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Emily’s List Puts Gov. Sununu And NH Legislature ‘On Notice’ For Attacks On Women’s Rights

Since Governor Chris Sununu took office the New Hampshire State Legislature has been pushing their ideological right wing agenda.  With the help of Governor Sununu, some of their crazy bills have actually become law.

The legislature attempted to ram through a number of bills attacking women’s reproductive rights.  Most notably was SB66, the “fetal personhood” bill, that passed along party lines. Before Sununu signed the bill it was determined that the bill was fundamentally flawed giving pregnant women “impunity to commit murder.”

“SB 66 would include the term ‘fetus’ in the definition of ‘another’ for the purpose of first and second degree murder, manslaughter, negligent homicide, and causing or aiding suicide.  This would not apply to women seeking medical procedures or abortions.” (Rewire, 3/21/17)

Anti-women Republicans in the Legislature also pushed a repeal of the state’s “buffer zone law,” a bill to publicly report women who sought an abortion, and an outright ban on abortions after 21 weeks with no exceptions.

These actions have prompted EMILY’s List, the nation’s largest resource for women in politics, put Republicans in New Hampshire’s General Court “On Notice” for the upcoming 2018 election. “On Notice” is a list of incumbent Republicans and legislative chambers at all levels of government being called out by EMILY’s List for their anti-woman and anti-family records. EMILY’s List is targeting these seats and chambers in its 2018 electoral efforts.

“Republicans in the New Hampshire Legislature have amassed a shameful record of voting to turn back the clock on women’s rights,” said EMILY’s List Executive Director Emily Cain. “These legislators have recklessly passed legislation that limits the reproductive rights of women, have attempted to repeal the existing law that provides buffer zones to protect women, and have attempted to put in place an abortion ban after just over 21 weeks with no exceptions for rape or incest. That is why EMILY’s List is recruiting an historic number of strong, pro-choice Democratic women leaders  in 2018 to hold these Republican legislators accountable for their out-of-touch agenda.”

Aside from the “fetal personhood” legislation that Governor Sununu signed, he also campaigned on his support of anti-abortion legislation and a “pro-life” agenda.

Sununu also failed to condemn, then candidate Donald Trump, after the Access Hollywood tapes became public.

“Republican gubernatorial candidate Chris Sununu is not revoking his endorsement of GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump and says party members need to stand behind the nominee, despite the release of a videotape in which Trump is heard bragging about groping and otherwise sexually assaulting women.” [Union Leader, 10/10/16]

For these reasons Emily’s List has also put Governor Chis Sununu “On Notice.”

“Governor Chris Sununu has amassed a shameful record of turning his back on women’s rights and shortchanging New Hampshire  families,” said EMILY’s List Executive Director Emily Cain. “Sununu approved a reckless bill that could put New Hampshire on the path to recognizing ‘personhood,’ refused to disavow Donald Trump time after time, and stood up for anti-choice legislation. That is why EMILY’s List is putting Sununu ‘On Notice’ and targeting this seat, because New Hampshire women deserve far better than failed leadership from this governor.”

With nearly 18,000 women reaching out to EMILY’s List interested in running for office, the organization has tripled the size of its state and local campaign staff in order to provide candidates with the resources they need to run and win.

The 2018 launch of this state-level “On Notice” program includes three governors, legislative bodies in ten states, three secretaries of state and a state attorney general, and is the largest ever in the organization’s 32-year history. It follows the announcement of EMILY’s List’s top congressional and Senate targets in July. A full list of state-level Republican targets can be found here.

NH Superior Court Blocks Penalties Within SB 3 (Voter Suppression Bill)

NH Superior Court put penalties for voter suppression law SB 3 on hold, siding with NH Democratic Party 

Nashua, N.H. – This morning, Hillsborough County Superior Court South put penalties for violating SB 3 on hold and granted both parties standing, siding with the New Hampshire Democratic Party on both key issues. The decision was a response to NHDP filing a preliminary injunction against the law. The case will now be heard in full, with both plaintiffs granted standing.

SB 3 would impose immense burdens on eligible New Hampshire voters, and is designed to have a disproportionate effect on young people, low-income, elderly and disabled voters who overwhelmingly vote for Democrats.

“This order is a victory for voting rights in New Hampshire. The court’s decision to strip the law of its penalties shows exactly how burdensome and intimidating they are. It proves the state cannot threaten people with criminal prosecution for merely registering to vote,” said NHDP Chair Ray Buckley. “This order offers no good news for the state, who will now have to argue the entirety of this law on the merits. We know the state’s fight is a losing one, and one we will keep fighting, as NHDP has been has granted our day in court.”

“Most importantly, today’s order means voters are protected from the law’s intimidating penalties, continued Buckley. “This victory means that voters can exercise their most fundamental right to have a voice in our democracy without fear or intimidation. If even one voter is disenfranchised, we will stand up and fight it. We don’t intend to disappoint the long list of American heroes and martyrs who have risked so much for the right to have a voice at the ballot box. We are confident the full law will be declared unconstitutional.”

“This is a victory for voting rights.  As the Court held, the punishment portion of SB 3 imposed a severe restriction on the right to vote.  This portion was particularly problematic because it would have criminalized certain voters who simply do not have the required documentation,” stated Gilles Bissonnette, Legal Director, ACLU of New Hampshire.

“Today’s ruling is a rebuke of the Republican effort to intimidate and disenfranchise New Hampshire voters and a win for voting rights,” said NH Senate Democratic Leader, Jeff Woodburn. “The court’s determination to strip the penalties in SB 3 because they are a serious deterrent to voting is vindication for those fighting to protect the fundamental right to vote. This is a strong first step in what will be a long fight for justice. Senate Democrats remain firm in our commitment to defend the right to vote and will continue to push back against the ongoing attack on New Hampshire voters.”

“Men and women from New Hampshire have fought in foreign lands to protect our rights at home, most importantly our right to vote,” said House Democratic Leader Steve Shurtleff. “The House Democratic Caucus is doing everything we can to protect that right, and we were in full support of the lawsuit brought by the League of Women Voters.  Today’s court ruling affirms everything House Democrats have said about SB 3 throughout the process.”

“As the court ruling stated, SB 3 places ‘severe’ restrictions on voters that act as ‘a very serious deterrent on the right to vote.’  The ruling also noted that no ‘compelling’ need for SB 3 was presented to the Court.”

“Laws that deter voters through severe restrictions have no place in New Hampshire, especially when lawmakers cannot present any compelling reason for enacting it.  House Democrats will continue to do all we can to protect voters from unnecessary attempts to restrict voter rights,” Shurtleff concluded.

“The right to vote shouldn’t be a partisan issue, but Republicans in Concord are trying to change the way we hold elections so that it’s easier for them to win re-election. Now the New Hampshire Democratic Party is standing up for the thousands of Granite Staters who risk disenfranchisement under SB3, and they should be applauded for that,” said Jason Kander, President of Let America Vote.

“Instead of making an honest effort to earn the votes of New Hampshire college students, Republicans have decided to simply exclude them from the election process. Governor Sununu lost all credibility when he echoed President Trump’s lie that voters were being bussed in from other states to vote for Democrats in 2016. Governor Sununu has made it clear that he doesn’t value the free and fair elections that make up the cornerstone of our democracy, and he should pay for it during his next election.

“New Hampshire voters will make their argument in court for why this unconstitutional voter suppression law has no place in their state, but we also have to take this fight into the court of public opinion. Let America Vote exists to make politicians think twice before excluding eligible voters from elections to create a political advantage. Republican vote suppressors in New Hampshire will feel the legal and political heat of their missteps through the next election cycle,” Kander concluded.

SB 3’s provisions:

  • Create two different forms for those registering more than 30 days out from an election and those registering within the 30-day period
  • Deny those without paperwork the right to register more than 30 days out from an election
  • Force registrants to read & sign a long & confusing document comprehension experts say is written at a graduate-student reading level
  • Lengthen lines and dissuade voters from turning out due to the longer and more complicated same-day registration requirements
  • Mandate that voters who signed an affidavit bring evidence to verify their intent to remain in the state within 10 days after an election
  • Subject those who failed to deliver that evidence within 10 days to investigation and possible civil and criminal penalty of and a $5,000 fine
  • Appoint investigators, who could be anyone from police to the town conspiracist, to come to your door in their completion of a voter fraud investigation against you

SB 3 is the first voter suppression law passed in the Trump era. It was based on the “belief” of voter fraud rather than any evidence. President Trump and Governor Sununu’s lies about Democrats busing voters across the state border to vote illegally created a pretext for this suppressive law. Sununu signed it into law in July.

NH Senate Republicans Vote Down Proposal To Lower Insurance Premiums Statewide

The Reinsurance Program would allow the NH Department of Insurance to seek additional federal funds to stabilize the insurance marketplace.

Today, Governor Sununu and New Hampshire Republicans failed to fund the NH Insurance Department’s reinsurance proposal that would protect the benefits of tens of thousands of Granite Staters. The Joint Health Care Reform Oversight Committee moved forward with a proposal from the NH Insurance Department to create a reinsurance program, but failed to authorize any way to pay for it.

“Governor Sununu is shamefully choosing politics over people and New Hampshire will suffer as a result. President Trump’s unpopular decision to sabotage insurance markets in order to implement his even-less-popular plan appears to be spilling over to states with friendly governors like Chris Sununu,” said NHDP Chair Ray Buckley.

“Sununu’s blind cooperation with Trump ignores the fact that reinsurance plans have been successful in lowering premiums, keeping carriers in the market, and creating stability and certainty. By refusing to fund the proposal, the reinsurance program is set up for failure and shows Governor Sununu’s cooperation with Trump in undermining our healthcare system for political gain.”

After the vote, Sen. Martha Fuller Clark (D-Portsmouth), member of the Joint Health Care Reform Oversight Committee, released the following statement:

“Given President Trump’s attempts to undermine our healthcare system and the failure of Republicans in Congress to act, states like New Hampshire need to be doing all we can do to stabilize our healthcare market, increase competition, and drive down costs for Granite Staters.”

“While the Joint Health Care Reform Oversight Committee authorized the NH Insurance and HHS Commissioners to seek federal waivers to create a reinsurance program and to seek all federal funds available to help pay for the program, the Committee rejected, along party lines, the NH Insurance Commissioner’s proposal to help fund the program through an added assessment on our insurance carriers.”

“Without the certainty of funding and the refusal to add an assessment on our state carriers, there’s no way for insurance carriers to reduce premiums, despite the fact that insurance assessments in the past have been used to address failures in our healthcare marketplace. Governor Sununu and his Republican allies are playing dangerous political games with our healthcare system, risking insurance carriers leaving our state, risking higher premiums for our hard-working families, and creating more destabilization in NH’s healthcare system.”

“Healthcare is an issue that affects all Granite Staters and impacts us at all levels of state government. New Hampshire policymakers should not just throw up their hands and give up working on solutions to these problems just because they are hard. It’s disheartening that Governor Sununu and Republicans in the legislature are again defaulting to the dysfunction of Washington and standing alongside President Trump’s attempts to undermine our healthcare system rather than standing with the people of New Hampshire. Real leadership is needed to bring people together to find meaningful healthcare solutions, both here and in Washington. Unfortunately, today’s vote doesn’t solve any of our problems or find any meaningful solutions.”

In light of today’s votes the New Hampshire Insurance Department (NHID) is “cancelling the public hearings scheduled for August 2nd and August 3rd relative to its market stabilization plan and proposed 1332 waiver application.”

“Consistent with today’s vote of the Joint Health Reform Oversight Committee, the NHID will continue to explore options for the 1332 waiver, and will reschedule the hearings once there is more clarity about the specifics of the state’s approach,” wrote the NHID.

Alaska and Minnesota have successfully implemented and funded similar reinsurance programs that will net-lower premiums in their states.

In response to reports of significant projected increases in individual market health care premiums, and a party-line vote by the Joint Health Care Reform Oversight Committee to block an Insurance Department proposal, Representative Ed Butler (D-Hart’s Location), a member of the Oversight Committee, released the following statement:

“President Trump has said repeatedly that he intends to ‘let Obamacare implode.’  In a belligerent act of sabotage, the President is threatening to withhold billions in cost sharing subsidies to insurance companies that are required under federal law.  The uncertainty that President Trump has created in the insurance market is a driving force in projected rate increases nationwide.”

“Instead of working with the Insurance Department to submit their full waiver request – including a 1% rate increase assessment on group markets – to achieve the greatest possible reduction in rates in the individual market, New Hampshire Republicans on this Oversight Committee have chosen the path of least resistance.”

“Republicans on the Oversight Committee voted on August 1st to prevent New Hampshire’s Insurance Department from submitting their full waiver request.  Instead the Committee authorized the Insurance and Health and Human Services Departments to request financial assistance from the federal government – without any seed money or contribution from NH insurance carriers.”

“Over 35,000 Granite Staters will be subject to spikes in rates of as much as 30 to 40% in the individual market.  By opposing commonsense efforts to bring stability to the market, Governor Sununu and Committee Republicans appear willing to use our citizens as scapegoats to achieve President Trump’s desired ‘implosion’ of our health care system.”

For more information on the waivers read the detailed reporting from Manchester Ink Link

Will Gov Sununu Save The NH Health Protection Program?

In Wake of Republican Healthcare Repeal Failure, Democratic Leaders Renew Call for Governor Sununu and Republicans to Work Across Party Lines on Healthcare

State Senator Jeff Woodburn and Rep Steve Shurtleff Push for Reauthorization of NH Health Protection Program

As millions of Americans are waiting with baited breath to see whether or not the Republicans in Washington D.C. are going to strip away their healthcare, the 50,000 Granite Staters who rely on the ACA’s expanded Medicaid program are waiting to see what Governor Chris Sununu will do.

From early on in his campaign, he has opposed the Affordable Care Act and has called for a repeal and then after he was elected, and the GOP took control in Washington, he began calling for a full repeal & replacement.

“To be clear, reform without an adequate replacement is not an acceptable option. Any repeal of the ACA must be simultaneous with a replacement,Sununu wrote in a letter to US Senate Majority Leaders.

“Reforming our nation’s health care system is imperative and our leaders must take swift, but thoughtful bipartisan action that is transparent and welcomes all sides to the table,” he added.

Now the Democratic Leaders in the NH Legislature are calling on Governor Sununu to put his words into action. Senate Democratic Leader Jeff Woodburn and House Democratic Leader Stephen Shurtleff urged Governor Sununu and legislative Republicans to finally get to work on reauthorizing the NH Health Protection Program:

“We are relieved that Republican attempts to undermine healthcare have failed and given that the Affordable Care Act is the law of the land, we urge Governor Sununu and his Republican leaders to begin negotiations with us to improve our healthcare system and bring down healthcare costs.”

“The most critical thing we need to do is reauthorize the NH Health Protection Program (NHHPP), which is scheduled to end next year, as soon as possible. The NHHPP is a uniquely New Hampshire solution that more than 52,000 Granite Staters rely on for their health care, drives down costs for our businesses, hospitals, working families and our state, stabilizes our insurance market, and plays a vital role in combating the opioid crisis.”

“Democrats have attempted to work with Governor Sununu and the Republican majorities in the legislature to reauthorize and improve this successful program all year, but have been brushed aside as they waited on their Republicans allies in Washington to act. Its time to do what’s right for the people of New Hampshire and we call on Governor Sununu and his Republican legislative majorities to stop putting partisan politics above the health and well-being of hard-working Granite Staters, stop dragging their feet, and begin working with us to renew this successful program as soon as possible.”

As the US Senate voted to give tax breaks to billionaires while slashing Medicaid and Medicare on their Healthcare plan, Governor Sununu remained completely silent.  In a letter to Senator Mitch McConnell on June 27th, he voiced concern over the cuts to Medicaid and NH’s ability to keep the 50,000 Granite Staters currently relying on the program insured.  Ensuring that the current recipients of insurance through the Medicaid Expansion would not be kicked off their healthcare was a cornerstone of Sununu’s campaign.

However Governor, it is time to put up or shut up.

Governor Sununu must work with both sides of the aisle and find a way to ensure that the NH Health Protection Program becomes permanent until such time that all Americans are fully covered.

NH Passes Full Day Kindergarten, Sort Of

Yesterday, the Senate passed SB 191 also known as “Keno-garten” to partially fund full-day kindergarten in New Hampshire.

The bill would pay a portion of the costs ($1,100 of the $1,800 per pupil) to expand half-day kindergarten to full day with revenue generated through the state’s new Keno lottery.  There are no guarantees that Keno revenue will be enough to fund the program in the coming years and the bill still does not require all NH schools to expand kindergarten to a full day program.

The National Education Association of NH, representing thousands of educators across the state, explained the dilemma over SB 191 in their open letter urging legislators to support SB191.

“To be clear, SB 191 as amended by the Committee of Conference, is not perfect. NEA-New Hampshire has always, and will always continue, to advocate that full day kindergarten be funded in full in the same manner as all other grades. However, NEA-NH also recognizes sometimes you have to compromise in the process of getting to your ultimate goal.

SB 191 is just such a compromise. Yes, it does not guarantee full funding of kindergarten, and yes, the funding mechanism is not necessarily the one I would have chosen. But it is also the largest step New Hampshire has ever taken toward fully funding full day kindergarten that has occurred since I began teaching 18 years ago.

…New Hampshire’s current method of kindergarten funding puts an enormous burden on the 70% of New Hampshire municipalities (covering 80% of New Hampshire’s students) that have voluntarily elected to offer full day kindergarten. SB 191 will provide significant tax relief to those towns, and hopefully, encourage the remaining cities and towns to adopt full day kindergarten as well.

NEA-New Hampshire believes that all school districts should offer full day kindergarten. While passage of SB 191 does not accomplish that goal, it certainly puts New Hampshire much, much closer to reaching it than we ever have before.”

Senate Democratic Leader Jeff Woodburn is disappointed that Republicans refused to adopt a fully funded, full day kindergarten program and vows to continue to push for a fully funded, mandatory full day kindergarten program.

“Senate Democrats have been leading advocates for Kindergarten, and for fully funding full-day Kindergarten, for many years — we know this issue well and we know what this means for our communities. Passing full funding for full-day Kindergarten should have been an easy task. Governor Sununu promised to support it during his campaign and full funding for full-day Kindergarten passed with overwhelming, bipartisan support in both the House and the Senate.”

“It’s disappointing that in the final hour, Governor Sununu and Republicans snatched defeat from the jaws of victory by removing full-day Kindergarten from the budget, abandoning full funding, and choosing to push a half-measure tied to Keno. Make no mistake, SB 191 does not fully fund full-day Kindergarten. But, Democrats will continue to lead the fight for full funding for full-day Kindergarten with no strings attached.”

NH Democratic Party Chair Ray Buckley highlighted that newly elected Governor Chris Sununu campaigned heavily on expanding kindergarten and has “broken a key campaign promise.”

“The governor broke a key campaign promise today. Instead of the fully-funded full day kindergarten he pledged on the campaign trail, he offered a half-measure and turned a blind eye while Republicans gutted even that. Because of Sununu’s abject failure to lead, Democrats were forced to pick up the pieces and salvage what was left for the sake of our kids. Governor Sununu and the Republicans always seem to make common sense a complicated calculus. While Democratic leaders would simply pass fully-funded full day kindergarten, Republicans need to cut it in half, tie it to gambling measures, and beg their members to vote yes. Real reform requires real champions, and Republicans are anything but.”

After the bill passed NEA-New Hampshire praised its passage.

“NEA-New Hampshire applauds the passage of SB 191, and thanks Governor Sununu and the bi-partisan coalition of legislators for finally putting New Hampshire on the path to full day kindergarten,” said Megan Tuttle, President of NEA-NH. “The benefits of full-day kindergarten are clear. Those students that attend full-day kindergarten are better prepared to enter first grade, have a higher high school graduation rate and are more likely to go to college. Full day kindergarten is a sound educational investment and I am thrilled that the legislators in Concord have recognized that.”

Now that the bill has passed questions still remain about the constitutionality of the legislation.  Andru Volinsky, Executive Councilor, and the lead lawyer in the Claremont education funding case of 1997, told WMUR last week that the bill is unconstitutional.

… Senate Bill 191 fails to meet the standard set out in the landmark 1997 New Hampshire Supreme Court decision in the Claremont school funding case requiring the state to provide and fund a constitutionally adequate education to all students.

….The Claremont ruling did not specifically refer to kindergarten, but it did say that the state’s system of funding “elementary and secondary public education” at the time, almost entirely through property taxes, was unconstitutional.

“Full-day kindergarten is part of a constitutionally adequate education,” Volinsky said Friday. “And once you understand that concept, you understand that the state must pay for constitutional adequacy.”

Volinsky also said, by failing to fully fund, full day kindergarten local school districts who choose to expand kindergarten will be putting even more “burden on local taxpayers”.

For those that have already chosen to expand kindergarten programs, this bill is a step in the right direction but it does not go as far as it should. This bill will help the 70% of school districts that already offer full day kindergarten.

Republicans Force Through Substantive Changes To “Fetal Homicide” Bill

Legislators and Civil Rights Group Call on Governor Sununu to Veto the Bill.

Yesterday morning the New Hampshire House and Senate voted to adopt an Enrolled Bills Committee Amendment to SB 66 – a fetal personhood measure recognizing a fetus as an independent victim of a crime for the first time in New Hampshire law. The amended bill now makes its way to Governor Chris Sununu’s desk.

During yesterday’s floor debate, House Speaker Shawn Jasper confirmed the enrolled bill amendment was put forth because SB 66, as passed by both chambers, would have allowed pregnant women to commit murder with impunity. Enrolled bill amendments are rarely voted on by the full House and Senate because they are normally restricted to typographical or technical errors.

Yesterday, the House and Senate voted to adopt a substantive enrolled bill amendment significantly changing the structure of the exceptions to SB 66’s expansion of New Hampshire’s homicide laws.

“This bill, which makes major changes to New Hampshire’s homicide laws, deserved a full vetting by the legislature.  It is our duty to write the state’s laws through an open, transparent process, and making substantive changes to our state’s murder laws in the way that we did today is a disservice to New Hampshire,” said Representative Renny Cushing (D-Hampton).  “What the House did today was legislative malpractice, and I am concerned about the long term implications this will have on our democracy.”

“We urge Governor Sununu to veto this legislation,” said Devon Chaffee, Executive Director of the ACLU of New Hampshire. “The fact that this last minute amendment was needed to avoid some of SB 66’s outrageous unintended consequences demonstrates that the bill was not fully vetted. The amendment adopted today is also extremely confusing, jeopardizing critical exemptions intended to protect pregnant women and their physicians from unjust murder and other homicide charges.”

Additional unintended consequences of SB 66 not addressed in the enrolled bills amendment includes the bill’s medically inaccurate definition of a fetus, which would be the only definition of a fetus in New Hampshire law. Judges could reasonably look to this medically inaccurate definition when interpreting the term “fetus” as it appears in other statutes including: the assault statute; the vital records statute; or the statute governing organ donation.

“This Republican bill has been plagued with issues from the outset. If as much effort was invested into writing the bill as was invested into eroding women’s reproductive rights, perhaps our Republican colleagues wouldn’t need to break Senate procedure to fix their mistakes,” said Senator Donna Soucy (D-Manchester), Deputy Democratic Leader in the Senate.

“Not only were medical experts never consulted during the construction of this bill, but Republicans were so careless as to include language that provides immunity for pregnant women in homicide cases. Now, they’re scrambling after-the-fact to use a legislative process normally used to correct spelling errors to make major policy changes about women’s reproductive health. And to demonstrate how desperate Republicans are, when a Senate colleague stepped forward in standard Senate procedure to voice her opposition to this process, she was interrupted and shut down by her Republican colleagues. This legislation is an exercise in poor craftsmanship on top of bad policy, and I’m concerned with the precedent this creates,” added Soucy.

“It is extraordinarily disheartening to me that the body would choose to make substantive changes to the entire homicide statute at a point in the process designed to ‘correct any error or omission in the references to statutes, or other technical or clerical errors.’  Today’s actions set an extremely disturbing precedent,” stated Representative Shannon Chandley (D-Amherst).

Senate Bill 66 establishes a basis for discrimination against pregnant women by codifying a medically unsound definition of a fetus as a separate person capable of being a victim of a crime. While the law is said to be an attempt to win justice for parents who lose a child during pregnancy due to criminal action, laws like SB 66 are used in other states to punish pregnant women for “risky” behaviors that are not criminal for others and has created legal argument to attack women’s reproductive health services.

Existing New Hampshire law currently provides for severe enhanced penalties for violent crimes resulting in the loss of pregnancy, without the outrageous unintended consequences that exist within SB 66. Under that existing New Hampshire law, a person may be prosecuted for First Degree Assault if they purposely or knowingly cause injury to another resulting in miscarriage or stillbirth—a class A Felony carrying a sentence of up to 15 years.

Republicans Force Through The NH Budget With Tax Giveaways To The Wealthy

Today, the New Hampshire House and New Hampshire Senate voted to approve the state’s two-year budget.  The vote 198-69 in the House and 14-9 in the Senate, were mostly along party lines.

The Governor and the rest of the NH Republican Party are praising the budget because it contains “no new taxes” and additionally cuts taxes for businesses saying that will somehow magically create jobs.  What they conveniently avoided talking about are the cuts to job training programs that businesses say are necessary to train workers for the vacant jobs available right now.

There are also cuts to the state’s nursing home budget, decreased funding to the NH University system that will lead to higher tuition rates, less money for drug treatment rehabilitation services, less money to fight the growing opioid epidemic,  and so much more.

The House Democrats were angry that the Republicans forced these massive cuts through to give big business more tax breaks.

House Democratic Leader Steve Shurtleff:

“This budget is a major disappointment for New Hampshire.  Democrats repeatedly expressed our desire to work with the majority on a bipartisan budget that upholds New Hampshire values, and at every turn we were ignored as House leadership turned to the far right of their party to craft their plan.”

“Democratic proposals to adequately fund mental health and developmental disability services, and to provide sufficient funds to take on the opioid epidemic, were moderate and reasonable.”

“The decision by House budget writers to ignore Democratic proposals, and instead include poison pills like the Hyde amendment, a Medicaid waiver requirement that will likely end the state’s successful Medicaid Expansion program, and the inclusion of further tax cuts for big business, solidified Democratic opposition to what could have been a bipartisan proposal.”

“This budget isn’t even honest or transparent with taxpayers.  Hundreds of millions of dollars in spending, which was purposely left out of the budget to achieve an artificially deflated bottom line, will now be determined through the ten member Fiscal committee.”

“The gimmicks, harmful policy choices, and lack of a serious long-term investment in our state all make this budget unacceptable to House Democrats.”

Representative Mary Jane Wallner:

“This budget represents a missed opportunity to make the investments our state needs to stay competitive and grow our economy.  At a time when our business community is begging for an educated workforce as their top priority, this budget fails to invest in education and cuts state revenues for years into the future.”

“At a time when the opioid crisis continues to grow, with more deaths and more deadly drugs hitting our streets, we have failed to make the investments needed to effectively combat this harmful epidemic.”

“New Hampshire’s successful Medicaid Expansion program currently provides health care for over 53,000 Granite Staters.  This budget puts that program at risk of being ended based on the decisions of bureaucrats in Washington.”

“The Republican majority could have worked with Democrats to pass a bipartisan budget that works for all New Hampshire citizens.  The fact that they chose an ultra-conservative tact at every opportunity sets our state back and is a disappointment to all who support responsible, bipartisan government.

In the Senate, the vote was strictly down party lines.  The Republicans steamrolled Democrats to force this draconian budget through.

Senate Democratic Leader Jeff Woodburn (D-Whitefield) released the following after the vote:

“Today, Democrats stood united with working families and their priorities by voting against the Republican budget. Even though we approached our Republican colleagues many times in the spirit of compromise and offered countless amendments to make the budget reflective of the needs of real people in our communities, our efforts were rejected at every turn. The Republican budget agreement caves to the wealthy elite and short-changes those who are most in need.”

“It’s a grave mistake to force the people of New Hampshire to line the pockets of corporations while the critical investments our state so desperately needs go unmet. In good conscience and good faith, Democrats are not able to sign off on a budget that diverts funds away from our state’s critical substance misuse and mental health crises for the sake of more reckless business tax cuts. This budget continues a troubling pattern of forcing the working people in our state to pick up the bill.”

NHDP Chair Ray Buckley released the following after the budget votes:

“Governor Sununu’s reckless and dangerous budget will take New Hampshire’s progress and turn it into disrepair. The governor wants to give corporations a tax cut they never asked for. By doing so, he’s denying businesses the workforce training they did ask for.

These tax cuts are paid for by underfunding programs like the alcohol fund, DCYF, and the developmental disability waitlist. The governor may think these tax cuts are no big deal, but they’re a big deal to the people in the state who are seeking refuge from abuse and addiction or who need help with a disability.

This budget will deny them the resources they desperately need to stay afloat.

Corporate tax cuts will make students and their parents dig deeper for a tuition check. This governor, for lack of attention to detail, is blindly leaning on his ideology to solve problems that require the kind of serious attention he is too apathetic to give.”

So once again the New Hampshire Republican Party, led by their Trump loving Governor, Chris Sununu, have shown the people of New Hampshire that they only care about giving more money to big business and the rest of us can suck it.


After the initial publication of this post the NH Fiscal Policy Institute released their statement on the NH Budget.  The statement highlights just a few of the programs that will be directly effected by the cuts in the NH Budget.

“The state budget passed today by the New Hampshire House and Senate makes important strides in funding for critical health needs in the state, increasing capacity in the mental health system, boosting funding for child protection, and providing compensation rate increases for direct health service providers,” said John Shea, executive director of the New Hampshire Fiscal Policy Institute.

“Importantly, the budget increases the thresholds for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families benefits to 60 percent of federal poverty guidelines and provides annual adjustments to ensure benefits will keep up with inflation. This change will make a real difference for families who struggle to afford basic needs.”

“Policymakers also increased the state’s Rainy Day Fund to $100 million, which will provide a solid foundation in the event of an economic downturn or fiscal crisis,” noted Shea.

“At the same time, the tax changes in this budget reduced available revenue by $23.7 million and left policymakers with fewer resources to address needs that would have provided benefits to all New Hampshire residents and businesses, such as increasing funding for schools, roads, and other public infrastructure, and making higher education and workforce training more accessible.”

“The tax rate reductions passed in this budget increase the risk of reduced revenue for future years, and may limit the state’s ability to address future needs,” added Shea. “While this budget makes some important strides, the state may continue to fall behind in areas that are essential to ensuring a strong economy.”

Boutin Attacks Cavanaugh In New Mailer, Mistakenly Shows Support For Voting By Mail

The election in Senate District 16, formerly held by the late Sen Scott McGilvray, is heating up and former Senator David Boutin is already slinging mud with his new mailer.  The most ironic part of Boutin’s mailers is that he is now pushing to have people “vote by mail.”

Last week Sen. Boutin sent out this mailer attacking Alderman Kevin Cavanaugh highlighting a variety of different issues that Cavanaugh has voted for in the last year. My favorite is the one where he highlights that Cavanaugh has “40%” of his campaign funding from “Special Interests.”

Because campaign finances are public record, it is easy to see who has supported Sen. Boutin in previous elections.  According to FollowTheMoney.Org,  Boutin’s 2014 campaign received 712 total donations from totaling $223,377.  Boutin had 312 donations totaling $70,876 from individuals and 387 donations totaling $151,908 from corporations and PACs.

If my math is correct that means that 55% of his campaign funding came from “special interests,” funding more than two-thirds of his entire campaign. So it seems funny that Boutin would attempt to attack Cavanaugh for campaign donations, when the overwhelming majority of his campaign cash came from special interests.

The irony comes as Boutin is encouraging people to “vote by mail,” as the Republicans have continually voted down measures to allow more people to vote by mail.  New Hampshire does not officially have “vote by mail” like Oregon but voters can always vote by absentee ballot, provided they provide an viable excuse for not being able to vote in person, which would allow them to mail in their ballot.

The absentee ballot process is somewhat restrictive as there are only certain “excuses” that can be offered to obtain an absentee ballot. NHPR explains:

Under the state’s current absentee voting law, those reasons include being out of town on the day of the election, or being prevented from getting to the polls because of a disability, a religious commitment or work.

Over the last few years there has been an effort to eliminate the excuses for absentee ballots and try to move New Hampshire to a vote by mail state.  All of those efforts have failed.

However as NHPR reports this new push by Boutin to encourage absentee ballots may indicate that the NH GOP is ready to support expanding voting by mail.

The NHGOP, New Hampshire Democratic Party and the Cavanaugh campaign all said they support a move toward “no-excuse” absentee voting, which is an option in more than two dozen other states.

The Boutin campaign didn’t immediately respond to a follow-up question about his stance on the issue.

On his campaign website, Cavanaugh lists as one of his priorities, “ensuring access to the ballot box.”

“Kevin believes that all eligible voters should have full access to the ballot box and that New Hampshire must pass modern, common-sense voting laws that have been implemented and successful in a majority of other states.”

Cavanaugh wants to implement “no-excuse” absentee ballots, in-person early voting, and online voter registration.

Since winning the Democratic Primary, Cavanaugh has garnered some strong support from the local community, labor organizations, and elected officials. (Click here for a full list of endorsements.)

“We need leaders like Kevin Cavanaugh with fresh, new ideas who are focused on fighting the opioid crisis, supporting our schools, growing our small businesses and being a champion for working families,” said Senator Jeanne Shaheen, who helped Cavanaugh kick off his campaign over the weekend.

“I’m excited to announce my support for Kevin Cavanaugh for state Senate,” said Senator Maggie Hassan in her endorsement yesterday. “As a former state Senator and Governor, I know how crucial Kevin’s voice will be to standing up for Granite Staters and fighting for equal opportunity for families, workers, and students.”

“Throughout his career as a union worker, Kevin has shown that he understands the importance of protecting workers’ rights across the state. And as a Little League coach and father of three, he knows how critical it is that we support educational opportunities for all of our people. When Kevin sees a problem, he dives right in, and that’s exactly the kind of hands-on leadership we need in Concord,” added Hassan.

“Kevin Cavanaugh is clear in his commitment to advocate for the interests of New Hampshire’s working families. Whether it be providing affordable health care, ensuring equal pay for equal work, or maintaining NH’s commitment to providing and funding quality public education available to all, Kevin Cavanaugh will always prioritize the interests of ordinary New Hampshire citizens. AFT-NH shares that commitment with Kevin Cavanaugh, and we are proud to add our name to those who endorse and support his election to the NH Senate,” said AFT-NH President Doug Ley in their endorsement last week.

Tax Giveaways For The Wealthy, While Kids Get Funding For Education Through KENO

This is why we cannot have nice things.  

Our screwed up system of state and local taxes creates many problems for state legislators when crafting our bi-annual state budget.  Our current system means we have to rely on the “sin taxes” aka booze and smokes.  Now they are basing funding for kindergarten on Keno sales.

Thats right. Instead of funding full day kindergarten as both Governor Sununu and Executive Councilor Colin Van Ostern campaigned on, Republicans have agreed to partially fund full day kindergarten with revenue from a new Keno lottery game.  We are basing funding for the education of our children on Keno.

The Concord Monitor reports:

The amendment approved by a committee of conference would provide an additional $1,100 per full-day kindergarten student and would legalize the online lottery game keno to help pay for it. The plan also guarantees the funding even if keno revenues aren’t enough to cover the grants.”

The $1,100 additional adequacy grant does not cover the costs of full day kindergarten as the Union Leader explains.

The state currently offers school districts a grant of $1,800 per student for kindergarten enrollment. That’s half the so-called “adequacy grant” of $3,600 for students in grades 1-12, assuming half-day kindergarten programs.

Throughout the budget process Republicans have been saying we cannot afford to cover our proposed expenses and pay for full day kindergarten, but there is plenty of money to drop the Business Profits Tax.

Jeff Woodburn the Democratic Minority Leader in the NH Senate said:

Senate Democrats have been leading on Kindergarten for years, and we are glad Governor Sununu has at least attempted to follow our example. But, today’s failure to support full-day kindergarten like any other grade while giving even more tax cuts for the wealthy elite is a major disappointment and once again demonstrates Governor Sununu’s failure to lead. The fact that Governor Sununu could not get the Republican House to compromise raises real questions about the Governor’s commitment to full-day kindergarten and shows, once again, his commitment to partisan politics.”

“Just like his broken campaign promises to lead on reducing tuition at our colleges and universities and on family and medical leave insurance, this kindergarten shell game demonstrates Governor Sununu’s desire to put partisan politics ahead of meaningful progress for everyday Granite Staters.”

It is very clear that Republicans in the Legislature do not care about working people and children as they refuse to make full day kindergarten mandatory and fail to fully fund full day kindergarten.  They are more than willing to slash taxes on “business owners” at the expense of the needs and priorities of the state.

I do not want to hear any Republican say that we cannot afford  to fix our crumbling roads and bridges, fully fund full day kindergarten, invest in repairs for local schools, or that we cannot afford to expand rail service into NH until they replace the tax giveaways in this budget.

NH Building and Construction Trades Council Endorses Kevin Cavanaugh

Concord, NH – Today, the New Hampshire Building and Construction Trades Council endorsed Kevin Cavanaugh in the Democratic primary for the upcoming District 16 special election. District 16 includes Bow, Candia, Dunbarton, Hooksett, and Manchester Wards 1, 2, and 12.

“We’re excited to support Kevin Cavanaugh in Tuesday’s Democratic primary. He knows how to get things done and has always looked out for every day people who are working to earn a living and raise their family here in New Hampshire. He has a proven record of common sense solutions that would be an asset in the Senate,” said Steve Burke, President of the NH Building and Construction Trades Council.

“It’s an honor to have the support of the Building and Construction Trades Council. I’ve spent years advocating for families who are one injury or sickness away from financial devastation and I want to make sure we have protections in place that support hard working Granite Staters,” said Kevin Cavanaugh.

The New Hampshire Building and Construction Trades Council Represents more than 2,500 New Hampshire workers.

Kevin Cavanaugh has also been endorsed by six other organizations representing local educators, fire fighters, and law enforcement, as well 34 area leaders (full list). The primary election will be held on Tuesday, June 6th.

About Kevin Cavanaugh

Kevin was born and raised in Manchester and has spent the past 32 years as a blue collar worker. He has coached High School Football at Memorial and West as well as multiple youth hockey, soccer, baseball, and softball teams. Kevin was first elected to the Board of Alderman in 2015. He lives in Manchester Ward 1 with his wife and three children who are all in the New Hampshire public school system.

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