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NH Legislature Rejects Abortion Ban and Preserves Buffer Zone Law

PPNHAF volunteers gather for a rally before the vote on HB 578 and HB 589

Bipartisan tradition of respecting women’s health and privacy upheld in the Granite State

(Concord, NH) – Earlier today the NH House acted on the repeal of the NH Buffer Zone and a ban on abortion,  HB 589 and HB 578 respectively. These bills were the first legislative proposals to come before House members this biennium which would impact the landscape for accessing reproductive health in the Granite State.  Planned Parenthood opposed both measures. Neither bill will move forward to the NH Senate.

Quote from Kayla Montgomery, Director of Advocacy and Organizing, Planned Parenthood NH Action Fund:

Today, the New Hampshire House rejected two measures that would have restricted or compromised the ability of women to access personal and private reproductive health care. The majority of NH House Representatives listened to their constituents, including the thousands of Planned Parenthood supporters who lobbied against these measures. These bipartisan votes continue the Granite State’s strong tradition of respecting women and doctors, not politicians, to make personal, private decisions about pregnancy and childbearing.”

Yesterday nearly a hundred supporters from around the state came to Concord to talk to their state reps about these bills, and what Planned Parenthood means to them.

HB 578-FN: relative to banning abortion after viability. This bill, both in its original form and as amended by the Judiciary Committee, restricted the right of New Hampshire women to make private medical decisions later in pregnancy. It is part of a larger strategy by the bill’s proponents to chip away at abortion rights through multiple restrictions. The Committee amendment, titled the “Viable Fetus Protection Act” replaced the original bill and would have introduced new limitations to abortion access in state law without protecting longstanding rights.  The amendment failed on a vote of 189 – 170, and the bill was then tabled. The U.S. Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade held that the U.S. Constitution’s guarantee of liberty protects a woman’s decision to have an abortion, limits government involvement with private medical decisions prior to fetal viability, and enables states to restrict post-viability abortions with exceptions to protect the health and life of the pregnant woman.  Support for Roe v. Wade and for access to safe, legal abortion is stronger in New Hampshire than any state in the nation.

State Representatives from across the state watch ‘Across the Line’ – a virtual reality film which puts viewers in the shoes of a patient entering a health center for a safe and legal abortion and demonstrates why buffer zones are important.

Supporters also joined State Representatives for a lunch gathering to discuss these bills and view a showing of “Across the Line” which is seven minute virtual reality experience which puts viewers in the shoes of a patient entering a health center for a safe and legal abortion

“New Hampshire’s Buffer Zone law, enacted in 2014, was carefully tailored to strike a balance between public safety, free speech, and privacy rights. Planned Parenthood is committed to protecting the privacy and safety of our patients, while respecting first amendment rights. No woman should face intimidation, physical obstruction or fear of harm while seeking to access confidential medical care,” added Montgomery. 

HB 589-FN: repealing the law governing access to reproductive health care facilities. This bill would have repealed the Buffer Zone law which was passed in 2014. Planned Parenthood argued that health centers need the flexibility to implement Buffer Zones when the privacy and safety of patients is at risk. Undoing this law would be a step backwards and removes an important tool from the toolkit. The House Judiciary committee recommended a bipartisan report of ITL on this bill and the House voted to uphold the committee report by a margin of 191-165.

Republicans In The NH House Sideline Bill To End Discrimination Against Transgender Individuals

CONCORD, N.H. — Thursday, the New Hampshire House of Representatives voted 187-179 to table House Bill 478. The measure sought to update the state’s law against discrimination to provide protections for transgender individuals in housing, employment and public spaces, including hospitals, stores and restaurants.

Efforts to revive debate on the measure failed on a 168-180 vote.

“I introduced HB 478, because transgender Granite Staters need to be protected from the real and pervasive discrimination they face,” state Rep. Ed Butler, D-Harts Location, said following the vote. “Today’s vote sends the message that discrimination is okay, and it motivates me to redouble my efforts to ensure everyone in New Hampshire is treated equally and fairly under the law, including transgender residents and visitors.”

Thursday’s vote came only a couple of weeks after a GOP-led House committee gave the measure a favorable recommendation on an overwhelming 15-2 vote, following hours of moving testimony from supporters of the bill, which outnumbered opposition 7 to 1.

“Those legislators who heard from transgender constituents, learned about their lives and why these protections are needed, voted overwhelmingly in favor of the measure just two weeks ago,” Gerri Cannon, a New Hampshire transgender woman and a member of the Freedom New Hampshire coalition, said. “It is shameful that opponents of HB 478 would use scare tactics to permit discrimination against transgender Granite Staters.”

Organizations and individuals who spoke against the bill cited unfounded claims that protecting transgender individuals from discrimination would make the state less safe. This assertion was proved false by those entrusted to protect the public, including the N.H. Chiefs of Police Association and the N.H. Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence, both of whom support the legislation.

Since HB 478 was introduced, 7,600 individuals, businesses and organizations have joined the Freedom New Hampshire coalition. Constituents made more than 8,200 contacts to legislators in support of the bill. The coalition will continue efforts to shine a light on the very real discrimination transgender individuals face on a daily basis and the urgent need for nondiscrimination protections.

“While we are disappointed with today’s vote, we are incredibly proud of the work that we have accomplished since this bill was introduced,” Linds Jakows, campaign manager for Freedom New Hampshire, said. “Since January, we have created a strong, diverse and bipartisan coalition of people from all walks of life who support transgender nondiscrimination protections in New Hampshire. This coalition is not going anywhere. We will continue our efforts to obtain explicit nondiscrimination protections for transgender individuals in New Hampshire.”

“In an act of weakness, House Speaker Shawn Jasper tabled HB478 rather than having representatives debate the legislation on the floor,” said NH Democratic Party Chair, Ray Buckley.  “Because of this, transgender people will be subject to discrimination.”

“…Governor Sununu has legitimized the idea that the transgender community does not matter and does not belong. He will have to answer for the consequences,” added Buckley. 

The House Democratic Leader, Rep Steve Shurtleff said the vote was “particularly disappointing.”

“We had the opportunity to take a strong stand in support of our most vulnerable citizens, and the House’s failure to act means that our transgender sons, daughters, friends and neighbors will continue to face discrimination in housing, employment, and public accommodations,” Shurtleff said.

For Republican leadership to orchestrate the derailing of this bill at the eleventh hour once again speaks to the misplaced priorities of the Republican Party.  As legislators, it is our job to engage the challenging issues that come before us, not to run away from them.”

“After witnessing the damage that North Carolina’s reputation and economy suffered after failing to protect against transgender discrimination, this move by New Hampshire Republicans to follow in their footsteps is even more shortsighted,” Shrtleff concluded. 

Despite Thursday’s vote, Freedom New Hampshire’s bipartisan and diverse coalition is committed to passing explicit nondiscrimination protections for transgender Granite Staters.

The measure will likely not be considered again before 2018. In the meantime, Freedom New Hampshire will continue efforts to shine a light on the very real discrimination transgender individuals face on a daily basis.

“Transgender Granite Staters deserve an up or down vote. It’s not a question of ‘if’ New Hampshire will adopt explicit nondiscrimination protections for transgender Granite Staters, but ‘when,’” Jakows concluded.

(Featured Image: ‘The Plight of the Transgender’ Image by Rose Morelli, www.facebook.com/Rosemorelliphotography)

NH House Passes Measure Blocking Towns And Cities From Gaming State Retirement System

CONCORD, NH – The New Hampshire House passed HB 561 today by voice vote, sending to the state Senate a solution to stop towns and cities from gaming the New Hampshire Retirement System (NHRS).

Towns and cities across New Hampshire consistently gripe about the lack of talent required to fill management and part-time positions in local government, while at the same time wishing the employer contributions required to fulfill pension debts are staved off to the next generation. Working after retirement, otherwise known as “double dipping,” spreads the costs of the Unfunded Actuarially Accrued Liability (UAAL) of the NHRS to other cities and towns participating in the system, but little has been done until now to address the practice.

House Bill 561, authored by longtime Rep. Neal Kurk (R-Weare) and debated for weeks in the House Executive Departments and Administration Committee, accomplishes both enforcement, by giving the state’s pension system penalty measures for exceeding hourly work limitations; and accountability, requiring towns and cities to pay their debt obligations even when reclassifying employee positions to part-time or filling them on an interim basis.

Highlighting public safety heads retiring on Friday and coming back to work on Monday on a “part-time basis” without adding to their pension benefit, public employees say enough is enough. “Cities and towns have used gimmicks to skirt their debts and employer obligations for far too long,” says Bill McQuillen, Chair of the NH Retirement Security Coalition and President of the Professional Fire Fighters of New Hampshire. “The unanimous recommendation of the Committee and consent of the full House of Representatives clearly indicates our elected officials’ priorities. The House approved responsible and sensible measures to ensure the security of the NHRS and address the UAAL.”

HB 561 now goes to the State Senate, where it will be heard in the Executive Departments and Administration Committee.

 

The New Hampshire Retirement Security Coalition consists of a dozen public sector member organizations fighting to ensure accountability and fairness on behalf of taxpayers and employees throughout the Granite State.

AFT-NH Legislative Bulletin 2-24-17: Payroll Deduction And The Expansion Of School Vouchers

February 24, 2017  

This week and next week the House will not be in session, due to school winter vacations, though the Senate is holding sessions and many committee hearings continue to be held. So, business continues to be done, though we are in a bit of a pause in the House, before the deluge of bills hits the floor on March 8 & 9. Due to the pause, and trying to closely monitor committee actions, this bulletin is intended to provide a snapshot of where we are and what lies ahead the next few weeks.

Right to Work So-called ‘right to work was defeated soundly on February 16th and also was indefinitely postponed. However, it is “not quite dead yet:” Yes, you read that correctly. The House version of so-called right to work (HB 520), is a virtual carbon copy of the Senate version decisively rejected by the House last week. However, there does need to be one more vote on the House bill. On either March 8 or 9, there will be a procedural vote on whether to take up HB 520 in the House. A 2/3 margin is needed to take up the bill, so it is unlikely to rise from the dead, but opponents of anti-worker, so-called ‘right to work’ legislation will need to be vigilant and in their seats, ready to vote to defeat the motion. AFT-NH is actively engaged with our fellow labor unions and community allies to close out this ugly chapter.

It is not too late to thank those legislators who stood with us to defeat right to work. To view the list, please click here. If you click on the name of the representative, the contact information is provided.

Payroll Deduction (HB 438) As you may already know, this proposal is a companion piece to so-called right to work, except it lacks even the flimsy veneer of ideological justification so often touted by advocates of so-called right-to-work. It is vindictive and an undisguised assault on the financial basis of labor organizations, their member dues. Under this legislation, no public employer will be allowed to deduct union dues from an employee’s wages, meaning the union must develop alternative means of collecting dues. Payroll deduction is a long-standing system that is negotiated in contracts, and must be authorized by individual union members. Yet unlike voluntary contributions to charities, apprenticeship funds, voluntary health insurance, or savings funds, all of which will continue to be allowed as voluntary deductions, union dues will be singled out and barred by law from payroll deduction. Why such a prohibition? To simply weaken the ability of unions to collect member dues, thereby weakening their financial foundations and ultimately, weakening the ability of labor unions to fight for their members, whether it be for better wages and benefits, workplace protections, or simply having a voice in the workplace. In essence, time for workers to return to the good old days, before labor unions, when the employer was unchallenged and the worker, to quote Frank Zappa, had to “do as you are told, until the rights to you are sold.”

The public hearing on this bill will be held on Wednesday, March 1, in front of the House Labor Committee, beginning at 10 am in LOB 305-307. If you are able to do so, please attend the hearing and register your opposition. You can also send an email to the entire House Labor Committee at

HouseLaborIndustrialandRehabilitativeServices@leg.state.nh.us

Education Legislation This week yielded up a mixed bag in regards to education-related legislation. A proposal (HB 505) to create a new, alternative body to authorize charter schools (thereby making it even easier to establish such schools) was retained by the Education Committee, meaning it will not come to the floor of the House in 2017 but could be addressed in 2018. That is a victory, at least in terms of delaying action. Another bill (HB 429), to strip the judiciary of any role in determining adequate education funding, was unanimously recommended to be killed by the House Legislative Administration Committee. Given the obvious and repeated failures of the Legislature in years past to adequately fund public education, this is a victory.

However, legislation to create a statewide education voucher system in NH continues to move forward. Last week, the House narrowly approved (along largely party lines) a bill (HB 647-FN) to establish a voucher system for use by parents of children with disabilities. While we all care deeply about such children, a voucher system that removes funding from the public schools and gives it to parents to use for private and/or religious education, is simply wrong for NH, weakening the public system and providing direct aid to schools that quite often do not need to meet the same stringent requirements and thresholds of traditional public schools. This bill now proceeds to House Finance (Division II) which will be conducting hearings on Feb. 28th and March 2nd. Stay tuned for specific actions on this bill as we determine the direction which will be taken from House Finance.

Meanwhile, in the Senate yesterday, SB 193-FN passed 13-10. This bill would establish a statewide voucher system for all students in NH, moving millions in taxpayer funds into private and religious schools. The impact on local communities is incalculable at this point, but these bills could easily be labeled as “Raise Your Local Property Tax” legislation. Traditional public school facilities would still need to be maintained, programs offered, and requirements met, but the funding would decrease while taxpayer dollars flow into private and religious schools. Needless to say, this is bad legislation, but is supported by Governor Chris Sununu as well as his new Commissioner of Education, Frank Edelblut. This bill is now referred to Senate Finance. Both SB 193 and HB 647 will reappear in late March.

There is also the so-called “Croydon” bill, SB 8-FN, which passed the Senate this week. This bill would allow a school board to contract with a private school if there is no public school in the student’s grade in its district. More diversion of tax dollars to private schools. This will proceed to Senate Finance. The topic of non-academic surveys was also addressed by the Senate in SB 43 which no student shall be required to participate in these surveys without written consent from the parent or guardian. The only exception to this would be the youth risk behavior survey developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, however, a parent could opt out on behalf of the student.

As a member of the NH Retirement Security Coalition, we continue to monitor any bills affecting the NH Retirement System and your benefits. HB 413, which would require the State to pay 15% of the retirement obligation to local communities, is now in House Finance (Division I) and will have a public hearing on February 28th. This bill would provide much needed relief to local communities.

There is much else going on in Concord as we approach the “cross-over” when are bills are due to be voted on by the respective chamber and sent to the other body. We will keep you posted in those bills where there is need for immediate action. Breaking news first appears on our AFT New Hampshire page, so please have your friends, family and colleagues take a moment to like our page!

For those of you starting your February vacation, enjoy your time off and the warmer weather. Spring is around the corner.

 

In Solidarity,

Douglas Ley

AFT-NH, President

Legislators Consider Prohibiting Union Dues Deductions From Public Employees

On March 1st, the NH House Labor Committee will hear public testimony on HB 438, a bill to prohibit a “public employer from withholding union dues from a public employee’s wages.” Essentially this would prohibit workers from choosing how they want to spend their own money and how they choose to spend their own money.

According to RSA 275:48 an employee can elect to have money deducted from their paycheck and sent directly to the account of their choice for dozens of reasons.  A public employee could have their rent deducted, their utilities deducted, their medical bills deducted, send money to their personal savings accounts, or to make a donation to the charity of their choice.

This bill is singling out our police, firefighters, teachers, plow drivers, public health professionals, and state employees from being allowed to have their union dues automatically deducted from their paychecks.

What benefit does the State gain by taking away the option to deduct union dues?  None.  There is no cost to have the deductions automatically withdrawn and there is no savings to be found by prohibiting automatic dues deductions.

For a state that boasts “live free or die” why would we want legislation that infringes on a workers freedom to choose how they spend their paycheck.  It is not for the government to decide how and when I spend my own paycheck.

This is a purely an assault by out-of-state lobbying groups on unions in an attempt to weaken and destroy the public unions in New Hampshire. These are the same out-of-state lobbyists who pushed so-called “Right to Work” and the repeal of collective bargaining bills in the past.  They only have one goal, destroy unions.  Since they already lost the “Right to Work” fight they are grasping at anything in an attempt to weaken the public employee unions in New Hampshire.

The Labor Committee should reject this bill again this year as they have done in years past.

Right To Work Goes Down In The NH House, New Hampshire Labor Rejoices

To the great “disappointment” of Governor Sununu, SB 11, the so-called “Right to Work” for less bill, goes down in flames.  By a bi-partisan vote of 200 to 177 the members of the NH House voted to kill the bill.  “I am deeply disappointed today by the House’s failure to pass Right to Work,” stated Governor Chris Sununu.

“Today’s vote was a confirmation of what we determined in the House Labor Committee, where Democrats and Republicans worked together to recommend defeat of so-called ‘right to work,’” said Representative Doug Ley (D-Jaffrey), the Ranking Democrat on the House Labor Committee. “With a strong economy and the lowest unemployment rate in America, legislation that reduces wages and interferes with the employer/employee relationship is the last thing our state needs.  I am very pleased that the full House agreed with the bipartisan Labor Committee recommendation, and that we can finally put this issue behind us.”

“Today a bi-partisan majority confirmed that ‘Right to Work’ is still wrong for New Hampshire, and this vote should be the final nail in the coffin,” said NH AFL-CIO President Glenn Brackett. “Across the Granite State, working people stood together against this corporate-backed legislation that would cripple our ability to speak up on job. We thank the legislators who let workers’ voices rise above special interests’.” 

AFT-NH, that represents 4,000 teachers, school support staff, city and town employees, police officers, library employees, and higher education faculty, was “extremely pleased” with Right to Work’s defeat.

“We are extremely pleased that the NH House defeated Right to Work by a 200-177 vote today,” said Doug Ley, President of AFT-NH. “The defeat of this bill was the result of cooperation across party lines and hard work by our members, fellow union brothers and sisters in the labor movement and community allies. The actions by the NH House today puts to bed this divisive legislation for at least another 2 years. We thank legislators who stood with working families.”

NEA-NH, the state’s largest public employee union, representing over 17,000 members, praised the vote.

“Educators’ working conditions are our child’s learning conditions,” said Megan Tuttle acting NEA-NH President. “By weakening the ability of educators to advocate for students, kids across New Hampshire stood to lose things like smaller class sizes, safe classrooms and drinking water, up-to-date resources, and expanded curriculum choices. Our ability to advocate for every public-school student was preserved today.”

“When out-of-state interests with pre-written legislation and lots of money try to set legislative priorities in New Hampshire, kids lose. Today’s vote prevented that from happening.”

“The 17,000 members of NEA-New Hampshire extend our thanks to those voting against SB11 today, especially those members who stood strong against the pressure applied by the majority leadership on this issue. Their resolve helped ensure that kids and educators across the state will continue to have a strong voice,” concluded Tuttle. 

Richard Gulla, President of the NH State Employees Association was “proud” of the legislators who stood with working families.

“Today, the New Hampshire House of Representatives voted SB 11 Inexpedient to Legislate. We are proud of the legislators for standing with Granite State workers today and putting the so-called Right to Work bill behind us, where it belongs. The New Hampshire House recognized that there was no constituency supporting this legislation and proved out-of-state special interests have no place in our politics. It took courage to stand against the constant stream of pressure from outside funding – and Granite State families can now celebrate this accomplishment.”

“We are incredibly grateful to our elected officials for continuing to stand up for what is important. We look forward to working with Governor Sununu and the legislature to continue helping New Hampshire families,” Gulla added. 

Democrats also rejoiced as Sununu’s highest priority piece of legislation was defeated.

“New Hampshire proved once again that it’s a friend to workers’ rights. Despite Governor Sununu and NHGOP Chair Forrester’s brazen attempts, Republicans and Democrats in the State House stood together and made clear that this issue is above partisan politics,” said NHDP Chairman Ray Buckey. 

“Today’s defeat of the so-called Right to Work for Less legislation is a great victory for New Hampshire’s working families,” said Jeff Woodburn, NH Senate Minority Leader.  “Right to Work for Less makes it harder for people to earn a living, harder for people to make ends meet, and harder for people to support a family. I congratulate the bipartisan coalition in the House that recognized the damage it would have caused and came together to defeat this harmful legislation.”

Join The Fight Against Transgender Discrimination, Tell Your Reps To Support HB478

We all know that it is illegal to discriminate against someone because of their race or the color of their skin, but did you know that because of weak discrimination laws there are no real protections for those who are transgendered.

This means that a transgendered person can be fired from their job, denied an apartment or denied service in a restaurant, and otherwise discriminate against them simply because of who they are.

“Findings from a 2011 study by NCTE and the Task Force show that 63% of transgender participants had experienced a “serious act of discrimination”—events like a lost job, eviction, homelessness, and assault that drastically impede one’s ability to sustain themselves financially or emotionally” stated Freedom New Hampshire.

This is unacceptable!

“Everyone should be treated fairly and equally under the law,” State Rep. Ed Butler, D-Harts Location, said. “By updating our civil rights laws to protect transgender individuals from discrimination, we will be saying that New Hampshire is an open and welcoming place for everyone.”

“There are thousands of transgender individuals in New Hampshire whose lives will be positively impacted by this bill,” said Gerri Cannon, a transgender community leader and Granite Stater. “No one should be turned away from a public business, kicked out of their home or be fired from a job simply because of who they are.”

The NH Labor News, the ACLU of NH, New Hampshire Freedom to Marry, and Freedom New Hampshire are encouraging everyone to contact your State Legislators and ask them to support HB 478, “An Act to Prohibit Discrimination on the Basis of Gender Identity.”

This bill will update and strengthen New Hampshire’s nondiscrimination laws —which currently protect people from discrimination at work, in housing, and in places open to the public— to include people who are transgendered. Law enforcement and public safety officials agree that protecting transgender individuals from discrimination is critical to ensuring everyone can live their lives safely.

“As Chief of the Dover Police Department and a member of law enforcement for over 31 years, I know our communities are safer when everyone is treated fairly and equally under the law and that includes transgender people,” said Chief Anthony Colarusso. “This group is actually disproportionately targeted for harassment and assault. However, in places where legal protections are in place, rates of violence against transgender individuals go down with no uptick in public safety incidents. Transgender equality and equal treatment for all is ultimately about building stronger communities for everyone.”

“We are united in our belief that fairness and equality are important to all of us,” JeanMarie Gossard, Freedom New Hampshire’s campaign manager, added. “Freedom New Hampshire is thrilled to be working with a broad coalition of business, faith and civic leaders, and people across the political spectrum, to support this important measure.”


Please visit www.freedomnewhampshire.org for information on how you can help secure these important protections for transgender Granite Staters.

NH Labor Leaders Speak Out About Today’s Hearing on So-Called “Right-to-Work” Legislation

Concord – Hundreds gathered to oppose the so-called “Right to Work” legislation in front of the New Hampshire House Labor Committee.  The testimony lasted for more than four hours.  

Unlike the Senate committee, the House committee actually listened to the people and voted the bills “inexpedient to legislate” (ITL) 14-7.  Five Republicans joined the nine Democrats on the committee to oppose both “right to work” bills.

The bill and the committee’s recommendation of “ITL” will be in front of the entire NH House next week.  If the NH House concurs with the committee recommendation, the bills will be killed.

Following today’s public hearing in the New Hampshire House of Representatives’ Labor Committee, New Hampshire labor leaders spoke out on the ant-worker legislation:

Glenn Brackett, President of the New Hampshire AFL-CIO: “The New Hampshire AFL-CIO was proud to stand with hundreds of working people across the state who are fighting to protect their rights at work. This legislation is an attack on working families by out-of-state special interests seeking to lower wages for everyone and undermine worker protections. The proponents of this legislation are playing politics with the future of our workforce, and New Hampshire working families deserve better.”

Richard Gulla, President of SEA/SEIU Local Union 1984: “So-called right to work has no place in the Granite State, and I’m proud we were able to pack this hall today with those who agree. Both of these bills are tired, recycled legislation that does nothing for the real problems facing our state. We need the House to reject these bills so we can get down to working together on legislation that helps – not hurts – New Hampshire families.”

Sarah Hirsch, President of the University of New Hampshire Lecturers Union: “The families of New Hampshire want the college students to be solidly prepared and ready to enter good careers. To do this, the faculty who teach and mentor them need to be protected, have job stability and security, good benefits, and a say in their working conditions!  Weakening unions ultimately weakens higher education, undercutting the development of a skilled workforce for New Hampshire at a time when we need more competitive workers in the state.”  

Frank Moroney, Executive Director AFSCME Council 93: “It’s a powerful statement that a majority of legislators, both Democrats and Republicans, voted against so-called “Right to Work” today. They stood together because they know protecting our right to speak up together on the job shouldn’t be a partisan issue. Right to Work would hurt working families across the Granite State, and we’ll continue to fight against this legislation as it moves to the House floor.”

Dennis Caza, President of Teamsters Local Union 633: “Today, hundreds of our brothers and sisters stood in Solidarity to defend the rights of New Hampshire’s workers. We hope that we have sent a message to the legislature that so-called “Right-to-Work” is not the solution that New Hampshire working families need. In the coming days, we urge workers in every industry across the state to contact their legislators and let them know that this so-called “Right-to-Work” legislation is wrong for New Hampshire.”

New Hampshire Campaign on Voting Rights Condemns Rollbacks of Citizen’s Voting Rights

Modernization, not rollbacks, key for engaging voters, ensuring security 

Concord, NH – The New Hampshire Campaign on Voting Rights condemns attempts by New Hampshire politicians to rollback the voting rights of New Hampshire voters.

New Hampshire politicians have proposed an unprecedented number of bills this legislative session stripping voters of rights, making voter registration more difficult, and changing same-day registration. Bill sponsors point to voter fraud as a justification for these rollbacks, however modernization not rollbacks are needed to improve the security and integrity of our voting system. Republicans in Washington, D.C. and New Hampshire’s Secretary of State Bill Gardner are confident and agree that voter fraud is not a widespread problem.

These rollbacks are another ploy to disengage voters from the political system, stripping them of their right to vote, a right provided to them as citizens of this country. 

The New Hampshire Campaign for Voting Rights urges state legislators to consider common sense reforms that will save taxpayer dollars and make the system more secure, if  they wish to examine New Hampshire’s election system:

1.      Implement a closed, secure online voter registration system connected to the state’s Department of Motor Vehicle database;

2.      Implement a closed, secure digital poll book system that saves taxpayer dollars and saves communities time;

3.      Support SB 197 to fund the attorney general’s Department of Justice to complete outstanding voter investigations rather than expand police power to the New Hampshire secretary of state.

“When politicians push bills that put limits on voter registration, they are infringing on the constitutional right of all eligible residents in New Hampshire to participate in our elections,” said New Hampshire Campaign for Voting Rights spokesperson Huck Montgomery. “It is in all of our interest to have the most secure and efficient voter registration system.” 

Thirty-nine states have adopted online voter registration while six others have automatic voter registration. Thirty-one states use digital poll books. In a national survey of dozens of election officials in 29 states “there was unanimity that electronic and online registration reduces costs.”

2016 Fiscal Revues Reveals $160 Million Surplus But What Will Happen Next Is Crucial

Today, the Department of Administrative Services released the 2016 NH Fiscal Report that show a whopping $160 million dollar surplus.

“Thanks to a strengthening economy, our work across party lines to develop a fiscally responsible budget and Senator Hassan’s strong leadership as Governor, we finished Fiscal Year 2016 with a surplus of almost $160 million. With this strong surplus, we were able to put an additional $70 million into our Rainy Day Fund- strengthening it to the highest level in recorded history. As our state’s fiscal outlook continues to strengthen, Senate Democrats remain committed to supporting the economic priorities that are critical to the success of our people, our businesses, and our state,” said Senate Democratic Leader Jeff Woodburn.

“The strong surplus of nearly $160 million and historic level of the State’s Rainy Day Fund is yet another clear sign of Senator Hassan’s strong leadership and success as Governor. Regardless of what the Republican Party tries to say about the state’s fiscal health, Granite Staters know that Senator Hassan’s leadership led to real results for the State of New Hampshire. To build on that progress, Republicans in Concord should ditch failed policies like ‘right-to-work for less’ and join their Democratic colleagues on focusing on the real issues that matter to the people of New Hampshire and will keep our economy moving forward,” said Ray Buckley, Chair of the New Hampshire Democratic Party. 

For the people of New Hampshire this is good news.  It shows that programs like the NH Health Protection Program did not bankrupt the state as some claimed.  We have also filled up our rainy day fund.This will make this years budget fight even more interesting.

Will the legislature cut revenue sources or will they opt to invest in our future?

For example, today, Senator Bette Laskey (D-Nashua) introduced a new bill (SB 100) to appropriate $4 million to the Department of Transportation for the project development phase of the New Hampshire capital rail corridor project.

“The citizens and businesses of New Hampshire know that bringing commuter rail to this state will generate economic growth for decades to come and make New Hampshire a more accessible and attractive destination for families and investors,” said Senator Lasky, prime sponsor of SB 100. “With the support of businesses, workers and families, this project should be a priority investment of this legislature.”

“Commuter rail offers a modern, safe, transportation infrastructure that not only bridges the gap between employers and their need for an educated workforce, but also helps attract and keep young people in our state to drive future growth. This is not a partisan or ideological issue – it is a win-win that is supported by both Republicans and Democrats; business leaders, and working families. Given the significant economic benefits of bringing commuter rail to New Hampshire, I urge my colleagues on the Senate Finance Committee to support this legislation,” Laskey added.  

With a $90 million dollar surplus, after taking money out for the rainy day fund, can we finally agree that the funds are there to push for expanded rail service to New Hampshire.

What about our broken down roads and bridges?  Will the legislature finally put some serious money to repair the hundred red listed bridges in the state?

What about our schools? Will the legislature put some much needed funds to update any of the state public schools?  Will they put more money towards the state’s university system and the community college system of NH?  The State of NH is dead last in state spending on our state universities which is also why we have the highest in-state tuition in the country.

Hopefully they will choose to make some serious investments in our state’s infrastructure and spend more on education funding.

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