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Waiting For Rep Fisher To Resign

Yesterday morning, The Daily Beast published an incredibly disturbing report in which Young Republican State Representative Robert Fisher (R-Laconia) was unmasked as one of the secret architects of the Internet’s misogynistic “Manosphere” as the founder of the “Red Pill” forum.

On the forum, Rep. Fisher went on numerous offensive, baseless, and misogynistic rants against women. For example  he attacked women for what he perceived to be their “sub-par intelligence,” accused women for getting a free ride because a woman’s body “grants [them] equal footing with somebody bringing intelligence or a personality,” and that rape isn’t “an absolute bad, because the rapist I think probably likes it a lot.”

Executive Director of the Young Democrats, State Representative Amelia Keane of Nashua issued the following statement in response to this damning report:

“Representative Fisher’s behavior is nothing short of repulsive. He should be deeply ashamed of himself. There is no excuse for the type of hateful and ignorant rhetoric anywhere in our state, none the less from someone elected to our State House to serve the men and women in his community.  If Rep. Fisher has any semblance of decency or shame left, he will resign his seat.

This is particularly disturbing given the fact that legislation to strengthen the rape-shield law is working its way through the legislature.  We hope and expect his Republican colleagues to call for his resignation, particularly given their support of a rape-shield and in clear contrast, Representative Fisher’s clear predatory and misogynistic behavior as well as creating an permission structure for disrespect and abuse.”

House Democratic Leader Steve Shurtleff (D-Penacook) released the following statement after seeing the report:

“I am shocked and disturbed by the report linking Representative Robert Fisher to deeply offensive statements and the creation of a misogynistic online forum.  The posts linked to Representative Fisher, which include chilling comments in defense of rape, are beyond reprehensible and have absolutely no place in civilized discourse.  If these allegations are true, I urge Speaker Jasper to join with me in requesting that Representative Fisher resign his seat in the New Hampshire House of Representatives.”

Today, after multiple calls for Fisher’s resignation including Republican Speaker of the House Shawn Jasper,  Governor Sununu has been completely silent.

“It is deeply discouraging but not surprising to see Governor Sununu remain silent on Robert Fisher’s unmasking, the same way he has hemmed and hawed on so many issues. True leaders lead by example by standing up to bullies and misogynists, something Sununu has still yet to do. Is this the kind of rhetoric and behavior Sununu thinks is acceptable in the Republican Party? He should follow the lead of both parties in the House by expressing his desire for Fisher’s resignation. This is not a partisan issue, it’s an issue of right and wrong. Perhaps it is time for Speaker Jasper and Governor Sununu to start speaking again so that, at the very least, they can be united on this one issue,” stated NHDP Chair Ray Buckley.

UPDATE 1PM

“Representative Fisher’s comments are horrendous and repulsive and his resignation is certainly in order,” Sununu said in a statement emailed to WMUR by his office.

See below for notable excerpts from the Daily Beast exposé:

The Republican Lawmaker Who Secretly Created Reddit’s Women-Hating ‘Red Pill’

An investigation into Fisher’s online aliases found a trail of posts linking the lawmaker to the username Pk_atheist, the creator of The Red Pill—an online Reddit community of nearly 200,000 subscribers which promotes itself as a “discussion of sexual strategy in a culture increasingly lacking a positive identity for men.”

In a state with one representative to every 3,200 people, many of Fisher’s female constituents are likely to know him personally—whether or not they know what he’d once posted about women online. And those comments were just the start.

…this community also subscribes to the beliefs that women lack both intelligence and substance, are programed to cheat on their partners, and expire after the age of 30. Its darkest sections are heavy with rape denialand apologia.

On The Red Pill, Fisher commonly expressed disappointment that the institutions of marriage and religion were destroyed by women’s equality. He maintained that as a result of financial independence, women were no longer compelled to remain faithful and as a result, men needed to protectively adapt their sexual strategy.

“To give women autonomy is to take away the very thing that made marriage a realistic institution…  what I dislike is the general attitude that somehow we owe [women] something for sex… Women enjoy the autonomy that feminism has afforded them… But don’t expect the relics from back in the day to continue to benefit you without the sacrifices you were making,” Fisher wroteon his blog Dating American, in 2012—just weeks before establishing The Red Pill.

Feminism took the lid off pandora’s box, but the mothers, and the daughters of those mothers never internalized, learned, or passed down the concept of responsibility for their freedoms, only the freedom itself.” Fisher wrote in 2013.

Of gaming women, Fisher said, “[women have] absolutely done this to themselves. I feel zero regret or shame pumping and dumping.”

He felt it was unjust that women get a free ride, believing “a pair of boobs grants [them] equal footing with somebody bringing intelligence or a personality.”

Fisher said he was not paranoid, but rather “statistically I’m overdue for a false rape allegation.”

“You can’t have sex with this many women without getting one,” he argued.

He wrote, “I’m going to say it- Rape isn’t an absolute bad, because the rapist I think probably likes it a lot. I think he’d say it’s quite good, really.”

Though he stated he “doesn’t advocate breaking the law,” Fisher said online in 2012 that a 40-year-old man asking to see the breasts of a 15-year-old wasn’t creepy. Instead, he said it was “evolutionarily advantageous and perfectly natural.”

In service of this freedom, Fishers claimed he installed a video recorder in his room. “There is literally no legal protection I can think of that could eliminate the risk of a previous sexual partner of mine falsely accusing me of rape, no matter what the circumstances. I now have a video recorder in my room,” he posted.

Since the story broke yesterday there have been many local articles on Rep Fisher.  Below are just a few. 

WMUR: State lawmaker admits saying ‘some injudicious things’ about women

House Speaker Shawn Jasper, R-Hudson, told WMUR in an interview he was “absolutely disgusted” by the posts attributed to Fisher in The Daily Beast report. Jasper said that because Fisher has not broken any laws, he cannot call on him to resign from his seat, but the speaker said, “I wish he would resign. It would be the honorable thing to do under the circumstances…”

“I would imagine that his constituents will see this information and I can only hope that this is addressed at the ballot box,” Jasper said.

Fisher told WMUR in a brief telephone call, however, that he has no intention of resigning…

Union Leader: ‘Red Pill’ puts online spotlight on NH rep

Fisher concluded his statement to the Union Leader by writing: “Here’s my message to the public: I am not disappearing. I will continue to stand strong for men’s rights and the rights of all…

Concord Monitor: State representative takes flak for misogynist online forum

Boston Magazine: Report: N.H. State Rep Created “Red Pill,” Reddit’s Misogyny Forum

New York Magazine: Reddit’s Hypermisogynist ‘Red Pill’ Forum Was Started by a New Hampshire State Legislator

A new report from the Daily Beast has seemingly unmasked the creator of Reddit’s infamous Red Pill forum. The /r/TheRedPill subreddit is the site’s main hub for discussing pickup-artist (PUA) techniques and the struggle for men’s rights. It counts just shy of 200,000 subscribers (and far more readers), mostly there to discuss how feminism is not really about equality, but about oppressing men.

Uproxx: A GOP Lawmaker has been revealed as the creator of Reddit’s Anti-Woman ‘Red Pill’ Forum

The far right tends to use the term “red pill” as a catch-all to describe social attitudes and indoctrination… but it mostly comes from the notorious anti-woman Reddit forum r/redpill. Now, the founder of that forum has been tracked down, and he’s a GOP lawmaker.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SB 3 Is Only About One Thing: Voter Suppression

Voter intimidation leads voter suppression and that leads to people losing their voice in our democracy.

The New Hampshire House is now considering a bill, SB 3, that was forced through the Senate, straight down party lines, would make it harder for people to vote.

For years the Republican Party has been pushing to “strengthen” our voting laws. By “strengthening” I mean they are trying to block typically Democratic voters from being able to exercise their Constitutional right to vote.

Research shows that in higher turnout elections Democrats do better. So Republicans will do anything to keep the voter turn out small in an effort to gain a political advantage.

First they passed the restrictive Voter ID law requiring every voter have a valid New Hampshire ID in order to vote.

Now they are working to change the “domicile” language to protect New Hampshire elections from they myth of voter fraud.

Much of this voter fraud debate has stemmed from the false accusations by Donald Trump, and echoed by Governor Chris Sununu, that “busloads” of voters are being brought into New Hampshire from Massachusetts to sway our elections. Trump, Sununu, and the entire NH Republican Party are using the sheer number of same-day voter registrations as the basis for their claim of voter fraud.

SB 3 requires new voters to show proof of their “domicile” by providing supporting documentation like a utility bill with their name and address on it.

This alone is difficult for college students who live in the dormitories, as their mailbox is not specific to where they reside on campus.

Does this minor detail enough to confuse a college student about their eligibility to vote? Is this enough to keep them from voting entirely?

Proponents of the bill say that all you need to do is sign the form and then return to the town hall with proper documentation within 10 days. If you fail to do this, you could be subject to fines or possible jail time. The town may even send someone to you home to verify your address. At one point the Senate wanted to send armed police officers to your house if you filed a domicile affidavit.

So why are so many people against this bill?

For starters, the GOP are attempting to solve a problem that does not exist. They are spreading wild accusations that out of staters coming to NH on Election Day to vote. Over the last decade there has only been 2 cases of voter fraud out of thousands and thousands of ballots cast.

They are trying to suppress the vote through intimidation and threat of jail time for those who register to vote on Election Day. Our domicile laws are pretty straight forward now: If you are domiciled in New Hampshire on Election Day you can vote in local elections. This means that students at UNH can claim NH as their domicile and vote in NH elections.

Republicans continue to say that they one want people to vote who “have a stake in the community.”   Are Republicans trying to say that a college student who lives in NH, attends school in NH, and works in NH for more than nine months of the year, does not have a stake in the community?

Both parties should be working on expanding access to the polls not restricting it. We should make it easier for people to register to vote by tying voter registrations to driver’s licenses and allowing people to register to vote online.   This alone could reduces long lines at polling places and is much easier to track that paper copies.

But because Republicans really only want to rig the system for their own gain, they refuse to make online registration available.

Intimidating voters and attempting to suppress the vote is the foundation of SB 3 and that is why our elected representatives must reject this harmful piece of legislation.

AFT-NH Legislative Bulletin 4-8-17: Budget Failure And School Vouchers (Action Needed)

April 8, 2017

House Budget Fails   The deadline for the NH House to pass a state budget was April 6th. Despite having a 53-vote margin majority, the NH House Republicans failed to pass a budget to send to the NH Senate by the deadline for the first time in at least 50 years. The House met over two days and recessed on Thursday, April 6th with no budget. Speaker Shawn Jasper was unable to garner the votes of the republican caucus to approve a budget after the so-called Freedom Caucus in the House balked at the budget citing too much spending. The NH Senate begins the process of dealing with the budget. 

Town Elections The NH State Senate passed an amendment to HB 329 on Thursday that will give those towns who rescheduled their March 14th elections, due to the blizzard, an opportunity to have the local governing bodies (school board or selectmen) after a public hearing, ratify the results of the rescheduled elections. Minority leader State Senator Jeff Woodburn (D) has worked tirelessly on this issue since the chaos and confusion was launched on Election Day. Along with his colleague, Sen. Donna Soucy (D) and Majority leader Sen. Jeb Bradley (R), this solution was crafted to help the approximately 80 communities who needed to reschedule their elections. Unlike the failed attempt by House Speaker Shawn Jasper, there would not be the requirement of a town wide vote to ratify the results of the elections which include elected officials, bonds, budgets and collective bargaining agreements. The bill will now pass over to the NH House where one would hope it will be met with a quick passage so our towns and school districts can move forward with the work approved by local voters.

SB 193-School Vouchers (ACTION NEEDED!) The House Education Committee heard testimony this week on SB 193, the school voucher bill. I testified in strong opposition to the bill. I also presented thoughtful written testimony from the President of the Hillsboro-Deering Federation of Teachers’, AFT#2348, Alex Luhtjarv. The testimony by members of the public was overwhelmingly in opposition to this scheme to defund public schools.

House Education Committee member, Rep. Linda Tanner (D) provided a synopsis of the hearing which underscores that testimony included the impact of funding cuts to local school districts and the important role played by our public schools, “I was never so impressed or proud of the educators, citizens, parents, school board association, disabilities community, the principals association, the superintendents, AFT’s Doug Ley, and all the parents and retired teachers for their statements to our committee. You told stories about your schools, your communities, your families and how they might be effected by taking money from the public schools and sending those students and dollars to private and parochial schools with no accountability, no oversight, no representation from the people who are sending their money through taxation while leaving the public system to be poorly funded safety net. You told how schools especially in small communities are the center of the community and a source of pride and civic involvement.”

Again, we know that this is a bill driven by out of state interests and will divert necessary public tax dollars away from our public schools causing an increase in local property taxes and/or reduced services to the public school students. We must be heard on this bill and do everything in our power to stop this attack on public education. Here is an AFT-NH HANDOUT VS. SB 193 on why we oppose SB 193. Please feel free to share far and wide and ask others join in our campaign to save public schools. Over the next two weeks, we need to make certain our opposition is duly recorded with our representatives.

Your Action Needed Now   So, if you have not already done so, please join us in opposing SB193 by completing the two following actions:

  1. The House Education Committee has scheduled the committee vote for Tuesday, April 25th at 9:30am at the Legislative Office Building, Room 207, 33 North State Street, Concord, NH. We still have plenty of time to reach out to committee members before they vote. You can email the full House Education Committee directly at HouseEducationCommittee@leg.state.nh.us. For more resources on this issue to assist you with writing a quick note, please visit our web site at: http://nh.aft.org/2017-nh-state-house-news#.

AND

  1. Regardless of what happens in the Committee, SB 193 will be voted on by the full House after the committee vote. So let’s get ahead of this and contact your State Representative(s) by clicking the following one-click action to stop school vouchers!

Defeat SB 193           

The NH House and Senate will both next convene on April 20th. In the meantime, let us be sure to keep up the great work by letting your elected officials know that you are engaged and care deeply about the issues they are considering.

In Solidarity,

Douglas Ley

AFT-NH, President

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.”

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