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NH Legislators Hold Hearing On A Woman’s Right To Privacy

NH Legislators Push A New “Personhood” Bill In NH House

CONCORD – On Thursday, January 19TH at 10am, the Criminal Justice Committee of the New Hampshire House of Representatives will hold a hearing on HB 156 – a bill that is unnecessary and inconsistent with current law, and if passed, will pose considerable consequences threatening the health and privacy of women in the Granite State.

If passed, HB 156 would recognize a fetus as a legal entity separate from a woman.  By recognizing a fetus as a person who can be an independent victim of a crime, HB 156 creates a legal basis for depriving a pregnant woman of her status as a full person under the law. New Hampshire has rejected proposals similar to HB 156 over a dozen times the past two decades. 

“The ending of a wanted pregnancy is a deep and devastating loss, and our laws must punish people who commit violent crimes against pregnant women,” states Susan Arnold, Chair of the New Hampshire Reproductive Rights Advisory Council. “New Hampshire law already punishes those who commit violent crimes against pregnant women. In 1990, the New Hampshire legislature adopted a law that provides enhanced felony punishment for assaults that result in loss of pregnancy.” A person who “purposely or knowingly causes injury to another resulting in miscarriage or stillbirth” currently faces up to 15 years in prison.

“Personhood” measures, like HB 156, subject a pregnant woman to involuntary medical treatment, surveillance, and incarceration. In states that have adopted laws like HB 156 purport to exempt women from criminal liability – a pregnant woman is still more likely to be punished for “risky” behaviors that is not criminalized for others, and that may or may not have caused harm to her fetus.

And while the bill includes an exemption for abortion, HB 156 will inevitably contribute to a nationwide effort to establish a framework for overturning Roe v. Wade. By establishing a contradiction in the law and pitting a woman against her fetus, HB 156 threatens to erode a woman’s constitutional right to make her own private medical decisions.

 

Hassan Grills DeVos On Protecting Students With Disabilities

Under Questioning from Senator Hassan, Betsy DeVos Refuses to Commit to Enforcing the Law to Protect Students with Disabilities

Senator Hassan to DeVos: “It’s not about sensitivity – although that helps – it’s about being willing to enforce the law.”

DeVos Also Admits She Was Confused About Whether the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) Is A Federal Law 

WASHINGTON — Today, during the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee confirmation hearing for President-elect Trump’s nominee to lead the Department of Education, Betsy DeVos, Senator Maggie Hassan questioned Mrs. DeVos on her commitment to protecting students who experience disabilities.

After describing how her son Ben, who experiences severe disabilities, was able to get a quality education at his local public school because of the countless advocates who fought to ensure that public schools would have adequate resources and protections for children like Ben, Senator Hassan pushed Mrs. DeVos on whether she would enforce the law in regards to students who experience disabilities.

The Senator explained that when students who experience disabilities receive a publicly-funded voucher to attend a private school, these students often do not receive adequate resources and may need to sign over their legal rights under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Senator Hassan pressed Mrs. DeVos on whether or not she would enforce the IDEA and if she believes that families should have a recourse in the courts if their child’s education does not adequately meet his or her needs.

In response to Mrs. DeVos’s statement that if she is confirmed she will be very “sensitive to the needs of special needs students and the policies surrounding that,” Senator Hassan responded, “With all due respect, it’s not about sensitivity – although that helps. It’s about being willing to enforce the law to make sure that my child and every child has the same access to public education – high quality public education.”

Not only did Mrs. DeVos refuse to commit to enforcing the law to protect students with disabilities, but she also admitted that she was confused about whether the IDEA is a federal law.

Prior To Pruitt’s Confirmation Hearing Iowa Farmers Speak Out Against Extremist Nominee

Iowa Renewable Energy Farmers & Community Leaders Urge Their Grassley, Ernst to Oppose Trump’s Radical EPA Pick

Corn & Soybean Farmers: “I hope that our senators will uphold what they told us they would do.”

Less than 24 hours before Scott Pruitt’s confirmation hearing before the Senate’s Environment and Public Works Committee, Iowa renewable energy producers, including local farmers and community leaders, joined the Progressive Change Campaign Committee to call on Sens. Joni Ernst (R-IA) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA) to oppose Pruitt’s nomination for Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency.

“[Pruitt] could be disastrous for the working people of rural America. … The thing that really gives me heartburn is it seems like all of [Trump’s] appointees to the different positions have at points in their past basically cursed the cabinet appointees of the past and the organization they’re representing. You really wonder whose side they’re on and what they’re going to do,” said Chris Petersen, board member and former president, Iowa Farmers Union.

“Scott Pruitt, Trump’s radical nominee to head the Environmental Protection Agency, shouldn’t make it past tomorrow’s Senate committee hearing. This is clear: Scott Pruitt is another example of Donald Trump betraying Iowans and many Americans, including his own voters, by siding with giant corporations at the expense of Iowa farmers in the wind and renewable fuels industries,” said Marissa Barrow, spokesperson, Progressive Change Campaign Committee.

Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement state policy organizing director Adam Mason, Iowa Farmers Union board member and former IFU president Chris Petersen, and corn and soybean farmers Alice and Lyle Hodde highlighted Pruitt’s long track record of supporting big oil corporations over renewable energy.

“Farmers are very concerned about clean energy. I’m not just talking about the money we make when I say I’m concerned about Scott Pruitt’s nomination for EPA. I’m concerned about the clean energy we have in our country and what we’re going to be leaving our grandchildren. (7:45) Our small towns in rural Iowa rely on the ag industry. The equipment dealers, fertilizer dealers, seed corn dealers all depend on farmers. I hope that our senators will uphold what they told us they would do,” said Alice Hodde, corn and soybean farmer from Sidney, IA.

“The administration is trying to appoint these oil people and they’re going to pick our pockets on renewable fuels which is really the key to the agriculture industry. This is the most important issue to farmers in rural areas. [Ethanol] is 40% of our corn market nationwide and in Iowa. (12:10) The center of the country is really hurting, especially the Midwest. Our towns are getting smaller, we lost our high school and our grocery stores — it’s not easy to keep these towns operating…The RFS is the only way that we can complete with the oil corporations,” said Lyle Hodde.

Pruitt has consistently advocated for the repeal of the Renewable Fuel Standard and Clean Power Plan — moves that would benefit big oil corporations, but put over 40,000 jobs at risk and devastate Iowa’s rural communities.

“More than ever, we need uncompromising leadership to protect our food, water and environment, and to safeguard our democracy from regressive policies that benefit only billionaires and multinational corporations. We need elected leaders and administrators who will put people and planet first, and we’re calling on the Senate — especially Senators Grassley and Ernst — to deny [Pruitt’s] appointment after a full and thorough vetting,” said Adam Mason, state policy organizing director, Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement.

Sen. Ernst — a member of the Senate committee that oversees the EPA — said recently: “Understand that I will be going through a rigorous line of questioning with Mr. Pruitt. What I will be asking is where does he stand on renewable fuels, where does he stand on renewable energy? This is very important to Iowa with our wind energy ever expanding and creating lots of opportunity in our state.”

ICYMI: New Hampshire Rallies to Protect the Affordable Care Act Draw Overflow Crowds

Concord, N.H. – Yesterday, overflow crowds came together for rallies in Manchester and Keene to protest efforts in Washington to repeal the Affordable Care Act and New Hampshire’s bipartisan Medicaid expansion plan without a replacement.

Also this weekend, the Union Leader highlighted the story of Gail O’Brien, a teacher from Keene , whose life was saved by the Affordable Care Act. The article also featured staff from Riverbend Community Mental Health in Concord who emphasized that repealing the Affordable Care Act would harm efforts to provide mental health care, and that repealing “the ACA will not cost cut; it will cost shift.”

See below for highlights of coverage:

WMUR:

Democrats across the country organized a day of action on Sunday, holding rallies in support of the Affordable Care Act.

The New Hampshire rallies took place in Keene and Manchester, where overflow crowds gathered to show support for the ACA and expanding health care coverage.

… Sens. Jeanne Shaheen and Maggie Hassan, both D-NH, are holding a roundtable discussion Tuesday on the ACA’s impact on New Hampshire.

Union Leader

The Affordable Care Act now targeted for repeal by President-elect Donald Trump and the Republican-led Congress made Gail O’Brien of Keene an overnight internet sensation.

The federal health care law delivered the gift of insurance to this private school teacher suffering from non-Hodgkin lymphoma who would have died without it.

The internet stardom came with a YouTube video of President Barack Obama calling her after she become one of the first in the nation to be rescued by this law that brought an end to insurers refusing to cover someone who was sick due to a pre-existing condition.

“When that was signed, that just changed my life because it meant I would go and get the treatments that I need and I would be OK,” O’Brien told Obama.

“If it’s not for you, I wouldn’t be here.”

… Today, O’Brien says she’s “back to square one” with Trump vowing to strike the law from the books and replace it with a GOP, market-driven alternative.

“It’s scary right now for me as well as for millions of other people,” O’Brien said Saturday during a phone interview. “It will be back into the same boat for all of us.”

… At Riverbend Community Mental Health in Concord, professionals worry any alternative to the health care law could undo progress such as the 50,000 that got coverage in New Hampshire under Medicaid expansion and 7,000 that got substance abuse services with their insurance for the first time.

“It would be easy to underestimate how vitally important it is for parents to get access for their children to quality mental health care,” said Chief Operating Officer Bret Longgood. 

“The repeal of the ACA will not cost cut; it will cost shift. It just ain’t going away.”

Off the streets

Sara Brown of Riverbend said the law allowed many without means to come out of the shadows.

“We had a 29-year-old female addicted to methamphetamine for two and a half years, finally hit bottom hard enough that she sought help,” Brown said, adding it led to the woman to getting a 28-day residential treatment in Effingham along with follow-up.

“It didn’t cost her a dime and if she didn’t have that insurance, she would still be on the streets in my opinion.”

… Through her illness, Gail O’Brien kept working, only calling in sick on the days she got chemotherapy treatments. Now a Title 1 teacher, O’Brien has never been told she’s in remission.

She’s already preparing for the brave new world of health care that stares her in the face. “It’s been seven years now and I have been fine and at my last appointment at the end of December I said instead of six months I could go for a year before my next screening,” O’Brien said.

But O’Brien hasn’t given up fighting either and she’ll be at one of the two, pro-Obamacare rallies Sunday holding her handmade sign.

“It will read, ‘Take away the GOP’s health care and see how they feel.'” O’Brien said.

(This post was compiled by the NHDP) 

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.

Group Calls On Sununu To Name Businesses That Will Move To NH If Right To Work Passes

Granite State Progress Calls on Governor Sununu, Majority Leader Hinch to Name At Least 5 Businesses That Will Move to NH If Right to Work Passes

Right to Work Advocates Have Been Unable to Name a Single Business in Six Years

CONCORD, NH – Granite State Progress calls on Governor Chris Sununu and House Republican Majority Leader Dick Hinch to name at least five businesses that will move to New Hampshire if so-called Right to Work passes. Both politicians made statements during last week’s inauguration and interviews that passing Right to Work is important for business development and that businesses will move to the state upon passage. However, when media outlets questioned NH Speaker Bill O’Brien over the same claim in 2011 he was unable to name even a single business. Additionally, both NH’s Commissioner of Labor and NH’s Commissioner of Resources and Economic Development at the time confirmed not a single business had asked about the legislation:

Union Leader, Businesses are not asking for the right-to-work bill by George Copadis, NH Commissioner of Labor: “Not once has the topic of right-to-work ever come up in all of [their] discussions with New Hampshire businesses and prospective businesses.” [5.24.11]

Statement by Granite State Progress Executive Director Zandra Rice Hawkins: “Right to Work is wrong for working families and its wrong for New Hampshire. This is nothing more than an attempt to undermine workers’ rights and create another hurdle for working families to come together to negotiate for good jobs with reasonable wages and benefits, job safety, and job training. The politicians and special interest backers pushing this policy should instead support raising wages, end off-shoring of our jobs, and pass family-friendly workplace policies that respect the contributions workers bring to increasing profits in our country.”

Granite State Progress publicly calls on Governor Sununu and Majority Leader Hinch to release a list of the companies they purport will bring jobs to New Hampshire if the state passes legislation that hurts working families.

Granite State Progress is a progressive advocacy organization that addresses issues of immediate state and local concern. Granite State Progress works as a communications hub for the progressive community to provide a strong, credible voice in advancing progressive solutions to critical community problems.

Senators Push Legislation To Increase Child Care Tax Credit

Shaheen, Gillibrand, Schatz Introduce ‘Right Start’ Bill to Expand Child Care Tax Credit for Working Families

 The Right Start Child Care and Education Act would make child care more affordable, strengthening the economy 

(Washington, D.C.) – U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Kristen Gillibrand (D-NY), and Brian Schatz (D-HI) introduced the Right Start Child Care and Education Act, legislation that would expand the child care tax credit and provide other assistance to help families afford child care. The legislation would expand the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit (CDCTC), which was first enacted in 1976 to help working families pay for child care. The tax credit does not reflect the current costs of child care, which have risen since the CDCTC was first enacted and can exceed $10,000 annually. In New Hampshire, the cost of child care is nearly $12,000 for a single child. 

“The rising costs of child care is a real burden on families in New Hampshire and across the country, and the Right Start Child Care and Education Act would provide much-needed relief for parents working to make ends meet,” said Senator Shaheen. “Making child care more affordable will help parents, especially working mothers, re-join the workforce, and strengthen our economy.”

“This bill would help reduce the enormous financial burden that comes from paying for child care,” said Senator Gillibrand. “Child care is essential for many families with new babies and young children, but in some states, including New York, it costs as much as college tuition. This legislation would go a long way toward making child care more affordable for families, and I will continue urging all of my colleagues to support it in the new Congress.” 

“Increasing the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit will provide much-needed assistance for working families,” said Senator Schatz. “In Hawai‘i, child care can cost more than $10,000 per year, and nationally costs are rising. This tax credit will help provide economic security for families and allow parents to go back to work.” 

The Right Start Child Care and Education Act would increase the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit, making it equal to 35 to 50 percent of eligible expenses, up significantly from the current range of 20 to 35 percent, and increase the maximum eligible expenses from $3,000 per child to $6,000 per child. The bill would also improve assistance for lower-income families by making the credit refundable, and make it easier for employers to provide working parents with childcare by increasing the tax credit for employer-provided childcare.  It also aims to improve the availability of high-quality child care by adding a new tax credit for college graduates who become childcare professionals. 

The Right Start Child Care and Education Act was introduced in the 113th Congress, and again in the 114th Congress, by fmr. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and co-sponsored by Senators Shaheen, Gillibrand and Schatz.

New Hampshire Gets its First All-Democratic, All-Female Congressional Delegation Today

Washington, D.C. – Today, as the 115th United States Congress convenes, New Hampshire has reason to celebrate as its first all-Democratic, all-female congressional delegation takes office.

“New Hampshire voters are in capable, experienced hands with this history-making delegation. Jeanne Shaheen, Maggie Hassan, Annie Kuster, and Carol Shea-Porter will be the strong, steady leaders we need in uncertain times, and they will fight hard for New Hampshire families,” said NHDP Chairman Ray Buckley.

In particular, Senator Maggie Hassan makes history as only the second woman in American history to serve as both Governor and U.S. Senator for her state. The first was her colleague and New Hampshire’s own Jeanne Shaheen.

U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) extended her congratulations to Senator Maggie Hassan, who was sworn in as New Hampshire’s junior senator this afternoon. Senators Shaheen and Hassan are the only women to serve as both Governors and U.S. Senators. As is tradition for the senior senator, Senator Shaheen escorted Senator Hassan to the Senate floor for her swearing-in, which was conducted by Vice President Joe Biden.

“I offer my congratulations to Senator Hassan, who has served New Hampshire with distinction as Governor and state senator, and I look forward to working with her every day in the U.S. Senate on behalf of the Granite State,” said Senator Shaheen. “I also want to recognize Congresswomen Kuster and Shea-Porter, who make up the other half of Team New Hampshire. Today is truly an historic day as the first all-female, all-Democrat delegation gets to work. The 115th Congress has many important issues to address, and we will be fierce advocates day in and day out for the best interests of New Hampshire and the United States.”

 

 

IRS Warns Of Delays In Tax Refunds For Those Who Claim Two Key Tax Credits

Image of 2012 Tax Form 1040

Image of 2012 Tax Form 1040

WASHINGTON – The Internal Revenue Service today reminded New Hampshire taxpayers who claim the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) or Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC) to plan on a refund delay until Feb.15. 

A recent federal law change aimed at making it easier for the IRS to detect and prevent refund fraud, requires the IRS to hold the refund of any tax return claiming either the EITC or ACTC until Feb. 15. By law, the IRS must hold the entire refund not just the portion related to these credits.

“I want to remind folks that as we move into the holiday season, some refunds will be delayed next year so they should plan ahead,” said IRS spokesperson Matt Leas. “To avoid any further delays, it’s important that taxpayers file as they normally would and not wait until later in the filing season.”

As of June 2016, 75,000 working individuals and families in New Hampshire received $150 million  in EITC alone, putting an average of $1992 into the pockets of low-income working individuals and families. Similarly, 41,100 working individuals and families in the state received a total of $49.36 million in ACTC, an average of $1,341per individuals and families. The IRS emphasizes that these are full-year totals for both of these credits and that only those claims filed before February 15 will be affected by the new law.

To avoid any further delays on their refunds, the IRS asks New Hampshire taxpayers to file their returns as they normally do, not wait to file later in the season. Whether or not claiming the EITC or ACTC, the IRS cautions taxpayers not to count on getting a refund by a certain date, especially when making major purchases or paying other financial obligations. The IRS issues more than nine out of 10 refunds in less than 21 days, some returns however, are held for further review.

Because the entire tax refund and not only the credit portion will be held until February 15, the IRS  encourages taxpayers to file a complete and accurate return the first time which will likely result in a faster refund. Amended returns take up to 16 weeks to process.

The IRS also encourages taxpayers to consider a tax-withholding checkup. By adjusting Form W-4, Employee’s Withholding Allowance Certificate, taxpayers can ensure the right amount is taken out of their pay so that they will not have to pay too much tax or wait until they file their return to get a refund. Taxpayers should submit the revised form to employers, and employers will use the form to figure the amount of federal income tax to be withheld from pay. For help, use the Withholding Calculator on IRS.gov.

The IRS has a special page on IRS.gov with steps to take now for the 2017 tax filing season.

Labor Organizations Launch New Phone APP To Combat Wage Theft And Worker Abuses

As Donald Trump Prepares to take over Presidency, Immigrant Workers Prepare to Defend Themselves

jornalerNew York, N.Y. – On Monday November 21st, New York-based day labor worker centers, national labor unions, and the National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON) formally announced the launch of an innovative new tool to combat wage-theft and labor exploitation among immigrant workers.   

Two years ago, day laborer centers in New York began a bottom-up effort to utilize new technologies to solve epidemic of minimum wage violations.   While wage theft, or the denial of earned wages, is rampant across many industries, day laborers are particularly susceptible for many reasons including misperceptions about their immigration status. The new App was designed by and for day laborers, and it can be used by all vulnerable immigrant workers.  

The Jornaler@ App, (pronounced Jornalera, the Spanish language word for “day laborer”) will allow users to safely combat instances of wage theft by reporting abusive employers and other violations. The information compiled by the App will be administered by day laborer worker centers, labor unions and other organizations that wish to participate.

“Immigrant worker centers are honored to work with our brothers and sisters within the AFL-CIO to forge the next chapter in worksite enforcement strategies” Pablo Alvarado, the Executive Director of NDLON.  “Particularly now, as xenophobes seek to divide workers and undermine government institutions, we must organize, innovate, and stand together to defend ourselves. This new App will encourage organizing and will send a powerful message to abusive employers that wage theft will not be tolerated.”

This year marks the ten-year anniversary of the AFL-CIO’s historic partnership with NDLON, which sought to end the denial of wages to immigrant workers, and opened the door for worker centers to formally participate in the labor movement.

“The launch of this app is very important. This is an example of using technology as a tool for shared prosperity,” said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. “We want to make sure that every worker in this country knows that they are not alone. We continue to stand firm on the side of all working people and commit to protecting these day laborer corners the way we will protect our union halls, in the face of any attack”.

Developing the Jornaler@ APP was the result of collaboration initiated and conducted by social practice artist Sol Aramendi with workers, organizers, lawyers and artists at New Immigrant Community Empowerment (NICE). As the idea began to grow, other worker centers from across New York began participating in the growing conversation. Groups such as El Centro de Inmigrante, La Colmena, the Don Bosco Workers in Port Chester, The Workplace Project in Hempstead, and Obreros Unidos from Yonkers.

Financial support from the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades was instrumental in completing the development of the application and delivering it to the workers that will use Jornaler@ all over the country.

“The IUPAT is proud to have worked with our community partners and organizations to help build the framework of a new worker movement for the 21st century” said IUPAT General President Kenneth Rigmaiden. “Wage theft is a costly national epidemic, and this app will serve as a powerful tool to protect the workers who push this country forward every day.”

Jornaler@ is available for Android and iPhone. Search for “Jornalera” on Google Play or the AppStore.

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