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Senators Unveil Bipartisan Amendment to Protect Dreamers, Strengthen Border Security

8 Republicans, 7 Democrats, and 1 Independent Introduce Legislation

Click HERE to read the text of the amendment

Washington, D.C. — A bipartisan group of 16 Senators unveiled legislation this evening to protect “Dreamers” and to strengthen border security.  The Senators are part of the Common Sense Coalition, a group of 25 Republican, Democratic, and Independent Senators convened by U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Joe Manchin (D-WV), who have been meeting nearly every day in Senator Collins’ office to develop a framework to address Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and other immigration issues.

The lead sponsors of the legislation are Senators Mike Rounds (R-SD) and Angus King (I-ME), and the original cosponsors include Senators: Collins, Manchin, Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Jeff Flake (R-AZ), Chris Coons (D-DE), Cory Gardner (R-CO), Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Johnny Isakson (R-GA), and Mark Warner (D-VA).

“This bipartisan agreement finally allows DREAMers a pathway to citizenship so that they no longer have to live in fear of deportation,” said Senator Shaheen. “Time is of the essence and I urge lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to support this proposal so that DREAMers can finally move on with their lives. This agreement further demonstrates the necessity of good faith bipartisan discussions and the need for compromise to get things done. I look forward to continued participation with the Common Sense Caucus to make further progress on the many challenges facing our country.”

“Our bipartisan proposal takes meaningful steps to enhance border security, adds limits to chain migration and permanently deals with DACA recipients,” said Senator Rounds.  “The $25 billion allotted for border security is a historic investment in our nation’s borders that will strengthen our ability to keep bad actors out of the country and keep Americans safe. It is a significant improvement from the status quo and will allow us to continue the dialogue as we seek to keep our borders safe and reform our immigration system to one that is merit-based.”

“Nearly everybody involved in this process has expressed a desire to help these young people, and that’s exactly what our bipartisan group, under the leadership of Senator Collins, has been working towards. Let’s help them, rather than getting bogged down in complicated, comprehensive and unrelated changes to our immigration policy,” said Senator King.  “I hope our amendment will get the votes we need to take these young men and women out of limbo and ensure their legal status in the country they call home.”

“Following the reopening of the government last month, members of our Common Sense Coalition saw that immigration was beginning to fracture along partisan lines.  We met continuously so that Senators could discuss this important issue and reach consensus,” said Senator Collins.  “Our legislation underscores the broad, bipartisan commitment to creating a path to citizenship for Dreamers, who were brought to this country illegally through no decision of their own, while strengthening border security to help stop the flow of illegal immigrants as well as drugs like heroin that are ruining lives.”

“This compromise shows the American people what Congress can get done when we work in a bipartisan way and put politics aside. I’m glad we could work through these complicated issues in a constructive way in order to secure our border and solve some difficult immigration issues that I think both sides can support,” Senator Manchin said.  

“Our proposal would represent the most significant change to immigration law in the past thirty-five years,” said Senator Graham.  “Providing President Trump with $25 billion for the Wall system he campaigned on is a giant step forward for border security.  As to the DACA population, we mirror President Trump’s proposal allowing DACA eligible individuals to obtain legal status and over a ten to twelve-year period, they can become green card holders. This will allow them to pursue their lives with certainty and stability in the United States – the only country they know. This is a substantial down payment on fixing a broken immigration system and truly is a win-win.”

“We’ve reached a deal that gives us the best chance to protect Dreamers against deportation from the only country they know as home,” said Senator Kaine. “This is a true compromise, which includes the significant boost in border security funding our Republican colleagues and President Trump have been asking for. I’ve worked across the aisle for weeks with this large group of Republicans and Democrats to reach this deal, and I hope my colleagues will join us in showing that the Senate can solve tough problems.”

“I’m pleased to be part of this group of Republicans and Democrats who are working together to make a law, rather than a point,” said Senator Flake.  “A broadly-supported, bipartisan bill that protects DACA recipients and strengthens border security ought to be able to get 60 votes in the Senate. Let’s put it on the floor and work together to get it passed.”

“This bipartisan legislation represents our best opportunity to make long overdue changes to our immigration laws that will allow 1.8 million Dreamers to live without fear of deportation, make robust investments in border security, and ensure that family reunification remains one of the core values of our immigration system,” said Senator Coons. “This process has not been easy, and this bill is not perfect, but Delawareans sent me to the Senate to not only fight for our values, but to also work across the aisle to get things done.  While this isn’t the bill I would have drafted, I believe this is a good, honest compromise, and I will support it on the Senate floor tomorrow.”

“Our immigration system is broken and we need to fix it,” said Senator Gardner. “There are many children who came to this country without documentation and we need to allow them the opportunity to remain here lawfully. This legislation addresses some of the largest challenges our broken immigration system faces, including a major boost to border security, and I urge members on both sides of the aisle that want a solution to support our bipartisan approach.”

“This agreement is full of tough compromises, but it shows that when senators really want to find bipartisan solutions, it’s possible,” said Senator Heitkamp. “That’s the whole purpose of the Common Sense Coalition – to work together, Republicans and Democrats, to reach results for the American people – and I hope Congress passes our deal. I’m proud to have been part of this group that worked together to reopen the government in 2013 and last month. And now we’re doing it again by forging a deal that both provides a permanent solution to those who came to our country as children through no fault of their own while boosting border security at all of our borders.”

“I am proud to be part of this bipartisan effort,” said Senator Murkowski. “The amendment seeks to protect the Dreamers while strengthening our border security and I am encouraged by the time and effort we have spent as a group trying to achieve a consensus on this difficult issue. I hope we can get to a final bill that protects the Dreamers and look forward to the debate.”

“My goal is to get a result on both border security and DACA so I will cosponsor and vote for Senator Grassley’s legislation implementing the president’s proposal. I will also cosponsor and vote for this narrower bipartisan proposal offered by Senators Rounds and King because it too solves the DACA problem and provides the $25 billion the president requested to improve border security,” said Senator Alexander.

“We can’t wait any longer to find a solution for the DREAMers and this bipartisan agreement – which was a product of working across the aisle with my colleagues for the past several weeks – includes a path to citizenship. I am hopeful it can get strong bipartisan support in the Senate,”said Senator Klobuchar.

“We have a real opportunity to secure our borders and address some of the issues in our immigration system,” said Senator Isakson. “I’m committed to continuing to work toward real solutions, and this legislation will help meet many of these goals.”

“This is a bipartisan solution that will provide a path to citizenship for Dreamers whose status in this country was left in limbo when the administration announced it was ending the DACA program,” said Senator Warner.  “This amendment certainly isn’t perfect, but I believe it is a suitable compromise and the best path forward for the Senate to advance legislation on this critical issue.”


Highlights of the bipartisan proposal include:

Legal Status and Path to Citizenship for Young People Brought to the US as Children.

The amendment provides legal status and a path to citizenship to individuals who were brought to the U.S. as children. Individuals who are registered under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program automatically qualify, if they arrived in this country by June 15, 2007, unless they have engaged in conduct that would make them ineligible. To obtain legal status, individuals not enrolled in the DACA program must:

  • Have been continuously present in the U.S. since June 15, 2012, the date of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Executive Order;
  • Have been under age 18 when they entered the U.S., and under age 38 on June 15, 2012;
  • Meet educational requirements or be serving in the U.S. Armed Forces (or have been honorably discharged from military service); and
  • Pass background checks, medical exams, and register for the Selective Service, if applicable.

Individuals do not qualify if they are convicted of a felony, a significant misdemeanor, or three or more misdemeanors. Individuals are required to pay any federal tax liability incurred while working legally in the U.S.

Beneficiaries can apply for citizenship after 12 years, and up to 2 years of credit will be given for time with DACA.

PROHIBITION ON DACA BENEFICIARIES SPONSORING THEIR PARENTS FOR CITIZENSHIP

The amendment includes language prohibiting parents from using their Dreamer children’s newly granted citizenship to apply for citizenship themselves.

BORDER SECURITY

The amendment authorizes and appropriates $25 billion in funding for Northern and Southern border security over the next 10 years.  The bill requires DHS to provide detailed reports to Congress on its security plan, including physical barriers, fencing, tactical infrastructure, technology, personnel, and the milestones for implementing this plan.

Funding after the first year is released each year once the DHS Secretary certifies that at least 75 percent of the goals for the prior year have been reached.  Sixty votes would be required in order to prevent funding for each fiscal year.

The bill also directs the Secretary to prioritize enforcement resources against aliens who:

  • Have been convicted of a felony, a significant misdemeanor, three or more misdemeanors;
  • Are a threat to national security or public safety; or
  • Are unlawfully present and arrived in the U.S. after June 30, 2018.

UPDATE 2-16-2018

The measure failed to get the required 60 votes (54-45) to pass the Senate.

Senators Shaheen and Hassan released the following:

“The agreement we voted on was the product of good faith bipartisan discussions and would have allowed Dreamers a pathway to citizenship so that they no longer have to live in fear of deportation,” said Shaheen. “I’m disappointed that, because of President Trump’s erratic and inconsistent positions on this issue, this agreement did not receive enough support to move forward in the Senate. It’s critically important that the Senate provide a pathway forward to protect Dreamers which is why I’ll continue my efforts across the aisle to find common ground.”

“I am deeply concerned that President Trump and his Administration did everything they could to defeat this bipartisan agreement that would have protected Dreamers and strengthened our border security,” Senator Hassan said. “The Common Sense Coalition has demonstrated that there is strong bipartisan consensus for protecting Dreamers whose energy, hard-work, and innovation is critical to our economic future. While this setback is extremely disappointing, I will continue working with the Common Sense Coalition and anyone else who is willing to join us to find a path forward for Dreamers and to ensure that our country is safe, secure, and free.”

NH’s U.S. Senators Push For FAMILY Act

Senators Shaheen, Hassan Cosponsor FAMILY Act to Guarantee Paid Family and Medical Leave to All Hard-Working Granite Staters and Americans

WASHINGTON – Senators Jeanne Shaheen and Maggie Hassan announced today that they are cosponsoring the Family and Medical Insurance Leave Act or FAMILY Act, to create a universal, gender-neutral paid family and medical leave program in order to help support caregivers in the workforce.

“Working Americans should never feel as though they need to compromise their health, or personal family decisions, out of fear of losing their job,” said Senator Shaheen. “Paid family and medical leave is critical to ensuring Granite Staters have the necessary support and peace of mind to prioritize their loved ones and take care of their families. This legislation is an investment in the American workforce and the stability of our economy, and I look forward to working on passing this legislation in the Senate.”

“No Granite Stater should be forced to choose between caring for a loved one and losing a paycheck, and our economy shouldn’t suffer from such a false choice,”Senator Hassan said. “By guaranteeing paid family and medical leave to all hard-working Granite Staters and Americans regardless of where they work, the FAMILY Act is a commonsense measure that will help strengthen families, businesses, and our economy. As we continue working to move this bill forward, I will keep fighting to ensure that all Granite Staters and Americans who work hard have the support they need to get ahead and stay ahead.”

The United States is the only industrialized nation without a national paid leave program, and only 14 percent of American workers have access to paid family leave through their employer. Without a national paid family leave program, the U.S. economy loses almost $21 billion a year, women lose $324,000 in wages and retirement benefits over a lifetime, and men lose $284,000. A lack of a national paid leave program hurts businesses; studies show that businesses incur an additional 20 percent cost to recruit and retrain new workers replacing others who left because they did not have paid leave.

The FAMILY Act establishes a self-sustaining family insurance program for all workers, including the young and elderly, single and married, men and women, regardless of the size of their employer. The program would be modeled after successful state programs, with the funding providing up to 66 percent wage-replacement for 12 weeks in the event of a serious personal or family medical emergency.

Fulfill The Promise To Firefighters

Captain Pesula served the Hooksett community for eighteen and a half years as a faithful employee of Hooksett Fire Rescue. He never smoked, he didn’t drink, and was arguably the healthiest, most-fit member on our department. He took care of himself and his crew through exercise and cancer-prevention measures well-known around the country, including cleansing of his Personal Protective Equipment and immediate showers upon return from a fire call. However, these measures of a careful, model lifestyle were not enough to protect him from what led to his death in June of 2016.

In December of 2014, Captain Pesula suddenly began having unresolved kidney stones and infections. As these medical issues continued, he had imaging done and the results were devastating. The cancer, which originated in his colon, was Stage 4 and had spread to his liver, lungs and bladder. Due to this diagnosis, Captain Pesula was not cleared to return to work. He fought hard, doing everything he could in the hope that he could return someday to the job he loved so much. He was on short-term disability, which led to long-term disability. Faced with the inevitable, Captain Pesula was eventually forced to make the difficult decision to retire from the department. Unsure if he would be able to keep his insurance, Captain Pesula now had fears of whether or not he would be able to continue his cancer care and treatment.

As a result of his retirement, Captain Pesula went ten months on a reduced income and no medical subsidy to cover the astronomical treatment expenses. He did not at any point prior to this, wish to become a charity case, but knew when to swallow his pride and ask his coworkers for help. We – his coworkers, family, and friends – led fundraising efforts throughout the community during this trying time, including selling t-shirts, wristbands and holding special fundraising events. Much of these funds were used to cover his medical expenses to continue the care he was receiving in Boston.

All this time, firefighters and friends from around the community rallied together to help Captain Pesula and his family around the house in Penacook, doing yard work, shoveling his driveway, putting up Christmas lights and other tasks. We did whatever we could to help a man who spent his life and career helping others.

I promised Dan that if anything bad were to happen to him, I and the rest of Fire Department would watch over his wife and children, always be there for them and never let them forget about their father. Captain Pesula passed in June of 2016. To this day, our department remains close with the Pesula family.  We continue to help his family at their home and always make a point to attend his children’s sporting events.

Senate Bill 541 by Senator Innis fulfills a promise made to firefighters by the legislature in 1987, recognizing firefighters are at a higher risk of cancer diagnosis and death as a result of their job. This is not just a theory; this is a known fact, backed by years of study and research. New Hampshire was one of the first states to institute this presumption law, and since then over thirty other states have followed suit. Unfortunately this was an unfunded mandate. By passing this bill, families like the Pesula’s would be given the financial assistance they deserve for a work-related disease. In memory of our late Captain Dan Pesula of Hooksett Fire Rescue Department and countless other firefighters across New Hampshire who have been taken by cancer, I implore the New Hampshire Senate, House and Governor Chris Sununu to honor this promise made to those on the front lines.

 

Captain Joseph P Stalker

Hooksett, NH Fire Rescue Department

New Hampshire In Urgent Need Of National Paid Family Leave Program

 A National Paid Family and Medical Leave Plan Could Reduce by 83 Percent* the Number of New Hampshire Families Facing Economic Insecurity When They Need Time to Care

An analysis of demographic data in New Hampshire released today reveals the significant and growing need for a national paid family and medical leave plan that covers all working people in the state for the full range of serious caregiving and medical reasons. The release kicks off a series of nationwide activities marking next Monday’s 25th anniversary of the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which provides unpaid leave. Across the country, working people, businesses, lawmakers, advocates and others will come together on the ground and online to celebrate the law’s progress, recognize state and private sector innovations and call for a national paid family and medical leave policy that advances the movement for more equitable and family friendly workplaces.

The new analysis was conducted by the National Partnership for Women & Families. The full set of findings for New Hampshire is available here. Similar findings for all 50 states and the District of Columbia can be found at NationalPartnership.org/PaidLeaveMeansMap.

“Twenty-five years after the FMLA was signed into law, it is past time to take the next step by ensuring paid leave for all working people,” said Debra L. Ness, president of the National Partnership, which drafted and led the fight for the FMLA. “The FMLA has transformed our workplaces and culture in tremendously positive ways, but these data show that unpaid leave is inaccessible for too many people. Working people and families are caught between the demands of their jobs and their families, and as a result, our economy and businesses are not reaching their full potential.”

The New Hampshire analysis sheds light on why the failure of policymakers and the private sector to guarantee paid family and medical leave is causing people in the state to experience conflicts between their jobs and their families. For example, women, and especially women of color, are key breadwinners for their families while also continuing to be primary caregivers. People already have significant family and medical care needs that are increasing as the workforce ages. And the consequences for the economic well-being of families and the state can be serious when people are not able to hold paying jobs while providing and receiving critical care. Specifically:

  • In 75 percent of New Hampshire households with children – more than 180,000 homes – all parents hold jobs;
  • In less than 15 years, the share of New Hampshire’s population age 65 and older will grow by nearly 45 percent;
  • One person dies every day from a drug overdose in New Hampshire;
  • In New Hampshire, there is a 10-percentage point gap in labor force participation between men and women; and
  • A national paid leave plan would reduce the number of working families in New Hampshire facing significant economic insecurity when they need to take family and medical leave by 83 percent.

Nationally, the FMLA guarantees unpaid leave, but it is inaccessible to 58 percent of workers in New Hampshire because they either are not covered by the law or cannot afford to take the unpaid leave it provides. Just 15 percent of workers in the United States have paid family leave through their employers, and fewer than 40 percent have paid medical leave through employer-provided temporary disability insurance. California, New Jersey, Rhode Island and, as of Jan. 1, New York, have paid family leave insurance programs in place. Washington state and the District of Columbia have enacted similar measures that have not yet taken effect. Research shows that existing programs are working well and lawmakers in other states continue to use them as models as they consider programs of their own.

“The recent progress on a bipartisan proposal to establish a statewide family and medical leave insurance program shows that lawmakers are listening to the majority of New Hampshire residents who know that better workplace policies will help families, businesses and our economy,” said Amanda Sears, director of the Campaign for a Family Friendly Economy in New Hampshire. “The future of our state depends on New Hampshire being an attractive place to live, work and raise a family – access to paid leave is a critical resource for both employees and businesses that will help drive our economy forward.”

“We now have a powerful body of evidence that shows the widespread benefits of paid family and medical leave, the urgent need for it, and the key components of a meaningful policy that would promote gender and economic equality, strengthen businesses and our economy, and promote the culture change we need,” explained Vicki Shabo, vice president for workplace policies and strategies at the National Partnership. “Lawmakers who advance strong paid leave proposals demonstrate that they understand their constituents’ needs and the value we all place on knowing we can care for our loved ones without risking our jobs. Voters’ support for a strong national paid family and medical leave law cuts across parties and ideologies, and large and small companies say they support a national paid leave plan too. It is past time for all lawmakers to show the same interest in real policy solutions.”

New Hampshire lawmakers are currently considering a paid family and medical leave proposal for the state. Federally, the Family And Medical Insurance Leave (FAMILY) Act, sponsored by Sen. Gillibrand (D – N.Y.) and Rep. DeLauro (D – Conn.), is the leading paid family and medical leave proposal in Congress. Reps. Kuster and Shea-Porter are co-sponsors of the legislation. The FAMILY Act would create a national insurance program, similar to those in the states, that would be funded through small employer and employee contributions of 0.2 percent each (less than $1.50 per week each for a typical worker). It would allow workers to take up to 12 weeks of leave for serious family or medical reasons while receiving a portion of their pay.

The National Partnership’s reports for all 50 states and the District of Columbia are available here. They were released in advance of the 25th anniversary of the signing of the FMLA, which is Feb. 5. To celebrate the day and advance the movement for paid leave, a broad and diverse coalition of organizations is joining with businesses, state and local lawmakers, and working people across the country to call for a national paid family and medical leave law like the FAMILY Act. Supporters will be sending messages to Congress, hosting events, sharing stories with the media and their networks, and using #FMLA25 and #PaidLeaveMeans on social media.

For more information on paid family and medical leave, including details on existing laws, a summary of recent employer policy announcements, a collection of fact sheets and the latest research on the impact of paid leave policies, visit NationalPartnership.org/PaidLeave.

 

*Figure calculated using new data released by Brandeis University’s diversitydatakids.org.

Kuster, Shea-Porter Vote Against Continuing Resolution For Good Reasons

In a flurry of activity yesterday, the U.S. House passed yet another continuing resolution to keep the government open for another 30 days.  The bill passed by a vote of 230-197.

Many of the House Democrats opposed this short term resolution.  Congresswoman Annie Kuster (NH-02) voted against the bill and released the following:

“Short-term funding measures are no way to run government. It’s disappointing that Congressional Republicans are unwilling to sit down and work across the aisle to provide long-term certainty for important programs that Granite State families rely on. Their short-term funding measure fails to address critical needs, including resources to combat the opioid epidemic, support our veterans, fund our community health centers, and protect young Dreamers. It’s time Congressional Republicans rolled up their sleeves and sat down with Democrats to develop a responsible long-term budget that will produce real results for the American people.”

Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter (NH-01) also opposed the continuing resolution and released the following:

“I refuse to join House Republicans in abandoning the fundamental tasks of governing by kicking the can down the road yet again on the most basic responsibility we have, funding the government. In a hearing this afternoon, Admiral John M. Richardson, Chief of Naval Operations, said, ‘I can’t in good conscience testify before Congress about naval power without mentioning the toxic and corrosive effect of nine years of continuing resolutions and years under the Budget Control Act…The absence of stable and adequate funding for defense makes everything that our sailors and their commanders do harder. On a scale of one to ten, the importance of stable and adequate funding scores an 11.’

“This is now the fourth extension, and it is time to end the harmful cycle of lurching between short-term funding bills with the now monthly threat of a government shutdown.

“This bill fails to:

  • Increase resources directed at the opioid epidemic fight
  • Provide predictable funding for our military and veterans’ access to health care
  • Help disaster-stricken communities
  • Extend funding for community health centers

“These monthly failures to govern are simply unacceptable, and they need to end. I will continue to stand up for Granite Staters, who are sick and tired of the constant dysfunction and excuses. We need to work together to find long-term solutions to the critical issues facing our nation, instead of kicking the can down the road one month at a time.”

 

This is not how a government is intended to work.  We can have differences in our funding priorities, but then we sit down and hash out our differences like adults.  Congress needs to grow up and do what is best for the country and pass a serious multi-year budget that meets the needs of the government and the people.

New Hampshire House To Hold Public Hearing On Two Bill Aimed At Relaxing Gun Safety Laws

This Wednesday, January 10th, the two New Hampshire House committees will be taking up bills relating to allowing guns in schools and removing your city or town’s rights to prohibit firearms on public property.

The first is HB 1749, an act “relative to the state’s authority to prohibit or regulate firearms and relative to the selectmen’s authority to manage town property.”  This bill, being considered by the House Municipal and County Government committee wants to remove a municipalities ability to prohibit firearms on community property.  

Even though RSA 159:26 gives cities and towns the right to create ordinances to protect the safety of their residents, legislators in Concord disagree.  They feel that cities like Lebanon violated the law when they banned guns on school property or at school sponsored events (off campus).

These legislators want to take away the city’s ability to prohibit guns in our schools.  They want to be able to tell the Town of Milford that they must allow people to conduct target practice on town property.

The committee hold a public session on this bill Wednesday, January 10th at 10am in Reps Hall. Take a moment to tell the committee how you feel about the State Legislators taking away the towns rights to protect their own residents. (Email the committee directly)

The Second bill is HB 1542, “an act relative to carrying a pistol or revolver on university system and community college system property.” 

This bill is plain and simple:

“This bill allows any person who is not otherwise prohibited by state or federal law to carry a pistol or revolver on the exterior grounds of any university system of New Hampshire and community college system of New Hampshire property.”

They want to make it legal to carry guns on college campuses.  If this law goes through it is a disaster waiting to happen.

The committee hold a public session on this bill Wednesday, January 10th at 10:40 am in LOB 204. Take a moment to tell the committee how you feel about the State Legislators allowing guns on college campuses. (Email the committee directly)

Proposed New Law Could Require Up To 3 Months Rent Before Moving In

Renting an apartment is not easy.  Some places require first month’s rent and a security deposit equal to a month’s rent before you can even move in.  This is a lot of money.  The New Hampshire Coalition to End Homelessness reported that the median fair market rent for a two bedroom apartment is $1259 a month.  This means you would have to put up $2500  just to move in.

For the landlord, the security deposit is to ensure that the tenant leaves the rental in the same shape as when they first moved in.  If the tenant leaves the rental in good shape the renter would get their security deposit returned to them.  In most cases the landlord uses the security deposit to clean and freshen up the apartment and returns the unused amount to the tenant. In many cases, tenants never see their security deposits returned to them after the leave.

A group of New Hampshire legislators is looking to make it harder for people to rent and more profitable for landlords by increasing the amount a landlord can charge for a security deposit.

Introduced this week, House Bill 1485, would allow landlords to collect a security deposit equal to two month’s rent up front as a condition of the rental agreement.  Currently the law only allows for a maximum of one month’s rent.  With this change a renter could be forced to come up with $3,700 up front to move into their new apartment.

This is an exorbitant amount of money for most people.

According to a  2015 study, “62% of Americans have less than $1,000 in their savings accounts and 21% don’t even have a savings account.”  They continued by saying “62% of Americans have no emergency savings for things such as a $1,000 emergency room visit or a $500 car repair.”

If if the average American cannot come up with $500 dollars for an emergency repair on their car, how are they going to come up with $3,700 for a downpayment on an apartment?  This also speaks to the fact that we need to raise the minimum wage to a real living wage, but I digress.

This bill is unnecessary and spiteful. Even paying two months rent up front is hard enough, making them pay three is obscene.  Making it a “security deposit” that they may or may not get back is even worse.  One month’s rent for a security deposit is more than ample. If the tenant does more damage than the security deposit covers, take them to court.

The legislature should kill this bill.

Republicans In The New Hampshire Senate Pass “Poll Tax” On Voters

The Senate voted to change the residency requirements when registering to vote that could cost new voters hundreds of dollars. 

Today, the Republican-controlled New Hampshire Senate voted along party lines to pass HB372, the voter suppression legislation that would create a de facto poll tax by redefining residency in the state. Governor Sununu was pressured to oppose the bill after struggling to walk back his widely debunked voter fraud claims from the 2016 election. Sununu did, however, sign voter suppression legislation SB3 into law in July. The NHDP is currently suing the state to undo SB3.

“HB 372 is a political ploy to slow progress by making it harder for young people to participate in our democracy. This legislation creates a de facto poll tax and disenfranchises eligible New Hampshire voters. This bill clearly targets college students, who have every legal right to vote here. We should be encouraging students to stay here and remain a part of their communities after college, but HB 372 does the exact opposite,” said Senator Jeff  Woodburn, the Democratic Leader from Whitefield.

“It is disappointing to see Senate Republicans take another step toward voter suppression, building on the SB 3 voter suppression law, which was signed into law just six months ago and which is still being challenged in court. Governor Sununu has opposed HB 372 and he would be wise to veto it if the bill makes it to his desk. We urge the governor to keep that promise for the sake of protecting the right to vote in the Granite State,” Woodburn added.

New Hampshire Democratic Party Chair, Ray Buckley blasted the Republicans in the Senate after they voted for this “Poll Tax”.

“Less than six months after Governor Sununu signed the last voter suppression bill into law, Republicans are at it again. Today, they voted for a bill that would create a de facto poll tax and redefine state residency. Once again, Republicans offered no evidence of voter fraud or rationale for disenfranchising eligible voters, instead relying on voter fraud lies propagated by President Trump and Governor Sununu.”

“This bill is only a priority for the elected politicians who stand to gain from disenfranchising voters who aren’t likely to vote for their reelection,” said Jason Kander, President of Let America Vote. “If every state passed a law like HB 372, college students may not be able to vote at all. Instead of including folks in their agenda who aren’t likely to vote Republican, the New Hampshire GOP has launched a sustained attack on the voting rights of groups who disagree with them. Governor Sununu already said he would never support anything that suppresses the student vote and that he opposes this bill. If HB 372 passes the House, Governor Sununu must make good on his promise. We’re opening a Let America Vote office in New Hampshire to make it clear to politicians like Senators Birdsell and Gray that if they make it harder to vote, we’re going to make it harder for them to get reelected.”

The bill now heads to Governor Sununu, who when asked about the bill last month said he “hates it” and “hoped the legislature would kill it.” Since the video was made public, Sununu’s opposition has wavered and has failed to confirm that he will veto the bill.

“At a time when our state needs to be attracting and retaining young people, It’s incredibly disheartening to see Republican leadership push Millennials away with bills like HB 372,” said New Hampshire Young Democrats Executive Director Amelia Keane. “Even Governor Sununu agrees that HB 372 ‘could result in the suppression of the vote‘ and ‘would never survive in court.’ Rather than focusing on these restrictive measures, we should be working towards modernizing and securing our elections.”

“We urge Governor Sununu to stay true to his word and veto HB 372,” Keane added.

Attack On Voting Rights To Come Up For Vote In NH Senate Next Week

For months now we have talked about the Republican attack on voting rights as they pushed HB 372 through the New Hampshire House. The bill would redefine “domicile” status for voting purposes, effectively forcing registrants to declare residency upon registering to vote, chilling the right to vote for college students in New Hampshire. The bill would also require that anyone who votes in New Hampshire legally change their residency to New Hampshire and would be required to pay all the fees associated with changing their residency.

On January 3rd, the New Hampshire State Senate is expected to discuss and vote on HB 372.  Voting rights advocates are encouraging everyone to attend the Senate session.

HB 372 Legislative Vote
Wednesday January 3rd, 9:15am
State House, Concord
RSVP via Facebook 

College students and voting rights groups have been outspoken in their opposition to this bill from the beginning.

“HB 372 serves one purpose: to drastically decrease student turnout on campuses across New Hampshire,” said University of New Hampshire sophomore Isabella Arms. “Thousands of students, like me, move to New Hampshire every year to learn and contribute to our communities, with the hope of staying here to start our careers. However every year, Republicans in Concord make it their priority to disenfranchise the exact group of people they need to attract and retain in order for our state to grow and thrive. The state benefits from students like us when it means getting more federal money or electoral clout, but they don’t think we count when it comes to voting for local issues that affect us, including preventing tuition hikes or investing in workforce training.”

“Senator Sanborn’s amendment to House Bill 372 is the New Hampshire GOP’s latest attempt to stop college students from voting,” said Let America Vote President Jason Kander. “Last session’s Senate Bill 3 is still in court, but that isn’t keeping Republicans from trying to further stop eligible New Hampshire voters from voting. When a college student registers to vote, they shouldn’t be threatened with possible legal penalties for how their car is registered. Voter registration should be a simple, straightforward process for all eligible Granite Staters. This is classic voter suppression, and it’s clearly a Republican priority to stop college students in New Hampshire from being able to vote in the state where they spend the most time.

When confronted by a young activist, Governor Chris Sununu said he “hated the bill” and “hopes the legislature kills it.” (The interaction was caught in the short video below.)

However after making the bold statement he would veto the legislation for its attack on the voting rights of college students, his resolve seems to be wavering.

Sununu told reporters, “There are some aspects that I’m supportive of, but there’s also some potential unintended consequences, and that’s what makes myself and some other folks across the state nervous. And that’s why we’ve asked them to go back and really take a look at not just what they’re trying to achieve but what the unintended consequences might be.”

With a Republican majority in the Senate there is a reasonable probability this bill will pass the Senate. This is why we need to reach out to our Senators and tell them to oppose this bill and kill it once and for all.

Make your voice heard and call your State Senator today!


America Votes will be holding phone banking sessions on:

  • Friday, December 29th from 5 pm to 7 pm
  • Tuesday, January 2nd from 5 pm to 7 pm

If you would like to help us with phonebanks please sign up here and America Votes will contact you directly. 

(Leo W Gerard) Offshorers Demand: No Taxes, No Risk

Ford is moving its electric vehicle factory to Mexico. PHOTO BY MIKE MOZART/FLICKR

Ford hit Michigan and its auto workers with some crappy holiday news. Instead of building a $700 million electric vehicle factory in Michigan as promised in January, Ford will construct the plant in Mexico.

Ford reneged on its promise to Michigan workers just days after the Senate passed a tax plan intended to end levies on corporate profits made at factories offshore – in places like Mexico. News of the letdown also arrived just days before new negotiations on a revised North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) are to begin in Washington, D.C.

Ford and other giant corporations got what they wanted out of Republicans on taxes, dramatically lower levies on domestic profits and total elimination on foreign profits. That makes Mexico an even more attractive manufacturing site for them than NAFTA did. So now they’re lobbying the Trump administration hard to retain the privileges that NAFTA bestowed on them. If they win that argument, they’ll have secured double incentives to offshore.

Trump administration officials don’t sound like they’re buying the corporate line, however. And they shouldn’t. NAFTA has cost Americans nearly a million jobs as thousands of factories migrated to Mexico. As he campaigned, President Trump promised untold numbers of factory workers and their families across the nation’s industrial belt that he would fix or end NAFTA to keep jobs and industry in America. He needs to keep that promise.

That means elimination of the Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) scam that allows corporations to sue governments in secret courts presided over by corporate lawyers when legislatures pass laws corporations don’t like. That means standing strong on the Trump administration demands that the new pact expire in five years if it’s not working and that a substantial portion of automobiles – including Fords – be made in the USA to attain duty-free status. It means strong protection for workers’ right to organize and collectively bargain. It means substantially raising the Mexican minimum wage, which now stands at $4.70. That’s for a day, not an hour.

What it really means is prioritizing the needs of workers over the demands of corporations, something that was not done the first time around by NAFTA negotiators. As it stands now, NAFTA places all of the jeopardy on the shoulders of workers and communities while substantially eliminating normal business risks for corporations.

The jeopardy NAFTA created for workers is that its corporate-friendly provisions prompt employers to close American factories that sustain both workers and communities and move them to Mexico. This exodus of American manufacturing to Mexico has continued apace this year, even as the Trump administration began renegotiating NAFTA, probably because corporations assume they’ll get everything they want in the end. They have, after all, always done so in the past because they are, after all, massive political campaign donors and lobby firm patrons, while hourly workers are not.

Bloomberg reported in October, for example, that firms whose function it is to help corporations move factories from the United States to Mexico had a boom year in 2017, with one reporting it had done more offshoring this year than in any during the previous three decades.

Mexico is alluring because of its dirt-cheap wage rates, the paucity of environmental enforcement and the ISDS scam that lets corporations sue the government if Mexico would regulate in a way some CEO claims would crimp his profits.

The ISDS along with NAFTA’s unlimited lifespan reduce risk for corporations. Normal business decisions in capitalist systems involve some jeopardy. A chemical company could, for example, invest in developing a new pesticide, but then lose when the government bans the product after determining it kills babies as well as bugs.

NAFTA provides corporations with investment protection because it ensures they’ll get their profits even if a government changes regulations. ISDS enables corporations to sue to recoup money the corporations supposedly would have made if the government hadn’t issued new laws or regulations. The corporate-run court can order a country’s citizens to pay tens of millions to the corporation.

Some say this government-financed investment insurance corrupts capitalism. Among the significant people who have is U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer. He said corporations are insisting the government absolve CEOs of political risk. CEOs are using ISDS as a guarantee rather than buying risk insurance or factoring political risk into economic decisions about whether to move.

Lighthizer said businessmen have literally told him the administration cannot change ISDS because corporations wouldn’t have invested in Mexico without it. “I’m thinking,” he said, “‘Well, then, why is it a good policy of the United States government to encourage investment in Mexico?’”

These are the same corporate honchos who object to a five-year sunset clause for a new NAFTA, he said. They want a free eternal warranty on the provisions of a deal they describe as the world’s greatest. Lighthizer’s response is that if the deal is so great, why would the government choose to end it after five years? What are they really worried about?

The worry may be that those CEOs know NAFTA is great for their bottom line but not for the workers who elected Donald Trump President.

They know NAFTA was drafted by CEOs for CEOs. Its priorities were determined by corporate bigwigs behind doors closed to the public. Corporations designed it at the expense of workers and ordinary citizens, Joseph Stiglitz, the Nobel Prize winning economist, said in an op-ed in the Guardian newspaper this week.

It often seems, he wrote, “that workers, who have seen their wages fall and jobs disappear, are just collateral damage – innocent but unavoidable victims in the inexorable march of economic progress. But there is another interpretation of what has happened: one of the objectives of globalization was to weaken workers’ bargaining power. What corporations wanted was cheaper labor, however they could get it.”

U.S. corporations like Ford got it by writing a trade deal that gave them market-distorting profit protections, then abandoning their dedicated American workers and moving to Mexico where they could pay $4.70 a day and pollute unfettered.

President Trump has threatened to withdraw from NAFTA if his negotiators can’t get new reasonable terms that protect American manufacturing and American workers.

That is right. It’s appropriate that corporations like Ford sustain the actual risk of offshoring rather than workers bearing it all.

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