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NH Senate Passes HB1697 To Better Regulate On-Demand Ridesharing Services

Last week, we talked about how companies like Uber and Lyft are examples of corporations taking us in the wrong direction. They exploit workers and put our safety at risk.

Uber skirts around taxi industry regulations that were implemented to protect workers and to protect the safety of the passengers.  In New Hampshire, that could be about to change.

Today, the New Hampshire Senate passed HB 1697, relative to the operation and insurance of transportation network companies, that would impose much needed regulations on this fast growing industry.  HB 1697 is a laundry list of regulations that bring the new on-demand taxi service in line with current taxi cab regulations. 

“I am pleased that HB 1697 passed with bipartisan support,” said Senator Donna Soucy. “Companies like Uber and Lyft are only going to keep growing in New Hampshire and the state needed to take action to provide uniform standards and regulations that protects consumers.” 

“A fine balance was struck between protecting New Hampshire’s small taxi businesses while allowing ride sharing companies like Uber to operate in our state. I am happy that HB 1697 was passed with bipartisan support and that a New Hampshire solution was created for the regulation of ride sharing companies,” Soucy added. 

Governor Hassan remains optimistic the House and Senate will come to an agreement on the newly passed legislation.

“It is critical that we continue to support our people and our businesses in adapting to the changing economy of the 21st century so that we can keep New Hampshire moving forward and ensure that our vibrant communities remain destinations for families, visitors and young people,” Governor Hassan said. “House Bill 1697 builds on those efforts by helping to ensure that Uber and other ridesharing companies have a permanent home here in New Hampshire, helping to make our state more attractive for students, young professionals, entrepreneurs and visitors alike.”

 “I hope that the Senate and the House can quickly agree on a final version of this bipartisan bill so that I can sign it into law. I remain committed to working with members from both parties to ensure that this is a bill that works for our innovative businesses, that ensures the safety of passengers, and that does not take away the rights of our workers,” added Hassan.

 Nobody wants to see Uber or Lyft destroyed. Many just want to enjoy the benefits of their service while knowing that workers and consumers are protected. This bill will move us in that direction. 

House Passes Flexible Work Arrangements Bill, Awaits Governor Hassan’s Signature

woman working computer officeYesterday, the New Hampshire House took a big step toward helping working families in the Granite State.  The NH House passed SB 416, which prohibits employers from retaliating against employees who request flexible work arrangements.  

Senator Dan Feltes, the bill’s prime sponsor, was pleased to hear the news and awaits the Governor’s signature.

“Hardworking Granite Staters should not have to choose between work and family,” said Senator Dan Feltes. “By prohibiting retaliation against workers who request a flexible work arrangement, SB 416 empowers workers to make those requests for flexibility, and it enables employers to keep good workers.” 

“This legislation sends a strong, positive message to our families, our businesses, and our economy. Workplace flexibility means greater worker retention and greater productivity, and it helps to attract and retain more young working families. I am pleased at the progress we’ve made on this important issue, and I thank our colleagues in the House for their support of this bipartisan legislation to continue our efforts to make New Hampshire the best place to live, work, and raise a family,” added Feltes.

The NH Citizens Alliance and the Granite State Progress Education Fund have been leading the charge to get this important legislation through the legislature.Together they formed the Stand With Women campaign that pushed for legislation that helped working women.  Kary Jencks of the NH Citizens Alliance and Zandra Rice-Hawkins of Granite State Progress further explain the benefits of this newly passed legislation.

“Currently if an employee asks an employer about flexibility in their schedule they have no obligation to consider that request, and there is nothing that stops them from retaliating because the employee asked,” said Kary Jencks, executive director for NH Citizens Alliance. “SB 416 encourages employers and employees to have an open and direct conversation when scheduling needs arise. This could be coming in 30 minutes early so you can leave in time for your child’s soccer game, or regularly adjusting your schedule for pick up or drop off times for children or elderly or disabled family members.  This bill will help with worker retention, worker productivity, and expand opportunity for all workers, especially women.”

“Forty-seven percent of New Hampshire’s workforce are women, the majority of whom are of sound reproductive age who due to family life may need at certain times in their career to request a flexible work arrangement without fear of being fired from their job,” said Zandra Rice Hawkins, executive director of Granite State Progress Education Fund.  “The same legislators who voted against this bill in committee are the ones who voted against access to reproductive health care, including birth control, and who oppose opportunities to raise wages for workers. These politicians stand in the way of women by making it harder for them to decide when and if to start a family, and by opposing policies that ensure they have the economic stability and family friendly workplace policies to thrive if they do. We applaud the majority of the House for supporting SB 416.”

The bill expected to be signed by Governor Hassan in June.

Granite State Republicans Continue To Vow Support Trump Even Though It Will Cost Them The Election

Donald Trump (Image by Gage Skidmore CC FLIKR)

Donald Trump (Image by Gage Skidmore CC FLIKR)

Republicans worst nightmare has come true. Donald Trump has won their nomination for President.

Former New Hampshire Republican leaders have been warning that a Trump led ticket would be disaster for Republicans all the way down the ticket.

“Here in New Hampshire, if Donald Trump is the nominee, we will not get a Republican governor. We will lose the New Hampshire state Senate, and we could lose the New Hampshire state House… and we could lose Sen. [Kelly] Ayotte.”
Former GOP Gov. John H Sununu

“I think they’re very concerned if they’re up for reelection . . . Clearly Trump at this time is not going to carry swing states. I’m thinking of New Hampshire, for example.”
Former New Hampshire Republican Senator Judd Gregg

“If Donald Trump is the nominee, Kelly Ayotte might as well resign because it’s all over.”
Former NHGOP Chair Fergus Cullen

Even with strong warnings from former party leaders, Republican candidates are still refusing to reject Trump and his racist, fascist, misogynistic rhetoric.

Senator Kelly Ayotte says she will support Trump’s nomination by voting for him but will not endorse him. Pledging to vote for him is in the eyes of everyday voters, the same as endorsing him.

Aaron Jacobs, Communications Director from Maggie for NH blasted Ayotte in a recent statement for her vowing to vote in support of Trump.

“While Kelly Ayotte just today made her support for Donald Trump official, they’ve long been in agreement when it comes to critical issues such as their desire to defund Planned Parenthood, undermine Roe v. Wade, and obstruct the Supreme Court confirmation process. And all Granite Staters should be concerned that Ayotte has announced her support for Trump despite national security experts and members of both parties have condemned his foreign policy positions as dangerous to our country’s vital interests. The people of New Hampshire will soundly reject the Trump-Ayotte ticket in November.”

Women’s health and equal pay are on the forefront of the minds of many women voters in the Granite State. Both Ayotte and Trump oppose equal pay for women and want to nominate a Supreme Court Justice to overturn the forty-year decision of Roe v. Wade.

senators_onnotice_03.1

Image from EMILY’s List

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Image from EMILY’s List

National women’s rights advocacy group EMILY’s List has routinely highlighted the connections between Trump and Ayotte.

“Kelly Ayotte stepped even further away from New Hampshire women and families today with her confirmed support for Donald Trump as the presumptive Republican presidential nominee. She chose her extreme party over the women she was elected to represent by pledging to support a nominee who has called women ‘fat pigs’ and ‘slobs’ and who spews hateful rhetoric every chance he gets,” said EMILY’s List President Stephanie Schriock.

“Although really, it should come as no surprise to anyone that she’s lining up behind Donald Trump — they both share a radical agenda of wanting to defund Planned Parenthood, opposing meaningful efforts to end gender discrimination in pay, and wanting to take away women’s rights to make their own health care decisions. If New Hampshire women can’t even count on Kelly Ayotte to stand up to Donald Trump, they definitely can’t count on her to stand up for them in the Senate,” added Schriock.

It is not just Ayotte who is vowing to support Trump. Congressman Frank Guinta and Rich Ashooh, who are both vying for the GOP nomination in NH’s 1st Congressional District, have also said they will support the Republican nominee, even if it is Trump.

Ashooh recently told NH1 last month that he wouldn’t commit until Trump had the nomination. With Ted Cruz and John Kasish leaving the race, Ashooh is left with little choice.

Guinta told NHPR in March that he will support the eventual nominee. Carol Shea-Porter, candidate for Congress in New Hampshire’s 1st District, has already called on Frank Guinta to denounce Trump’s deeply offensive statements.

Shea-Porter additionally called on Guinta to return a personal contribution Trump made to Guinta’s re-election campaign earlier last year. Frank Guinta refused to comment to WMUR on whether he’d return the contribution.

“Now that Donald Trump is the presumptive nominee, Rich Ashooh and Frank Guinta need to admit to Granite State voters that they pledged to blindly support their nominee, including Donald Trump and his ignorant and dangerous views. We already know where Frank Guinta’s loyalties lie, as he refused to condemn Donald Trump for his hateful and divisive remarks, and he has also refused to return the campaign money he took from Trump earlier last year,” said Shea-Porter. “Rich Ashooh and Frank Guinta have already said that they will commit to supporting the eventual nominee, so now Granite Staters will see whether Ashooh and Guinta will follow through on their promise to Republican voters.”

Trump Sununu Campaign SignTrump’s Presidential campaign is already having an impact on the NH Gubernatorial election.

Last month, Democrats led by New Hampshire Democratic Party Chair Ray Buckley unveiled a new campaign sign for the Trump/Sununu ticket, highlighting their shared far-right policies of defunding Planned Parenthood, opposing Medicaid expansion and denying climate change.

“The fact is that Donald Trump’s out of touch views are shared by Chris Sununu and the whole Republican gubernatorial field,” said NHDP Chair Ray Buckley. “Some Republicans are lining up to denounce Trump because they know how devastating his selection would be for down ballot Republicans. But not Chris Sununu, who said he’ll absolutely support whoever the Republican nominee is, even if it is Trump. I guess we’re not surprised since their policies line up so well.”

With Trump at the top of the ticket this means disaster for the GOP all the way down the ticket. This means that we, as Democrats, have a strong chance of retaining the Governor’s seat and taking back the state House and Senate.

“The Republican party has spoken and chosen the dangerous and offensive Donald Trump to carry their banner into the general election; unfortunately for New Hampshire Republicans, the general electorate won’t make the same mistake,” said New Hampshire Democratic Party Chair Ray Buckley. “That’s why Republican leaders in the Granite State have been warning against his candidacy for months. They know that Trump as their party’s nominee means disaster for Kelly Ayotte, Chris Sununu, Ted Gatsas, Jeanie Forrester, Frank Guinta, and the rest of the New Hampshire Republican ticket who have refused to condemn Trump and his destructive policies.”

The NH Citizens Alliance Reacts To Passage Of Watered Down Version Of Pregnancy Protection Bill

pregnant woman Earlier today the NH House passed SB 488, a simple bill that improved the working conditions for pregnant women and lactating mothers.

The original bill had provisions like providing extra bathroom breaks or a stool for pregnant women and a private place for mothers to express milk on their breaks.

The New Hampshire Citizens Alliance and its Stand With Women campaign were on the forefront of effort to pass this bi-partisan bill.

After the final bill was approved by the NH House, Kary Jencks, Executive Director of the NH Citizens Alliance released the following statement:

SB 488 in its original version was relative to reasonable accommodations for pregnant workers. It was a bi-partisan, business and family friendly bill that supported equal employment opportunities for women staying in the workforce. NHCA and its Stand with Women Campaign know that protecting the rights of pregnant and lactating workers is vital to NH’s economy.

In order to protect the rights of pregnant and lactating workers NH needs legislation that holds all employers accountable for making NH a state where young professionals choose to live, stay, play, and raise their families. Stripping SB 488 of its accommodation provisions to just being an Advisory Council on lactation is a disservice to NH’s economy.

Being business friendly also means being employee supportive. NH strives to be a business friendly state, but it must also attract and keep an educated, productive work force to fill the positions, grow our economy, and to inhabit and secure our communities.

By dismissing common sense workplace policy bills such as SB 488 GOP House leadership is standing in NH’s way of attracting a much needed vital workforce.

If the elected leaders are really serious about attracting younger workers and families to live and work in New Hampshire then they pass more legislation like the original version SB488.

NH Breastfeeding Bill Passes Senate And House, But Barely Produces A Drop of Protections

The New Hampshire House strips away reasonable accommodations for pregnant and lactating mothers in the workplace, leaving women open to discrimination and termination.

Today, the NH House passed SB 488- establishing an advisory council on lactation, which included breastfeeding and pumping rights.  “I’m not sure why it took 3 years to pass so little.  The bill offers no protections for breastfeeding mothers and no enforcement mechanisms against discrimination.  I think this 3-years struggle in the legislature is indicative of what employees go through when requesting accommodations from their employers,”  said Kate Frederick of Intervale, NH.  Frederick and NH are currently #1 on google for “Fired for Breastfeeding.”   House Representative Amanda Bouldin knows first hand, how much controversial breastfeeding legislation can be.  She stood up to a few or her colleagues in the House and Senate who made nationally publicized comments against breastfeeding mothers and herself.   

Bouldin commented, “I hope that NH employers, both in the public and private sector, will take it upon themselves to provide reasonable accommodations to breastfeeding mothers regardless of what the law dictates.  If there are any state offices that have interfered with breastfeeding among their employees, management should remedy the issue immediately. A government that claims to exist for the welfare of the people shows its hypocrisy in preventing children from accessing their food.”

On Tuesday, April 12, 2016, NH House Commerce Committee passed an amendment to SB 488 – EEO for Pregnancy and Related Conditions Including Lactation, sponsored by Senator Martha Fuller-Clark (D-21).    

The house committee voted to put the bill on the consent calendar for a vote in the full House next week. The amendment establishes an Advisory Council to report on breastfeeding best practices and make recommendations for future legislation. All other provisions that previously passed both the full Senate and the House Commerce Committee did not pass. 

Senator Fuller Clark stated, “This was both a business and family friendly bill that supported equal employment opportunities for women staying in the workforce.   Taking care of our pregnant and lactating workers is vital to NH’s economy.  We need stronger language on the books with clear consequences for violations.  Those who voted against the accommodations provisions just did a disservice to NH’s economy.  NH runs the risk of having women and their families move to other states that currently provide better workplace accommodations.” 

state level preg and bf rights

 The reasonable accommodations sections  that didn’t pass included:  

  • Pregnancy: Being able to drink water during the usual course of the working day; Use of a stool to sit on if needed; more frequent bathroom breaks; physical accommodations, if needed.  
  • Lactation: Unpaid break time for lactation; appropriate space to express milk using a pump, or to go off site to pump or breastfeed, if adequate sanitary space not available.  

Numerous working mothers, advocacy organizations, legislators, medical professionals and business owners had testified in support of various amendments and met numerous times in work group sessions for the last three years on the need for these provisions to be legislated.   

House Representative Ed Butler serves on the House Commerce Committee and has been a leader in fighting for the bills passage.     “After  almost three years of considering the need for space and time accommodations for working mothers who are breastfeeding and need to express milk while working, the House Commerce Committee could only agree upon a further study committee.  To say that I am disappointed is an understatement.”    

Besides the bills bi-partisan sponsors, other legislators testified in support of the bills, including Reublican House Representatives Karen Umberger and Katherine Prudhomme-Obrien.  The only person who testified in opposition of any of the bills was Deputy House Majority Whip, Claire Rouillard, who stated on Tuesday before the House Commerce sub-committee work group session,  “NH’s doing great with breastfeeding, we don’t need this bill.”     

Even though the NH House Commerce Committee had all the information they needed to pass a strong bill, they couldn’t come to an agreement.  Issues and concerns were addressed with information provided regarding enforcement measures and current Federal laws.  This week the committee asked questions they had asked a year ago,  as if an agreement hadn’t been reached as evidenced in their 19-1 vote of ‘ought to pass’ last fall.  Why was SB 219 taken off the consent calendar and tabled?  House leadership submarined that effort at the last second, for reasons known only to them. I was disappointed with yesterday’s result, but perhaps next year will bring new leadership and a new opportunity, said House Representative Bart Fromuth, R, who also serves on the Commerce Committee. 

Senator Fuller Clark and House Representative Fromuth both tried to save the bills accommodations content by bringing forth amendments on Tuesday, but they were all voted down.  

Martha Fuller Clark and two momsPictured Above:  Senator Martha Fuller Clark attends a breastfeeding awareness event at the State House 

Advocates and some legislators aren’t happy that most of the provisions of the proposed bill were scuttled but, instead of letting the bill get killed, decided to support passage of the Advisory Council, the only provision that most agreed upon with a vote of 18 to 2.  Kary Jencks, a New Boston working mother and Executive Director of NH Citizens Alliance for Action has been the lead advocacy group coordinating communications amongst the others and has supported each bills strongest amendment.    

Breastfeeding AwarenessPictured Above:  Kary Jencks takes a knee to Stand with Women, alongside Senator Jeb Bradley, Senator Martha Fuller Clark, representatives from US Senator Shaheen and US Senator Ayotte’s offices and numerous other advocacy organizations and individuals.  

 


Please see Public Service Announcement Video – Breastfeeding Awareness Event at the NH State House

http://scottbarberfilm.com/big-latch-on

To learn more about SB 488 or to get help with requesting reasonable accommodations, go to The Rustik Baby Project at www.RustikEvents.com.   

Kate Frederick is the Founder of The Rustik Baby Project and President of the NH Breastfeeding Rights Coalition.  She was fired due to requesting accommodations for pregnancy and lactation when her infant was 2.5 months old.  Now a toddler, her son continues to breastfeed as recommended by the World Health Organization.  

 

NH House Kills 9 Bills Attacking Women’s Health

Ten Bills Voted on Today, Nine defeated by the NH House that Formed a Broad Agenda to Ban Abortion

Planned_Parenthood_logo.svgConcord, NH — Today the New Hampshire House voted to oppose dangerous changes in the landscape of reproductive health. Ten bills, an unprecedented number of attacks on women’s health, were voted on. One bill, a repeal of New Hampshire’s voluntary Buffer Zone law, was passed and will go to the Senate for further consideration.

“On behalf of New Hampshire’s women and families I applaud the New Hampshire House today for rejecting a package of legislation that would devastate reproductive health in the Granite State. Today’s proposed legislation was part of a broad agenda to ban abortion and eliminate reproductive care. We are pleased that a majority of Representatives stood up to extreme legislators and stood with New Hampshire’s women and families,” stated Jennifer Frizzell VP for Public Policy at the Planned Parenthood New Hampshire Action Fund.

Ten Separate Bills were voted on today

Extreme anti-women’s health lawmakers attempted today to pass legislation that would make the constitutional protections of safe and legal abortion under Roe v. Wade, established more than 40 years ago, meaningless for New Hampshire women and families. The vast majority of these dangerous bills were stopped, including bills to ban abortion later in pregnancy, a bill to ban fetal tissue donation for medical research, and a bill that would deny family planning (Title X) funding to New Hampshire which provides preventative care like birth control, well women exams, and STI screenings.
The majority of the New Hampshire House agreed with their constituents. Support for access to safe, legal abortion is higher in New Hampshire than any other state in the country and that more Republicans here consider themselves pro-choice than pro-life on issues like abortion and funding for Planned Parenthood.

New Hampshire has a strong tradition of respecting women and doctors, not politicians, to make personal, private decisions about pregnancy and childbearing, and today the House respected that tradition. New Hampshire currently has some of the best public health outcomes in the country for women, including the lowest teen pregnancy rate, and the best perinatal and maternal health outcomes. The proposed anti-women’s health legislative package would have dramatically jeopardized care for New Hampshire women and reduce access for New Hampshire communities.

Despite the views and values of their constituents, a handful of extreme Republicans continue their assault on women’s health care. At the beginning of the 2016 session, they introduced a legislative package consisting of 16 bills that aimed at dismantling women’s preventive care and ending access to safe, legal abortion.

“Planned Parenthood of Northern New England knows that ruthless attacks from extreme politicians will continue. However, we won’t let these politicians take us backwards and make it impossible to get safe and legal abortion, putting women’s lives and health in danger. Today’s successes show that the majority of New Hampshire’s Representatives understand the importance of fighting from preventing these dangerous bills from becoming the law. The stakes for women’s health and rights have never been higher, and our doors will always remain open,” stated Jennifer Frizzell, VP for Public Policy at the Planned Parenthood New Hampshire Action Fund.

Ten Bills Voted on Today:

HB 1662: relative to abortion-inducing drugs.

CACR 19: relating to the taking of human life. Providing that the general court shall not appropriate nor authorize any expenditure to benefit any corporation having as its object the taking of innocent human life.

HB 1328: limiting pregnancy terminations to pregnancies of 20 weeks or less.

HB 1399: requiring licensure of outpatient abortion clinics.

HB 1570:  repealing the law governing access to reproductive health care facilities (Buffer Zone Repeal). *bill passed 160-152

HB 1623:  prohibiting an abortion based on genetic abnormalities.

HB 1625: relative to banning abortion after viability.

HB 1636: prohibiting abortions once an unborn child can feel pain.

HB 1663:  prohibiting buying, selling, and experimenting on unborn infants or bodily remains resulting from abortion.

HB 1684: prohibiting the use of public funds, employees, and facilities in assisting or performing abortions.


Planned Parenthood New Hampshire Action Fund is an independent, nonpartisan, not-for-profit membership organization formed as the advocacy and political arm of Planned Parenthood of Northern New England in New Hampshire. The Action Fund engages in educational and electoral activity, including legislative education, grassroots organizing, and advocacy. Follow us on Twitter.

Very Active Day In The NH Legislature: Round Up Of Legislation Moved Today

NH House-2Today a ton of bills were passed and killed in the NH House and Senate.  They range in topics but all have an impact on the future of our state.  Below are press releases on a variety of bills that had votes today.


 

Senator Bette Lasky Applauds Senate Passage of Online Voter Registration

Concord, NH –Today, the NH Senate passed SB 507, authorizing online voter registration on a voice vote. Senator Bette Lasky (D-Nashua), the prime sponsor of SB 507 released the following comments after the Senate vote:

“Making the process of registering to vote and casting your ballot more consistent and accessible is something we can all agree on and I’m pleased that my Senate colleagues supported this important legislation,” said Senator Lasky. “Allowing our citizens to register to vote online would help create a more accessible system and increase the number of citizens exercising one of their most important rights. As the First-In-The-Nation Presidential Primary state, New Hampshire needs to continually move forward as technology advances and be an example to the rest of the country.”

23 states have already implemented online voter registration and 5 more states will be added to that list this year. Research has also shown in these states that online voter registration has sustained or increased voter registration.  

“New Hampshire has built a strong reputation for voter participation, but we can always do more to help busy Granite Staters take part in our elections. I thank my Senate colleagues for their support and for creating a more effective and efficient election process for our Granite State citizens.”


Statement from Governor Hassan on House Passage of Ten-Year Transportation Improvement Plan 

CONCORD – Governor Maggie Hassan issued the following statement on the Ten-Year Transportation Improvement Plan passed today by the New Hampshire House of Representatives: 

“A solid and modern transportation infrastructure is critical to the success of our people and businesses, and the Ten-Year Transportation Improvement Plan passed by the House today advances a number of critical transportation goals that will help build on our bipartisan progress over the last several years. This includes maintaining and preserving our roads and bridges, completing the widening of Interstate 93, accelerating construction of Exit 4A in Londonderry and Derry and the first phase of widening the portion of Route 106 critical for access to the New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

“However, I am disappointed that the leveraging of federal funds for the environmental and engineering work necessary to bring commuter rail from Boston to Nashua and Manchester was removed. The business community continues to call on us to take action because commuter rail will improve access to the entire region, provide new housing and transportation opportunities, spur economic development and create jobs. I remain committed to working with members from both parties, local communities, the federal government, our businesses and Massachusetts to find a consensus and make this vital project a reality.”


Senator Bette Lasky Praises Passage of Public-Private Partnerships for Intermodal Infrastructure and Transportation Projects

CONCORD- Today, the NH Senate pass SB 549, which would allow the state to enter into agreements with private entities in order to fund intermodal infrastructure and transportation projects. After the vote, Senator Bette Lasky (D-Nashua), prime sponsor of SB 549, released the following comments: 

“Enabling public-private partnerships (P3s) is an important step toward meeting our infrastructure needs with limited financial resources from the state and I thank the Senate for their support,” said Senator Lasky. “Improving our transportation infrastructure benefits all Granite Staters and by enabling the state to work with private funders, our state can access additional funding opportunities with greater efficiencies, which will save the state money.”

SB 549 was developed through the work of a public-private partnership (P3s) study committee and the committee’s recommendation that New Hampshire pursue this funding option. According to the study committee’s report, 33 other states already have laws authorizing P3s for highway and bridge projects. 

“A strong and dynamic transportation infrastructure helps sustain our families and businesses. Finding creative and innovative solutions to help finance transportation projects when state funds are unavailable is essential to not only expanding economic growth, but expanding opportunity for all Granite Staters. I am happy that the Senate moved this legislation forward so that we can sustain and promote the growth of our state’s businesses and economy, while protecting taxpayer dollars and minimizing the financial risk to our state.”


Senator David Pierce Statement on Tabling of SB 531 (Senate version of the Medicaid Expansion)

CONCORD – Today, the State Senate agreed to table SB 531, which would have reauthorized the NH Health Protection Program, in order to take up the reauthorization in HB 1696, which passed the House yesterday on a bipartisan vote. After the conclusion of the Senate session, SB 531 prime sponsor Sen. David Pierce (D-Lebanon) released the following statement: 

“While Senate Democrats would have preferred to reauthorize the NH Health Protection Program as drafted in SB 531, we are committed to finding a solution on reauthorization that has broad, bipartisan support and agreed to table our bill. Just as we did two years ago, we need to come together, across party and ideological lines to ensure that 48,000 hard working Granite Staters continue to have access to quality, affordable health care the health and financial security that comes with it.” 

“There’s no question that the NH Health Protection Program has been a success and met the goals we set out to achieve when we passed SB 413 in 2014. Our hospitals have seen a significant decline in inpatient, outpatient and emergency room visits by uninsured Granite Staters, leading to a decrease in uncompensated care, which is a hidden tax on us all. By reducing uncompensated care, we also reduce the healthcare cost-shifting onto our people and businesses.”

“Continuing the program is also essential as we continue to combat the heroin and opioid epidemic. Thousands of Granite Staters have accessed substance abuse and behavioral health services through coverage under expansion and reauthorizing the program is critical to increasing treatment capacity in New Hampshire.” 

“HB 1696, which was passed by a strong bipartisan vote in the House yesterday, will ensure that we continue this critical program that strengthens the health of our workforce and boosts our economy. I, along with my Senate Democratic colleagues, stand ready to renew this important program and we look forward to working with our Republican colleagues in the Senate to get this critical legislation to the Governor’s desk as soon as possible.”


Senator Martha Fuller Clark Praises Senate Passage of Legislation to Protect Children from Illegal Adoptions

Concord, NH –Today, the Senate passed SB 543, which prohibits unauthorized advertising for adoptions and ensures that all adoptions follow state guidelines. Senator Martha Fuller Clark (D-District 21), prime sponsor of SB 543, released the following comments after today’s Senate session:  

“SB 543 addresses a gap in our current law that we could have never thought about just a few years ago: advertising children for sale or adoption online. While this problem may seem outrageous, at the public hearing, we heard examples from other states where babies and children were being offered for sale or trade on websites.” 

“In our ever-changing world, we must make sure to protect our children and SB 543 ensures that if a parent decides to make the difficult decision to give a child up for adoption, it is done so through a safe and regulated process. I thank the Senate for unanimously supporting the passage of this much needed important legislation.”


Governor Hassan on House Vote to Pass Net Metering Legislation 

CONCORD – Following a bipartisan vote by the New Hampshire House of Representatives to pass House Bill 1116, relative to net energy metering, Governor Maggie Hassan issued this statement:

“The solar industry is a critical part of our growing clean energy economy in New Hampshire, which recently ranked New Hampshire as one of the top five states for renewable energy and is creating good-paying, high-quality jobs, spurring economic development and helping combat climate change. Businesses and families across the state are utilizing solar to lower their energy bills and to increase their energy independence, contributing to the diverse and reliable energy supply that is critical to a more affordable and more innovative energy future.

“Lifting the cap on net metering is essential to the continued success of New Hampshire’s solar industry, and I applaud the House for its bipartisan vote to pass this critical measure. The Senate has already supported this legislation, and I urge them to concur with the version passed by the House and send this bill to my desk as quickly as possible so that we can lift the cap on net metering.”


Senator Woodburn Praises Addition of Biodiesel to List of Renewable Energy Sources 

CONCORD – Today, the NH Senate passed SB 386, which adds biodiesel producers to renewable energy classes in order to incentivize more biodiesel production. After the vote, North Country Senator Jeff Woodburn released the following comments: 

“Encouraging the production and use of local renewable fuels like biodiesel not only makes sense for our environment, but helps boost our local economy. Innovative companies like White Mountain Biodiesel in the North Country are already using biodiesel to power the Mount Washington Cog Railway and passage of SB 386 helps to encourage more companies to do the same. As a co-sponsor of this bill, I was very proud to support not only expanding the use of domestically-produced renewable fuels, but I was proud to stand up for our North Country businesses.”


Senator Woodburn Praises Passage of Legislation to Protect Victims of Unauthorized Disclosure of Sexually Explicit Images

CONCORD – Following the bipartisan passage of SB 465, which closes a loophole in current law in order to protect victims of nonconsensual dissemination of private sexual images, Sen. Jeff Woodburn released the following statement:

“Disclosure of sexually explicit material without consent and for no legitimate purpose causes immediate, devastating, and potentially irreversible harm to victims of this crime,” said Senator Woodburn. “Unfortunately, rapid advances in technology have created a loophole in our state laws that prevent prosecution of this crime. SB 465 closes this loophole and establishes a penalty for this devastating crime.”

Twenty-six other states have enacted similar laws to deal with the unauthorized disclosure of sexually explicit materials. 

“The ability of people to gain access to and distribute private, sexually explicit material has raised all sorts of issues that we could have never imagined even just a few years ago. Police and prosecutors are seeing an increase in these types of crimes, but need the tools to protect victims of this crime. I thank my Senate colleagues, especially the members of the Senate Judiciary Committee who worked to make this a better bill, for their support.”

NH House Passes Medicaid Expansion Bill

Medical - Medicaid - Stethoscope Today the New Hampshire House showed that Republicans and Democrats can work together to ensure that over 40,000 Granite Staters do not lose their health care coverage.

“The bipartisan New Hampshire Health Protection Program is strengthening the health and financial security of more than 48,000 hard-working Granite Staters, reducing healthcare cost-shifting onto all of our people and businesses, and playing an important role in combating the heroin and opioid crisis by providing substance abuse and behavioral health services to thousands of people,” said Governor Maggie Hassan.

“It is clear that our bipartisan expansion plan is making a real difference for hard-working Granite Staters and boosting our economy, and we know that reauthorization remains essential to increasing substance abuse treatment capacity in New Hampshire. I applaud the House of Representatives for its second bipartisan vote to reauthorize the New Hampshire Health Protection Program, and I will continue working with members of both parties and the federal government to reauthorize this critical program as it makes its way through the legislative process,” concluded Hassan.

“The New Hampshire Citizens Alliance applauds the hard work of those NH House Legislators who chose to stand with NH women and families by voting to extend critical health coverage to hard working Granite Staters,” said Kary Jencks, Executive Director of the NH Citizens Alliance. “Healthy workers equals healthy communities which results a healthy state economy that will continue to attract businesses and spur job growth.” 

The New Hampshire Fiscal Policy Institute also praised today’s bipartisan vote.

“The Health Protection Program helps low wage workers who could not otherwise afford health coverage. It helps individuals who temporarily fall on hard times and it helps those who are forced to reduce their work hours to care for an aging parent, a sick child, or other family member facing serious illness,” said NHFPI’s Executive Director Jeff McLynch. “Access to health coverage is a key component to ensuring economic stability for New Hampshire workers and families who struggle to put food on the table and a roof over their heads.”

“At the same time, the Health Protection Program will enable New Hampshire to bring more than $800 million of our federal tax dollars back to the state through the end of 2018 to help address critical public health needs, providing much needed resources to bolster our mental health system and combat the substance use disorder crisis,” added McLynch.

“We commend the members of the House of Representatives for this bipartisan vote in support of the reauthorization of the New Hampshire Health Protection Program. Their action brings New Hampshire one step closer to ensuring that thousands of hard-working Granite Staters have continued access to affordable health coverage that will increase their ability to achieve economic security,” concluded McLynch.

Senate Democratic Leader Jeff Woodburn, is poised and ready for the Senate to do their part and get this bill to the Governor. “Senate Democrats stand ready to renew this important program and we thank the House for their support. We look forward to working with our Republican colleagues in the Senate to get this critical legislation to the Governor’s desk as soon as possible.”

After the vote the New Hampshire Democratic Party was quick to highlight that Republican Gubernatorial candidate Chris Sununu tried to block Medicaid Expansion as an Executive Councilor.

In October 2013 Sununu was the only member of the Executive Council to vote against endorsing Gov. Hassan’s call for a special session to consider the recommendations of a commission that endorsed Medicaid expansion. Then, in July 2014 Sununu was one of two councilors to vote against a $292 million contract that would allow the N.H. Health Protection Program, or Medicaid expansion, to begin Sept. 1.

“Sununu’s record is clear,” said New Hampshire Democratic Party Chair Ray Buckley. “He led the fight opposing Medicaid expansion in New Hampshire and had he been successful, nearly 48,000 Granite Staters would still be without high-quality healthcare.” 

“It’s frankly disturbing to see how proud a candidate for governor is about putting partisan politics and ideology ahead of the health of everyday Granite Staters,” Buckley concluded.

NH Health Protection Program, aka NH Medicaid Expansion, Moves Forward After Key Vote

Yesterday, the New Hampshire House of Representatives Finance Committee, by a bipartisan 18-8 margin, approved HB 1696, which would reauthorize the New Hampshire Health Protection Program through December 2018.

“It is clear that our bipartisan New Hampshire Health Protection Program is getting results for our people and businesses and boosting our economy, while also strengthening our efforts to combat the heroin and opioid crisis and help save lives. The House Finance Committee’s vote is another step forward, and I will continue to work with members of both parties to reauthorize this critical program,” state Governor Maggie Hassan.

“We applaud the House Finance Committee vote in favor of reauthorizing the New Hampshire Health Protection Program,” said Zandra Rice-Hawkins, Executive Director of Granite State Progress. “The legislators who cast a vote in favor of the legislation are taking a much needed step forward to ensure that the nearly 48,000 Granite Staters currently on the program can continue to have affordable access to preventative and primary care in New Hampshire.”

“At the same time, we ask those few politicians who voted against New Hampshire families to recall the stories of hardworking small business owners who can’t afford health care coverage, and of mothers who are thankful to finally be able to see a doctor about health concerns so that they can be there for their children for years to come, and to reconsider whose side they stand on,” added Rice-Hawkins.

New Hampshire Fiscal Policy Institute Executive Director Jeff McLynch applauded the committee’s decision.

“Today’s vote by the House Finance Committee represents another positive step toward reauthorizing the program for two more years and continuing a successful, unique, and bipartisan approach to promoting health security and fostering economic growth.”

“Many of the Granite Staters who take part in the Health Protection Program work in jobs that are low-paid, but that help keep the New Hampshire economy moving. They provide care to children and to the elderly, build roads and bridges, and staff restaurants and hotels in communities across the state,” added McLynch.

Reauthorizing the NHHPP will also help address the growing opioid addiction problem plaguing our state.

“The program would continue health insurance coverage for nearly 48,000 Granite Staters. Approximately 6,700 of those individuals will likely access treatment services for substance use disorders,” said Linda Saunders Paquette, Executive Director of New Futures. “The New Hampshire Health Protection Program is the single-most important tool NH has to address its drug and alcohol crisis.”

“New Hampshire had the third highest rate of drug induced deaths per capita (100,000 residents) in the United States in 2014. According to an October 2015 poll conducted by the University of New Hampshire, Granite Staters view the opioid crisis as the number one issue facing our state, added Saunders Paquette.

“New Futures’ advocates will be the first to tell you that access to treatment and recovery services are critical to someone physiologically snared by heroin. On behalf of our constituents, New Futures applauds the House Finance Committee for supporting a practical and bipartisan response to our drug and alcohol epidemic,” concluded Saunders Paquette.

Republicans Kill A Bill To Expand Full Day Kindergarten

Image by Cole24_ FLICKR

Image by Cole24_ FLICKR

Republicans love to complain that our current education system is failing our children, yet when they are presented with a strong solution to boost early education, they adamantly reject it.

Earlier this month, New Hampshire legislators were given the opportunity to expand the state’s kindergarten program from half-day to full day. The bill, HB 1563, would simply provide additional state funds for schools who are already offering full day kindergarten and those who switch from half-day to full day.

“Full-day kindergarten helps make sure that students build the strong base of learning they will need to succeed throughout school and life,” wrote the National Education Association. “Full-day kindergarten can produce long-term educational gains, especially for low-income and minority students.”

The benefits of full-day kindergarten are well documented. According to research compiled by the Children’s National Defense Fund they found that children:

  • Are more prepared for school: they do better with the transition to first grade, show significant gains in school socialization and are equipped with stronger learning skills
  • Have higher academic achievement in later grades
  • Have better attendance in kindergarten and through the primary grades
  • Show faster gains on literacy and language measures when compared to half-day kindergarten students
  • Have enhanced social, emotional and behavior development
  • Have reduced retention and remediation rates.

These are substantial gains for children and a significant boost to our education system as a whole. Investing in early education will also build a stronger, well-educated workforce in the years to come.

Sadly, this will not become a reality this year because Republicans in the NH House rejected the idea.

In a completely partisan vote, the NH House rejected HB 1563, 205 to 152. Everyone who voted against expanding full day kindergarten was a Republican.

Republicans should stop their whining about the failures of our education system and start looking in the mirror. They are the ones who are failing to invest in a proven, successful program that will create lasting effects on a child’s ability to learn and grow.

We need to elect legislators who are willing to do what is needed to improve our education system, not just what is best for their political careers.


 

UPDATED to correct an error. Not all the Republicans in the House voted against expanding full day kindergarten as previously reported.  Eight Republicans voted for the bill, however all of the votes against the bill were Republicans.

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