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A New Hampshire Republican Tries To Sneak In A New Kind Right To Work For Less Bill

The proposed bill puts a new twist on an old, well known union busting Right to Work law

Right To Work is Wrong for NH

Tomorrow, the NH House Labor Committee will hold their public hearing on HB 1341 a new and very sneaky way to pass a Right To Work for less bill.

Republican Representative John Martin introduced HB1341 as a way for non-union members, who are covered by a union contract, to get out of paying their fair share by allowing them to make a donation to the charity of their choice.  This would allow the non-members to freeload off the union by skipping out on their share of the administration costs.

This is exactly the same as every other Right to Work for less bill except in this version non-members would still have to pay, they just would not have to pay the union.

Right to Work is a union-busting tactic has been used for decades. Bust the union by attempting to bankrupt them.

We already know that Right to Work laws are designed to destroy unions and further the Race to the Bottom.  Workers in Right to Work states make about 3% less than workers in free bargaining states. This means workers will make on average, $1500 less in Right to Work states.  Workers are also much less likely to have access to healthcare, retirement plans and other negotiated benefits like family leave and paid sick time.

This piece of legislation could allow these freeloading non-members to take money that should have gone to the union and funnel it directly into anti-worker groups like the Americans for Prosperity, who are officially listed at a charity by the state.

Passing Right To Work has been one of AFP-NH’s main legislative goals for many years.

Did the Americans for Prosperity have a hand in writing this bill? I do not know, but I am pretty certain they will be there to support it.

If you agree that this type of underhanded attack on workers is wrong then join us at the NH State Capitol’s Legislative Office Building, Room 307, tomorrow (2-11-16) to make your voice heard.

If you cannot make it to the State House tomorrow, you can write or call the members of the House Labor Comittee (click here to email the committee) and tell them to vote this bill “INEXPEDIENT TO LEGISLATE” to kill the bill.

ICYMI: Republican Legislators Refuse to Sign Sexual Harassment Policy, Say It Violates Their Free Speech

CONCORD, N.H. – Just weeks after making sexist comments directed at their fellow legislators, New Hampshire Republicans are refusing to sign a new sexual harassment policy, arguing that it violates their right to free speech.

The policy does not restrict any speech on the House floor and “applies only to comments to employees and staff members.” Yet Republicans Rep. John Burt (R-Goffstown) immediately urged his colleagues not to sign it, writing:

“I ask you please do not sign this. Below on page 3 would stop all of my speeches. This is Political Correctness gone wrong.”

Rep. Al Baldasaro (R-Rockingham), who you may remember told a fellow representative that “your nipple would be the last one I would want to see,” said “I will not be signing the policy letter that steps on Freedom of Speech.”

“The fact that Republicans would rather crack lewd jokes than abide by basic sexual harassment guidelines is embarrassing,” said New Hampshire Democratic Party Communications Director Lizzy Price. “It’s sadly unsurprising that the party that repeatedly fights to restrict women’s access to health care also does not take efforts to stop sexual harassment seriously.” 

Please see some excerpts from local and national news stories below, or click the links for full stories.

The sexual harassment brouhaha began shortly after Baldasaro and Republican Rep. Josh Moore made crude comments about Rep. Amanda Bouldin’s breasts, in response to her opposition to a bill that would outlaw public exposure of female nipples. Moore had declared that he should be allowed to “stare at” and “grab” Bouldin’s breast… Republican House Speaker Shawn Jasper opened the 2016 session with a call for civility, but his plea was loudly spurned by several conservatives—some of whom are now rejecting the harassment policy, as well. [Slate]

Burt said he took exception with the policy provision stating that “Even unintentional conduct – including conduct that is intended as a joke – can be a violation of this policy.” “I am known as the person who cracks the jokes and that’s how I win some of my votes,” he said. [AP]

Now, we have a couple of state reps bravely taking a stance against a new harassment policy, which they feel would cramp their fondness for jokey harassment... The policy, which is entirely sane and which we’ve attached below, was approved January 5 by a Joint Legislative Facilities Committee. [Jezebel]

Since some of our legislators seem to have difficulty determining what is appropriate, perhaps a lesson can be learned from all this. What would the women in your life think about your remarks? Would they burst with pride or cringe in despair? [Seacoast Online, Kate Murray]

Democratic Leader on GOP Candidates Addressing the NH State House: I’m not Impressed

The top Democrat in the NH House calls out GOP Primary candidates for failing to represent the people that elected them. 

CONCORD, N.H. – Today, Republican presidential candidates John Kasich, Chris Christie, and Marco Rubio are scheduled to address the New Hampshire State House. Democratic House Leader Steve Shurtleff released the following statement in response:

“Today, we are joined by three presidential candidates. As we get closer to the First-in-the-Nation primary, how someone campaigns and governs in their current job can tell you a lot and from what I’ve seen from Marco Rubio, Chris Christie, and John Kasich, I’m not impressed.

“As representatives, we are elected by our constituents to show up and vote. But Senator Rubio of Florida has one of the worst voting records in the Senate and has even said that the votes he misses in Washington don’t matter. So Rubio continues to miss foreign policy hearings, votes to fund the government, and even votes on national security. Even as he’s here in New Hampshire, he’s missing a hearing on the Iran Deal in the Senate. When it comes to a President, I’d prefer someone who shows up to his current job.

“One of our biggest responsibilities  as elected officials is making sure we support law enforcement officials, but Chris Christie isn’t telling it like it is when it comes to his commitment to public safety. Christie slashed the benefits of hard-working men and women in the law enforcement community in New Jersey and has refused to meet with them. While campaigning here in New Hampshire, Christie called a police officer a “pig” in response to criticism. And perhaps most telling is that his administration created a public safety disaster on the George Washington Bridge, the busiest in the world, just to get back at a political enemy. Chris Christie has a big mouth, but his actions as governor speak louder – and he’s got New Jersey’s failed economic record and the Bridge-gate scandal to show for it.

“Former Lehman Brothers managing director John Kasich spends his time campaigning in New Hampshire threatening workers. In 2015, John Kasich visited the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard and said that the Base Realignment and Closure process keeps shipyard workers “on their toes.” Kasich has also threatened Granite Stater seniors, first by touting his plan while in congress to cut and privatize their Social Security benefits even to those close to retirement, and then by dismissing a senior concerned by the cuts. It’s clear Kasich’s priorities are completely out of line with the things that are important to Granite Staters.

“We’ve seen a lot of presidential candidates over the past few months, but I remain unimpressed with today’s guests. Candidates with failed records, absenteeism, and policies that actively harm the people they represent are bad for New Hampshire and bad for the country.”

NH Citizens Alliance Testifies For Eliminating The Tipped Minimum Wage

The Executive Director Of The NH Citizens Alliance Makes The Case For Eliminating The Tipped Minimum Wage

NH Citizens Alliance

Yesterday Kary Jencks testified to the NH House Labor committee in support of HB 1346 a bill to eliminate the tipped minimum wage.  Below is her written testimony to the committee:

Submitted Testimony To The NH House Labor, Industrial and Rehabilitative Services Committee, January 19th, 2016.

Kary Jencks

Kary Jencks

Organization Background: New Hampshire Citizens Alliance (NHCA) is a 501(c)3 state wide non-profit, non-partisan organization devoted to social, economic, racial, and political justice. Our membership comprises over 20,000 Granite Staters from both sides of the aisle. After nearly 40 years NH Citizens Alliance continues to lead the movement for social and economic justice in the Granite State. We focus on creating a more engaged electorate through issue education, leadership development and voter engagement and mobilization. We work on local, state, and federal issues and have built a strong reputation for advocating for policies that invest in people over profits, including access to quality, affordable health care and smart budget investments.

Central to our work is a women’s economic justice framework. This is because women are central to our families and our economy. We know that more women than ever are working outside the home, heading households and leading in the workplace. Therefore, we must take action now to ensure that women have equal rights and receive fair treatment on the job, in health care and in the new economy.

Instead of limiting reproductive rights, voting rights and protecting outdated workplace policies that discriminate against women, our priority in New Hampshire is to guarantee full and fair opportunities for women in the new economy and take care of their families.

NHCA Testimony in SUPPORT of HB 1346:

  • New Hampshire must begin to Stand with the women and families who are working hard every day trying to meet the basic needs of their children. In the restaurant industry this scenario is especially true for women where nationally 66% of tipped workers are women and 21% of tipped workers in New Hampshire are parents.
  • Since the majority of tipped waged workers are women and mothers providing for their families, paying them a sub-minimum wage is supporting legislated pay inequity thus perpetuating the gender equity gap. New Hampshire can do better for working women and their families.
  • Furthermore, sub-minimum wage requires tipped workers to garner the bulk of their wages from gratuities. This system often results in women having to simply “shut up and put up” with harassment on the job to secure their income. The restaurant industry accounts for 37% of sexual harassment claims. New Hampshire can do better for working women and stop supporting the view that sexual harassment is a huge Human Resource issue in every other work setting except in the restaurant industry where it is viewed as “part of the job.”
  • Tipped workers live in poverty at more than twice the rate of the workforce in New Hampshire. This results in 7% of New Hampshire tipped restaurant workers using food stamps and an $8,731,054 annual cost to New Hampshire tax payers of tipped restaurant workers in New Hampshire relying on food stamps and Medicaid. Meanwhile the House will soon debate how to cover much needed reauthorization of Medicaid expansion. The biggest issue for reauthorization is the 10% of the total cost the state of New Hampshire will be required to cover. Let’s pay our workers the worth of their jobs and move New Hampshire women and families off of public assistance; saving our tax payer dollars and in turn allowing our state to cover its 10% share to provide critical health coverage to those who need it most.
  • Please Stand with Women and New Hampshire Families and vote HB 1346 Ought to Pass.

Thank you for your time and dedication to New Hampshire.


Kary Jencks, Executive Director – NHCA


Passing A Prevailing Wage Law Help Ensure Our Tax Dollars Go To Local Workers


(Image MidtownCrosing FLIKR)

(Image MidtownCrosing FLIKR)

Without a Prevailing Wage Law our local economy is losing millions to out-of-state contractors

Paying taxes is a fact of life. How we spend our tax dollars can make a big difference in our state and local economy.   We need to do more to ensure that the tax dollars spent to rebuild our local infrastructure are also benefiting local companies and local workers.

We can accomplish both by passing a state prevailing wage law. A prevailing wage law ensures that employers are paying workers what local workers, doing the same job, would make.

It may sound a little confusing but it is actually very simple. A prevailing wage law ensures that an electrician working on a project gets paid what other electricians in New Hampshire are making, not what an electrician from South Carolina is paid.

As we all know the cost of living varies by region and so to do the wages. Over the past few decades we have seen more and more, out-of-state construction companies, come into New Hampshire to do work on state construction projects. These out-of-state companies are bringing in their own workers at sub-standard rates and then take no only our jobs but then take our tax dollars with them when they leave.

Shouldn’t our state government work to ensure that our tax dollars are going to local workers not some cut rate out-of-state corporation?

By passing a prevailing wage law, New Hampshire would create upwards of 1,700 more jobs and would infuse $7.3 million in additional revenue from state and local taxes.

Over the next two years the State of New Hampshire is will be spending $94 million on state funded public works projects. A prevailing wage would ensure that all of that $94 million spent would stay right here in New Hampshire and help the local construction industry regain some of the jobs lost from the great recession.

If you support the passage of a New Hampshire prevailing wage law, come to Concord on Tuesday, January, 19th at 10am in Reps Hall of the State House.

Even if you do not want to speak on behalf of this proposed legislation please come and “sign in” that you are in favor of this legislation.

Having people in the audience during the hearing helps to show that we support our tax dollars going to local businesses and local workers.

Eliminating The Tipped Minimum Wage, Helps To Close The Gender Wage Gap And Boost Economy

( Image by John Bastoen FLICKR CC)

( Image by John Bastoen FLICKR CC)

Research shows that eliminating the tipped minimum wage will generate billions to the national economy.

On Tuesday January 19th the New Hampshire House of Representative will be holding public commentary on HB 1346, a bill to eliminate the tipped minimum wage. If passed New Hampshire would join the seven other states including California, Montana and Minnesota who have already eliminated the tipped minimum wage in an effort to raise the wages of workers, mostly women, who are struggling to support their families.

As if the minimum wage of $7.25 an hour in most states is not bad enough, 43 states have a special, sub-minimum wage for restaurant and tipped workers. The majority of these states have kept their tipped minimum wage at $2.13 an hour. New Hampshire is slightly better at $3.27 an hour or 45% of the minimum wage.

The sub-minimum wage was created to allow employers to pay newly freed slaves a lower wage than white workers, creating an instant racial-economic gap.

Working for tips is not the lucrative career some might imply. Opponents of raising the tipped minimum wage, especially the “Other NRA,” the National Restaurant Association, like to highlight servers who work in high-dollar restaurants making over a thousand dollars a week in tips.

The truth is the overwhelming majority of tipped workers work in places like Applebee’s and IHOP, where sales and tips are low, not high dollar establishments.

Nationally the average income for a tipped restaurant workers is $14,596, just below what a full time minimum wage worker would earn annually.   In New Hampshire it is even worse. The average tipped restaurant worker in New Hampshire earns $13,012 a year.

Here are just of few of the facts about tipped restaurant workers here in New Hampshire (US averages in parenthesizes):

  • 51% of tipped restaurant workers are older than 25 (66% nationally and 25% are above 45 years of age).
  • 81% of tipped restaurant workers are women (66% nationally).
  • 25% of the tipped restaurant workers are working moms (31% nationally).
  • 7% of tipped restaurant workers use food stamps, costing taxpayers $8,731,954 in public assistance [Food Stamps and Medicare].

Another myth about eliminating the tipped minimum wage, perpetuated by “the Other NRA,” is that eliminating the tipped minimum wage will destroy the local restaurant industry. The fact is that the seven states that eliminated the tipped minimum wage and raised their state’s minimum wage are now doing better those states with a sub-minimum wage.

States that have eliminated the minimum wage are growing at a rate of 10.5% annually. This is a full 1.5% higher than the average of the other 43 states at 9%.

Saru Jayaraman, Co-Founder of the ROC United and Director of Food Labor Research at Berkley recently opined why we should completely move away from tipping.

“It (tipping) has created a two-tiered wage system with deep social and economic consequences for millions.”

Because workers in the restaurant industry are forced to rely on tips to survive the industry is rife with sexual harassment.

“Women restaurant workers living off tips in states where the sub-minimum wage for tipped workers is $2.13 per hour are twice as likely to experience sexual harassment as women in states that pay the same minimum wage to all workers,” stated ROC United.

The wage gap between men and women has become one of the hot button issues of the year and one of the easiest ways to help reduce the gender wage gap is to eliminate the tipped minimum wage. Not only will it help women close the gender wage gap it will boost sales and generate billions to the economy.

Eliminating the tipped minimum wage and raising the minimum wage to $12 would result in an economic stimulus of an estimated $19.4 billion that would go right back into our local economy.   ROC United is working to eliminate the tipped minimum wage nationally and making this economic boost a reality.

The public hearing on this bill is Tusday. For more information on this or to get involved in the campaign to end the tipped minimum wage contact Sheila Vargas at sheila@granitestateprogress.org. 

Just in case you need one more reason why we should eliminate the tipped minimum wage listen to Adam from College Humor explain why tipping should be banned.


Prevailing Wage Law Would Boost NH Jobs, the State Economy, and In-State Contractors

By Denali National Park and Preserve (Construction Worker  Uploaded by AlbertHerring) [CC BY 2.0

By Denali National Park and Preserve (Construction Worker Uploaded by AlbertHerring) [CC BY 2.0

New Study Shows A Multi-Million Dollar Boost To The NH Economy.

Concord – A new study released today by leading national researchers on the construction industry finds that a proposed New Hampshire prevailing wage law would boost the state economy by at least $300 million, create several thousand jobs, and increase state and local tax revenue by up to $17 million.

The report, published by the Keystone Research Center (KRC), an independent non-partisan economic policy group, was released in advance of hearings in Concord next week on the proposed prevailing wage law. New Hampshire is the only state in New England and the Northeast that does not have such a law.

The study uses a growing body of peer reviewed research, data from the Economic Census of Construction, and industry-standard IMPLAN software to analyze the impact of prevailing wage standards for skilled construction industry trades on the New Hampshire economy as a whole and on construction workers’ wages, benefits and reliance on taxpayer-funded public benefit programs.

“Comparing data from prevailing wage and non-prevailing wage states shows that a prevailing wage law would be a great bargain for New Hampshire taxpayers,” said report co-author Kevin Duncan, a Professor of Economics at Colorado State University. “A prevailing wage law would boost productivity, the efficiency of materials use, and worker skills, while enabling more New Hampshire contractors to recapture business from low-wage out-of-state contractors. Every sector of the economy and every part of the state would benefit as the gains for local contractors and construction workers ripple through New Hampshire.”

Using conservative assumptions grounded in national and regional data, the study authors find that a prevailing wage law would result in:

· A net gain of 1,710 to nearly 4,000 jobs across all industries, the precise number depending on how much market share is recaptured by in-state contractors once out-of-state contractors can no longer win state business by undercutting local standards;

· An increase in economic activity across all industries of $298 million to $681 million;

· An increase in state and local tax revenues in the range of $7.3 million to $17 million;

· 2,515 more New Hampshire construction workers receiving health benefits through their jobs and 1,422 more receiving pension benefits; and,

· About 600 fewer construction workers needing public food assistance and another 600 fewer receiving the Earn Income Tax Credit (EITC).

Report co-author Frank Manzo IV of the Illinois Economic Policy Institute noted that, “More economic activity and fewer people working for lower wages translates into less reliance on public assistance programs. Taxpayer savings and additional tax revenue free up resources for tax cuts or more state funding of education and vital public services.”

The new study also surveys a growing body of rigorous academic research which finds that these laws do not increase construction costs but do increase productivity, investment in training, safety, and worker experience, as well as wages and benefits.

The report highlights that it is critical to enact a prevailing wage law now because, after shrinking by a quarter from 2006 to 2010, the industry is now poised for significant hiring and faces potential skill shortages. “Will construction contractors expand by rebooting apprenticeship training and taking the high-skill, efficient high road,” said report co-author Dr. Stephen Herzenberg, executive director of KRC. “Or will they seek out low-wage, low-skill labor, leading to more loss of market share to out-of-state firms that specialize in tapping vulnerable workers? A prevailing wage law can help ensure that more of the industry takes the high road with benefits for the New Hampshire economy, taxpayers, in-state contractors and construction workers.”

“Prevailing wage laws are proven, evidence-based policies that have stood the test of time and the scrutiny of the best economic research,” concluded Professor Duncan. “New Hampshire should enact a prevailing wage law to strengthen its economy and its middle class.”

NH House Votes to Pass, then Kill, Bipartisan Bill to Fight Big Money in Politics

money-in-politicsBill to Overturn Citizens United Blocked, Despite
Thousands of Citizen Calls to Legislators

New Hampshire reformers won a major bipartisan victory today when the NH House voted 156-152 to pass SB 136, a bill calling for a constitutional amendment to overturn the Citizen’s United Supreme Court decision allowing unlimited spending in elections.  The vote, which followed a unanimous NH Senate approval of the bill last March, would have made New Hampshire the 17th state – and the first with Republican majorities – to officially take a stand against Citizens United.

That vote, however, was quickly reversed through a highly irregular process in a reconsideration vote.

Open Democracy Executive Director Dan Weeks said his organization is investigating the circumstances and urged reporters and concerned citizens to do the same.  The Legislature’s website does not include the original roll call vote to pass the bill; so at this point, citizens are not able to see which Representatives switched their votes on the measure.

The House consideration of the bill was marred by an apparent failure of legislators’ voting machines.  At one point, it was reported that the voting machines showed 24 members as present when they were not in the room; and Representatives were forced to vote verbally, one by one.

“New Hampshire citizens are frankly disgusted with the amount of special interest money flooding our elections, and SB 136 was an important first step in addressing that problem,” Weeks said.  “We need to protect the First Amendment rights of ordinary Americans to speak and be heard.  As things stand now, citizens are being shouted down by big spenders with an agenda of their own.” 

“Today our elected officials failed to represent the 72 percent of Granite Staters who oppose the Citizens United decision,” said Lindsay Jakows, New Hampshire Campaign Organizer with People For the American Way (PFAW). “Instead, opponents of the measure used extraordinary procedural tactics to kill the bill after it had already passed. This was a miscarriage of democracy. But make no mistake: Granite Staters are paying attention, and care deeply about this issue. On Election Day, voters will remember which representatives stood on the side of reform and which stood on the side of wealthy special interests.” 

According to the Open Democracy Index, released by Open Democracy in July 2015, $106 million was spent in New Hampshire during the 2014 elections by candidates, parties, and third-party groups – the highest level of election spending in state history.  That political spending equaled more than $200 per vote cast.

More than half of the total spending came from so-called “independent” groups, with the majority of their funding coming from out-of-state and/or undisclosed sources, according to the non-partisan Center for Responsive Politics.  New Hampshire’s 2014 U.S. Senate contest also ranked as the most negative race in the country with over 90 percent of all television ads characterized as attacks.

Support for overturning decisions like Citizens United is strong both in New Hampshire and across the country. Local activism has pushed 69 towns in New Hampshire to pass resolutions in support of an amendment, more than a dozen of which passed in 2015 alone. Sixteen other states have already officially called for an amendment. A national Bloomberg Politics poll released in September found that 78 percent of Americans believe the Citizens United decision should be overturned. Concern about political spending crosses party lines, with 96% of New Hampshire residents believing that money has too much influence over politics.

Members of the Open Democracy Advisory Board John Broderick and Brad Cook, the former NH Chief Justice and Republican Chairman of the Election Law Commission, respectively, had urged the House to pass SB 136.  “Although we may not agree on some issues, we both believe there is nothing more destructive of good politics and good policy than secret special interest money in elections,” Broderick and Cook wrote. “Left unchecked, it will consume our electoral process and silence the voice of the people.”

As evidence of their frustration with the “big money” status quo, thousands of Granite Staters have walked 30,000 miles collectively throughout New Hampshire as part of Open Democracy’s NH Rebellion campaign.  The Rebellion activists and allied groups are also challenging the presidential candidates to support systemic campaign finance reform during the state’s first-in-the-national primary.

Leaders of New Hampshire’s Faith Community are holding a panel discussion on the issue on Wednesday, January 20th at 6:00 pm at Manchester City Hall.  Speakers include Sr. Simone Campbell of NETWORK/Nuns on the Bus and Karenna Gore for the Center for Earth Ethics.

NH Campaign Finance Groups Urge House Passage of SB 136 Citizens United Bill in Wednesday Vote

(FLICKR LIght Brigading

(FLICKR Light Brigading)

CONCORD –  During the Shaheen – Brown Senate race,  outside spending amounted to an astounding $100.00 per vote cast, and with another U.S. Senate seat in contention this year, even more out-of-state money will flood into New Hampshire.   This is just one example of how the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision has changed the landscape of American politics, and why NH democracy and campaign finance groups are urging legislators to take a stand to end the influence that comes with the millions of dollars of donations.

This Wednesday, New Hampshire House members are faced with a taking a small step toward controlling that spending as they consider SB136.    The bill acknowledges that something needs to be done about the unlimited spending the Supreme Court’s Citizen United decision unleashed and creates a committee to come up with options to fight it at the state level.  One option may be becoming the seventeenth state to call for a Constitution amendment to overturn Citizens United.  

The bill passed the NH Senate in 2015 in a unanimous vote after a bipartisan compromise, but in a partisan vote, the Legislative Administration committee voted to kill the bill, recommending interim study this past fall.    As the bill enters the full House, proponents of the bill are optimistic that the bill’s recommendation may be overridden and the bill approved.  

“We were incredibly disappointed in the House Legislative Administration Committee’s recommendation this past October to essentially bury the bill quietly through interim study,” said Lindsay Jakows, New Hampshire Campaign Organizer with People For the American Way. “Our elected officials now have a responsibility to represent the majority of Granite Staters who support overturning cases like Citizens United by voting no on interim study and yes on ought to pass,”  she said.

The committee created in SB136 would be responsible for “Recognizing the need for a United States Constitutional Amendment to address the Citizens United ruling and related cases, that protects New Hampshire’s ability to make its own laws regarding campaign finance while protecting the First Amendment,” it states.  It would examine the impact of the Citizens United ruling and related cases on New Hampshire elections, such as the recent U.S. Senate race where $64 million was spent, most of which came from outside Super PACs.  The committee would also examine different approaches and language being proposed by the United States Congress for a constitutional amendment, and possible short term solutions.

“A recent Bloomberg poll has Republican support to overturn Citizens United at 80%, and Democratic support at 83%,” said Brian Beihl, deputy director of Open Democracy, one of the groups supporting the bill.   “Plus, 69 New Hampshire towns have now passed a warrant article resolution at town meeting, and another 35 towns are working on initiatives for this spring’s town meetings.   Voters are getting angry and taking matters into their own hands because they don’t see action on either the state or federal level,” Beihl said.

The movement to overturn Citizens United now has 16 other states which have already recommended repeal, and over 5 million signatures have been collected on nationwide petitions.    Including New Hampshire’s 69 towns, 674 local municipalities nationally that have also called for an amendment.     With its position in the presidential campaign, passage of SB136 will be important on the national stage as well.  

“SB136 was passed by the Senate as a bipartisan bill,” said Jonah Minkoff-Zern, co-director of Public Citizen, another group advocating for campaign finance reforms addressing Citizens United.  “If legislators are listening to their constituents, they will vote down this ‘interim study’ recommendation, and do the right thing by voting ‘ought to pass,’ Minkoff-Zern said.  “New Hampshire voters should call their representatives and encourage them to do the right thing and approve SB136,” he said.

The vote takes place in the State House on Wednesday, along with other 2015 bills retained from last year.   Proponents of SB136 will be gathering at the second-floor ramp at 8:30 to greet legislators.   More information is available at 603-620-8300.

Text of SB 136 at the NH General Court website:   http://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/legislation/2015/SB0136.html

Open Democracy is a Concord, NH-based nonpartisan organization that works for transparent and accountable governance in the Granite State. Learn more at www.OpenDemocracy.me.

Ten States, Including NH, To Introduce Resolutions And Legislation To Make College Debt Free

By Vanderweil Engineers Boston [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

By Vanderweil Engineers Boston [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Progressive Democrat Marjorie Porter, State Representative from Hillsborough, NH, plans to introduce a resolution to the NH House pushing the state towards a goal of Debt Free College.

The idea of Debt Free College is being floated by all three of the Democratic Presidential Primary candidates. Though they vary on how they would like to accomplish this goal, the idea is that a basic college education should be open to everyone and be covered by the state like we cover elementary schools.

For too many students the cost of a college degree is too much to bear, even with Pell Grants and the ability to take out student loans. This keeps many stuck in the low-wage job cycle, as more and more employers are requiring a college education before being considered for employment.

We already know that workers with a college degree earn higher wages. In 2011, college graduates earned between $20,000-$25,000 more annually that those with only a high school diploma.

Even our community college system is unaffordable for many students. 40% of all community college students must take out a loan just to receive a two-year associates degree. Considering that 40% of all college students attend community colleges that equates to a ton of students.


Click image to enlarge

New Hampshire is leading the country when it comes to student debt and cost of higher education. This is not something to be proud of.

New Hampshire is the number one state in the country for the percentage of students who graduate with massive student debt. 76% of graduates walk out of New Hampshire colleges with an average of $33,410 in student loans.

New Hampshire is also dead last in the amount of money given by the state to support our public universities. The state spends about $104 per capita for higher education. The national average is more than double what NH spends at $242.45.

As a matter of fact, New Hampshire spends more money on prisons that we do on our colleges and universities.

Many states are still struggling to recover from the 2008 recession and the severe cuts to their budgets as a result of lost revenue. In budgetary funding New Hampshire is still 26.8% below where we were prior to the crash in 2008.

Budgetary cuts and low funding to our public colleges and universities have shifted the burden directly to the students. To compensate for the lack of support from the state budget, NH colleges and universities have been forced to increase tuition putting NH squarely at the top of the list for highest in-state tuition.

Legislators from ten different states (NH, IA, SC, MA, HI, SD, IL, WI, and MO) plan to submit similar resolution to evaluate the potential of making their public colleges and universities debt free.

If our goal as a nation is to have the best educated population in the world, we must ensure that every student has the ability to attend college without being saddled with overwhelming student debt. This all begins with making public colleges and universities debt free.


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