Expanded Gaming Helps All Of NH Cities And Towns (SB 366 Testimony by Laura Hainey, President of AFT-NH)

roulette wheel casino

aft sqaureI am here today in support of SB 366. AFT-NH is affiliated with NH AFL-CIO and we stand in support of our union brothers and sisters for whom this bill will create thousands of badly needed New Hampshire jobs.

We know that expanded gaming will:

  • create thousands of construction jobs,
  • create even more good jobs to  operate the facilities,
  • bring in hundreds of millions of dollars in non-tax state revenue,
  • boost economic development by hundreds of millions of dollars as well.

We also know that this bill:

  • Is a responsible NH solution for expanded gaming, and includes robust regulations crafted by the bipartisan Gaming Regulatory Oversight Authority..
  • Protects the New Hampshire charities who depend on charitable gaming.
  • Provides that the gaming commission may not delegate its rulemaking authority to any other person.
  • Prohibits the use of credit, debit or ATM cards at a slot machine or table game.
  • The gaming commission must enforce the prohibition on the use of EBT cards for gambling.

But the same could be said about previous casino bills that failed to pass the House. SB 366 is different because it includes a new provision to guarantee revenue, and to make sure every community in New Hampshire sees the benefits. SB366 uses casino revenue to reinstate revenue sharing for cities and towns, to the tune of $50 million per biennium.  Revenue sharing means much needed funding for cities and towns across the state. City and town officials who struggle to adequately fund schools, roads, public safety, and other basic services will be pleased to know this bill will directly help their communities.

For example, in my hometown of Rochester, the Rochester School Department has to cut $2.8 million from their budget, with significant cuts will be made to personnel. With SB 366 revenue sharing the city of Rochester would receive $530,950 to help stop layoffs.

In the city of Nashua over the past several years the school department has eliminated 83 positions and has only been able to restore a few of these positions. They are planning to cut another 12 positions in the coming year. These cuts in services will be very difficult decisions, but there is no doubt they will directly impact students in the Nashua school system.. With SB 366 revenue sharing the city of Nashua would receive a little over $2.4 million. Just imagine the benefit the citizens of Nashua would realize with that revenue.

In fact, every single city and town in our state would receive substantial revenue sharing under SB 366. Just imagine the cuts in services and layoffs your community could avoid if we pass this bill..

In Closing, I ask that you support SB 366 and recommend Ought To Pass.

Laura Hainey,
President of AFT-NH

3-31-14 AFT-NH Legislative Update: Smarter Balance Testing and A ‘Thank You’ To Legislators

AFT NH Legislative Update

Now that crossover has come and gone both chambers will start working on each other’s bills.  Both chambers have till May 15th to act on these bills.

I would like to thank all the representatives that supported us on the following bills:

AFT-NH supported the recommendation of Ought To Pass as amended on HB 1494-FN, relative to administration of the New Hampshire retirement system and authority of the board of trustees. The amended version ensures this is just a housekeeping bill that establishes a procedure for the determination of the costs of purchase of service credits, clarifies the ability to earn service credit while on a salary continuance plan, changes the date for the approval of the comprehensive annual financial report (CAFR), adds a penalty for employers who fail to timely remit data on compensation paid to retired members, and repeals obsolete provisions.

AFT-NH was also in support of the Inexpedient To Legislate on HB 1228, establishing a commission to investigate the procedure for public employee collective bargaining. There have been many committees/commissions that have studied this issue and too often, it only seems to open the door for destructive legislation.  Rather than risk opening a Pandora’s Box with a study commission, let’s prepare specific legislation to remedy some of the problems already identified in previous study committees.

We are disappointed that the following bills were defeated: 

HB 1105-FN-L, relative to aid to school districts for costs of special education. AFT-NH supported this bill because it would have lifted the current cap of 72% on catastrophic special education funds and fully funded it. With this cap of 72% the state has downshifted roughly $8 million to communities. Catastrophic aid is a state fund that helps local district with exorbitant special education costs for our severely disabled children.

HB 1114: which sought to establish a minimum state expenditure for school building aid of $50,000,000 per fiscal year. This bill would have put a floor to building aid not a cap. For the past six years many district have not been able to afford completing upgrades, repairs or build new buildings because of the cost. Keep in mind, 50% of our school buildings are over 60 years old and many need infrastructure upgrades necessary for a 21st century learning environment.

Common Core and The Smarter Balance State Assessment

There were several bills voted on in the House that were related to the Common Core and the Smarter Balance state assessment. Knowing that both of these will be moving forward in New Hampshire we need to ensure that all schools have the following in place:

  • There needs to be planning time for understanding the Standards and time to put them into practice.
  • We need opportunities to observe colleagues implementing Standards in class.
  • We must provide teachers with model lesson plans aligned to Standards,
  • Ensure textbooks/other curricula materials align with Standards,
  • Communicate with parents on the Standards and the expectations of students, AND
  • Develop best practices and strategies along with coaching to help teachers teach content more deeply.
  • We need to ensure all districts have the equipment and bandwidth to administer computer-based assessments, AND
  • Make sure we have fully developed curricula aligned to Standards and available to teachers.
  • Assessments need to be aligned to Standards indicating mastery of concepts,
  • Professional development and training in the Standards needs to be offered, AND
  • We need to develop tools to track individual student progress on key Standards.
  • We need to make sure the assessments inform teaching, not impede teaching and learning.
  • Assessments need to support teaching and learning, and must align with curriculum rather than narrow it.
  • Assessments should be focused on measuring growth and continuous development of students instead of arbitrary targets unconnected to how students learn.
  • Assessments should be diverse, authentic, test for multiple indicators of student performance and provide information leading to appropriate interventions that help students, teachers and schools improve, not sanctions that undermine them.
  • The development and implementation of assessments must be age appropriate for the students, and teachers need to have appropriate computers to administer such assessments.
  • These assessments 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.

If you have any questions or concerns please email me at lhainey@aft-nh.org.

Thank you!
In Solidarity,
Laura Hainey

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UPCOMING COMMITTEE HEARINGS

TUESDAY, APRIL 1

Senate FINANCE, Room 103, SH
1:00 p.m. HB 1146, establishing a committee to study the feasibility of funding a kindergarten
to college/career ready program and a universal college savings account.
1:30 p.m. HB 1489-FN-A-L, establishing a committee to study the establishment of a fund to
reimburse costs associated with firefighters who have cancer.
Executive Session May Follow

Senate JUDICIARY, Room 100, SH
10:30 a.m. HB 1435, requiring law enforcement officials to disclose specific information relating
to a police checkpoint.

House EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENTS AND ADMINISTRATION, Room 306
10:30 a.m. SB 395-FN, relative to the retirement classification of the Director of the Division
of Forests and Lands.
11:30 a.m. SB 418, relative to the proclamation of firefighters memorial day.

House MUNICIPAL AND COUNTY GOVERNMENT, Room 301, LOB
11:30 a.m. SB 236, relative to delivery of the final budget and recommendation of the municipal
budget committee to the governing body.

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 2

Senate EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENTS AND ADMINISTRATION, Room 100, SH
9:30 a.m. HB 1152-FN, terminating the benefit program for call, substitute or volunteer firemen
administered by the New Hampshire retirement system.
10:00 a.m. HB 1398-FN, allowing the retirement system to make payments in lieu of payments
to estates in certain instances.
10:30 a.m. HB 1617-FN, permitting the retirement system to access death, marriage, and
divorce records of the division of vital records administration for the administration of
RSA 100-A.
Executive Session May Follow

House ELECTION LAW, Room 308, LOB
10:00 a.m. SB 120-FN, relative to political contributions and expenditures and relative to
reporting by political committees.

House LABOR, INDUSTRIAL AND REHABILITATIVE SERVICES, Room 307, LOB
1:30 p.m. SB 295, prohibiting an employer from using credit history in employment decisions.

THURSDAY, APRIL 3

Senate HEALTH, EDUCATION AND HUMAN SERVICES, Room 103, LOB
9:00 a.m. HB 1488-FN, establishing the New Hampshire program on educational support for
military children.
9:20 a.m. HB 1587-FN-L, relative to the collection and disclosure of student data.
Executive Session May Follow

House FINANCE, Rooms 210-211, LOB
11:15 a.m. SB 339-FN, relative to instituting a credit card affinity program in which fees
received are directed to offset the retirement system’s unfunded liability.

House FINANCE – (DIVISION I), Room 212, LOB
1:30 p.m. Work session on SB 339-FN, relative to instituting a credit card affinity program in
which fees received are directed to offset the retirement system’s unfunded liability.

TUESDAY, APRIL 8

House EDUCATION, Room 207, LOB
11:00 a.m. SB 335-FN, (New Title) establishing a commission to study career and technical
education centers.

LABOR, INDUSTRIAL AND REHABILITATIVE SERVICES, Room 307, LOB
10:15 a.m. SB 207-FN, relative to paycheck equity.

12:30 p.m. LOB 305-307: All legislators are invited to a showing of the acclaimed documentary “Inequality for All” which features Robert Reich, economics professor, best-selling author, and former U.S. Secretary of Labor, as he demonstrates how the widening income gap is having a devastating impact on the American economy. The film is described as “a passionate argument on behalf of the middle class.” The showing is open to all. This event is part of the film’s “50 State Capitals Tour” this winter and spring, designed especially for Legislators and policy-makers.

THURSDAY, APRIL 10

Senate JUDICIARY, Room 100, SH
9:00 a.m. HB 1624-FN, modernizing the juvenile justice system to ensure rehabilitation of
juveniles and preservation of juvenile rights.
Executive Session May Follow

House EDUCATION, Room 207, LOB
10:00 a.m. SB 343, relative to the duties of the statewide education improvement and
assessment program legislative oversight committee and repealing the school
administrative unit legislative oversight committee.
11:00 a.m. SB 350, relative to the transfer of adequacy aid calculation data from the
Department of Education to the Department of Revenue Administration.
1:15 p.m. SB 348, establishing a commission to study sexual abuse prevention education in
elementary and secondary schools.

TUESDAY, APRIL 15

House EDUCATION, Room 207, LOB
10:00 a.m. SB 355, relative to access to social media by educational institutions.
11:00 a.m. SB 414-FN, relative to Medicaid-funded services provided as a part of a child’s
individualized education program.

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 16

12:30 p.m. 62 North Main Street:  Big Money and Politics – New Hampshire is the highest per-capita recipient of outside special-interest money. Learn about the efforts to address this issue at the state level, understand the federal landscape and what you can do about it. This presentation, including a panel discussion led by the Coalition for Open Democracy and Americans for Campaign Reform, is part of New England College’s education series to take place at the college’s new Concord facility. Walk south on North Main, Located on the clock tower side, near the Norway Bank, three-minutes from the steps of the State House.

THURSDAY, APRIL 17

10:00 a.m. Senate in Session

MONDAY, APRIL 21

CHARTER SCHOOLS AND OPEN ENROLLMENT LEGISLATIVE OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE (RSA 194-B:21), Room 100, State House
11:30 a.m. Regular meeting. Presentation by Paul Leather, Deputy Commission Department of Education on HB 435.

NH Senate Moves Forward With A ‘Study Committee’ Instead Of Constitutional Amendment To Overturn Citizens United

Public Citizen Logo

New Hampshire State Senate Moves Forward Hollow Bill, Legislature Needs to Call for a Constitutional Amendment to Overturn Citizens United

Public Citizen Logo
Statement of Jonah Minkoff-Zern, Senior Organizer, Public Citizen’s Democracy Is For People Campaign

Today the New Hampshire state Senate defeated proposed language calling for a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United and get corporate money out of politics. Instead they moved forward a hollow bill, SB 307, creating a committee to examine the impact of the Citizens United ruling and make recommendations to the New Hampshire congressional delegation.

New Hampshire residents made it crystal clear that they want to free elections from corporate influence and mega-donors when they overwhelmingly passed warrants at 48 town meetings calling for the state Legislature to support a constitutional amendment to overturn the 2010 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. This ruling gave corporations the green light to spend unlimited amounts of money to influence elections, drowning out the voices of everyday Americans.

The amended language was voted down 12 to 12 by a near party-line vote, with all Democrats voting in favor and all but one Republican – Senator Russell Prescott – voting against.

Thirty-six of the 48 towns that voted to pass a resolution were in Senate Republican districts, showing bipartisan support for a constitutional amendment. Polls have also shown that the call to overturn Citizens United is popular among a wide swath of New Hampshire residents, no matter their political party. According to a University of New Hampshire Survey Center Granite State Poll (PDF), 72 percent of New Hampshire residents oppose the Citizens United ruling (81% Democrats, 70% Independents, 64% Republicans) and 69 percent of New Hampshire residents support a constitutional amendment that limits campaign contributions and spending (75% Democrats, 73% Independents, 61% Republicans). This shows the Republican Senators are out of step with their constituents on this issue.

The bill that was passed today now moves to the New Hampshire House of Representatives for a vote. The House has the opportunity to amend the bill to include the statement that the New Hampshire Legislature recognizes the need for a constitutional amendment – essentially the backbone of the bill. If the House passes a version of this bill including that powerful statement, the bill would then move back to a conference committee.

It is important that the House listens to the overwhelming majority of New Hampshire residents and pass a version of the bill that includes language calling for a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United, which would set New Hampshire on the path to becoming the 17th state to calling for an amendment to stop the flood of money from corporations and the ultra-wealthy into our elections.

For more information about the efforts to pass a constitutional amendment in New Hampshire visit www.nh4democracy.org.

NH Senate Vote On Mentally Ill And Guns Could Put Public Safety At Risk

Gun

NH Senate Votes to Loosen Public Safety Laws, Advance Dangerous Annulment Process to Restore Gun Rights to Mentally Ill

CONCORD, NH – The entire Senate Republican caucus and four Senate Democrats voted today to erode the quality of SB 244’s original relief from disabilities (RFD) program to restore gun rights for people whose mental health treatment has ended—the appropriate formula—and replace the bill with a dangerous and untested “annulment” process that doesn’t take into account mental health history. The 17-7 vote means the bill moves to the House.

Statement from Granite State Progress Executive Director Zandra Rice Hawkins:

“SB 244’s original goal was to report the names of those who are prohibited purchasers of firearms due to mental health to be reported to the NICS background check system, and to establish a relief from disabilities program for people whose mental health treatment has ended so that they can restore their gun rights. Granite State Progress supported these original goals, but the gun lobby amended version of SB 244 jeopardizes public safety.”

“The annulment process that passed the Senate diminishes the state’s ability to determine when a person should get relief, and does not provide judges with appropriate evidence to consider when making these determinations. Unlike the original bill, the amendment does not require any consideration of the person’s mental health history, the person’s reputation as developed through character evidence or character witnesses, and changes in the person’s condition. No documentation is required regarding documentation of the commitment or treatment resolution, nor does it require releases allowing mental health providers to provide opinions about the person’s dangerousness and suitability to possess firearms.”

“SB 244 will likely not meet federal standards for a relief from disabilities program, meaning the State of New Hampshire cannot apply for federal funding to help implement a process to submit mental health records. The striking irony is that SB 244 originally set out to make sure New Hampshire was submitting mental health records to the background checks system, and instead this gun lobby amendment narrowed the bill to only how to remove records we aren’t even adequately reporting. We are beyond disappointed that Senate Republicans, aided by four Senate Democrats, chose to undermine public safety and establish an untested and unstable annulment process that could put guns back in the hands of those who should not have them. Following tragedies such as Newtown and Virginia Tech, we expect more.”

“On a better note, the Senate rejected a skewed study commission that focused solely on how to keep records out of the background checks system. That commission membership was heavily tilted towards gun groups and sought to undermine the current background checks system.”

More background:

SB 244’s annulment process doesn’t meet best practices and jeopardizes federal funding opportunities should New Hampshire start to report mental health records in the future.

The ATF form, wherein states apply for their Relief from Disability programs to be certified in order to receive federal funding, makes it clear that the state program must “receive evidence concerning and [must] consider…the circumstances regarding the [prohibition]; applicant’s record, which must include, at a minimum, the applicant’s mental health and criminal history records; and applicant’s reputation, developed, at a minimum, through character witness statements, testimony, or other character evidence.” The amendment’s process doesn’t require mental health records be submitted, doesn’t require any character evidence, and doesn’t require consideration of the circumstances surrounding prohibition.

Even red states that pass these laws require that mental health professionals weigh in: South Carolina passed a law last year that requires: 1) examination of the circumstances surrounding the prohibition, 2) the petitioner’s mental health and criminal history records, 3) character evidence, and 4) a current evaluation by either the state Department of Health or a licensed physician addressing whether the petitioner poses a threat to self or others.

The amended version also lowers the judicial standard for restoring rights, making it more likely that people who are still dangerous will have their rights restored and be able to buy guns. Under the original bill, the petitioner had to show “by a preponderance” that he is not dangerous. Under the amendment, the other side has to show “by clear and convincing evidence” (a higher standard) that he is dangerous, and that the “danger” would have to be “potentially serious.”

Governor Hassan Signs Bipartisan Health Care Expansion Legislation into Law

2014-03-27 medicaid expansion

Compromise Measure Accepts Federal Funds to Expand Health Care Access to 50,000 Granite Staters

2014-03-27 medicaid expansionCONCORD – Enacting the most significant measure in decades to strengthen the health of New Hampshire’s families and communities, Governor Maggie Hassan has signed into law SB 413, bipartisan legislation that accepts federal funds to expand access to health coverage to 50,000 Granite Staters.

“Our bipartisan health care expansion plan is a historic step forward for the health and financial well-being of Granite State families, businesses and communities,” Governor Hassan said. “It is a fiscally responsible, uniquely New Hampshire solution that will inject $2.5 billion in federal funds into our state’s economy and improve the lives of 50,000 hard-working people who deserve the security of health insurance.

“By reaching bipartisan consensus to expand health coverage, we have demonstrated again that, in New Hampshire, we are able to work across party lines to solve problems and make progress for our people and our economy,” Governor Hassan said.

The bipartisan plan will use federal Medicaid funds available through the Affordable Care Act to help New Hampshire citizens at or under 133 percent of the federal poverty level – around $16,000 for an individual – access health insurance. The plan will help reduce levels of uncompensated care at hospital emergency rooms, encourage primary and preventive care, and provide coverage for substance abuse and mental health treatment.

Under the health care expansion plan, if a qualifying individual has access to private coverage through an employer, he or she will be able to enroll in the employer-based coverage through the state’s Health Insurance Premium Payment (HIPP) program, which will pay for the individual’s premium and cost-sharing. For other eligible individuals, coverage will be available through a private managed care company beginning as soon as July 1, 2014.

Beginning in 2016, the plan moves the newly eligible individuals who are not participating in HIPP onto the state’s federally facilitated health insurance marketplace to purchase private coverage through a new premium assistance program funded by the federal government. Elements of the plan are subject to the state securing federal waivers from the Center for Medicaid and Medicare Services.

“Helping low-income workers purchase private coverage through the health insurance marketplace will support our efforts to attract competition in order to improve affordability and increase choices for coverage for all New Hampshire citizens,” Governor Hassan said.

“I want to thank Senate President Morse, Speaker Norelli and all of the legislators from both parties who worked together to pass this legislation,” Governor Hassan said. “Our continued collaboration is essential throughout the federal-waiver and implementation process. We must continue to put ideology aside and focus on our common purpose and common vision in order to maximize the benefits of health care expansion for our people and our economy.”

“I’m so proud of our state legislators for working across the aisle to expand health coverage for some of our most vulnerable Granite Staters,” said Congresswoman Annie Kuster.  ”This bill will help ensure that another 50,000 Granite Staters will now have access to the health care services they need. I look forward to working on the federal level to help the state implement this expansion, which will improve our state’s overall economy by creating jobs, reducing uncompensated care at hospitals, and alleviating the cost burden on small businesses.”

“I want to congratulate Governor Hassan, President Morse, Senator Larsen, Speaker Norelli, and all those involved in this historic accomplishment,” said Senator Jeanne Shahhen.  ”The legislation Governor Hassan signed into law this afternoon showcases just how much we can accomplish when we work together on behalf of the people of New Hampshire.  This bipartisan plan is not only great for our economy but for a countless number of people across our state, including the approximately 50,000 people who now stand to receive health care, and I remain committed to doing everything I can to assist New Hampshire implement this plan.”

New Hampshire House Passes Bill to Protect Consumers From Destructive Utility Transactions

Telecom workers applaud legislative action

photo by National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) via Wikimedia CommonsConcord, NH—By a voice vote, the New Hampshire House of Representatives today passed HB 1314, which will work to ensure better oversight of large telecommunications utility mergers and acquisitions. The bill, introduced by Rep. Linda DiSilvestro (D-Manchester), would create a legislative committee to study the process by which the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) reviews large telecommunications utility transactions on behalf of consumers. The bill came about as a direct response to the 2007 merger between Verizon and FairPoint Communications. 

When FairPoint took over Verizon’s landline operations, consumers suffered,” said Glenn Brackett, Business Manager of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 2320, which represents approximately 700 telecom workers at FairPoint Communications across the state. “Calls were dropped, services were unavailable, and wait times were very lengthy. If this bill were in place then, the PUC could have done its due diligence, seen that FairPoint was unprepared for this merger, and stopped the sale.”

Many other states, including Maine, Massachusetts, and Vermont, currently require the PUC to find that public utility mergers or sales are in the public interest before they can proceed. HB 1314 would bring New Hampshire in line with its neighbors.

“We believe the hedge funds that control FairPoint are looking to flip it to other Wall Street investors,” Brackett added. “New Hampshire’s communities need a public interest standard to protect consumers from the next big merger.

HB 1314 now goes to the Senate for approval, followed by signature or veto by the governor. If signed into law, the study committee – made up of five members of the New Hampshire legislature – would meet in June to study the introduction of a public interest finding, with a report due in November.

For more information, visit www.fairnessatfairpoint.com.

 

NH House Approves Bill to Extend Health Insurance to More than 50,000 Granite Staters

NH Senate Medicaid Vote 6-6-13 Inzane Times

NH Senate Medicaid Vote 6-6-13 Inzane TimesCONCORD, NH – In a show of bipartisan support, the House of Representatives today approved SB 413 by a vote of 202 to 132, enabling New Hampshire to accept federal funds to provide affordable health insurance to more than 50,000 low-income Granite Staters.

“Today is a great day for thousands of New Hampshire residents who will now, for the very first time, have access to affordable health care,” said Deb Fournier, policy analyst for the New Hampshire Fiscal Policy Institute.

“Members of the House and Senate should be commended for their steadfast dedication and commitment to reaching a solution that works for everyone,” said Fournier. “By enabling the state to accept these federal funds, Legislators have made a fiscally responsible decision that will save millions in state budget costs and pave the way for millions of federal dollars to enter the state economy and benefit communities across the state.”

SB 413 is a bipartisan compromise which utilizes federal Medicaid funds to support a program of privately-delivered health insurance for low-income individuals. The compromise is the result of months of discussion and debate regarding how best to design a program that solves a critical health policy issue for New Hampshire.

SB 413 creates a three-stage Health Protection Program to extend affordable health insurance to low-income Granite Staters: the Health Insurance Premium Program, the Bridge to Marketplace Premium Assistance Program, and the Marketplace Premium Assistance Program. Federal funding will cover 100 percent of the costs associated with the Health Protection Program, which will be repealed at the end of 2016 unless future legislatures vote to extend it.

For more information, see the NHFPI Health Protection Program fact sheet.

 

Sen. Clark’s proposed constitutional amendment on the use of dedicated funds passes Senate

NH House

(Concord, NH) Last week, the New Hampshire Senate passed CACR 19, a constitutional amendment proposed by Sen. Martha Fuller Clark that would require that dedicated funds “shall be used only for the special program for which such fees or assessments were imposed.”

Dedicating funds is a popular way to offer stable, long-term support to important and popular programs. From highway funds to domestic violence prevention, the legislature has created approximately 300 such funds over the years to provide consistent funding to our priorities.

Just as often, however, the legislature has found these funds irresistible when the need to plug gaps in biannual budgets arises, as it inevitably does. This constitutional amendment, if passed by the House and by the citizens on Election Day, would not make that impossible – it would simply require a two-thirds majority of both the House and the Senate to pass.

“I believe it is important that there should be truth in government. If we want to gain the trust of the public we should keep our word and not take money from our citizens that has been dedicated for one particular purpose through funds and fees and use it for another,” Sen. Clark said. “Perhaps the most egregious example is when, in 2011, the legislature took millions of dollars from a fund created to provide scholarships for students in our state and used it to replace the state’s obligation to fund operating dollars for our university system. Putting this issue before the public with a Constitutional amendment will allow us to see if they agree.”

Having passed the Senate with a vote of 21-2, CACR 19 now goes to the House for consideration. If it passes the House, it will go before the voters on the ballot for the November 4th general election. Support of two-thirds of the voters is required to make this measure a part of the New Hampshire Constitution.

Much Rejoicing As NH Senate Unanimously Passes Paycheck Fairness Bill

sylvia larsen

“This definitive, bipartisan action by the full Senate affirms that both Republicans and Democrats agree we must act to close the wage gap in New Hampshire,” said Senate Democratic Leader Sylvia Larsen.

Senate Bill 207 has been cited by Senate and House Democrats as a top priority for the 2014 legislative session. All Senate Democrats have sponsored the legislation with House Speaker Terie Norelli serving as the leading House sponsor along with co-sponsors Rep. Shannon Chandley (D-Amherst), Rep. MaryAnn Knowles (D-Hudson), and Rep. Marjorie Porter (D-Hillsboro).

sylvia larsen

Senator Sylvia Larsen

“The New Hampshire Paycheck Fairness Act will give the more than 60% of women working in today’s economy, as the primary or co-breadwinners for their families, the much needed tools they need to combat the wage gap,” stated Larsen.

“It’s distressing that, in the year 2014, women in New Hampshire, who are working full-time jobs, still earn only 77 cents on the dollar compared to men. National studies have found that a pay gap exists between men and women in nearly every occupation. However, with this bipartisan, unanimous vote, we are sending a crystal clear message that the Legislature is on the side of all workers guaranteeing fair and equal paycheck, without fear of retaliation.”

Senator Larsen concluded her statement by saying, “I look forward to a quick House action, so New Hampshire can renew our commitment to the fundamental principle of, an equal day’s work deserves an equal day’s pay.”

“Today’s unanimous Senate vote to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act is an overwhelming, bipartisan affirmation of the principle that an equal day’s work deserves an equal day’s pay,” stated Governor Maggie Hassan. “This common-sense measure to help eliminate the pay gap between women and men will strengthen our economy and the financial security of working families across our state. I applaud the Senate for today’s bipartisan vote and encourage the House to pass this critical legislation in order to help all of New Hampshire’s workers earn a fair and equal paycheck.”

“We commend members of the Senate for voting unanimously to remove a remaining barrier to pay equity in New Hampshire,” stated Mark MacKenzie, President of the NH AFL-CIO. “Passing SB207 was the right thing to do for fairness and equality, and the right thing to do for the majority of Granite State working families who depend on women’s earnings to get by.”

“We commend the Senate’s unanimous adoption of the New Hampshire Paycheck Fairness Act,” stated Zandra Rice-Hawkins, Executive Director of Granite State Progress. “This law would give employees the tools they need to challenge wage gaps. Data shows that New Hampshire women make 77 cents for every dollar a man earns. Coupled with the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act already in law, these two acts can help to create a climate where wage discrimination is no longer tolerated.”

Along with the Democratic leadership in the House and Senate, community groups helped push legislators to pass this Paycheck Fairness bill.  Below are statements from some of the other organizations celebrating today’s vote.

Kary Jencks, Executive Director, NH Citizens Alliance for Action: “The Senate recognized today that ensuring equal pay for equal work is important to protecting New Hampshire working families.  A woman’s earnings, whether she is married or not, are crucial to family support. Closing the wage gap is the right action for New Hampshire to take for the economic security of Granite Staters.”

Devon Chaffee, Executive Director of the New Hampshire Civil Liberties Union: “We applaud the Senate’s bipartisan approval of the New Hampshire Paycheck Fairness Act. In approving this critical legislation, the Senate has taken an important step towards eliminating unfair gender paycheck inequities in the state of New Hampshire.”

Dawn Andonellis, Public Policy Chair for the American Association of University Women (AAUW) of New Hampshire: “We applaud the New Hampshire State Senate for passing the Paycheck Fairness Act in a bipartisan fashion and for taking this important step toward closing the wage gap and ending gender discrimination in the workplace. Moving this bill forward would give the women of New Hampshire a reason to actually celebrate Equal Pay Day on April 8. Finally, women are closer to achieving equal pay for equal work.”

Mary Jo Brown, Chair of the New Hampshire Women’s Initiative: “The New Hampshire Women’s Initiative applauds the Senate’s unanimous adoption of SB 207. SB 207 is a great step toward reducing the wage gap and promoting pay equity for all Granite Staters. The bill, which includes provisions towards paycheck transparency, honors NHWI’s agenda and findings from our 2013 statewide listening sessions with NH citizens. We are proud to thank Senator Larsen and her cosponsors for the bipartisan support of the bill. We are excited that the Senate has passed this important piece of legislation and look forward to working with the House.”

Fatima Goss Graves, Vice President for Education and Employment at the National Women’s Law Center: “This bipartisan vote reflects the simple fact that giving women tools to combat pay discrimination and close the wage gap is a common sense solution that everyone should be able to get behind.”

The NH Senate was realistically the only hurdle this bill faced in getting passed in New Hampshire.  The GOP controlled Senate was the only truly unknown in this bills likelihood of passing.  The bill will now moved to the Democrat controlled house, where I should pass with ease.  I expect the Governor could be signing this bill before May first.

 

Senate Passes D’Allesandro Bill to Help Critically Injured First Responders

N.H. Senator Lou D'Allesandro 
Image from Canadian Consulate

Bill Adds New Protections for Police, Firefighters, Other First Responders

N.H. Senator Lou D'Allesandro  Image from Canadian Consulate

N.H. Senator Lou D’Allesandro
Image from Canadian Consulate

Concord – Today the Senate passed SB 204, a bill that extends compensation benefits for critically injured first responders for conditions not currently covered by worker’s compensation.

“This is about Officer Doherty and all of the brave men and women like him who put their lives on the line for us every day in our communities,” said Senator D’Allesandro.  “I believe that our police, our firefighters, and all of our first responders deserve to know that these kinds of life-changing injuries will not be ignored, and that we will stand by them to help them if they are critically injured.”

The bill was introduced by Manchester Senator Lou D’Allesandro based on his experience advocating on behalf of Manchester Police Officer Daniel Doherty who was critically injured in the line of duty after being shot 6 times.  During his recovery, Officer Doherty discovered that wounds to limbs can be covered under worker’s compensation, but many internal injuries that can profoundly alter a person’s quality of life and ability to work are not covered.

Senator Andrew Hosmer, a member of the committee that worked on a bipartisan amendment to the bill, added: “This bill helps to close a hole in our worker’s compensation system.  It shouldn’t matter whether an injury is to a limb or an internal organ.  What matters is that when we ask our first responders to do dangerous work to protect our communities, they should know that if they are critically injured they will have the support and help they deserve.  I commend Senator D’Allesandro for leading this effort to take a big step in the right direction for our first responders.”