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Senate Democrats, Underscore Dangers of Cuts to Medicaid Under Trumpcare

Trumpcare Would End Medicaid Expansion and Cut the Program by More Than $800 Billion

Democrats, Educators, Parents Outline the Harmful Impact Cutting Medicaid Would Have on Students and Their Potential in the Classroom

Children Make Up Almost 50% of Medicaid Beneficiaries, Highlighting the Disproportionate Effect Trumpcare Would Have on Children

Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Bob Casey, Maggie Hassan, and Michael Bennet outlined the harmful effects of Trumpcare on children and students as a result of Republicans’ plan to make cuts to Medicaid.  Senate Democrats will fight to ensure every child is afforded the care they need. The senators were joined by Marbea Tammaro, longtime occupational therapist at Johns Hopkins and Virginia public schools, and Julie Gerhart Rothholz of Souderton, PA, whose son, Evan, is six years old and has Down Syndrome.

Watch video of the press conference here beginning with Senator Maggie Hassan.

“Decimating Medicaid, as Republicans are scheming to do, will have devastating consequences for children in schools,” Senator Bob Casey said. “School districts in Pennsylvania need Medicaid funding to provide services for vulnerable children, yet Republicans are cutting these funds to pay for tax cuts for the wealthy.”

“As the mom of a son who experiences disabilities, my family has experienced firsthand the strengths and flaws of our health care system,” Senator Maggie Hassan said. “Children like my son are able to go to school and participate in their communities because of the Medicaid program now under threat by Trumpcare. Without the support from Medicaid, school districts would be faced with cutting services that help integrate students with disabilities. We cannot afford to go back to the days when we marginalize or don’t assist some of our most vulnerable students, and I will stand strong with the people of New Hampshire, my colleagues, and educators across the nation in fighting against this dangerous bill that would pull us backward.”

“The Republican health care plan will cut Medicaid by over $800 billion, threatening basic health care services for many children, including more than 400,000 kids in Colorado alone.” Senator Michael Bennet said. “Medicaid also supports critical services that kids receive in schools, including vision tests, screenings for mental health, and assistance for disabilities. Medicaid funding also allows schools to employ the nurses and therapists responsible for helping our kids. The extreme cut to Medicaid is one of the most harmful parts of the Republican bill, and I will continue to fight back against this assault on our children’s health.”

Marbea Tammaro said, “In our area it’s difficult to find the funding and staffing to cover the mandatory services for students with special needs. Medicaid funding in the schools provides reimbursement to school districts for these expenses…Not having access to Medicaid funding would mean fewer service for all students, both students with disabilities and students in a general education setting. We encourage continually funding of Medicaid in the schools.”

Julie Gerhart Rothholz said, “What I fear every day as a parent is that I’m going to wake up one day and we’re going to be faced with the reality of block grants, reduced funding, and health services are going to become a business decision. Every business decision doesn’t necessarily consider the student, the person that needs help as an adult. My thought is, if we’re going to talk about business, we should probably talk about investing early to save later; that we should talk about the law of unintended consequences, and that we should talk about how these are people and what we do now can promote their independence as an adult.”

Following the passage of the Affordable Care Act, 95% of students now have health coverage. Republicans’ plan to make devastating cuts to Medicaid under Trumpcare threatens the achievements made in children’s care. Care now jeopardized under Trumpcare includes vision tests in school, prescreening and treatment services for students, services for students with disabilities, and mental health services, as well as the ability for schools to employ nurses and therapists through Medicaid revenue.

VA Union Slams Pending Anti-Worker Legislation

AFGE says H.R. 1461 undermines public servants and hurts veterans’ care

WASHINGTON – In response to H.R. 1461, as amended by Rep. Jim Banks of Indiana, passing through the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs today, American Federation of Government Employees National President J. David Cox Sr. issued the following statement:

“We are sick and tired of the political witch hunt unfolding before our eyes in Congress. Federal public servants are under constant attack because of the narrow agendas of insiders on Capitol Hill, and the latest salvo makes a terrible idea even worse.

“We strongly opposed H.R. 1461 – introduced by Rep. Jodey Arrington of Texas – when it was first announced because its sole intention was to break the back of the union and undermine federal employees’ rights at work. Now, that horrendous bill has been amended to double down on Arrington’s cynical attacks and put the health care system millions of American veterans and their families rely on at risk.

“Official time allows for the very best way for federal employees to bring forward evidence of waste, fraud, and abuse.  AFGE uses official time to protect whistleblowers on issues large and small. And by denying the medical professionals who care for our nation’s heroes protections on the job, Congress is placing their misguided ideals far above the rights and needs of working people in our country’s most important health care system – many of whom are veterans themselves.

“There are more than 49,000 job vacancies in the VA right now. That means there are fewer doctors and nurses to care for veterans, fewer intake staff to handle incoming patients, and an inadequate number of support staff to keep these medical centers running. Instead of focusing on remedying the obvious problem, Congress seems content to make the hiring – and retention – of these necessary positions more difficult.

“Today we call on Congress to stop the political posturing with their extremely anti-union legislation and solve the real problem facing the VA. The men and women who served our country – and who now make up one-third of the VA’s workforce – deserve a world-class health care system. And that system is the VA. To ensure it can continue to deliver the high-level of care we know it’s capable of, Congress must vote ‘NO’ on H.R. 1461.”

Another Busy Day In Concord

NH House Acts On A Number Of Bills Including Full Day Kindergarten, Water Testing, Increase Civics Course Requirements, And Action To Censure Rep Fisher.

Yesterday was another very busy day in Concord as the House acted on many of the bills put forth by the Senate earlier in the year.

First, the House restored funding to the amended SB 191, agreeing to spend $14 million dollars to fully fund full day kindergarten.  Because the bill was changed from the one that passed the Senate, it will have to go back to the committee to finalize the details between the two bills.

“The House’s vote today in support of full-day kindergarten is a long-overdue recognition of the value that kindergarten programs provide to the development of our children.  This bill simply provides full funding for kindergarten programs in communities that offer it, finally giving kindergarten the support it deserves,” said House Democratic Leader Steve Shurtleff (D-Penacook).  “The business community recognizes the importance of early childhood education and strongly supports this bill.  I am hopeful that the House Finance Committee will reach the same conclusion in their review of this legislation.”


Another issue that has already hit the wires is the censuring of Rep Fisher for his involvement in the online “Reddit Red Pill”.  The House agreed to send the matter to the Legislative Adminstration committee for review where they will recommend reprimand, censure, expulsion, or no action.

“I was shocked to see a report linking the creation of the ‘Red Pill’ online forum to a New Hampshire State Representative,” said House Democratic Leader Steve Shurtleff (D-Penacook). “A brief search of the ‘Red Pill’ reveals that it’s central purpose is to train men how to manipulate and dominate women.  Misogynist beliefs about the intelligence of women are prevalent in ‘Red Pill’ discussions.  It is particularly troubling that Representative Fisher has shown no contrition for his actions since being revealed as the creator of this forum.”

“Referring this matter to the Legislative Administration Committee will allow for an investigation into Representative Fisher’s involvement with this forum since his election to the New Hampshire House.  As elected officials it is our duty to act with honor both inside the State House and out, and I am confident that the Legislative Administration Committee will give this serious matter the consideration it deserves,” Shurtleff added.

“The NH GOP is sending a loud message that it will work to provide political cover for individuals like Rep. Fisher who promote rape culture and misogyny,” said Zandra Rice-Hawkins, Executive Director of Granite State Progress. “There should have been no hesitation in calling out Fisher’s action and no hiding behind false equivalences.”

In an attempt to shield Rep Fisher, the House Majority Leader, Richard Hinch (R-Merrimack), stated there would be a “statute of limitations on the rape culture comments” and the committee would only investigate comments “Fisher made during the current legislative session” even though he founded and contributed to the website Red Pill over the course of many years.

The Republican’s in the House also pushed for similar actions against State Rep Sherry Frost who for making what some deemed inappropriate comments on Twitter earlier this year.  Rep Frost did already apologize for her comment.

“The NH GOP didn’t want to hold Fisher accountable, so they chose instead to target a female legislator who speaks her mind. This is the same playbook that encourages rape culture in the first place – blame the woman,” stated Rice-Hawkins.


The House approved legislation to significantly increase protections for children from lead in paint and drinking water. Senator Dan Feltes (D-Concord), prime sponsor of the legislation, offered the following comments after the bipartisan House vote:

“Today’s vote is the culmination of many months of bipartisan work by many committed stakeholders. I’m pleased that the House has joined the Senate to make this happen to protect our kids from the lifelong effects of disabling lead exposure.”

“Each year, several hundred children in New Hampshire test positive with dangerous and disabling levels of lead in their blood,” said Senator Feltes.

“SB 247 focuses on lead poisoning prevention by increasing testing, disclosures, and through modernization of our safety standards, addressing both lead in paint and lead in water. This bipartisan effort will save money in the long-run (for every dollar invested in prevention and abatement we save at least $17 dollars), help close the opportunity gap between low-income and upper-income children, and help combat a major public health problem.”

“This victory today is what it’s all about: getting things done for people that make a real difference in their lives, especially our kids.”


In an overwhelming vote of 328-30, the House of Representatives voted today to pass SB 9, which strengthens the Rape Shield Law.  SB 9 ensures that rape shield protections include the victim’s past, and apply throughout the entire criminal justice process.  The bill will now head to Governor Sununu’s desk for signature.

“Today’s vote to strengthen New Hampshire’s Rape Shield Law is critically important for victims of sexual violence.  Only 16% of rapes are currently reported to police, largely because victims fear retaliation and the public scrutiny they would endure by coming forward,” stated House Democratic Leader Steve Shurtleff (D-Penacook). “Ensuring that victims’ privacy rights are protected will allow people to come forward and seek justice without fear of their private life being broadcast to the world.”

“The strength shown by the Marriott family in their advocacy will ensure that other families are not forced to endure uncertainty, fear, and denial of rights as they seek justice.”


The House unanimously passed SB 45, legislation to increase civics course requirements for high school students. Senator Lou D’Allesandro (D-Manchester), prime sponsor of the bill, offered the following comments after passage:

“I’ve been advocating for more robust civics education in New Hampshire’s schools for years,” said Senator D’Allesandro. “Today’s students are graduating with limited knowledge of the systems and processes of the society they live and work in and without grasping their powers and responsibilities within that system. The key to increasing citizen participation and resolving some of the frustration with government that we’re seeing lately is to give people the knowledge they need to participate.  I’m glad we’ve taken this step to elevate the importance of civics education for our students.”

SB 45 creates a uniform framework for the administration of civics courses to include instruction on the U.S. Constitution, the New Hampshire Constitution, the structures and functions of federal government and how those branches interact with state and local government, opportunities and responsibilities for civic involvement and the skills to be an effective citizen.


The House passed SB 157, legislation to make clear all substance use disorder services shall be considered as part of network adequacy, and that carriers properly notify consumers of their rights, including the right to appeal and the right to access services out-of-network at the same cost as in-network. Senator Dan Feltes (D-Concord) offered the following comments after the bill was passed by unanimous consent:

“To make progress on our opioid and mental health crises, it is critically important that the New Hampshire Insurance Department finish its network adequacy rules, and promptly complete and make public its analysis of insurance carrier treatment of persons with mental health impairments,” said Senator Feltes, prime sponsor of the bill. “In the meantime, SB 157 makes it abundantly clear that substance use disorder services shall be considered as part of network adequacy analyses.  It also helps make sure consumers and their families know where to turn to for help, including when critical services are not available in their network. The first number many folks call when struggling to find mental health or substance use disorder services is the number on the back of their insurance card. SB 157 ensures that the right information is provided at the right time.”

Alliance for Retired Americans: House Health Care Vote is Appalling for Retirees, Older Americans

Raid of Medicare, cuts to Medicaid among the most problematic parts of the AHCA

The following statement was issued by Richard Fiesta, Executive Director of the Alliance for Retired Americans, in response to the House vote today to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act with the American Health Care Act.

“Retirees and older Americans who are not yet eligible for Medicare are simply appalled by today’s American Health Care Act vote.

“This bill decimates Medicaid, with more than $800 billion in cuts. Medicaid pays for the nursing home care of millions of seniors and health care for people with disabilities. The $8 billion that the GOP added to their plan at the last minute is a mere drop in the bucket compared to their cuts.

“It also robs the Medicare Trust Fund to pay for tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires. That transfer of wealth from the sick to the wealthy is unconscionable.

“The House leadership’s decision to rush the floor action means that lawmakers voted on the bill without even obtaining updated figures from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO).

“CBO estimated that the original bill would leave 24 million more Americans without health insurance after a decade, due to repeal of the subsidies and the rollback of the ACA’s Medicaid expansion in states that adopted it. We cannot rule out the possibility that more than 24 million people would lose coverage under this version of the bill.

“Despite the wheeling and dealing and vote trading, the GOP repeal bill still drops the coverage guarantee for people with pre-existing conditions, strips coverage from millions and drives up costs for millions more.

“Among people ages 55 to 64, 84 percent had at least one pre-existing condition in 2014. That has not changed since the last vote.

“It is difficult to say what the cruelest aspect of this vote is, but raiding Medicare and cutting Medicaid surely remain at the top of the list.”

NH Elected Leaders, Community Groups, And Healthcare Providers Speak Out Against Trumpcare Passage

Republicans Push Trumpcare Through House Despite Huge Opposition

Today the Republicans in the U.S. House pushed through their “repeal and replace Obamacare” legislation.  The bill passed with a four vote margin at 217-213.

“Today Republicans in the House put politics ahead of the wellbeing of millions of Americans and thousands of people throughout New Hampshire,” said Congresswoman Annie Kuster (D-NH). “The American Health Care Act threatens access to healthcare for hardworking families, removes protections for those with pre-existing conditions, increases costs for seven million veterans and Americans over 50 years old, and jeopardizes our response to the opioid addiction epidemic that is impacting communities nationwide. I’m extremely disappointed that my colleagues were so steadfast in their determination to appease the most extreme elements of their party that they disregarded the voices of their constituents. I’ve consistently expressed my willingness to work with Republicans and Democrats to improve our healthcare system for all Americans, but this misguided legislation is not the answer. I hope that as the seriously damaging elements of this bill become more clear the Senate will come together in bipartisan opposition to the AHCA.”

“The House just passed a terrible bill that will devastate so many of our citizens. I am disappointed that so many Congressional Republicans voted to take health care away from millions of Americans and to allow insurers to once again discriminate against people with pre-existing conditions,” said Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter (D-NH). “While today’s vote was a setback, I will never stop fighting for the people’s right to health care. Now, I urge my colleagues in the Senate to send this bill where it belongs: history.”

Minutes before the vote, Shea-Porter spoke on the House floor to oppose the bill, saying:

“I oppose this cruel bill on behalf of my constituents, especially those it would hurt the most: people with pre-existing conditions, older Americans, veterans, and lower-income people. If this bill passes, we will go back to the days when people with pre-existing conditions could be denied coverage or charged more, when insurers could decide whether or not to cover basic care like hospitalization, and when sick babies might hit their insurer’s lifetime coverage limit before they could even walk.”

Both NH Senators spoke out against the bill and indicate they will oppose it in the Senate.

“There is nothing in Trumpcare that helps hard-working Americans. This dangerous Trumpcare bill would lead to higher costs for less care for people across New Hampshire and the entire country,” Senator Maggie Hassan (D-NH). “If you have a preexisting condition – which under Trumpcare includes cancer, asthma or diabetes – you could once again be discriminated against with higher costs. And if you are between the ages of 50 and 65 you would face a new age tax, which is among the reasons the AARP strongly opposes this bill.

“Trumpcare would also dramatically hurt our ability to combat the heroin, fentanyl, and opioid crisis by ending Medicaid expansion and undermining the requirement that insurance companies must cover substance use disorder and behavioral health services. By cutting and capping traditional Medicaid, Trumpcare would also hurt people from students who experience disabilities to older Americans in nursing homes. And Trumpcare would defund Planned Parenthood, which provides critical health services to thousands of New Hampshire women and families,” Hassan concluded.

“President Trump and Republican leadership have recklessly rushed legislation through the House that would be devastating to the health and wellbeing of New Hampshire,” said Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH). “This bill dramatically reduces healthcare coverage across the country, increases costs for patients, and eliminates protections that prevent insurance companies from discriminating against patients with pre-existing conditions. Under this bill, insurance companies could discriminate on a wide-range of conditions and circumstances, including history of cancer, heart disease, C-sections, postpartum depression and even being the victim of sexual assault or domestic violence. It also eliminates funding for Planned Parenthood, jeopardizing access to vital preventative care services that more than 12,000 Granite State women rely on to live healthy lives, care for their families, and lead in the workforce.”

“The vote to take away health care from millions of Americans is a shameful display of partisan politics at its worst,” said Zandra Rice-Hawkins, Executive Director of Granite State Progress. “House Republicans voted to take health care away from tens of thousands of Granite Staters, abandon Americans with pre-existing conditions, slash Medicaid, and raise health care costs for all families to give over $600 billion in tax breaks to the very wealthy and the big insurance and drug companies.”

“Trumpcare will take us back to the days when insurance companies made all the rules. It will eliminate any requirement that insurers cover basic health benefits like prescription drugs, preventive services, and maternity care. It lets insurers charge people with pre-existing conditions whatever they want and it radically restructures Medicaid, over time cutting services to seniors, children and people with disabilities and shifting huge financial burdens to the state budget.”

“For years Granite Staters donned ‘I’m a Health Care Voter’ stickers and called on candidates to fix our country’s broken health care system. President Obama delivered on that promise and health care advocates were continuing efforts to improve coverage while bending the cost curve. During all that time opponents to health care reform failed to offer any meaningful ideas and instead continued their partisan path of obstruction. Now they have blown up every opportunity American families had to gain the coverage we all need to be healthy and economically secure,” Rice-Hawkins concluded.

Planned Parenthood of Northern New England highlighted some of the devastating cuts to women’s health in the new American Healthcare Act.

  • Take away health coverage for 24 million people.
  • “Defund” Planned Parenthood — by blocking people with Medicaid from accessing preventive care at Planned Parenthood health centers — including birth control, cancer screenings, and STD testing and treatment.
  • Eliminate protections that restrict insurance companies from charging people with pre-existing conditions unaffordable rates. Under this bill, health insurance companies could once again charge people tens of thousands of dollars a month because they had cancer.
  • Undermine Essential Health Benefits standards, including maternity coverage and prescription drugs, which disproportionately affect women.
  • Gut the Medicaid program, which approximately 1 in 4 women of reproductive age rely on to access no-cost, critical reproductive health care such as birth control, lifesaving cancer screenings, and maternity care.
  • Reduce access to no-cost preventive services, including birth control.
  • Impose a nationwide ban on private insurance coverage of abortion.

“This is the worst bill for women’s health in a generation. It makes it harder for women to access birth control to prevent unintended pregnancy, harder to obtain maternity care to have a healthy pregnancy and harder to meet the health needs of children and families,” said Jennifer Frizzell Vice President for Public Policy, Planned Parenthood of Northern New England. “Alarm bells should be ringing in every house across New Hampshire.”

“If enacted, this legislation would block thousands of New Hampshire patients who rely on Medicaid from accessing the reproductive care that Planned Parenthood health centers provides. New Hampshire has some of the nation’s lowest rates for teen pregnancy and STI incidence and has been recognized for the best maternal health outcomes in the country. Under the terms of the House bill all of this progress will come undone.”

The NH AFL-CIO spoke out against the passage of Trumpcare and thanked NH’s Congresswoman for opposing the bill.

“The New Hampshire AFL-CIO was disappointed to see that the Republicans in the House of Representatives voted to pass a health care bill that would repeal the Affordable Care Act and confiscate health care benefits from millions of people, handing a big tax break to the wealthy few while taxing working people’s health benefits.

This new effort by Republicans in Congress to repeal the Affordable Care Act would be a disaster for all working families. This bill will gut protections for people with pre-existing conditions, take away health care from millions of people, raise health care costs for millions more and put money in the pockets of the superrich and corporate CEOs.

Our country needs a health care plan that expands coverage for all Americans, not one that cuts it. The New Hampshire AFL-CIO and its allies will continue to fight to protect and expand health care for all. We would like to thank Congresswoman Kuster and Congresswoman Shea-Porter for continuing to stand in Solidarity with New Hampshire working families and opposing this effort to roll back the progress we have made in providing health care to millions of our Brother and Sisters across the country.”

NH Healthcare providers also condemned the passage.

“Using Affordable Care Act repeal and replacement as a pretext, the vote today was a devastating attack upon traditional Medicaid funding that predates the ACA by decades,” said Brendan Williams, President and CEO of the New Hampshire Health Care Association. “The so-called American Health Care Act cruelly rations Medicaid funds for seniors and those with disabilities. It’s a real ‘death panel’ bill. I can’t imagine how care in New Hampshire ultimately survives this blow. We already have the nation’s second-oldest population and third-worst nursing home funding crisis.”

“We are deeply disappointed in the vote on the American Health Care Act (AHCA) today in the House of Representatives, as it will result in millions of Americans and tens of thousands of Granite State residents losing the health insurance coverage that they depend on to help them get the right care, at the right time, at the right place,” said Steve Ahnen, President of the New Hampshire Hospital Association.

“The AHCA will continue to cut more than $1.5 billion in Medicare reimbursements from hospitals in New Hampshire through 2026 that would be devastating to their ability to serve the patients and communities who depend on them. It downshifts costs to the states through the imposition of Medicaid block grants, which underfund the cost of providing care to Medicaid patients and undermine New Hampshire’s successful Medicaid expansion program.  And it puts at risk important consumer protections, which could leave patients without access to critical health services and increase their out-of-pocket spending.

“This bill is a significant step backwards on the commitment to ensure coverage and we cannot support it.  We will continue to work with Congress as this bill moves over to the Senate to ensure that any final legislation to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act improves our health care system in a thoughtful and responsible way, rather than dismantling coverage for our most vulnerable residents,” Ahnen concluded.

NH House Passes Bill To Fully Fund Full Day Kindergarten In NH Schools

The New Hampshire House voted 247-116 today to adopt an amended version of SB 191, which will provide $14 million in adequacy payments to communities that offer full-day kindergarten programs.  The bill will now head to the House Finance Committee for review.

“The House’s vote today in support of full-day kindergarten is a long-overdue recognition of the value that kindergarten programs provide to the development of our children.  This bill simply provides full funding for kindergarten programs in communities that offer it, finally giving kindergarten the support it deserves,” said House Democratic Leader Steve Shurtleff (D-Penacook).  “The business community recognizes the importance of early childhood education and strongly supports this bill.  I am hopeful that the House Finance Committee will reach the same conclusion in their review of this legislation.”

Earlier this year, the Senate passed SB 191 in its original form by a vote of 22 to 1 before amending the funding level down to $9 million per year and sending SB 191 to the House.

“It’s a great day for New Hampshire children and for those that want to see elected officials come together in a bipartisan fashion,” said Senator Woodburn. “Now that the House and Senate have gone on record as supporting full-funding rather than the Governor’s grant program, it’s time to move forward and include the full-funding in the budget.”

“Funding full-day kindergarten expands educational opportunities for our students, expands opportunity for parents who need to work, and eases the burdens on local property taxpayers. Today’s vote is a great example of how the legislature can come together and do the right thing. When it comes to investing in our children’s futures, we can’t afford to cut corners and take the easy way out and I urge the legislature to make sure this full funding is included in the budget,” Woodburn added.

“Governor Sununu was pushed to support fully funded full-day kindergarten on the campaign trail and broke that promise with his budget proposal and appointment of Frank Edelblut as Education Commissioner,” said NH Democratic Party Chair, Ray Buckley. “Today, Democrats held him accountable for his broken promise by finally providing every child in the state full-day kindergarten instead of ceding to his half-baked budget proposal. Democrats carried the bill across the finish line in the House, with every single Democratic House member voting for the legislation while a majority of Republican members voted against it.  Sununu’s inability to lead almost cost us full-day kindergarten. Today was another example of why we need Democrats in the State House.”

Both NH Congresswomen Join 190 US Reps To Support For The Equality Act of 2017

As President Trump prepares to sign an executive order tomorrow that would sanction discrimination against Americans based on sexual orientation, Congresswoman Annie Kuster (NH-02) is highlighting her support for the Equality Act of 2017, introduced by Congressman David N. Cicilline (D-RI), and expressing her opposition to discrimination against members of the LGBTQ community. Kuster is a member of the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus, an organization dedicated to promoting equal protection under the law for LGBTQ Americans.

“I’m deeply troubled by reports that the Administration plans to issue executive orders tomorrow that would allow discrimination against Americans simply based on who they love,” said Congresswoman Kuster. “I strongly support the Equality Act of 2017 because our nation is fundamentally an accepting and open society. LGBTQ Americans should be extended the same protections from discrimination as other protected classes and I urge my colleagues to join me in calling for policies to create more freedom in our nation, not less.”

Congresswoman Kuster has long advocated in favor of equal rights for every American. In advance of the historic 2015 Supreme Court ruling in favor of marriage equality, she joined with over 200 of her colleagues in Congress to submit an amicus brief urging the Supreme Court to rule in favor of equal protection in the eyes of the law.

She previously co-sponsored the Equality Act in the last Congress, as well as the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), and she has long been committed to passing legislation to ensure that employees cannot be discriminated against in the workplace because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter (NH-01)  joined with Congresswoman Kuster and more than 190 co-sponsors in the U.S. House of Representatives to introduce the Equality Act of 2017.

“In 2017, nobody should face discrimination and bigotry because of who they are and who they love,” said Shea-Porter. “I’m proud to co-introduce the Equality Act of 2017, which would finally ensure that federal civil rights protections cover LGBTQ Americans.”

 

The Equality Act of 2017 would extend the same protections already in place for other protected classes to LGBTQ Americans. It would explicitly prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in education, employment, housing, credit, Federal jury service, public accommodations, and the use of Federal funds in Federal civil rights law.

Despite significant advances, LGBTQ people across the country remain vulnerable to discrimination and too often have little recourse. With the advent of nationwide marriage equality, in many states, same-sex couples have the right to marry but have no explicit non-discrimination protections. In most states, this means that a same-sex couple could legally marry one day and risk being fired from their jobs or evicted from their apartment – simply because of who they are.

The Equality Act ensures that the same protections already extended to other protected classes are equally available to LGBTQ Americans. It amends existing federal civil rights laws to explicitly prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in education, employment, housing, credit, Federal jury service, public accommodations, and the use of Federal funds.

 

In some of these areas, federal law prohibiting sex discrimination has already been properly interpreted by federal courts and administrative agencies to include discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. The Equality Act affirms that understanding of existing law and makes the prohibition against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity explicit, in order to provide greater clarity to members of the public, employers, schools, businesses and other affected parties. In areas where sex discrimination is not already prohibited, the bill amends existing law to bar discrimination on the basis of sex as well as sexual orientation and gender identity.

Leo W Gerard: Another GOP Tax Plan For Captains

Donald Trump
Image by DonkeyHotey CC FLIKR

It’s based on the same voodoo economics we’ve heard many times before.

As he ran for office, Donald Trump repeatedly reminded audiences that he was “really, really rich,” but assured voters that as president he would be a working man’s champion, a blue-collar Superman.

He said he would stop corporations from offshoring manufacturing jobs with a border adjustment tax on imports. He would end trade cheating and declare China a currency manipulator on his first day in office. He would launch within his first 100 days a $1 trillion infrastructure improvement program to create millions of jobs fixing the nation’s airports, bridges and roads.

Trump’s record of promise-keeping to America’s working men and women in his first 100 days is this: So far, no good. The tax plan, well, the one-page tax sketch that the administration released last week is symbolic. While it would slash federal levies on fat cats and corporations, administration officials refused to say it would help the middle class at all. And it contains no border adjustment tax.

The tax plan rewards the captains of industry, the captains of Wall Street, the captains of real estate, like, well, like Trump himself. But the middle class, not so fast. The poor, not at all. Someone needs to tell Donald Trump that banksters and real estate tycoons sporting navy golf polos aren’t blue-collar workers. The tax scheme, like so many of Trump’s other pledges to workers, is a stab in the back of that indigo shirt.

On the campaign trail, Trump said rich people like him should pay more in taxes. Yet, the tax plan he offered last week would cut his taxes – by tens of millions a year. That’s because it would eliminate the alternative minimum tax. This is a levy intended to require billionaires like Trump to pay at least something after subtracting their multitude of special-rich-people deductions.

Trump has refused to release his tax returns – the first American president to keep them secret since Gerald Ford, who provided summaries. But Trump’s 2005 return, uncovered in part by a newspaper, shows that he had to pay $31 million as a result of the alternative minimum tax.

Trump’s plan also calls for eliminating the estate tax. That is paid only by people who inherit more than $5.5 million – as Trump’s children will. And it calls for cutting by more than half, to 15 percent, the tax paid by entities called pass-through corporations. Trump’s attorneys indicated in his presidential financial disclosures that his approximately 500 businesses are almost all pass-throughs.

Trump will be hobnobbing with his country club buddies in benefitting from this break. A 2015 study by the nonpartisan National Bureau of Economic Research found that the top 1 percent gets 69 percent of pass-through income.

Right now, a worker can’t get in on that low 15 percent tax rate unless reporting income below $37,950. But doctors and lawyers and investment bankers would get that special discount rate, no matter how much they make, as long as they pay a few bucks to establish a pass-through corporation. Trump’s plan would allow a lawyer paid $1 million a year to cut his taxes by $180,000 by setting up a pass-through.

Certainly, with all of those perks going to the nation’s most wealthy, Trump’s tax men would assure workers that they will benefit too.

Not really. When asked on ABC’s “Good Morning America” last week whether the middle class would pay more under the plan, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said: “I can’t make any guarantees.”

And the director of Trump’s National Economic Council, Gary D. Cohn, could not say how much of a break – if any­ – a middle-income American would get under the plan.

If it’s not absolutely clear who Trump’s tax plan would benefit, there’s also this from George Callas, the senior tax counsel for the Speaker of the House. Callas wants a permanent break for corporations, saying of a temporary one:

“It would not alter business decisions. It would not cause anyone to build a factory. It would just be dropping cash out of helicopters on corporate headquarters for a couple of years.”

Lots of small towns in Ohio, Michigan and Pennsylvania – towns that suffered when corporations offshored factories, towns that voted for Trump – would really benefit from cash dropping out of helicopters for a couple of years.

But that’s not Trump’s plan.

Trump’s money men, Mnuchin and Cohn, said slashing levies on the wealthy will pay for itself because giving the rich more cash will spur economic growth. So, no need to worry about Trump’s tax cuts ballooning the national debt, they assured.

This is called the Laffer Curve. Really.

Economist Arthur Laffer, an adviser to Trump, explained to the Washington Post last week that it works like this: “When you think about cutting that corporate rate, let’s say, from 35 to 15, that’s not going to cost you any money.”

He convinced the likes of Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush this hocus-pocus would work. And now, he has bamboozled Trump.

Both Reagan and Bush cut taxes. Both also left the country with larger deficits and uneven economic growth. Reagan raised taxes several times after his initial 1981 cut. Bush gave the country the Great Recession.

Laffer still insists his curve works, contending, “It’s a no-brainer.”

No. It’s voodoo economics. That’s what George H.W. Bush called it.

The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, a nonpartisan group that advocates fiscal restraint, estimated that Trump’s Laffer tax plan could reduce federal revenue by $3 trillion to $7 trillion over a decade. The economy would need to grow at a rate of 4.5 percent to make that proposal self-financing.

It grew at a pathetic 0.7 percent during Trump’s first quarter in office. In President Obama’s last quarter, the fourth of 2016, it increased at 2.1 percent. To rise at 4.5 percent would be phenomenal. Maybe paranormal.

Maya MacGuineas, president of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, put it this way: “It seems the administration is using economic growth like magic beans: the cheap solution to all our problems.”

Ronald Reagan, who like Trump was adored by blue-collar workers, promised that benefits from his massive tax cuts for the rich would trickle down to the rest. That never worked. But now Trump is taking advice from the same Svengali and promoting the same flim-flam plan.

Those heartland workers can’t tolerate another hit. But it’s not just taxes. The health insurance proposal Trump is pushing would cost many low- and middle-income workers thousands of dollars more a year. Trump has proposed eliminating the Chemical Safety Board, which prevents workplace deaths. He delayed rules protecting workers from deadly silica and beryllium. He signed a law ending a requirement that large federal contractors disclose and correct serious safety violations. Trump has no federal infrastructure plan and reneged on naming China a currency manipulator.

These are all the actions of a president protecting the captains of commerce, not one championing blue-collar workers.

Even Trump Voters Oppose Eliminating Prevailing Wage Laws

National Poll: Most Voters Support Prevailing Wage
on Public Infrastructure Projects

A new national survey shows that strong majorities of Democrats and Republicans each oppose the elimination of prevailing wage laws, which establish local-market minimum wages for different skilled crafts on government funded construction projects.

The new polling comes as several states consider changes to their prevailing wage laws, and the Trump Administration prepares to roll out a national infrastructure plan.

“While voters may have disagreed on many issues this past November, they agree that prevailing wage laws should be preserved by a wide margin,” said pollster Brian Stryker. “Only 21% of voters want to eliminate prevailing wage lawseven after hearing a commonly referenced argument for doing so. And support for prevailing wage extends to large majorities of Democrats, Republicans, Independents and Trump voters.”

The polling also shows that support for labor unions is growing as 52% had a favorable opinion of labor unions.  33% of self proclaimed Trump supporters had a favorable opinion of labor unions.

When it comes to the prevailing wage, 54% of Trump voters and 69% of likely 2018 voters, oppose legislation to eliminate the prevailing wage.

Construction is America’s fourth largest industry, and directly supports more than 6.6 million jobs. About a quarter of annual construction output, or $363 billion, is spent on government owned construction projects—including roads, bridges, schools, transit systems, water projects and municipal buildings.

Prevailing Wages are determined by surveys of existing market wage and benefit rates for skilled craft workers—such as carpenters, plumbers, electricians, ironworkers, cement masons, heavy equipment operators and othersin more than 3,000 communities across America. The Davis Bacon Act requires prevailing wage on most federally funded construction projects while about thirty states have laws requiring prevailing wages on state or locally funded projects.

Most peer-reviewed research has linked prevailing wage laws with increased local hiring, lower poverty, safer worksites and better economic outcomes. These studies have concluded that prevailing wage laws have no significant impact on public construction costs because they boost workforce productivity and efficiency, while reducing spending on Medicaid, Food Stamps and other public assistance programs for construction workers.

Research has also revealed that these laws disproportionately benefit military veterans, prevent skilled workforce shortages by increasing apprenticeship training, and help to close wage gaps for women and people of color.

Despite the overwhelming public support for prevailing wage laws, three states have recently eliminated these standards (West Virginia, Indiana, Kentucky) on state funded public works, and  proposals to weaken or repeal these laws have been introduced in at least three other states (Missouri, Wisconsin, and Ohio).

The Federal Davis-Bacon Act was written by Republicans and signed into law by Republican President Herbert Hoover in 1931. The law has long enjoyed broad bi-partisan support. In 2015, fifty-four House Republicans joined with Democrats to reaffirm support for the Davis Bacon Act.

Click Here to read a summary of the polling results.


This story based on a press release from Smart Cities Prevail.

Smart Cities Prevail is a non-partisan, national non-profit research and education organization, focused on construction industry wage and contracting standards. Learn more at www.smartcitiesprevail.org

Yesterday Was Big Day In Concord For The Future Of Education In NH

Senate Stops Edelblut’s Power Grab, House Kills Voucher Bill And Funds Full Day Kindergarten

Governor Sununu’s Education Commissioner Edelblut requested broad new authority to make unilateral decisions impacting the future of education in New Hampshire 

Concord, NH – The NH State Senate Education Committee voted 3-2 yesterday to reject an amendment requested by Governor Sununu’s Education Commissioner Frank Edelblut. The amendment to otherwise non-controversial bill HB 356 would have given the new Commissioner broad authority to make unilateral decisions impacting education in the Granite State.

Granite State Progress Executive Director Zandra Rice Hawkins applauded the Senate’s actions:

“We applaud the Senate Education committee for rejecting the attempted power grab by Governor Sununu’s Education Commissioner Frank Edelblut. Much of the public opposition to Frank Edelblut’s nomination and confirmation highlighted concerns over how he would operate within the Department of Education, and actions like this confirm Governor Sununu and the Executive Council should have listened to their constituents. This amendment was not the routine organizational realignment Commissioner Edelblut tried to characterize it as but a naked power grab for political purposes. Since taking office Edelblut has consistently used his Commissioner status to act in a unilateral manner to try to implement the strongly held beliefs he downplayed during the confirmation process.”

Just two months into his position as Education Commissioner, Edelblut has already made waves for trying to re-open the Next Generation Science Standards that were just approved last year; he initially refused to come clean about making a donation to a school privatization lawsuit against the Department he now leads; he forwarded an internal job posting to one of his Free State Project friends and then sent that individual’s resume to the HR director (that individual is also on the Board of an off-shoot group organizing for New Hampshire to secede from the rest of the country); he is using his position to lobby for SB 193, school vouchers/privatization; and he tried to usurp the State Board of Education’s rule-making responsibilities by injecting himself between the State Board and JLCAR – all without informing the State Board.

The NH Democratic Party Chairman Ray Buckley said the Senate made the right move:

“After promising to be ‘an implementation guy’ who wouldn’t create policy, Education Commissioner Frank Edelblut went back on his word in an attempted agency power grab. Edelblut would have taken this massive increase in power to radically transform the education system in his distorted image and seriously damaged education for children in the Granite State.

Edelblut is anti-transgender rights, supports conversion therapy, and opposes full-day kindergarten on the basis of a crackpot theory that it would increase misdiagnoses of ADHD.  Most recently, Edelblut broadcast his views that climate change is mentioned too often in science classes, openly disagreeing with the state Board of Education, in an interview with NHPR. The Senate Education Committee’s vote rightly prevents Edelblut from implementing these destructive policies.”

On the other side of the Capitol, the House was making some big decisions as well.

Yesterday, the House Education Committee voted to retain SB 193, a bill that sought to establish taxpayer-funded vouchers for religious schools, private schools, and home school parents. The bill was defeated amidst backlash from concerned Superintendents, School Boards, teachers, and parents throughout New Hampshire.

Governor Sununu and former Governor Jeb Bush both penned op-eds in favor of exactly the type of legislation House Republicans retained today, supporting public money for private schools and home schoolers. The bill also appears to violate the New Hampshire Constitution. The Committee’s vote to retain SB 193 effectively kills its prospects for another year.

“No matter how quietly Governor Sununu tries to back away from this bill, the defeat of SB 193 is a big blow to his education agenda. Sununu’s own party effectively killed legislation that he campaigned on, and that he and former Governor Jeb Bush penned op-eds in favor of. Governor Sununu and his unqualified Education Commissioner Frank Edelblut are trying to reshape the education system in their image and Edelblut, a homeschool parent, would have been eligible to receive taxpayer dollars had this bill passed,” said NHDP Chair Ray Buckley.

“New Hampshire parents are breathing a sigh of relief with SB 193’s bipartisan retention. This ill-conceived bill would have cost taxpayers an additional $25 million dollars to remove students from our public schools. SB 193 would have violated the New Hampshire Constitution in the name of benefits for private and religious schools with no mandate to comply with education standards, decreased funding towards public schools, and limited options for families in rural towns,” added Buckley.

Lastly, The House Education Committee also moved forward on SB191 a bill to fund full day kindergarten for all New Hampshire children.

Governor Sununu who campaigned on Full Day Kindergarten surprised many when his budget only funded the program for a select few areas in the state.

SB191 would set aside $14 million to fund full day kindergarten for all students in New Hampshire.

Governor Sununu is said to be in support of SB191, but did not advocate for the to provide all children in NH access to full day kindergarten. The bill will move to the full house soon.

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