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Mark Dobbins: “Dear Becky”

Singer and Songwriter Beyonce

Dear Becky:

I’ll wait while you put down your yoga mat.

You voted for Trump. After these past few weeks, I really have to ask, “What the hell were you thinking?” Seriously, Trump? The shouting guy on the TV?

I know, you were so concerned about those email servers. Do you even know what an email server looks like? And Benghazi! Find Benghazi on a map unassisted and I’ll eat a bug.

You overlooked the fact that he broke two marriage vows but somehow think he’ll keep his oath of office.

You overlooked his addiction to tweeting – and tweeting – and tweeting.

You overlooked a lot that would have set your hair on fire had President Obama done the same.

And because of you, every thinking person in this country is freaking out. But not you.

Because you are safe behind your yoga mat of white privilege.

You didn’t join the millions of people who crammed our streets to protest. Because you were busy. Because Emma had a lesson. Because Noah had a game. Because you had to get the oil changed on your SUV. Because you were busy being white. Because it doesn’t affect you – and it never has.

By now you’re sputtering, “But I have black friends,” “I’m not racist,” and my personal favorite, “I’m not privileged.”

Yes, you are. You’re privileged, and probably racist too. Most white people are and don’t even know it – or do, and don’t care.

Here’s a simple way I use to test white privilege. Can you go an entire day without interacting with a person of color if you tried? I’m betting the answer is yes. That’s the bubble of white privilege that you think will protect you. But it won’t. Not by a long shot.

So you want to keep those “nasty hombres” out of our country by building a wall? When the price of your food skyrockets because white folks won’t pick crops, you’ll care then. Because it affects you.

So you think by insulting foreign leaders our nation looks stronger? You equate shouting with strength – because you have always had the microphone and always think you will. How many times have you shouted “I want to see your manager,” when you didn’t get what you wanted, then, at that moment?Now Trump is the manager and there’s no one else to call.

So you think defunding Planned Parenthood will make abortions go away? When Emma comes home someday with bad news, you’ll always have a way to fix that problem. A poor woman’s abortion is Emma’s D&C. Most people won’t have those choices. But you will. That’s why it’s called “pro-choice.” Because we want the choices you have always had – and always will.

By now you’re probably angry and about to write something nasty in the comments section. I hope you do. I want you to be angry. As I promised in my first column, I’ll probably make you mad from time to time. This is one of those times.

But stop for a moment and think.

Could I be just a little bit right?

And could you be just a little bit white – and privileged?

Regards,

Mark

PS: We’ll talk more about this in the upcoming months. I’m just laying the groundwork for that conversation. I hope you’ll stick around.

(Featured Image: Katrina In Yoga Pose, by Earl McGee on Flikr CC)

Mark Fernald: How Do We Keep Guns Away From “Bad Guys”

“The only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” So said NRA President Wayne LaPierre just after the Sandy Hook massacre. If a ‘bad guy’ pulls out a gun and starts shooting, the only answer, according to Mr. LaPierre, is for someone to pull out another gun and take the ‘bad guy’ out.

The NRA and the Republican Party advocate what they call “Constitutional carry”—allowing anyone to carry a gun, openly or concealed, at any time and anywhere (excluding, one presumes, people with felony convictions). Republicans all over the country are attacking background checks, gun-free zones, and laws that require a permit to carry a loaded, concealed weapon.

The Democratic Party approach is different; it focuses on preventing people likely to misuse guns from getting them in the first place. The background check law has stopped over 1.5 million ‘bad guys’ from buying guns since 1994. That law passed after a Republican filibuster failed.

Unfortunately, our background check system has a couple of glaring loopholes. It does not cover sales of guns by unlicensed sellers at gun shows or sales between private parties, so any ‘bad guy’ who wants to buy a gun has an easy workaround.

Republicans have repeatedly blocked efforts by Democrats to require a background check for all gun sales. Republicans seem to value easy access to guns over a system that would keep guns out of the hands of felons and people with severe mental disabilities.

This is not about Constitutional rights. Background checks and concealed carry permits are Constitutional. In the case of District of Columbia v. Heller, the US Supreme Court ruled that citizens have a Constitutional right to keep and bear arms. Justice Scalia, writing for the majority, explained that the right to bear arms is limited: It is not “a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose.” Justice Scalia specifically referenced prior court decisions that upheld restrictions or bans on carrying concealed, loaded weapons.

For 94 years, New Hampshire has required a permit to carry a loaded, concealed weapon in a car or on your person. The permits are issued by the chiefs of police in each city and town. The law states that permits can be issued to “a suitable person to be licensed.”

Our chiefs of police have taken their responsibility seriously, seeking out the record and the reputation of those applying for a concealed carry permit. Sometimes an applicant is an irresponsible citizen who is not suitable for a permit: a person who has a history of getting drunk in bars and picking fights; a person who has threatened someone with a gun in the past, though never convicted of a felony; a person who has been involved in road rage incidents; a person who has been the subject of multiple domestic violence calls to 911.

Under current law, if a person has committed an act of violence below the felony level, it is legal for that person to have a gun at home. But if that person wants to carry a loaded concealed weapon in public, New Hampshire has a higher standard implemented by our chiefs of police.

The State Senate and the House have now passed SB12, which eliminates the requirement for a permit to carry a concealed loaded weapon. In the Senate, the ten Democrats were the only no votes. Thirteen Republicans voted yes. The vote in the House was nearly as lopsided. Only two Republicans voted no, and only ten Democrats voted yes.

The effect of SB12 is to remove the discretion of chiefs of police to deny permits. Republicans talk about law and order; they should trust the chiefs of police to exercise good judgment in determining who should be allowed to carry a loaded, concealed weapon. This is what Republicans and the NRA have now abolished.

The New Hampshire Association of Chiefs of Police spoke out against SB12. Their arguments fell on deaf ears. The Governor has indicated he will sign SB12.

If you have a chance to speak to your Representative or Senator or the Governor, ask these questions: Should an alcoholic with multiple DWI convictions be allowed to carry a loaded concealed weapon? How about the man who punched his neighbor during an argument? Or the woman who has been diagnosed a paranoid schizophrenic, and sometimes fails to take her meds?

Once Republicans have succeeded in passing SB12, almost anybody could be carrying a loaded, concealed weapon—even people with violent histories. And our only defense, in this Republican world, will be to avoid the first shot, and try to return fire.

 

Mark Fernald is a former State Senator and was the 2002 Democratic nominee for Governor. He can be reached at mark@markfernald.com.

Building On Our Intersectional Platform, The NH Labor News Is Expanding And Looking For New Voices

We have new and exciting news: The NH Labor News is expanding.

From our very humble beginnings in 2011, the NH Labor News was started to help share the voices of working people as Speaker Bill O”Brien and the NH Legislature began a new assault on working people. In the early days we focused on unions and legislation that effected unions in New Hampshire.

Over the years we have continued to grow and expand adding new voices. Now many progressives are using the term “intersectionality” to describe what we have been trying to do for many years. Intersectionality is the idea that there is a point where all of our different social movements intersect.

A prime example of this is our work with Granite State Progress. Granite State Progress helped connect our strong labor focused community with new social movements like gun violence protect, LGBT rights, protecting women’s reproductive rights, and voting rights.   There are many examples where these issues intersect with the goals and values of the labor community and many of us are already involved in these fights.

We also added weekly commentary from MaryLou Beaver, Executive Director of Every Child Matters (NH) who focuses on education, poverty and healthcare issues facing working families in New Hampshire.

From the beginning, labor unions helped to push social and economic justice movements. Labor was instrumental in the civil rights movement in the 1960’s and the LGBT movement that began in the 1980’s.

With that in mind the NH Labor News will be working to create an even more diverse cross section of commentators who regularly publish through our network. Specifically we want to hear directly from people inside of these movement to better understand what is happening, why it is important to everyone, and most importantly, what we can do to help. There is a real difference hearing about an issue from someone who is personally effected by policy changes than by someone reporting what they know about it.

Starting this week we will be adding another regular column from Mark Dobbins. Mark is an art historian and writer who currently lives in Philadelphia.

As an LGBTQ activist, Mark has been fighting for civil rights for over twenty years. Most recently, Mark was appointed to the Hillary for Pennsylvania LGBT Leadership Council.

As part of the NH Labor News team, Mark will write about those issues that affect your lives. From workers’ rights, living wages, union rights, LGBTQ rights, and the daily struggles of working families everywhere – Mark will write about what matters to you.

We are also looking to add more voice to our growing network. We are specifically looking for two voices to fill a few a few voids in our coverage.

We are looking for a regular commentator who would like to keep us up to date on immigration and refugee issues. With the newly imposed ban on refugees and the repeal of DAPA and DACA, it will take all of us working together to help protect the rights of immigrants and refugees.

We are also looking for a person of color to discuss some of the issues facing people of color, like the school to prison pipeline, the Black Lives Matter movement, and voting rights.

As of right now, these will be voluntary but as we grow who knows what will happen. So if you know of someone who is willing to take on a bi-weekly or weekly column in the NH Labor News please contact me directly.

Together we can build a strong broad based coalition of working people to fight back against daily assault on our rights.

New Statewide Poll Shows Overwhelming Opposition to Changes in NH’s Smoke-free Law

Image by D-15 Photography on FLICKR CC

NH voters are inexorably opposed to changing the state’s current smoke-free law; opposition is deep and wide, crossing party, geographic, gender, age, and ideological lines.

CONCORD – State Representative Robert Hull has proposed legislation (HB 279) to make “changes to the indoor smoking act,” would allow smoking in “private residences”.  If passed this bill would allow smoking in grocery stores, restaurants, bars and lounges across the state.  

The health and well being of the workers inside these establishments must be considered when legislators debate this repeal.  Workers should not be force to breathe air that is dangerous to their health.  

Poll results released today by the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) showed that the voters of New Hampshire are overwhelmingly supportive of the state’s current smoke-free law and oppose attempts to once again allow smoking in certain public places. This information was released on the heels of ACS CAN’s annual legislative breakfast, where over 50 cancer survivors and advocates converged in Concord to urge lawmakers to protect their right to breather clean indoor air and oppose HB279. 

According to the poll, conducted by Public Opinion Strategies, fully 88 percent of New Hampshire voters oppose the proposed bill that would allow smoking in grocery stores, restaurants, cocktail lounges, and bars. Majority support for the current law is bi-partisan and spreads across every demographic sub-group and geographic region of New Hampshire.  Even smokers themselves are opposed to a change. Other findings of the poll include:

  • 84 percent of voters favor the current law – which prohibits smoking in bars, restaurants, and other public places – and only 14 percent oppose it.  An incredibly high 74 percent of voters strongly favor the current law.
  • A smoke-free environment is important to voters, and by seven-to-one, they say the right of employees and customers to breathe smoke-free air is more important than the right of smokers and business owners to allow smoking in restaurants and bars.
  • 70 percent of voters say they are less likely to vote for their state legislator if they back this bill.

“The results of this poll are unprecedented and should send a loud and clear message to lawmakers: voters overwhelmingly value their right to breath clean indoor air, and wholeheartedly oppose any changes to the state’s current smoke-free law,” said Mike Rollo, director of government relations for ACS CAN in New Hampshire. “There is simply no political upside to supporting this bill, nor is there any upside for the health of Granite Staters.”

“Along with voters statewide, ACS CAN strongly opposes any legislation that would weaken New Hampshire’s clean indoor air laws,” said Rollo. “We hope lawmakers will take in account the overwhelmingly high opposition to changing the law as they debate HB 279. Voters have made their opinion clear: now is the time to be looking forward to continued progress in the fight against cancer – not the time for stepping back to undo a decade long protection of clean indoor air in the Granite State.” 

Over 5,000 Attend NH Women’s Day of Action And Unity in Concord 

Thousands Rally in Concord to Show Their Support for Women’s Health and Reproductive Rights

An outpouring of support in the Granite State for Planned Parenthood health services.

CONCORD, NH—More than five thousand gathered in Concord today to show their support for women’s health at the New Hampshire Women’s Day of Action and Unity. The rally was a solidarity event with the Women’s March on Washington DC. Those in attendance stood together to listen to speakers and to support the progress made for human rights, workers’ rights, LGBTQ rights, economic justice, environmental justice, racial justice, and reproductive justice. Rally goers were eager to voice their support for women’s health, equity, and justice in an era of uncertainty for Planned Parenthood and abortion access.

After the rally, Planned Parenthood New Hampshire Action Fund hosted an activist organizing session which had over 150 participants gaining resources and tools to bring back to their local communities.

Statement from Kayla Montgomery, Director of Advocacy and Organizing for Planned Parenthood New Hampshire Action Fund:

“It’s inspiring to see so many New Hampshire women and Planned Parenthood Action Fund members out today to rally for our collective rights- like women’s health and access to safe and legal abortion. Today was a moment to come together to protect and advance the progress we’ve made. We are honored to be a part of today’s rally, because we know that New Hampshire has strong bipartisan tradition of supporting women’s health, and we refuse to let our rights be rolled back.”

Statement from Ilyssa Sherman, speaker at rally:

“If Planned Parenthood is defunded, millions of women like me will lose access to this critical provider. We can’t let this happen. We need to step up, speak out, and act now to save our health care. Because I have a preexisting condition, if the Affordable Care Act is repealed I may be blocked from health insurance policies in the future.”

Today’s rally marked one event to coincide with the #IStandWithPlannedParenthood national grassroots campaign, which includes 300 events in 47 states across the country. Speaker Ryan recently pledged to defund Planned Parenthood health services – a measure that would leave thousands of Granite Staters without care. The measure would prohibit the health care provider from receiving reimbursement for services, like cancer screenings and birth control, provided to patients insured by federal programs like Medicaid and Medicare. In effect, this blocks patients from accessing reproductive health care. Federal insurance programs do not cover abortion.

PPNHAF also plans to host three open mic “story slams” in coffee shops in Manchester, Portsmouth and Keene where women, men, and families can share the important role Planned Parenthood and reproductive health care access has played in their lives. The events will take place on January 26th and 27th at Book & Bar in Portsmouth on Thursday January 26th from 7-9pm, Brewbakers in Keene on Friday January 27th from 6-8pm and Studio 550 in Manchester on Friday January 27th from 7-9pm.


Planned Parenthood New Hampshire Action Fund (PPNHAF) is an independent, nonpartisan, not-for-profit organization formed as the advocacy and political arm of Planned Parenthood of Northern New England in New Hampshire. The Action Fund engages in educational and electoral activity, including voter education, grassroots organizing, and legislative advocacy.

Republicans In NH Senate Vote To Make NH Less Safe, Repeal 94 Year Old Conceal Carry Permit Law

The New Hampshire State Senate voted on party lines today to pass SB 12, which seeks to repeal a 94 year old concealed carry licensing law that helps prevent dangerous people from being able to legally carry hidden, loaded weapons. 

The bill was opposed by gun violence protection groups as well as many of New Hampshire’s law enforcement.  The New Hampshire Association of Chiefs of Police testified against a similar piece of legislation last session, and in 2004 Senate President Chuck Morse and several Republicans voted against a similar repeal bill.

“SB 12 is another attempt by the gun lobby to allow anyone in New Hampshire to legally carry a hidden, loaded handgun. Requiring a license to carry a concealed weapon has worked well for New Hampshire for more than 90 years. These licenses are very easy and quick to obtain and do not place an unreasonable burden on law abiding citizens. SB 12 is a radical piece of legislation that will jeopardize public safety. The common sense law we have in place now allows local police departments to deny a license when there is reason to believe a person is a danger to themselves or others. For example, if an individual in a community is a known domestic abuser but has yet to be indicted, or has a hot temper and a habit of getting into bar fights, New Hampshire thankfully provides our local police departments with the ability to reject their concealed carry application. With this vote, New Hampshire is opening the door to allow dangerous individuals with a track record of violence to legally carry hidden, loaded weapons,” said Zandra Rice-Hawkins, Executive Director of Granite State Progress. 

Sen. Bette Lasky (D-Nashua) released the following statement after passage of the bill: 

“For decades, New Hampshire’s concealed carry permitting law has effectively safeguarded our Second Amendment rights while helping to keep New Hampshire one of the safest states in the nation. Repeal of the common sense measures outlined in this law will make it harder for law enforcement to do their jobs and needlessly put the people of New Hampshire at higher risk,” said Senator Lasky, Vice Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Senate Democrats offered two amendments to address flaws in SB 12. Senator David Watters (D-Dover) introduced an amendment that would clarify the language of the bill to allow Fish and Game to do their jobs to monitor poaching in the state. Senator Bette Lasky (D-Nashua) introduced an amendment to require background checks for gun owners applying for concealed carry permits. Both amendments were defeated along party lines.

“Given the ramifications of this legislation, I’m concerned that Governor Sununu and Senate Republicans are rushing this legislation so quickly through the legislature and I’m disappointed by the outcome of today’s vote.”

Celebration of Doris Granny D Haddock’s Birth 107 Years Ago

Dublin, NH: Open Democracy/New Hampshire Rebellion and PACE: Promoting Active Civic Engagement announce that on January 24, 2017 they will hold a celebration of Doris Granny D Haddock’s birthday 107 years ago. Granny D gained fame and admiration by walking across the United States in her 90th year in support of  campaign finance reform. Subsequently she travelled the country to help countless citizens to register to vote. For her activism she received many awards in New Hampshire and elsewhere.

“In the present turbulent times it helps to take a deep breath and remind ourselves of an intrepid citizen like Doris Haddock, who was willing to use her ‘power of one’ in the fight for the health of our democracy”, said Regina Bringolf, co-chair of Open Democracy.

The celebration on January 24 will be held at 12 noon at the Dublin Community Center, 1123 Main Street in Dublin, NH.  The public is cordially invited. There will be a potluck luncheon (please bring a small dish to share) and remembrances of Granny D’s walks and others, organized by the NH Rebellion, that her friends and supporters have undertaken in her memory. RSVP requested to Doreen@opendemocracy.me, or call 603-715-8197.

Statewide Homelessness Is Down In New Hampshire, But For How Long?

A new report shows that progress has been made to reduce the homeless population in New Hampshire but systemic problems could lead to future increases.

The NH Coalition to End Homelessness just released their fifth annual report on the State of Homelessness in New Hampshire. The report show some good news in the fight to eliminate homelessness but the report also shows some alarming trends the could undue all of the gains made over the past few years.

“2016 saw significant reductions in our overall homeless numbers. Data among specific subpopulations of the homeless also indicates that important progress is being made,” wrote Cathy Kuhn Ph.D, Director of The NH Coalition to End Homelessness (NHCEH). “The number of individuals living unsheltered continued to drop over the past year and homelessness among veterans and among the chronically homeless also declined.”

The report shows that programs like the NH Governor’s Interagency Council on Homelessness (NHICH) are making real progress in combating homelessness.

“Under the leadership of the NHICH, the state has made significant progress towards creating a Supportive Housing Services Benefit for Medicaid beneficiaries who are experiencing homelessness. Research consistently shows that combining affordable housing with tenancy support services and care coordination can help those with the greatest challenges to live with stability and wellness,” Kuhn added.

With a goal of completely eliminating homelessness in New Hampshire, NHCEH reported a significant drop in homelessness in 2016.  Overall homelessness in New Hampshire dropped by 19% from 2014 numbers with Merrimack County seeing the largest drop at 56%.

This is great news, especially when added with the fact that “Chronic Homelessness,” that is people who have been continually homeless for over a year, fell by 17%.

The state also saw a 45% decrease in “unsheltered homelessness.”  This is a 63% drop from 2014 numbers. “Providing appropriate interventions as quickly as possible for people who are experiencing unsheltered homelessness, particularly for those who are newly homeless, is critical to preventing the development of additional complications associated with long-term, chronic homelessness,” NHCEH stated.

NHCEH also found that nearly half (41%) of the overall homeless population in New Hampshire are “persons in families.”  The good news is that family homelessness is also down by 29% in 2016.  221 homeless persons in families were able to move off of the streets and into stable housing this year.

The last bit of good news is that veteran homelessness in New Hampshire fell by 19% in 2016 and is down over 32% since 2014.  This dramatic drop over the last few years comes from a combination of state and federal assistance to end “functional homelessness” for veterans.

“In New Hampshire, significant efforts have been made to reach functional zero among the state homeless veteran population. With substantial support from the Governor’s Office, numerous agencies serving veterans across the state are working together to identify and immediately house any veteran who is either unsheltered or residing in an emergency shelter or transitional living program. These efforts are reflected in the continual declines that the state has seen in its homeless veteran population,” reported NHCEMH.

CAUSE FOR CONCERN

Overall the report shows astounding results in lowering the homeless population in New Hampshire, the report also shows some serious issues that need to be address that if unchanged could lead in an increase in homelessness.

It is a fact that New Hampshire has one of the lowest unemployment rates in that country, sitting at 2.7%.  Most counties in New Hampshire saw more than a 30% decrease in unemployment over the last two years.  This means that more people are working which should be good news in the fight to end homelessness but the NHCEH report highlighted some of New Hampshire’s unique problems.

“While low unemployment rates are being enjoyed across all New Hampshire counties, it’s important to note that even when working full time, many low income people are still unable to attain stable housing due to low wages and/or temporary and irregular work opportunities. One recent analysis reports that someone working full time at minimum wage would need to work 91 hours per week in order to afford a one bedroom apartment at the Fair Market Rent in New Hampshire.”

Gaining employment does not always lead to prosperity.  NHCEH notes that the poverty rate in New Hampshire, currently 8.9%, has grown by 6% a year since 2014. “Given the link between homelessness and poverty, the steady increase in the state has the potential to slow recent decreases in the number of homeless individuals and families,” stated NHCEMH.

To make matters worse wages have not kept up with the increased cost of housing.  Statewide wages have increased by 3.7% but have failed to keep up with the 8.8% increase in median rental costs.

Below is the breakdown of  the “median gross rent” for a 2-bedroom apartment by county in NH.  As you can see the median cost for a 2-bedroom apartment in Rockingham and Hillsborough are $1,321 and $1,278 a month, respectively.

median-rental-costs-nh-2016

According to the National Low Income Housing Coalition the median “fair market rent” for a 1-bedroom apartment in New Hampshire is $861 a month. Remember, a full time (40 hour) minimum wage worker ($7.25 per hour) earns $290 a week or $1,160 a month. That means that 74% of their monthly paycheck would go to paying for housing alone and does not include food, heat, electricity, transportation or any other expenses.  The cost for a 2-bedroom apartment it ranges from 68% of their monthly paycheck in Coos County to 113% in Rockingham County.

To keep their housing costs below the 33% guideline, the National Low Income Housing Coalition also estimates that a worker would need an hourly wage of $16.55  for a 1-bedroom apartment and $21.09 for a 2-bedroom apartment. To meet the 33% guideline a minimum wage worker would need to work 91 hours a week for a 1-bedroom and 116 hours a week for a 2-bedroom apartment.

The New Hampshire Coalition to End Homelessness also highlighted another problem plaguing New Hampshire: a lack of affordable housing.  Nearly 30% of Granite Staters are renting and that means there is a very low “vacancy rate.” The vacancy rate is defined as “the percentage of available rental units in a given area.”  Statewide the vacancy rate is 1.5%, which leads many to struggle to find stable and affordable housing.

vacancy-rates

“These low vacancy rates further exacerbate the scarcity of affordable housing in these populous regions of the state, making it even more difficult for low income renters to find stable housing. The combined impact of rising rents and declining vacancy rates often leads many individuals and families to still live in temporary rooming houses or motels, often thought of as the housing of last resort by many advocates,” noted NHCEH. “These living environments can be particularly difficult for children and families who are forced to relinquish their privacy and to live in very cramped and sometimes unsafe quarters in order to maintain some semblance of shelter.”

These three factors (stagnant wages, high rent increases, and low vacancy rates) should be a warning sign to everyone that New Hampshire is teetering on the very edge of dramatic increase in the homeless population.  Many Granite Staters a struggling to hold on. In a 2013 survey, 76% of people national, said they are living paycheck-to-paycheck and more than 47% said they do not even have enough to cover a $400 emergency expense.

All it would take for many of these people is one incident, one missed paycheck to be in real danger of ending up homeless. If our goal is to completely eliminate homelessness, then we need to start by increasing wages, slowing the increasing cost of renting, and building more affordable housing across the state.

Dr. Kuhn summed it up perfect by saying:

“Once again, I am so proud of the excellent work being done by service providers, volunteers, advocates, policy makers, community leaders, and concerned citizens to end homelessness in our state. It is clear that our work is making an impact! Despite our progress, however, there are still far too many men, women and children who are homeless in New Hampshire. Over the next year, it will be important that we continue our commitment to permanently and immediately house anyone who falls into homelessness in New Hampshire. For our part, the Coalition remains steadfast in our belief that, together, we can and will end homelessness in New Hampshire, I invite you to join us as we work towards this achievable goal.”


Until we eliminate homelessness many find refuge in community shelters. These shelters are always in need of donations and here is a quick list of things, aside from food, your local shelter could use.

A list from the Homeless Shelter Directory:

Tooth Brush
Tooth Paste
Dental Floss
Bandaids
Underwear
Neosporin
Cortisone Cream
Cotton Swabs
Listerine
Deodorant
Razors
Nail Clippers
Baby Wipes
Thick Socks
Batteries
Feminine hygiene products
Anti-diarrhea tablets

(I would also add linens, pillows, and blankets)

The NH Charitable Foundation also released their list of 12 Things Food Pantries Wish They Had…But Might Not Ask For as a guide for donations.

Human Rights Campaign Highlights NH LGBTQ Protections, Laws and Legislative Proposals in New National Report

HRC’s State Equality Index finds that, despite historic federal progress, anti-LGBTQ state bills seek to undermine rights and target vulnerable populations, such as transgender youth 

WASHINGTON – The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Foundation, the educational arm of the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) civil rights organization, in partnership with the Equality Federation, today released its third annual national report assessing the status of state legislation affecting LGBTQ equality across America, including in New Hampshire.

HRC’s State Equality Index reveals that in many states opponents of equality are ramping up efforts to sanction discrimination against LGBTQ people by proposing state-level laws that would undermine existing protections, erode marital rights of legally-joined same-sex couples, target transgender people — including youth — and limit the ability of cities and towns to pass their own inclusive laws.

New Hampshire falls into the category, “Building Equality.” New Hampshire is one of 30 states in the country that lack explicit state-level workplace protections for all LGBTQ employees.

“State governments have a clear choice between sowing the seeds of division and discrimination or building an economy that works for everyone by fostering fairness and inclusion,” said HRC President Chad Griffin, “Unfortunately, too many lawmakers have decided to target LGBTQ people for state-sanctioned discrimination and to interfere with local protections for workers, customers, and residents. Now more than ever, it is crucial that legislators across the country stand on the right side of history and ensure full equality for all their citizens – nothing more and nothing less.”

“Last year our community faced a barrage of attacks on our freedoms, but we are more united and better prepared than ever to continue our momentum toward equality for all,” said Rebecca Isaacs, executive director of Equality Federation Institute. “This report serves as an important tool for advocates to keep pushing forward. We’re not going to stop until all LGBTQ people and their families are able to reach their full potential, free from discrimination, no matter what state they live in.”

While more than 111 million people live in states where LGBTQ people lack clear state-level protections against discrimination in the workplace, the SEI points to a few encouraging signs — particularly in areas related to LGBTQ youth, health and safety and protections for the transgender community. States like Vermont and New York took steps to protect LGBTQ youth by banning conversion therapy. Massachusetts expanded the state’s non-discrimination law to include gender identity in public accommodations.  Hawaii passed a law to make it easier for transgender residents to update their name and gender marker on a birth certificate or driver’s license. Five states, including Delaware, Hawaii, Maryland, Michigan and Pennsylvania banned transgender exclusions in health care insurance, a sizable increase from 2015.

The SEI assesses statewide LGBTQ-related legislation and policies, good and bad, in five areas: parenting laws and policies; non-discrimination laws and policies; hate crimes laws; youth-related laws and policies; and health and safety laws and policies. Based on that review, the SEI assigns states to one of four distinct categories.

Nine states and the District of Columbia are in the highest-rated category, “Working Toward Innovative Equality

California, Colorado, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Illinois, Massachusetts, New York, Oregon, Vermont, Washington

These states and the nation’s capital have robust LGBTQ non-discrimination laws covering employment, housing and public accommodations, as well as protections in the areas of credit, insurance and jury selection. Most allow transgender people to change official documents to reflect their gender identity, and almost all bar private insurers from banning transition-related healthcare. LGBTQ youth are protected by anti-bullying laws, as well as innovative measures in some states that address conversion therapy, inclusive juvenile justice policies, homelessness and sexual health education.

Seven states are in the category “Solidifying Equality

Delaware, Iowa, Maine, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey and Rhode Island

These states have non-discrimination protections and are considered high-performing, but have not yet adopted innovative equality measures. Many of these states allow transgender individuals to change gender markers on official documents and more than half do not allow second-parent adoption. These states have relatively robust anti-bullying laws, but bad laws begin to crop up in this category.

Six states are in the category “Building Equality

Hawaii, Maryland, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Utah and Wisconsin

These states have taken steps toward more robust LGBTQ equality, including passing basic non-discrimination and hate crimes laws. They allow gender markers to be changed on official documents, but have few protections guaranteeing access to transgender health care. Some lack explicit gender identity protections and several lack comprehensive anti-bullying laws. Bad laws are more common, so advocates are working to stop bills that could undermine LGBTQ equality and pass more comprehensive non-discrimination laws.

Twenty-eight states are in the lowest-rated category “High Priority to Achieve Basic Equality

Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia and Wyoming

Most of these states, including Arizona, North Carolina, South Dakota and Florida, have many laws that undermine LGBTQ equality, from those that criminalize HIV and sodomy, to measures allowing religious-based discrimination against LGBTQ people. None have non-discrimination laws that explicitly include sexual orientation or gender identity protections; few have hate crime laws with those protections. LGBTQ advocates largely work to defeat bad bills and pass municipal protections for LGBTQ people.

The full report, including detailed scorecards for every state, as well as a comprehensive review of 2016 state legislation, is available online at www.hrc.org/sei

Trump Nominates Climate Denier And Anti-EPA Advocate To Lead The EPA

Image by Gromit702 CC

Image by Gromit702 CC

Last week, President Elect Trump continued his Cabinet appointments with Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to lead the Environmental Protection Agency.

“Scott Pruitt running the EPA is like the fox guarding the hen house,” League of Conservation Voters’ president Gene Karpinski said in a statement. “Time and again, he has fought to pad the profits of Big Polluters at the expense of public health. He’s sued the EPA over commonsense safeguards like the Clean Water Rule and Clean Power Plan and sent letters to federal officials that were written almost entirely by the oil and gas industry. And like fellow Oklahoman senator Inhofe, Pruitt is an outright climate denier who has ignored settled science for political points.”

During his time as Attorney General, Pruitt has attacked the EPA and challenged them directly in court on behalf of the oil and gas industry.

“During the campaign, Mr. Trump regularly threatened to dismantle the EPA and roll back many of the gains made to reduce Americans’ exposures to industrial pollution, and with Pruitt, the president-elect would make good on those threats,” said Ken Cook, the head of the Environmental Working Group, in a statement.

“We need an Environmental Protection Agency Administrator who protects our environmental laws, is guided by science when crafting and implementing policy, puts public health ahead of dirty energy special interests, and has the qualifications necessary to safeguard the American public from climate change,” said Environment America’s Executive Director, Margie Alt. “President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for Environmental Protection Agency Administrator, Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt meets none of those criteria.” 

“Scott Pruitt is a main party to several lawsuits against the very agency he would be in charge of.  He denies the science of climate change and he has numerous close ties to polluters.  Americans need an EPA administrator who will fight to protect the air we breathe, the water we drink and the planet we love. Scott Pruitt fails on all these accounts,” Alt added. 

“The EPA has the enormous responsibility of protecting our environment and keeping Americans safe and healthy,” said Hawaii Senator Brian Schatz in a statement. “Its administrator should share those goals, but Scott Pruitt’s record has shown us that he does not. While the EPA is tasked with protecting our people and our environment from the impacts of climate change, he denies the science behind it. And while the agency has worked to keep our air and water clean and safe, Scott Pruitt has worked to undermine the very rules that protect those resources.”

“Climate change is a direct threat to New Hampshire’s environment, economy and way of life,” said Senator Jeanne Shaheen. “As New Hampshire continues to combat carbon emissions and provide clean, safe drinking water, we need a reliable partner in the EPA to achieve these goals. Attorney General Scott Pruitt’s environmental record is extremely concerning and his appointment would signal a capitulation to polluters. We owe it to future generations to build on the Clean Power Plan and the Paris Agreement in order to avoid the worst impacts of climate change and I will not support any nominee that is intent on rolling back this progress.”

As one of nine Northeastern states participating in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), New Hampshire has reduced greenhouse gas emissions in the power sector by nearly 50 percent since 2008. New Hampshire is on track to meet the Clean Power Plan’s carbon reduction goals 10 years ahead of schedule. RGGI was the first market-based regulatory program in the United States to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The threat of global warming is real.  A recently released report by the Coastal Risk and Hazards Commission, estimates that the New Hampshire Seacoast will experience sea-level rise due to climate change of between a half-foot and two feet by 2050. By 2100, the report estimates sea-level rise of one-and-a-half feet to over 6 feet.

We need a EPA Administrator who will directly address the growing problem of Climate Change before it is too late.  Unfortunately Trump has nominated a climate-denier who rejects the 97% of climate scientist who agree that Climate Change is real and that we have sped up the process.

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