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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.

Making Ends Meet Conference Explores Solutions to Enhance Economic Stability for New Hampshire Families

nhfpi-budget-policy-conference-illoCONCORD, NH – The New Hampshire Fiscal Policy Institute (NHFPI) today convened Making Ends Meet: Enhancing Economic Security, Fostering Shared Prosperity to examine a range of policy solutions that can help to ease the struggles New Hampshire’s working families face.

“New Hampshire has one of the higher costs of living in the nation, leaving many working families to face a substantial gap between what they earn and what they must spend on essentials — from housing and groceries to health care and child care,” said NHFPI Executive Director Jeff McLynch. “New Hampshire should pursue a comprehensive strategy that addresses both sides of the equation, boosting stagnant incomes and bringing the cost of basic necessities within closer reach.”

The event opened with a review of basic family budgets for New Hampshire, presented by David Cooper, senior analyst with the Economic Policy Institute.

“For most regions of New Hampshire, costs for housing and child care alone exceed what many low wage workers bring in,” said David Cooper. “In Concord, a single parent with one child faces costs that are more than twice what they would earn working full time at $10 an hour, forcing untenable choices between food, rent, heat, and basic necessities.” 

The first panel discussion examined low wages and workplace policies that make it difficult to care for family needs. Panelists outlined an array of strategies that can boost wages and incomes, from increasing the minimum wage and ensuring access to paid leave to creating an Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and increasing financial assets. Panelists included Holden Weisman, state and local policy manager, CFED; Ben Zipperer, research economist, Washington Center for Equitable Growth; and Jeffrey Hayes, program director, job security and income quality, Institute for Women’s Policy Research.

A second panel of state and national policy experts examined New Hampshire’s high cost of housing, child care, and health care and discussed policy changes that can make these basic necessities more affordable. Panelists included Helen Blank, director, child care and early learning, National Women’s Law Center; Judith Solomon, vice president for health policy, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities; and Elissa Margolin, director, Housing Action New Hampshire.

“Access to affordable health care is essential for families to achieve economic stability,” said Judith Solomon. “The reauthorization of New Hampshire’s Health Protection Program would ensure individuals have the ability to address health concerns before they become serious conditions and increase the chances that they can remain in the workforce.” 

The event concluded with a keynote address by Dr. Katherine S. Newman, provost of University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and a distinguished author, researcher, and lecturer who has dedicated much of her career to the study of poverty, inequality, and economic opportunity in the United States and around the globe. Dr. Newman is the author of more than a dozen books, including The Missing Class: Portraits of the Near Poor in America and Chutes and Ladders: Navigating the Low Wage Labor Market.

“For far too many families across this country, the economic downturn accelerated the steady erosion of their economic security and sent them into a downward spiral toward poverty,” said Dr. Newman. “There is no single solution to reverse this trend. We should take a systems approach to addressing their challenges, so that working families have the ability to provide a solid foundation for their children and increase their access to economic opportunity.” 

The event’s nearly 140 attendees, which included New Hampshire legislators, business owners, nonprofit and community leaders, and concerned citizens, were provided with an opportunity to engage in dialogue around the numerous financial challenges facing low-wage earners and policy changes that can enhance their economic stability.

NHFPI’s third annual policy conference, Making Ends Meet was made possible with the support of presenting sponsor National Education Association-NH (NEA-NH), supporting sponsor Campaign for a Family Friendly Economy, and the following partner organizations: Child and Family Services of New Hampshire, New Futures, Full Circle Consulting, and Kieschnick Consulting Services. 


The New Hampshire Fiscal Policy Institute is an independent, non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to exploring, developing, and promoting public policies that foster economic opportunity and prosperity for all New Hampshire residents, with an emphasis on low- and moderate-income families and individuals. Learn more at www.nhfpi.org.

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]

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