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4-15-15 AFT-NH Legislative Update: The Budget 

The State budget is now in the hands of the Senate Finance committee. They have set up several meeting with agency heads (see below for the schedule).

There have been many news articles stating that the Senate has several goals when putting together the budget:

  • uphold previous commitments, including using dedicated money for its intended purpose,
  • protecting the state’s most vulnerable citizens,
  • add money to the rainy day fund, and
  • improve the business climate, in part by reducing business taxes.


AFT-NH can agree with the first three goals, but as to the fourth we need to remember that by cutting business taxes there will be less revenue for the State. 

We know that in New Hampshire we have few revenue sources and we have a regressive tax system, meaning that citizens who have the least to spare pay the most. To read more on this click here. AFT-NH supports incremental, common-sense reforms designed to make NH’s existing tax system fairer and to produce the revenue needed to preserve the public services essential to NH’s residents, businesses, and visitors.  All of this is vital to our shared economic success.

AFT-NH believes that the Senate should consider passing or including the following bills when putting their version of the budget together:

HOUSE BILL 634-FN-A;AN ACT
 relative to applying the interest and dividends tax to trusts, increasing exemptions, and extending the tax to capital gains; and relative to homeowners property tax relief.

Dramatic revenue shortfalls are having a devastating effect on funding for public services at the State and local levels. While our economy is now growing, the recent economic downturn, sometimes called the Great Recession, has limited our communities’ ability to provide the healthcare, schools, colleges, public safety and transportation that people take for granted in good years but that they increasingly rely on in bad times.

HB 634 will generate as much as $100 million in revenue each year once fully implemented, while providing approximately $25 million annually to cities and towns with the creation of a dedicated funding source for general revenue sharing. These are revenues which are much needed in New Hampshire. This revenue could also help to offset the increases in local property taxes that communities were forced to impose when the state no longer contributed its share to the NH retirement system for local government workers.

HB 551-FN, relative to preventing diversion of business income to tax havens.

Companies doing business in New Hampshire can still avoid paying tax by shifting income overseas to offshore tax havens–places such as the Cayman Islands that have very low or nonexistent taxes. Companies use a variety of strategies to accomplish this and our State loses millions every year in taxable corporate revenue.

To prevent overseas tax haven abuse, states can close the “water’s edge” loophole and require companies not only to report income in other states but also the income stored in tax havens as part of their combined reporting.

Tax reforms that close corporate tax loopholes are especially popular, commanding overwhelming support. Americans want to see corporations pay their fair share, rather than see cuts in education or major entitlement programs and this remains true across party lines.

Cracking down on tax haven abuse is a step toward fairness. Closing the corporate tax loopholes that simply help the rich get richer, while most Americans are paying more in state and local taxes, will tilt the playing field toward fairness.

The Senate Education Committee will be holding public hearings on:

HB 491:  relative to immunity for school personnel using reasonable force to protect a minor. This bill would permit a teacher or other person entrusted with the care or supervision of a minor or pupil to use reasonable force to end a disturbance, to maintain safety, or to remove the pupil or minor from the premises under certain circumstances.  AFT-NH will continue to support and advocate for this bill to pass.

HB 323: relative to the administration of the statewide assessment program.

AFT-NH believe in assessments that support teaching and learning, and align with curriculum rather than narrow it; that are developed through collaborative efforts, not picked off a shelf; that are focused on measuring growth and continuous development instead of arbitrary targets unconnected to how students learn; that rely on diverse, authentic and multiple indicators of student performance rather than filling in bubbles; and that provide information leading to appropriate interventions that help students, teachers and schools to improve, not just impose sanctions that undermine them.

Further, we believe that assessments designed to support teaching and learning must contribute to school and classroom environments that nurture growth, collaboration, curiosity and invention—essential elements of a 21st-century education that have too often been sacrificed in favor of test prep and testing. Specifically, we call on the consortia currently developing assessments aligned to the standards to do their part in solving this by including the crucial voices of teachers in the development of these assessments. We know that collaboration with educators is necessary to ensure that high-quality instruction and content are given their proper emphasis.

In Solidarity,
Laura Hainey
AFT-NH President

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UPCOMING HEARINGS 

Wednesday, April 15

10 am House in Session

Senate FINANCE, Room 103, SH
Sen. Forrester (C), Sen. Little (VC), Sen. Morse, Sen. Reagan, Sen. D’Allesandro, Sen. Hosmer
AGENCY PRESENTATIONS ON THE BUDGET AS PASSED BY THE HOUSE
9:00 a.m. Public Employee Labor Relations Board
9:30 a.m. Department of Agriculture, Markets & Food
10:00 a.m. Liquor Commission
10:30 a.m. Department of Corrections
11:30 a.m. University System
EXECUTIVE SESSION MAY FOLLOW

Thursday, April 16

House FINANCE, Rooms 210-211, LOB
9:30 a.m. Executive session on SB 5, relative to transfers into the revenue stabilization reserve account,

Friday, April 17

Senate FINANCE, Room 103, SH
Sen. Forrester (C), Sen. Little (VC), Sen. Morse, Sen. Reagan, Sen. D’Allesandro, Sen. Hosmer
AGENCY PRESENTATIONS ON THE BUDGET AS PASSED BY THE HOUSE
11:00 a.m. Department of Justice
12:00 p.m. BREAK
1:00 p.m. Judicial Branch
2:00 p.m. Judicial Council
2:30 p.m. Department of Information Technology
EXECUTIVE SESSION MAY FOLLOW

Tuesday, April 21

House MUNICIPAL AND COUNTY GOVERNMENT, Room 301, LOB
10:15 a.m. SB 242-L, relative to amending the budget in towns that have adopted official ballot voting.

Thursday, April 23

House MUNICIPAL AND COUNTY GOVERNMENT, Room 301, LOB
10:00 a.m. Executive session on
SB 242-L, relative to amendingthe budget in towns that have adopted official ballot voting.

Tuesday, May 5

House HEALTH, HUMAN SERVICES AND ELDERLY AFFAIRS, Rooms 205-207, LOB
10:00 a.m. Kids Count presentation.

Organizations and Small Businesses Call on Governor to Reject Business Tax Cuts, Voice Concern for State Budget

More than 40 organizations, including 18 small businesses, sign letter urging Governor to reject business tax cuts   

Concord, NH – Representatives from New Hampshire’s small business, nonprofit, education and faith communities gathered in Concord today to speak against proposed business tax cuts. More than 40 organizations, including 18 small businesses, have signed a letter urging Governor Hassan to reject business tax cuts in upcoming or future budgets; the letter was delivered to the Governor’s office on Tuesday morning.

 

“The business tax cuts passed by the Senate earlier this year would drain nearly $28 million out of the upcoming state budget and reduce revenue by more $80 million each biennium once fully implemented, making it all but impossible to restore funding for local aid, services for the developmentally disabled, the state’s public colleges and universities, or a variety of other areas vital to New Hampshire’s high quality of life,” said Jeff McLynch, executive director of the New Hampshire Fiscal Policy Institute. 

 

At a press conference held at the Legislative Office Building, McLynch and representatives of several organizations and businesses who signed the letter to the Governor outlined concerns regarding the FY 2016-2017 state budget and proposals to cut business taxes at a time when the state cannot afford to fund critical needs. 

 

“Forty-one thousand school-age children in our state come from homes where there is an uncertainty of having enough food for all household members because of insufficient income or other resources,” said Scott McGilvray, president of NEA-New Hampshire. “Business tax cuts would endanger the public services on which these students and their families rely, and shift the burden for paying for such services directly onto the backs of those who need them most but can least afford them.”

 

As the version of the budget passed by the New Hampshire House illustrates, the state lacks adequate resources to meet the needs of its citizens, maintain vital infrastructure, and build an economy that works for everyone. The tax cuts proposed by the Senate will drain millions of dollars out of this and future budgets and leave the state further behind. More details pertaining to the fiscal impact of the SB 1 and SB 2 tax cuts are attached

 

“We know that substance misuse costs businesses more than $1 billion per year in lost worker productivity,” said Kate Frey, advocacy director for New Futures. “Can New Hampshire really afford costly business tax cuts at a time when revenues are already insufficient to meet critical needs such as substance abuse prevention treatment and recovery?” 

 

Promoted as means to create jobs and spur economic growth in the state, proposed business tax cuts would benefit primarily large corporations, offering little benefit to most small businesses.

 

“I calculated how much these proposals would save my company when they are fully implemented and it came to less than $150 per year,” said Tom Strickland, president and co-founder of Sequoya Technologies Group, a small IT company with eight employees based in Peterborough, NH. “$150 out of a million dollar budget isn’t going to influence my business decisions. I won’t be hiring new employees or buying new equipment as a result of this tax cut.”

 

Strickland moved his family to New Hampshire 18 years ago to start a business and raise a family, attracted by the state’s high quality of life. Strickland encouraged lawmakers to invest in things that businesses need but cannot do for themselves, such as high-quality schools, well-maintained roads, and high-speed broadband internet. 

 

Participants stressed that businesses and the state would be better served by investing business tax revenue in areas that benefit the state overall – a well-trained workforce, good schools and affordable higher education, safe infrastructure, and health and support services that increase employee productivity and reduce employer costs.

 

New Hampshire has enacted numerous business tax cuts since 2010. In its 2014 report, the New Hampshire Business Tax Study Commission concluded that business tax cuts were impractical at this time and ranked low on the list of business priorities. 

 

The Reverend Jonathan Hopkins of Concordia Lutheran Church, president of the board of directors for the New Hampshire Council of Churches, closed the press conference with the following remarks: “It is good business to care about our entire community, and it is the right thing to do. To give tax breaks to businesses while cutting services desperately needed by the most vulnerable in our state would be morally wrong, and fiscally foolish. I hope all people of conscience will stand with us and say that we need a budget that makes sense for all of the citizens of this great state.”

 

The full text of the letter to Governor Hassan and complete list of signatories is attached

 

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

 

ICYMI: More Editorials Call on N.H. Senate to Pass a Bipartisan, Responsible Budget

 
Concord, N.H. – Editorials in the Concord Monitor and Valley News continued to put pressure on the New Hampshire Senate to work across party lines and pass a responsible budget that undoes drastic cuts to seniors, people with disabilities, efforts to combat substance misuse, and local property taxpayers.
 
Concord Monitor: Editorial: “State can’t afford price of budget cuts”
 
Over the next few months the Senate, a committee of conference and Gov. Hassan will pluck the spines off the cold-hearted toad of a budget passed by the House and shape into something that doesn’t boil the conscience and stab property owners in the wallet. At least we hope they will, otherwise the state’s seniors, people with a disability, their caregivers and county taxpayers will suffer.
 
… Taken together, the social service cuts would make it even harder for the vast majority of senior citizens in this graying state to do what they want to do – remain in their own homes for as long as possible and, ideally, to the end. More people will end up in a nursing home, exhaust their own resources sooner and wind up on Medicaid. That’s tragic for them, hard on their families and costly to taxpayers. Seniors who stay in their own homes spend down their resources, whether savings or the equity in their homes, much more slowly and require less help from taxpayers. Providing the services that help them do so makes economic and humanitarian sense.
 
… The cuts to social services in the House budget would downshift even more of the expense of caring for the elderly and disabled from the state and federal government to county taxpayers. Every voter should ask their state representative, if they voted for the budget, why they think that’s a good idea. [Full editorial]
 
Valley News: Editorial: “Don’t Just Rescue Opioid Addicts, Treat Them”
 
With New England in the grip of an opioid addiction crisis, much attention is being focused on naloxone, a relatively easy-to-administer drug that saves lives by reversing the deadly effects of breathing failure in people who have overdosed on heroin or prescription opioids. Remarkably, advocates say, all this is accomplished without producing major side effects other than withdrawal symptoms and without creating a high.
 
… Encouraging as all this is, though, we urge policy makers to ask themselves this question: After naloxone, then what? Preventing an addict from dying by overdose is wonderful, but it is not exactly the same thing as saving — or more precisely — salvaging his or her life. There’s no wonder drug for doing that, unless it’s money — money that needs to be invested in the hard work of supplying high quality, affordable and easily accessible drug treatment options at the local level and encouraging addicts to take advantage of those services.

… Given that the opioid crisis coincides with a budget crunch in both states, lawmakers will face some tough choices about how to provide adequate and sustainable funding for addiction treatment. Without that, though, naloxone is just a small Band-Aid being asked to staunch a hemorrhage. [Full editorial]
 
Concord Monitor: My Turn: Senate must restore sensibility, responsibility to state budget
(Richard Gulla is the president of SEA/SEIU 1984)
 
… At this point in the process, the Senate must formulate its version of a budget for consideration. We implore them to restore some of the services slashed by the House and provide the means for much needed revenue and reflect the type of state we envision: one where all New Hampshire residents may succeed, a place where the young can stay and thrive, where those in the middle of their lives can earn a good living to support and grow their families, and where the old can live in dignity.
 
I urge every New Hampshire resident to contact their state senator and demand that they develop a more compassionate and reasonable budget. Tell them that anything less is not right for our state. New Hampshire deserves better. [Full op-ed]

Senate Democrats Blast House Budget

Democrats Stand Ready to Work Across Party Lines to Pass a Fiscally Responsible Budget that Expands Opportunity for All

Concord, NH – Following the passage of the House Budget, Senate Democrats released the following comments:

“The budget passed the House passed today is not a budget at all—its just a naked appeal to the Koch Brothers and the extremist Bill O’Brien wing of the Republican Party,” said Senate Democratic Leader Jeff Woodburn. “The way forward is for the Senate to reject the House’s irresponsible approach and work across party lines, with the Governor’s fiscally responsible plan as a guide, to build on our bipartisan progress over the past two years and seize our state’s full economic potential. Senate Democrats stand ready to work across party lines in order to pass an honest budget, without back-of-the-budget cuts or other budgetary gimmicks, that expands opportunity for all, supports businesses throughout our state, and lays the foundation for a new generation of economic growth.”

“The House budget is unacceptable and now the Senate has to work together to fix it,” said Sen. Lou D’Allesandro, ranking Democratic member of the Senate Finance Committee. “It slashes decades-old programs, long supported by practical leaders of both parties. Not to mention that it would threaten our bond rating by emptying the state’s rainy day fund. Between cutting funding for substance misuse during an opioid crisis, reducing services that allow seniors to stay in their communities, and downshifting costs onto local property taxpayers, its no wonder we’ve heard from people all over the state that the House budget is wrong for New Hampshire.”

“The fact that the Koch Brothers endorsed the O’Brien-Jasper budget proves just how bad the House budget is for New Hampshire’s people, businesses, and economy,” said Sen. Andrew Hosmer, member of the Senate Finance Committee. “We know that it’s possible to make strategic investments in the critical priorities that must be met for our people, businesses and economy to thrive while living within our means. I hope that the Senate Republican majority will join with us to again invest in our shared priorities as we did in the last bipartisan budget.”

“Decisions that Cause Voters to Question the Loyalty of our Elected Officials”

Statement of Paul Brochu, Stamp Stampede.org Lead Organizer – NH regarding today’s passage of the House Budget:

Greed KillsAs expected, the Budget passed by the House today includes cuts in programs for the most-needy, service delays, cost-shifting and a patchwork of other maneuvers to reduce the bottom line rather than investing in New Hampshire’s future.

These are the types of decisions that cause voters to question the loyalty of our elected officials. “Who, exactly, are our politicians serving?”  At the Stamp Stampede, we work with the growing number of people who have realized that government is being driven by Big Money political donors, and who are trying to fix that problem.

People are angry.  They’re taking to the streets in protest marches.  They’re testifying in legislative hearings.  They’re pushing resolutions through their Town Meetings.  Through the Stamp Stampede, tens of thousands of people are rubber-stamping anticorruption messages on US currency, which then circulates through the local economy and helps bring people together around the issue.

Even though corporate influence over politics is a global problem, most Americans think about it in terms of Big Money control of presidential and congressional elections. That’s what gets the headlines: a candidate asking donors to limit their donations to a million dollars; a couple of businessmen pledging to spend almost a billion dollars before the 2016 presidential elections.

But the same dynamics are at work on the state level, too – and this House budget is a microcosm of the struggle for the loyalty of our government officials.

House GalleryThis budget does not include tens of millions of dollars in revenue that could have come from a tobacco tax increase.  Why not? New Hampshire would still have the lowest cigarette tax rate among neighboring states.  We would still lead the nation in cigarette smuggling, with almost one-quarter of cigarette purchases headed out-of-state.  Revenue from a tobacco tax increase could be used to avoid cuts to community health centers.  It could fund continuation of the expanded Medicaid program that provides health insurance to 34,000 Granite Staters.  It could patch a lot of the holes in this Budget.  But it’s not even being considered.

Why not?

The National Institute on Money in State Politics shows that former House Speaker Bill O’Brien received a $5,000 political contribution from tobacco giant Altria Client Services last October.

And now, the House refuses to even consider raising the tobacco tax.

crowd (2)Political donations can be an extremely cost-effective way for corporations to do business.  A Sunlight Foundation study of the 200 most politically active corporations found that for every dollar invested in political donations and lobbying, the corporations received $760 back in tax breaks, contracts and other types of government support.

Which should give all of us pause, as this state Budget heads over to the Senate.

According to the National Institute on Money in State Politics, “non-individual” political donors including business associations, corporations and PACs donated more than $700,000 to New Hampshire State Senate candidates in the 2014 elections.

more crowd (2)The Senate has already given preliminary approval to cuts in the business profits tax and the business enterprise tax.

Those tax cuts, if finalized, would undoubtedly trigger even more cuts to state services.

Do we really need those business tax cuts? New Hampshire already has the seventh-best business tax climate in the nation.

Budgets are, above all else, choices about priorities.  Spend tens of millions of dollars on tax cuts for corporations?  Or invest it in higher education for the next generation of workers?  Turn down tobacco tax revenues?  Or take the money and use it to improve the health of lower-income residents?

In a more-perfect world, our elected officials would make these sort of decisions based on the best interests of their constituents.  But we live in a world where political donations speak louder than votes.

Lobby (2)It doesn’t matter what party people belong to – Republicans and Democrats are outraged about this in almost-equal numbers.  Ask about federal campaign donations: 80% of New Hampshire Republicans and 77% of our Democrats say that Congress is more interested in special interests than its constituents.  Ask about the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens Unitedmore than two-thirds of New Hampshire voters think the US Constitution should be amended to limit money in politics.

People are feeling disenfranchised.  At StampStampede.org, we hear voters’ anger at having their government stolen by Big Money donors.  We work with small business owners who echo their customers’ disillusionment.  People are sick and tired of elected officials choosing to take care of political donors, rather than the people who elected them.

That anger is growing.  Every time that the New Hampshire Rebellion organizes a protest walk, they have hundreds more people participating than the year before.  More and more Town Meetings are voting to endorse a constitutional amendment to limit money in politics; so far, 67 Granite State municipalities have voted to defend democracy.

Billboard (2)In the past few months, several hundred New Hampshire residents have joined the Stamp Stampede. We’re seeing more and more currency with messages like “Not to Be Used for Buying Elections” and “Stamp Money Out of Politics.”  Each stamped dollar bill is seen by an estimated 875 people as it circulates through the local economy – literally making money into the message, and getting the message out to millions of people.

We’re recruiting 6,500 New Hampshire Stampers help us make this into an issue in the presidential primary.  We already have 60 small business partners who are hosting “Stamping Stations” where customers can stamp their money and learn more about how high-dollar donations have hijacked our elections.

It’s a grassroots movement to reclaim our government from the special interests, because we’re tired of being forgotten in the race to please special-interest political donors.

The decisions being made in this State Budget process – business tax cuts? or services for people? – show the problem in a nutshell.

Who does our government belong to?  Who do our elected officials take care of?

And what, exactly, is it going to take to get our government back?

————————

The Stamp Stampede is tens of thousands of Americans legally stamping messages on our nation’s currency to #GetMoneyOut of Politics. As more and more stamped money spreads, so will the movement to amend the Constitution and overturn Citizens United.

You can get your own stamp online at www.stampstampede.org. Or, if you’re a member of CWA, you can get a stamp from your LPAT coordinator. The average stamped bill is seen by 875 people – which makes stamping a highly-effective way to get the message out about how money in politics is corrupting our government.

It’s time to #GetMoneyOut of politics and take back our government.

NH Leaders Applaud Senate Vote for Constitutional Amendment to Stop Unlimited Campaign Spending, Urge House to Follow Suit

Open Democracy, the New Hampshire nonprofit committed to transparent and accountable government, congratulated the New Hampshire Senate for unanimously approving SB 136 on Thursday, a bill calling on Congress to amend the U.S. Constitution to address the Citizens United U.S. Supreme Court ruling.
 
Open Democracy leaders and activists from both political parties, together with allied groups, simultaneously renewed their calls for the New Hampshire House to approve a similar measure. If adopted by the House, New Hampshire would become the 17th state to call for a Constitutional Amendment five years after the controversial Citizens United decision was handed down.
 
“New Hampshire citizens are frankly disgusted with the amount of special interest money flooding our elections,” said Daniel Weeks, Executive Director of Open Democracy, citing town resolutions adopted by 67 New Hampshire towns in 2014-15 calling for a Constitutional Amendment and the roughly 12,000 citizen petitioners across the state. “It is precisely because the First Amendment is so sacred that we need to protect the rights of ordinary Americans to speak and be heard in the public square, rather than be shouted down by big spenders with an agenda of their own,” Weeks said.
 
“We applaud the full Senate for responding to their constituents’ demands and passing this historic call for a 28th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution to rid our democracy of unlimited special interest spending in elections,” said Gordon Allen, co-chair of the Open Democracy Board. “We are especially thankful to Senators Martha Fuller-Clark (D-21) and Russell Prescott (R-23) for leading this important push.”
 
Members of the Open Democracy Advisory Board John Broderick and Brad Cook, the former NH Chief Justice and Republican Chairman of the Election Law Commission, respectively, called on elected representatives in the House to follow the Senate’s lead and pass the “bipartisan resolution opposing the disastrous Citizens United Supreme Court decision that opened the floodgates to unlimited spending in elections.”
 
“Although we may not agree on some issues, we both believe there is nothing more destructive of good politics and good policy than secret special interest money in elections,” Broderick and Cook wrote. “Left unchecked, it will consume our electoral process and silence the voice of the people.”
 
The issue of money in politics has attracted near-unanimous public sentiment from across the political spectrum, with 96 percent of New Hampshire residents polled believing that money has too much influence over politics. Meanwhile, more than two-thirds of state residents across party lines support a Constitutional Amendment to limit campaign contributions and spending, according to a University of New Hampshire Survey Center poll.
 
As evidence of their frustration with the status quo, approximately 500 citizens took to the streets of New Hampshire this January, walking 300 miles across the state to protest money in politics as part of the NH Rebellion. The Rebellion activists and allied groups plan to continue marching and are also challenging the presidential candidates to support systemic campaign finance reform during the state’s first-in-the-national primary.
 
- – -
 
The Senate-approved legislation, as amended, asserts “the need for a United States Constitutional Amendment to address the Citizens United ruling and related cases, that protects New Hampshire’s ability to make its own laws regarding campaign finance while protecting the First Amendment.” To bill also establishes a study committee to examine the impact of the Citizens United ruling and related cases in New Hampshire elections; to evaluate the different Constitutional Amendment options being proposed in Congress; and to consider short-term solutions to issues raised by Citizens United.
 
One such measure, disclosure of independent spending in state elections, was approved by the legislature and signed into law by Governor Hassan in 2014. However, insufficient compliance with SB 120 in the 2014 election led Open Democracy to file complaints against both liberal and conservative political committees with the New Hampshire Attorney General. As of March 2015, the Attorney General’s investigations are still ongoing.
 
A forthcoming Open Democracy analysis of the 2014 mid-term election in New Hampshire reveals that approximately $100 million was spent by candidates, parties, and third-party groups – the highest level of election spending in state history. More than half of the total spending came from so-called “independent” groups, with the majority of their funding coming from out-of-state and/or undisclosed sources, according to the non-partisan Center for Responsive Politics. New Hampshire’s U.S. Senate contest also ranked as the most negative race in the country with over 90 percent of all television ads characterized as attacks. 
 
Although efforts to overturn Citizens United in Congress have stalled in recent years for lack of bipartisan support, liberal and conservative leaders alike have called for state and congressional action to mitigate what they describe as the ruling’s adverse effects on elections and representation. As early as 2010 when the decision was handed down, New Hampshire’s late Republican Senator Warren Rudman wrote in The Washington Post, “Supreme Court opinion notwithstanding, corporations are not defined as people under the Constitution, and free speech can hardly be called free when only the rich are heard.”
 
To mitigate the corrupting influence of money in politics, Senator Rudman went on to urge “Republicans and Democrats in Congress [to] work together to expand political speech for all citizens by replacing special-interest money in politics with small donations and public matching funds.”
 
Open Democracy, a 501(c)(3) non-profit based in Concord, advocates for a range of campaign finance and election reforms including citizen-funded elections, overturning Citizens United, election modernization, and full rapid disclosure of campaign contributions and spending. 

NH Senate Unanimously Calls for Constitutional Amendment to Overturn Citizens United

2015-03-26 Senate Passes SB136 3The New Hampshire Senate just passed a bill supporting the amendment of the US Constitution to overturn Citizens United. The voice vote was apparently unanimous. The bill, SB 136, establishes a study committee to review the various proposed constitutional amendments, and issue a report by November 1st regarding which approach should be supported by the New Hampshire congressional delegation.

“Fair elections are the cornerstone of our democracy and the consequences of the Citizens United ruling on our elections must be addressed,” said Senator Martha Fuller Clark.​ “The issue of such large amounts of money influencing our elections is not a partisan one; it affects all of us. That’s why 67 of our municipalities have passed warrant articles calling for action on this very serious issue which threatens our democracy.”

“In 2014 alone, over $49 million was spent on NH Congressional races from outside groups, drowning out the voices of ordinary citizens,” she said. “I’m pleased that my Senate colleagues have finally agreed that it is time to do something about the corrupting influence of such large amounts of out-of-state money on our elections. I urge the House to agree as well.”

2015-03-26 Senate Passes SB136“The Senate’s action today is a huge step forward in the grassroots effort to make New Hampshire the 17th state to call for a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United,” said Paul Brochu, the Stamp Stampede’s Lead Organizer in New Hampshire.

“We’re very hopeful that the House will also pass this bill.  The House called for a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United in 2013 and 2014; and earlier this year the House passed a resolution seeking an Article V Constitutional Convention to overturn Citizens United,” he said. “I think we’re all tired of out-of-state special interests trying to buy our elections.  It’s time for some common-sense limits – and that common sense starts by telling the Supreme Court that no, corporations are not ‘people.’ ”

“Today, thanks to the bipartisan leadership of Senators Russell Prescott (R-23) and Martha Fuller Clark (D-21), the Senate at last voted to pass a version of SB 136 that includes language specifically calling for a constitutional amendment,” said Jonah Minkoff-Zern, Co-Director of Public Citizen’s Democracy Is For People Campaign.  “This reflects what the people of New Hampshire have been urging their elected officials to do in response to the surge of outside money being spent on state and federal elections.”

2015-03-26 Senate Passes SB136 2 (2)“The pressing question before the nation today is whether it is ‘we the people’ or ‘we the corporations and big money interests.’ This not a Democratic issue or a Republican issue. This is a deeply American issue. Whatever our political differences may be, we all share the common vision of government of, by, and for the people,” said John Bonifaz, President of Free Speech for People.

“This victory also demonstrates that a sustained people-powered movement can win,” he added. “New Hampshire citizens from throughout the state have repeatedly called on their legislators to take this action. They have rallied. They have marched. They have traveled to their state capitol to stand up and be heard. And, today, the people were heard. When the history of the 28th Amendment is written, it will include the story of New Hampshire citizens demanding their democracy back.”

“All across New Hampshire, people from both parties are saying they’ve had enough of Big Money in politics,” Brochu said.  “In town after town, Town Meeting after Town Meeting, Granite State voters have said ‘no more!’  It’s been amazing to watch all these people – many of whom have never been politically active before in their lives – suddenly step forward and lead their hometowns to take a stand and say the Constitution should be amended.”

“Many of the people who have stepped forward on this issue had never before called or written to or met with their elected officials.  They’re acting as ‘citizen lobbyists’ for the very first time, trying to take back their government from the special interests and Big Money donors,” Brochu added.  “This is what democracy is supposed to be about – and it is beautiful to see.”

————————

Stamp_StampedeThe Stamp Stampede is tens of thousands of Americans legally stamping messages on our nation’s currency to #GetMoneyOut of Politics. As more and more stamped money spreads, so will the movement to amend the Constitution and overturn Citizens United.

You can get your own stamp online at www.stampstampede.org. Or, if you’re a member of CWA, you can get a stamp from your LPAT coordinator. The average stamped bill is seen by 875 people – which makes stamping a highly-effective way to get the message out about how money in politics is corrupting our government.

It’s time to #GetMoneyOut of politics and take back our government.

Senate Democrats’ Comments on Senate GOP Making it Harder to Vote

CONCORD – Senator Bette Lasky, Senator David Pierce and Senator Molly Kelly condemned the passage of Senate Bill 179, which imposes an unconstitutional burden on the right to vote.

 

“This bill will only serve to further complicate the voting process for New Hampshire citizens. SB 179 proposes a new standard for what constitutes a domicile that is more confusing and less concise than the current law,” said Sen. Bette Lasky. “Voters need consistency and clarity when it comes to eligibility standards and this bill fails that test.”

 

In 1972, the Supreme Court ruled in Dunn v. Blumstein that durational residency requirements for voting in state and local elections were unconstitutional.  

 

“I am disappointed to see my Republican colleagues support such legislation even though the Supreme Court has been clear on this issue,” said Sen. David Pierce. “These unconstitutional assaults on our constituents’ right to vote in free and fair elections have got to stop. Unfortunately, the Republican majority won’t stop.”  

 

“Unlike other states, our constitution explicitly guarantees the equal right of every citizen to vote,” said Sen. Molly Kelly. “As we mark the 50thanniversary of the Selma march where some of our fellow Americans lost their very lives to secure the right to vote and as we approach the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, we should be encouraging all eligible citizens to vote instead of making the process more confusing.”

NHDP THIS WEEK: NH House GOP Advances Draconian Cuts to Critical Economic Priorities, Senate GOP Pushes “Plan” to Exacerbate Damage

Elected Officials, Residents and Advocates from Nashua to Manchester and North Conway Decry House GOP’s Devastating Cuts 

Senate GOP “Plan” to Give More Tax Giveaways to Big Businesses Would Lead to Even Further Cuts

 
Concord, N.H. – This week, House Republicans moved forward with draconian cuts to critical economic priorities including higher education, combatting substance misuse, maintaining roads and bridges, and services for seniors and the state’s most vulnerable citizens.
 
Making matters worse, Senate Republicans voted to give more tax giveaways to big businesses, leading to further cuts that would hurt New Hampshire’s people, businesses, and economy. New Hampshire Fiscal Policy Institute Executive Director Jeff McLynch explained, “the proposed business tax cuts will not create jobs or foster economic growth, but will instead drain millions of dollars out of the budget each year.”   
 
“New Hampshire Republicans’ irresponsible actions have put their majorities in both chambers at risk as they voted to give more tax giveaways to big businesses while making middle class families and small businesses pay the price with devastating cuts to critical services,” said New Hampshire Democratic Party Chair Ray Buckley. “Granite Staters from Nashua to Manchester and North Conway have already made it clear that we won’t stand for these draconian cuts.”
 
In an op-ed in today’s Nashua Telegraph, Sandra B. Pelletier, president and CEO of Gateways Community Services in Nashua, outlined the devastating effects of House Republicans’ cuts: “The House Finance Committee’s proposed budget will essentially shut the door to our region’s most vulnerable children transitioning from school supports to community supports. It will dismantle family-support programs for people with developmental disabilities and cause hardship for those who do a lifetime of heavy lifting by caring for their loved ones.”
 
The outcry from Nashua follows reports from Manchester and North Conway of residents and officials decrying House Republicans’ irresponsible budget cuts.
 
Yesterday’s Union Leader reported that Manchester “officials are raising concerns about proposed cuts in the state budget that could impact efforts to combat drug abuse in the city,” and the Conway Daily Sun added, “Members of the New Hampshire House Finance Committee heard last week from a range of Carroll County constituents” who “[decried] cuts to disabled, senior program
s.”

Maureen Mann: Cuts To The Department Of Transportation

potholesBy Maureen Mann,
Former NH State Rep

Originally posted at http://bit.ly/1xmjt1S

In the past week, the Republican majority of the Finance Committee of the NH House voted to approve two major changes to the DOT. First, they have taken an innocuous bill about changing a name or address on a drivers license, and replaced the original content with removal of the DOT from the state budget. Second, members of the committee have approved a cut of $88 million from that budget. This is a projected 42 percent cut in funding which includes a $4.8 million cut in winter maintenance.

Cuts to the DOT budget mean a massive lose in federal funds coming to NH.  Most major DOT projects–Route 93, the Sarah Long Bridge in Portsmouth which carries nuclear waste from the Navy Yard, etc–are based on 80/20 funds [80% federal and 20% state]. This is money NH residents have paid in federal taxes which we get back in federal grants. Currently NH sees a return of about 77 cents on each dollar paid by NH residents. Without our part of the match we will see less return and there is a serious threat that projects in progress will stop.

Route 93 is a prime example. The federal and environmental permits for Route 93 expire in 2020. If the work is not completed by that date the project stops dead.  It will take years to acquire new permits and meanwhile our neighbors in VT, ME and MA have all budgeted for increased infrastructure spending.  When heavy duty contractors such as Pike and Continental leave NH we will not get them back until projects elsewhere are done. Meanwhile, residents, tourists and business drives will sit in construction for hours.

This is a state which claims to support business. Yet poor roads and construction on Route 93 are already creating a problem in attracting new business to NH. One of the first questions asked of those recruiting businesses to NH is when Route 93 will be completed. Studies show that what really attracts business is an educated workforce, dependable and adequate transportation infrastructure, and universal high speed internet access.

According to an article in the March 19 Union Leader, $68 million of the cuts is mostly in personnel; half of DOT regular employees will be laid off. What the article does not explain is that over 60 percent of DOT employees are private contractors.  The people who build and reconstruct our highways, plow our roads, clear our ditches and cut brush along highways will be unemployed.  Some are small independents and some are huge contractor. Is this how we treat those who have worked long hours to ensure public safety during the enormous and frequent storms of this winter?”

Downshifting to our towns is another affect of the cuts.  The 4.2 cent increase in the road toll last July, combined with the current DOT budget, insured not only the completion of Route 93 but included increased funding for the six state highway betterment districts and additional funding to cities and towns. Those local costs will be downshifted to our communities which will result in more pot holes and less repair and reconstruction. We will also see closure of welcome centers and rest areas, limits and reductions in paving, closing of red-lined bridges or offers to communities to take some over. Good thing the repeal of the road toll, sponsored by our local reps, failed by such an overwhelming vote.

This is just one example of the “cut spending” mantra not being the solution, but the problem.

(Consider supporting Maureen Mann for NH State Rep via Act Blue)

Fox Business News: http://www.foxbusiness.com/markets/2015/03/16/new-hampshire-transportation-officials-protest-41m-cut-proposed-by-house-budget/

Concord Monitor: http://mobile.concordmonitor.com/home/16134371-108/dot-warns-lawmakers-budget-cut-would-mean-loss-of-321-employees

WMUR: http://www.wmur.com/politics/dot-41-million-cut-would-make-roads-dangerous-result-in-layoffs/31836146?absolute=true&utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter&utm_campaign=wmur9_politics

Concord Monitor: http://mobile.concordmonitor.com/home/16134371-108/dot-warns-lawmakers-budget-cut-would-mean-loss-of-321-employees

NH Labor News: http://nhlabornews.com/2015/03/nhdp-bill-obrien-budget-part-2-who-will-plow-our-roads/

Union Leader: http://www.unionleader.com/article/20150318/NEWS0621/150318983/1010/news06

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