Shea-Porter Cosponsors Legislation to Fix SCOTUS Hobby Lobby Decision

Carol Shea Porter Official Photo

WASHINGTON, DC – Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter (NH-01) will help introduce legislation in response to the Supreme Court’s Burwell v. Hobby Lobby decision to restrict women’s access to health care. The bill would ensure that women’s health care decisions are not at the mercy of their bosses’ religious beliefs.

“In the 21st century, for-profit corporations should not be allowed to block employees’ access to critical preventive health services like birth control,” Shea-Porter said. “I’m pleased that this legislation extends proper protection to religious employers and non-profit institutions, and I urge Congress to act now to avert the negative consequences of the Supreme Court’s disturbing decision and make clear that women and their doctors, not their bosses or politicians, have control over personal health care decisions.”

The Protect Women’s Health from Corporate Interference Act of 2014 would explicitly prohibit for-profit employers that maintain a group health plan for its employees from using their personal religious beliefs as a justification to deny employees coverage of contraception or any other vital health service required by federal law. The bill exempts federally mandated health services from the Religious Freedom Restoration Act while keeping in place the existing exemption for religious employers (e.g., houses of worship) and accommodation of religious non-profits that do not wish to offer direct coverage for contraceptives.

The legislation will be introduced by Reps. Louise M. Slaughter (D-NY), Diana DeGette (D-CO), and Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) in the House, where Rep. Shea-Porter is an original cosponsor.  Senators Patty Murray (D-WA) and Mark Udall (D-CO) are introducing companion legislation in the Senate.

Almost 100 percent of American women use birth control at some point in their lives. The Centers for Disease Control declared it one of the Ten Great Public Health Achievements of the 20th Century. For millions of Americans, contraception coverage is a vital economic and health benefit, allowing women and families to avoid unplanned pregnancies and treat other health conditions.

After the Hobby Lobby decision, Shea-Porter called the court’s all-male majority opinion “incredibly disappointing,” and noted that “this decision will only make some women’s lives even more difficult, and leaves me wondering what’s next from this activist Supreme Court.”

Congresswoman Kuster Statement on NH Department of Transportation Construction Delays Due to Lack of Federal Funding for Highway Trust Fund

Rep Annie Kuster

Kuster urges passage of her DRIVE Now Act, which would replenish the Highway Trust Fund and ensure NH summer construction projects can continue

Rep Annie Kuster (4-14-14)

CONCORD, NH – This afternoon, Congresswoman Annie Kuster (NH-02) released the following statement regarding the New Hampshire Department of Transportation’s  announcement that $25 million worth of summer construction projects will be delayed until next year due to uncertainty regarding the federal Highway Trust Fund, which is set to drop below a critical funding threshold by August, and completely run out of money before September unless Congress acts. Kuster has introduced the DRIVE Now Act, which would replenish the Trust Fund and allow vitally important summer construction projects in New Hampshire to continue.

“I’m very disappointed to learn that the New Hampshire Department of Transportation is being forced to push $25 million worth of summer construction projects back until next year due to uncertainty regarding the Highway Trust Fund,” said Congresswoman Kuster. “The Highway Trust Fund helps states complete much-needed road and infrastructure repairs, and here in New Hampshire these projects are vital to the safety of Granite State drivers. What’s more, our construction workers rely on these jobs during the busy summer construction season, so delaying these projects will hurt both our public safety and our state’s economy.”

“I have been urging Congress to take action since early this year. That’s why I introduced the DRIVE Now Act, which would replenish the Highway Trust Fund and allow these Granite State summer construction projects to continue. I’m very disappointed that Congress has failed to act on this, and I call on my colleagues to immediately pass my legislation so these projects that are so crucial to our economy will not face any additional delays.”

In May, Congresswoman Kuster introduced H.R. 4601, the DRIVE Now Act, which would ensure that the Highway Trust Fund remains solvent for the remainder of the fiscal year.  The Trust Fund, which provides crucial funding to states for transportation and infrastructure projects like the I- 93 expansion, which Kuster toured earlier this year, is expected to drop below a critical funding threshold by August.  Kuster’s DRIVE Now Act (Deficit Reduction for Infrastructure, Value, and Efficiency Now Act) would prevent the Fund from running dry and ensure our summer construction projects can continue.

The DRIVE Now Act would make a one-time payment of $5 billion to the Highway Trust Fund to pay for transportation projects for the remainder of Fiscal Year 2014, which ends September 30, 2014, and allow Congress time to pass a reauthorization to surface transportation programs.  At the same time, the bill would reduce the deficit by taking common sense steps to eliminate a costly and duplicative catfish inspection program, consolidate federal data centers, and force federal agencies to close long-empty bank accounts.  These combined actions would reduce spending by more than $10 billion, offsetting the $5 billion payment for the Highway Trust Fund, and further reducing the nation’s deficit.

Why It Is A Bad Idea For Teachers To Be “Packing Heat” At School

Image by Jimi Lanham CC Flickr

It seems like every few weeks we are hearing about another school shooting or unstable individual attacking innocent people in the streets.

For some people the answer is always the same, more guns!

Fact: More guns do not mean people are safer. Research shows the exact opposite.

More Guns = More Accidental Shootings: People of all age groups are significantly more likely to die from unintentional firearm injuries when they live in states with more guns, relative to states with fewer guns.”

To counter the increase in schools shooting some school boards have approved allowing teachers to carry weapons in schools. Are you prepared for teachers in your local schools to be carrying concealed weapons, ready to shoot at any moment?

In 2012, less than one week after the horrific shootings at Newton, the NRA called for more guns in our schools. The American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten, who represented the teachers at Sandy Hook and thousands more across the country, issued a statement.

AFT President Weingarten  (Photo by Bruce Gilbert)

AFT President Weingarten (Photo by Bruce Gilbert)

This is both irresponsible and dangerous. No matter how much money the NRA spends or propaganda it tries to spread, one thing is clear—the NRA is not serious about confronting the epidemic of gun violence in our nation.”

Schools must be safe sanctuaries, not armed fortresses. Anyone who would suggest otherwise doesn’t understand that our public schools must first and foremost be places where teachers can safely educate and nurture our students.”

Lily Eskelsen Garcia, Vice President of the National Education Association, completely rejects the idea, being pushing by legislators and school boards, of arming teachers.  As she phrased it, “People that would put our children, teachers, and janitors at risk do not deserve their office.”

Woman Shooting at Target (Image by Jimi Lanham CC Flickr)

Image by Jimi Lanham CC Flickr

If you live in Kansas, armed teachers will very soon be a reality! They are already using taxpayer money to pay for training programs.

Read this, “Armed Missouri teachers will have ’90 percent’ accuracy, firearm instructors promise

I am personally appalled by this idea because I read every day about another person who is killed by accidental gun violence. I do not want to read about how a teacher accidentally shot their second grade student.

“Shield Solutions training supervisor Don Crowley vowed that his students would have an accuracy of 90 to 95 percent at the end of five days of training.”

Really? A 90% accuracy after just five days of training? Hogwash!

I will concede that someone who is training for five days straight may be able to pass a test with “90%” accuracy, but that does not mean that in a month, or a year, that those gun-wielding teachers will still have the same accuracy.

Consider this, a study of New York City police officers involved in a ‘fire fight’ have an accuracy rating of only 18%. These are trained professionals who go through rigorous weapons training, regular accuracy tests, and yet they only average 18%!

What makes anyone think that a one week training class for teachers would make them more accurate that the entire New York Police department? There is serious difference between standing on a range, firing bullets at a paper target, and a person holding a gun, that is pointed at you, and is shooting back.

31,000 Americans died from gunshot wounds in 2010, and another 73,000 Americans were hospitalized with non-fatal gunshot wounds.   “From 2005-2010, almost 3,800 people in the U.S. died from unintentional shootings.” Over 1,300 of those were people under the age of 25.

What about the teacher who is careless and leaves their gun in a desk, unlocked, unguarded, where children are definitely present? Do not lie to yourself by saying this would never happen, because you know it would only be a matter of time.

The New Yorkers Against Gun Violence reported:

“The majority of people killed in firearm accidents are under age 24, and most of these young people are being shot by someone else, usually someone their own age. The shooter is typically a friend or family member, often an older brother.”

There are dozens of other examples of “responsible gun owners” who have shot themselves or others accidentally.

Do we really want this remote possibility in our schools???

I don’t.

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In a side note: New Hampshire Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter and Mike Thompson (CA-05)  lead  163 House Members in Calling for a Vote on Gun Violence Prevention Legislation

High Praise From All Sides For Indiana’s New Common Construction Wage Law

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New Video Highlights Benefits of Indiana’s
Common Construction Wage Law


Hoosier Job Creators Say CCW Law Works!

Indianapolis, IN: A new video release highlights the value and benefit of Indiana’s Common Construction Wage (CCW) law. The Common Construction Wage law is Indiana’s version of prevailing wage and mandates that the prevailing wages in an area be paid on public construction projects over $350,000.

The video, which includes interviews with various business leaders, local politicians, and academics throughout Indiana, emphasizes the benefits of the Common Construction Wage law to Indiana businesses and local communities as well as the state’s overall economy.

The video, named Common Construction Wage Works!, also makes clear the fact that the Common Construction Wage issue is a bi-partisan issue since interviews take place on both sides of the political spectrum.

Terre Haute’s Republican Mayor Duke Bennett praised the new law by saying that the Common Construction Wage law provides “stability for workers.”  He goes on to explain the fact that if workers have a stable wage, it benefits the community, as workers can buy new homes and spend money in local shops.

Mayor Bennett continued to praise the law by showing how the law helps with the cities budgetary process, providing a guide for what construction labor costs will be on upcoming projects.

“It is extremely important to our economy, because the people who are building our roads are from the local community,” stated State Representative Ed Soliday (R–IN4).  Soliday explained how using federal and state money on local project creates between 7-10 jobs for the local community.  “We create multiple jobs, and that money stays in the local community”

The CCW “levels the playing field for all the contractors competing on the same projects” said Brent Smith President and CEO of Crown Electric, INC.  Smith talked about how other contractors were trying to undercut local contractors by bringing in out of state workers and playing less than a prevailing wage.  Since over 50% of Crown Electric’s business comes from the state, these unscrupulous contractors are threatening to destroy his business.

In addition to interviews with business leaders and elected officials, the video also includes interviews with academics familiar with the many studies that have been done on issues surrounding prevailing wage laws.

AFT Pres. Weingarten Praises Senate Passage Of The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, Calls For Action From US House

AFT_Logo-2

WASHINGTON—Statement of AFT President Randi Weingarten on the Senate’s bipartisan passage of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act:

“During a time of unprecedented partisan gridlock in Washington, today the U.S. Senate passed a bipartisan bill that will extend the ladder of opportunity to middle-class workers and families by addressing one of the most pressing challenges facing this country—training the American workforce for the 21st-century economy.

“Our new economy continues to change, and our workers must too. As we continue to dig out from the Great Recession, America has an urgent need to educate, train and retrain workers so they can compete for good jobs. This bill will empower young people, the disabled, the long-term unemployed and those barely getting by on hourly wages, to become economically self-sufficient.

“The American people expect leadership out of Washington, and today members of the Senate proved they could put their differences aside to advocate on behalf of the middle class and stand with our nation’s workers. It’s time for the House of Representatives to show the same commitment and pass the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act immediately.”

Senate Passes Shaheen Backed Legislation To Improve On-The-Job Training Programs

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Jobs legislation expands on-the-job training 

(Washington, DC) – The U.S. Senate approved bipartisan legislation today to improve the nation’s workforce development system and prioritize on-the-job training (OJT) programs that have been championed by U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH). With OJT programs included, the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) will modernize and improve existing federal workforce development programs, help workers attain the skills necessary for 21st-century jobs, and foster the modern workforce that evolving American businesses rely on to compete.

“On-the-job training programs are a proven way to help the unemployed find and keep a job while making sure businesses have incentives to hire,” Shaheen said. “The bipartisan jobs plan the Senate passed today is great news for New Hampshire’s economy and job seekers around the country, and I urge the House to pass this common-sense plan so we can help Americans who need jobs find and keep work.”

Shaheen has been a strong advocate for workforce training programs that give American workers the knowledge and skills needed to compete for quality jobs, and has introduced bipartisan legislation with Senator Thad Cochran (R-MI), the On-the-Job Training Act, to help Americans obtain employment and learn the skills they need to keep it.

The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act significantly expands opportunities for OJT, supporting access to real-world education and workforce development while encouraging businesses to expand hiring. The legislation requires state workforce investment boards to disseminate information identifying OJT opportunities and boosts incentives for employers to participate in OJT programs. Additionally, the bill focuses on career pathways and prioritizes work-based learning opportunities for out-of-school youth, including OJT, to give them the support they need to build successful careers.

OJT programs connect unemployed workers with jobs and provide employers with training subsidies, and have a proven track record as one of the most effective ways of helping unemployed workers gain new skills to find and retain employment. In New Hampshire, OJT, or “earn while you learn,” has proven particularly beneficial for long-term unemployed workers who might otherwise have not been able to find work and for employers who have been able to bring on additional staff to sustain and grow their businesses. According to a 2014 White House report, OJT agreements have been established with more than 170 New Hampshire companies in numerous industries including the manufacturing, service, information technology, telecommunications, engineering, medical, construction, energy and administration industries. As of the report’s January release, 96 percent of exited New Hampshire OJT participants remained employed six months after exiting the program, 86 percent of whom were still on the payroll of their OJT employer or OJT-related employer, rates significantly above other federal job training programs.

NH Needs Two Senators Who Are Willing To Stand Up For Recent College Grads

Who Supports College Grads 2

Who Supports College Grads 2One New Hampshire Senator is standing up for students…

….while the other Senator is “not voting.”

“Across the country people are struggling with the increasing costs of higher education and that’s hurting our students and our economy,” Sen. Jeanne Shaheen has said. “This is especially true in New Hampshire, where an estimated 74 percent of students graduate with debt averaging nearly $33,000. Our plan represents an important step toward addressing the student loan crisis by helping borrowers refinance their student loans and pay down their debts.”

Where’s New Hampshire’s other Senator, on this issue? Can’t really tell; there seems to be some kind of a “Where’s Waldo?” thing going on.

When Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren filed her “Bank on Students Emergency Loan Refinancing Act” – which would drastically reduce the burden of debt for college grads – New Hampshire’s Sen. Shaheen was quick to co-sponsor the bill.

Sen. Warren was outraged that the federal government collects over “$66 billion in profits from student loans originated between 2007 and 2012.” “The government should not be making profits off the backs of our students,” she told the Huffington Post. “Period.”

“That is wrong. It is morally wrong. That is obscene,” Warren stated. “Let’s give [students] the same great deal that the banks get,”

But the Senate can’t act on the bill because of a filibuster.

Last week’s vote to end the filibuster came up four votes short. Sen. Shaheen voted to allow the Senate to consider the bill. But where was New Hampshire’s other Senator? While she could have been helping “get government off the backs” of debt-burdened students?

Here’s Sen. Shaheen’s statement, after the “Bank on Students Emergency Loan Refinancing Act” failed to overcome the GOP filibuster.

“I am disappointed that the Republican leadership in the Senate blocked a plan to help young people and families in New Hampshire and around the country see some relief from overwhelming student debt. Allowing eligible borrowers to refinance their student loans is the right thing to do for them and for our economy, and I will continue to fight for ways to make college more affordable and to help students get out of debt.”

Here’s what the Concord Monitor had to say: “Sen. Kelly Ayotte did not vote.”

And the Boston Globe: “Ayotte was in New Hampshire for a family event, her office says.”

And this is where it gets confusing.

According to her Facebook Page and her press releases, Sen. Ayotte was meeting with “David Lahme, President of TradePort USA, to discuss her ongoing efforts to protect businesses in New Hampshire.”

But then there are the roll calls. According to the US Senate,

Yet during that very same day, she was reportedly in New Hampshire for a “family event” and met with David Lahme at her office in Washington, D.C.

Got a really good travel agent? Racking up frequent flyer miles? Teleportation? In two places at once?

Or is it possible that just maybe Sen. Ayotte was purposely avoiding this vote?

Does Sen. Ayotte care at all about college students in New Hampshire, which ranks second highest in student loan debt?

I can’t help but wonder why Sen. Ayotte – who up until recently had one of the best voting records in the country – has missed seven votes within the last three months. That’s as many votes as she she had missed – total – in the three years between taking office and April 2014.

Senator Ayotte is not up for reelection until 2016. But between now and then, people should remember which Senators sided with millionaires over students, and which Senators were willing to let the federal government “pocket an additional $185 billion in profits on new student loans made over the next 10 years.”

Last week, one New Hampshire Senator stood up for students – and against using them as a source of federal revenue.

But where, exactly, was our other Senator?

Senators Introduce Legislation To Protect Motorcycle Riders Rights

Motorcycle rider (image Philo Nordlund)

Motorcycle rider (image Philo Nordlund)Bipartisan amendment would prohibit
motorcycle-only checkpoints for one year
 

(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Ron Johnson (R-WI), Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) today introduced a bipartisan amendment to the Senate Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Appropriations bill that would prohibit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) from issuing grants to states for motorcycle-only checkpoints for one year. The amendment is similar to legislation introduced by the Senators earlier this year. The NHTSA initiated the Motorcycle Law Enforcement Demonstration Program in 2009, which provides states with funds to conduct discriminatory, motorcycle-only checkpoints where riders are specifically targeted by police to check that their vehicles meet state standards for noise, handlebar length, tire condition and a range of other legal requirements.

The bipartisan effort would block federal resources for one year from being used to fund these types of discriminatory motorcycle-only checkpoints. Currently, motorcycle riders are already subject to state registration, inspection, licensing and helmet laws and must stop at sobriety check points like all other motorists.

“Laconia Motorcycle Week in New Hampshire is a perfect reminder of how important motorcycles are to our state’s identity and economy,” Shaheen said. “These checkpoints unfairly discriminate against motorcyclists who already must comply with registration and inspection requirements like all motorists.”

“I often hear Wisconsin motorcyclists refer to their passion for the ‘freedom of the road,’” Johnson said. “Unfortunately, those freedoms would be severally, and I would argue unconstitutionally, hindered by the presence of federally funded motorcycle-only checkpoints. Bikers should not be stopped, searched and inspected by law enforcement solely because they’re on two wheels and not four.”

“Requiring bikers to drive through motorcycle-only checkpoints is not only an ineffective use of taxpayer dollars, but it also raises legitimate questions about discrimination against motorcyclists,” Manchin said. “In West Virginia, bikers travel near and far to drive on our winding roads and enjoy the beautiful scenery, which attracts tourism and helps boost both our local and state economies. As a Harley owner myself, I am pleased to work with my colleagues on this bipartisan legislation that simply would prohibit yet another senseless and unreasonable federal regulation which could harm states’ economies.”

“With motorcyclists from across the region in New Hampshire this week for Laconia Motorcycle Week, we renew our opposition to the use of federal funds to pay for discriminatory motorcycle-only checkpoints,” Ayotte said. “Motorcyclists shouldn’t be unfairly targeted just because they’re driving a motorcycle and not a car, and our amendment would protect their rights to abide by the same laws as other motor vehicles.”

Evidence suggests that motorcycle-only checkpoints do not effectively reduce motorcycle injuries or fatalities and do not address the factors that are the main contributors to motorcycle accidents. Accordingly, NHTSA does not list the practice in its own 2013 Highway Safety Countermeasure Guide for State Highway Offices, which details policies and activities that the agency considers effective at reducing crash injuries and fatalities.

Rep Kuster Introduces Fix To Affordable Care Act’s “FAMILY GLITCH”

Ann kuster head shot LG

Congresswoman Annie Kuster Introduces Bill to Fix ACA Glitch; Increase Access to Affordable Health Coverage for New Hampshire Families

Congresswoman Kuster’s bill will fix the ACA’s “family glitch” to help families in New Hampshire and across the country access premium tax credits to get the most affordable health care coverage.  Without this fix, up to 460,000 children nationwide could be left uncovered.

WASHINGTON, DC – Congresswoman Annie Kuster has introduced the Family Coverage Act, a bill to fix a glitch in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that prevents thousands of families from accessing affordable health coverage. The Family Coverage Act will help ensure that employees who do not have access to affordable job-based coverage for their families can receive premium tax credits to help pay for family coverage.

“I’ve always said the Affordable Care Act is far from perfect, and that the ‘family glitch’ needs to be fixed. We need to improve affordable health care coverage for all Granite State families,” said Congresswoman Annie Kuster. “That’s why I was proud to introduce the Family Coverage Act, which will help ensure that families in New Hampshire have access to premium tax credits, so they can afford high-quality health insurance. I urge the House to swiftly pass this legislation, which could increase coverage for more than 460,000 children. Furthermore, I will continue to work across the aisle to push fixes to the ACA, so that every Granite Stater can access the affordable coverage they were promised when this bill was signed into law.”

Under the Affordable Care Act, large employers are required to provide “affordable” health insurance to their employees. This insurance is considered unaffordable when the employee’s share of premiums for individual coverage is more than 9.5 percent of his or her annual household income. Employees who are not offered affordable coverage can then access tax credits through the new marketplaces to help buy coverage they can afford.  Unfortunately, because of the interpretation of the law, these credits do not apply for employees who also need coverage for their families. Many times, the only option for covering spouses, children, or dependents is expensive family coverage which often pushes the employee over the 9.5 percent contribution threshold. The result is that many Granite State families miss out on premium tax credits that would make their full family coverage affordable. Kuster’s bill would fix this family glitch, so these employees can receive the tax credits they need to provide full coverage for their families – at a reasonable cost.

Kuster’s bill is supported by a number of organizations in New Hampshire and across the country that work to increase health care access for Granite State families, including New Hampshire Medical Society, New Hampshire Hospital Association, Bi-State Primary Care, NH Voices for Health, NH Kids Count, Small Business Majority, American Academy of Pediatrics, Children’s Defense Fund, Children’s Dental Health Project, Community Catalyst, Consumers Union, March of Dimes, National Health Law Program, National Immigration Law Center, First Focus Campaign for Children, and Children’s Hospital Association.

“It is evident that the ‘family glitch’ has created barriers for New Hampshire families who need affordable coverage, based on what we’ve heard from brokers, navigators and other assisters. NH Voices for Health welcomes a solution because all families deserve access to affordable coverage and because healthy families make for healthy communities in the Granite State,” said Lisa Kaplan Howe, policy director for NH Voices for Health.

Representative Kuster’s bill is cosponsored by Reps. Suzan DelBene (WA), Earl Blumenauer (OR), Matthew Cartwright (PA), Joe Crowley (NY), Lloyd Doggett (TX), Raul Grijalva (AZ), Jim McDermott (WA), Patrick Murphy (FL), Beto O’Rourke (TX), Collin Peterson (MN), Chellie Pingree (ME), David Scott (GA), Carol Shea-Porter (NH), Krysten Sinema (AZ), Bill Enyart (IL), and Peter Welch (VT). Companion legislation to this bill has been introduced by Senator Al Franken (MN).

Since she took office, Congresswoman Annie Kuster has worked across the aisle to fix problems with the Affordable Care Act, and she shares her constituents’ concerns about many aspects of the law. She cosponsored the Small Business Tax Credit Accessibility Act, which will help small businesses provide their employees with health insurance by expanding affordability tax credits for small employers.

6-16-14 AFT-NH Legislative Update: The Session Comes To A Close, A Look Back At What We Have Done

AFT NH Legislative Update

AFT NH Legislative Update

We succeeded in defeating, once again, the so called “’right to work—for less” bill. Over the past two years hundreds of NH citizens voiced opposition to this bill with only a handful of people speaking in support. This attack on working people like you is led by out of state interests such as the National Right to Work Committee and ALEC.

We succeeded in defeating a bill that would have permitted audio and video recording of a public official while in the course of performing his or her official duties. All employees, both public and private, should have a reasonable understanding that when they are performing their jobs that they are not intimidated or harassed and should have a safe working environment.

We succeeded in passing a bill relative to the filing with a registry of deeds of a fraudulent document purporting to create a lien or claim against real property. As public employees just wanting to do our jobs we should not have to worry that someone unhappy with us could go the county’s Register of Deeds and file a million dollar false claim against your property.

We succeeded in defeating retirement legislation that would hurt public employees even more that the bad legislation passed by the Republicans in the 2010-2011 sessions. AFT-NH believes that:

  • Security in retirement is something every worker deserves after a long, successful career in public service. These workers, after dedicating their working life to educating children, enforcing the law, fighting fires and helping our communities run every day, have earned a benefit that must allow them to retire with dignity.
  • The benefit should ensure a predictable cost for the employers and employees, and it should create, and sustain, a high-quality workforce that is attractive to younger workers to invest a lifetime in public service, in turn adding value to the state’s economy.
  • In exchange for a lifetime of service, workers need to rely on defined and predictable retirement security that is protected against inflationary pressures. Their benefit should ensure sound investment options and strategies that will result in post-retirement stability, even against the economic concerns of today.
  • Public sector workers need to be able to look forward to long productive service. Retirement security should be defined through investments and contributions made over a long-term investment horizon.
  • Instead of encouraging the idea that working for the public sector is less valuable than working for the private sector, New Hampshire’s retirement system benefit for public workers should set a standard, and be something larger employers in New Hampshire should emulate.
  • Public service should be viewed as a respectful vocation; a commitment by workers of service and dedication to their home state. It is service that adds value to the quality of life for NH citizens and visitors. Public service is an investment in New Hampshire and retirement security creates a financial cornerstone of the NH economy.

We were not totally successful with the following but will be advocating for comparable bills to pass in the upcoming session.

AFT-NH supported bills that would have increased transparency within charter schools. We need laws and regulations requiring full transparency in how charter schools operate and making them directly and openly accountable to the public for student performance and their admissions and enrollment policies.  We need stronger policies mandating respect and support for teacher and staff voices in school policies and programs, identification of potential conflicts of interest via disclosure requirements, and the use of public funds by charter schools in the same rigorous manner required in our public schools.

AFT-NH supported a bill that would make sure we have the necessary resources, staff development and support in moving forward with Common Core and Smarter Balance. If these Standards are to succeed, we need to ensure that in each district the following are in place when implementing the Standards:

  • There needs to be planning time for understanding the Standards and time to put them into practice,
  • We need opportunities to observe colleagues implementing Standards in class.
  • We need to provide teachers with model lesson plans aligned to Standards.
  • We must ensure textbooks/other curricula materials align with Standards.
  • We must communicate with parents on the Standards and the expectations of students.
  • We need to develop best practices and strategies along with providing coaching to help teachers teach content more deeply.
  • We need to ensure all districts have the equipment and bandwidth to administer computer-based assessments.
  • We must make sure we have fully developed curricula aligned to Standards and available to teachers.
  • We must be work to align Assessments to Standards indicating mastery of concepts.
  • We must insist that professional development and training in the Standards be offered.
  • We need to develop tools to track individual student progress on key Standards.

To read AFT-NH full statement click here.

AFT-NH supported the passage of SB 322: relative to the renomination of teachers. It is time we move back to supporting our teachers in New Hampshire. Three years is long enough to deny teachers their due process when non-renewed. When decisions with such high stakes are being made, all staff should be given reasons why, and should be given time to improve through an improvement plan.

AFT-NH supported bills that would have increased School Building Aid from the state for local districts. Keep in mind that 50% of our school buildings are over 60 years old and many need infrastructure upgrades necessary for a 21st century learning environment. We also supported a bill that would lift the current cap of 72% on catastrophic special education funds and fully fund it.

We were not successful in passing our real pension reform bill, SB 364: relative to group II service retirement allowances and relative to establishing a supplemental savings plan in the retirement system. If nothing is done, New Hampshire will be in a situation where 30 years down the road, we are going to have public employees – at the end of a career – eligible to apply for food stamps, and other social services. This puts a strain on working families by forcing our public employees into social services. This is financially irresponsible for New Hampshire and undignified for our public employees.

If you have any questions or concerns please email me at lhainey@aft-nh.org.

Thank you!

In Solidarity,
Laura Hainey

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To read the full listing of EDUCATION BILLS click here

To read the full listing of LABOR BILLS click here

To read the full listing of RETIREMENT BILLS click here

To read the full listing of MISCELLANY BILLS click here