planned Parenthood are really attacks on all of us who believe that women should have access to comprehensive reproductive care, including safe, legal abortion,” said Linda Griebsch, the Executive Director of the Joan G. Lovering Health Center in Greenland. “These actions are part of a broader agenda orchestrated by an extreme group to restrict women’s access to health care. Here on the Seacoast and across Rockingham County we proudly partner with Planned Parenthood, with Families First, and with other community health organizations to meet the diverse needs of women in our communities. It is essential that all of our organizations continue to receive public funding and public support to help keep our community healthy.” 

The unusually political vote by the Executive Council has been followed by an outpouring of support for Planned Parenthood by New Hampshire residents of all stripes, with people speaking out to highlight the critical role that Planned Parenthood of Northern New England plays in providing nearly 13,000 women, men, and young people in New Hampshire with basic health care every year. Polling released last week shows that 66 percent of New Hampshire residents continue to support Planned Parenthood and women’s access to reproductive health services. 

“As a young woman living with endometriosis, I personally know exactly why it is essential for women to have access to affordable birth control, which comprises over 50 percent of Planned Parenthood’s services and will take a hard hit because of the Executive Council’s vote to defund Planned Parenthood,” said Ilyssa Sherman of Exeter, a 25 year old volunteer for Planned Parenthood New Hampshire Action Fund. “If I couldn’t afford birth control to control the debilitating pain caused by my endometriosis, I would not be standing here today.”

“As a long-term psychologist I have listened to many women and men talk about the stress of providing for their families, and especially getting affordable access to healthcare,” said Doctor Judith Rowan, a psychologist in Exeter. “The services of Planned Parenthood are essential to peace of mind to these families and I always know when I refer someone to the local Planned Parenthood that they will receive high-quality, non-judgmental health care at a cost they can afford.”

The Executive Council first attacked Planned Parenthood funding in 2011 in a deeply unpopular vote that became a cornerstone of the election, resulting in a shift in leadership of the Council.

“As a person of faith and a minister, I have been deeply disappointed in recent weeks to hear some of our elected officials in New Hampshire casting doubt on our trusted local health care provider, Planned Parenthood,” said Reverend Larry Brickner-Wood, the Chaplain and Executive Director of the Waysmeet Center in Durham. “In my time as a community official and spiritual leader, Planned Parenthood has been one of the most important health care providers for our most vulnerable and marginalized communities.” 

Sununu’s pretense for this latest vote was largely focused on ongoing investigations into Planned Parenthood in many states, but his excuse rings hollow as mounting evidence in state after state confirms that these politically motivated investigations are baseless. Just last night, Colorado officials announced they would not investigate Planned Parenthood’s practices.

“Voting to end our longstanding contract with New Hampshire, Councilor Sununu claimed that the state should not be funding  Planned Parenthood’s preventive care during ongoing investigations – but this flimsy excuse rings more hollow as state after state, including Indiana, Massachusetts, and South Dakota has cleared Planned Parenthood of any wrongdoing. We’ve said all along that Planned Parenthood follows all laws and has high medical standards, and that’s what every one of these investigations has found,” concluded Frizzell.

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