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On International Women’s Day, Senator Shaheen Calls on Congress to Act on Her Legislation to Empower Survivors of Sexual Assault

**At Together for Girls “Every Hour Matters” event in the U.S. Capitol, Shaheen highlights her legislation that would provide common sense rights to survivors of sexual assault as they pursue justice**  

Senator Shaheen addresses attendees at the Together for Girls International Women’s Day Event

Senator Shaheen addresses attendees at the Together for Girls International Women’s Day Event

(Washington, DC)—On International Women’s Day, U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) called on Congress to take action to empower survivors of sexual assault by passing her Sexual Assault Survivor’s Rights Act. Senator Shaheen made her remarks at an event in the U.S. Capitol sponsored by the nonprofit Together for Girls to highlight the importance of improving treatment for women and girls around the world who have been sexually assaulted. The Sexual Assault Survivor’s Rights Act codifies basic rights for survivors of sexual assault and builds on the success of the Crime Victims’ Rights Act to address unique challenges faced by sexual assault survivors, particularly regarding access to and preservation of sexual assault evidence collection kits. The bill would empower survivors to make more informed decisions throughout the criminal justice process, and supports state efforts to better notify survivors of available resources as well as applicable state rights and policies. In addition, the bill would establish a joint Department of Justice and Department of Health and Human Services working group to more effectively implement best practices regarding the care and treatment of survivors across the country.

“Today, as we renew our call for gender equality, it’s important to recognize the neglect and callous treatment that many sexual assault survivors experience both here at home and around the world,” said Shaheen. “The trauma of sexual assault is often compounded by the emotional trauma of a legal system that places needless obstacles in the path of survivors seeking justice. Our goal with this legislation is to change the culture around how sexual assault survivors are treated in our criminal justice system.  My legislation will help create an environment where survivors feel like the system is working for them, not against, and today, I’m calling on Congress take up this important effort.” 

Currently, depending on the jurisdiction, sexual assault survivors often experience a complex and cryptic maze of policies that deter them from pursuing justice. Senator Shaheen authored this legislation,  working closely with Rise, a national nonprofit, led by Amanda Nguyen, a sexual assault survivor who has bravely shared her harrowing experience navigating the criminal justice system.

Amanda Nguyen, founder and president of Rise, meets with Senator Shaheen to discuss the Sexual Assault Survivor’s Rights Act

Amanda Nguyen, founder and president of Rise, meets with Senator Shaheen to discuss the Sexual Assault Survivor’s Rights Act 

“Justice for sexual assault survivors should not depend on geography,” said Amanda Nguyen, founder and president of Rise. “This federal Sexual Assault Survivors’ Bill of Rights, which brings together common sense best practices, is the first step to having uniform basic rights for survivors across the country.”

Some key rights that would be established by the bill include: 

·         The right to have a sexual assault evidence collection kit preserved for the entire relevant statute of limitations.

·         The right to be notified in writing 60 days prior to the destruction of a sexual assault evidence collection kit.

·         The right to request further preservation of a sexual assault evidence collection kit.

·         The right to be informed of important results of a sexual assault forensic examination.

The bill has been endorsed by RAINN, National Alliance to End Sexual Violence (NAESV), International Association of Forensic Nurses (IAFN), Consortium of Forensic Science Organizations (CFSO), NH Coalition Against Domestic Violence, the CT Coalition Against Domestic Violence, and the VT Network Against Domestic and Sexual Violence.

On International Women’s Day, AFL-CIO Talks Of How TPP Will Negatively Impact Women

AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Liz Shuler Highlights TPP’s Negative Impact on Women 

AFL-CIO Releases Fact Sheet on International Women’s Day 

Women and TPP(Washington, DC, March 8, 2016) – On a press call in honor of International Women’s Day, Liz Shuler, AFL-CIO Secretary Treasurer and Thea Lee, AFL-CIO Deputy Chief of Staff, discussed the negative impact the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) will have on women across the world.

“This International Women’s Day, the labor movement recognizes that while women in the workplace have gained a great deal, the harsh reality is too many of us continue to struggle when we shouldn’t have to,” said Shuler. “The bad policies of the TPP are another corporate attack on women and we will continue to fight for policies that lift all women up and recognize the immense contributions we make to the economy.”

“There is no question that flawed trade agreements and policies have cost America’s working women good jobs and have contributed to stagnant wages and growing inequality,” said Lee. “We need to address unfair trade practices like currency manipulation, illegal subsidies and workers’ rights violations and must defeat TPP so we do not accelerate the race to the bottom that benefits global corporations.”

Read the fact sheet: Bad Trade Deals and Their Impact on Women Globally
Lower Wages, Reduced Access to Lifesaving Healthcare and Human Trafficking

326 Immigration Advocacy Groups Send Brief To Supreme Court On U.S. v. Texas

In Landmark Case, U.S. v. Texas, 326 Civil Rights, Immigration, and Community Groups Urge Supreme Court to Let Immigration Relief Programs Go Forward

SEIU immigration rally _1Brief features profiles of families whose lives would improve if immigration directives were allowed to take effect

WASHINGTON, D.C. – A diverse coalition of 326 immigration, civil rights, labor, and social service groups has filed an amicus (friend-of-the-court) brief with the U.S. Supreme Court in United States v. Texas, urging the court to lift the injunction that blocked the executive actions on immigration that President Obama announced in November 2014.

The Obama administration’s expansion of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, as well as a new Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) initiative were stopped by a federal district court in Texas, and that court’s order subsequently was upheld by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. The lawsuit against the president’s executive actions was brought by 26 states. Late last year the federal government appealed the case to the Supreme Court.

“If the injunction is lifted, many families will be more secure, without the looming threat that loved ones will be deported at a moment’s notice,” the brief filed by the civil rights groups argues. “Many deserving individuals will also have access to better jobs and the ability to improve their lives, the lives of their families, and their communities. DHS has discretion to grant or deny applications for the initiatives at issue, and the concocted argument to the contrary should not be used to prevent individuals from even applying.”

The brief was filed by the American Immigration Council, the National Immigration Law Center, the Service Employees International Union, the Advancement Project, LatinoJustice PRLDEF, the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, and 320 other immigrants’ rights, civil rights, labor and service-provider organizations.

In the brief, the groups outline how families and communities would benefit from the initiatives. The brief provides examples of parents and individuals who would be able to contribute more fully to their communities if the immigration initiatives were allowed to take effect.

Among those impacted by the injunction are people who immigrated to the U.S. as children, did not meet the age and arrival date rules under the original DACA program (announced in 2012), but would qualify under the expanded program. These individuals continue contributing to their communities as they await relief from the courts. Also profiled are parents such as Dr. Alina Kipchumba, who came to the U.S. from Kenya 21 years ago, earned her Ph.D., and gave birth to a son in the U.S. She had work authorization but fell out of status when her son, who was born with a serious heart condition, had to undergo multiple heart surgeries that would not have been available in Kenya. Her son’s cardiologist warned that returning to Kenya would be a “death sentence” for her son.

“The stories in the brief illustrate the myriad ways that prospective beneficiaries of DAPA and expanded DACA could contribute to our country if given the chance. These initiatives constitute a lawful exercise of executive discretion, and we hope that the Supreme Court will affirm that in no uncertain terms,” said Melissa Crow, Legal Director, American Immigration Council.

“Groups from more than 40 states and all walks of life agree: we as a country are better off if we allow these initiatives to move forward,” said Marielena Hincapié, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center. “U.S. citizen children whose parents would qualify for this temporary relief from deportation will gain much-needed economic and emotional stability if the court allows these common sense measures to take effect.”

Advocates note that the Supreme Court should not be used to settle a political debate, with anti-immigrant activists trying to push through the courts what they haven’t been able to accomplish through the political process.

“This is a suspect legal challenge brought by Texas and followed up with support from the governors of Florida, Alabama, and North Carolina to tear apart families,” said Juan Cartagena, LatinoJustice PRLDEF President and General Counsel. “The president has clear legal authority on this matter. The purpose of the president’s action is to help immigrant families, many of which have mixed status, come from out of the shadows. These governors need to get out of the way and let the president do his job.”

The harmful effects of the injunction on families must be seriously considered, other advocates emphasized.

“We trust that the Supreme Court will recognize the historic tragedy of the detention and deportation machinery that rips families apart and erodes our justice system,” said María Rodríguez, executive director of the Florida Immigrant Coalition, a partner of the Advancement Project. “The partisan battles waged by corporate interests and immigration demagogues, including Florida’s Pam Bondi, have done great harm to American tradition and families alike. Unfortunately, their extremism does not exist in a vacuum. It concretely affects thousands upon thousands of children and parents who either fear being torn apart or are condemned to live without one another because of deportation. Communities across the nation stand with immigrant families who need relief immediately and for policymakers to end detentions and deportations. We hope that the court will see the motivations behind the effort against DACA and DAPA, and the nefarious effects it has on vulnerable families.”

“President Obama’s deferred action policies would provide administrative relief to hardworking immigrant families who live in our communities and contribute to our economy every day,” said Wade Henderson, president and CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. “But because of this politically motivated, anti-immigrant lawsuit, the president’s initiatives have been frozen, forcing millions of parents and children to continue to live in the shadows, in constant fear of deportation and being separated from their families. We are confident the Supreme Court will uphold the president’s actions.”

“The lives of real people and their American-born children — not some political targets used in talking points on a campaign trail — are at stake in this case,” stated Rocio Saenz, Executive Vice President of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). “We hope the stories of immigrants who reflect our American past and success speak to the justices of the court. But above all, we hope justice prevails against the politics of hate. Far too many families have waited to cross this threshold. It’s time our country set the path forward as we ultimately continue to fight for our north star, lasting immigration reform.”

The full legal brief is available here

For an interactive timeline outlining the process for review by the Supreme Court click here

For more background on the legal challenges to executive action click here

To follow the case in the coming months, visit FightforFamilies.org.

Kuster Discusses Importance of Increasing College Affordability during Forum at Alvirne High School

March 7, 2016 ׀ Rep. Kuster speaking about the importance of lowering the cost of higher education during this morning’s forum.

March 7, 2016 ׀ Rep. Kuster speaking about the importance of lowering the cost of higher education during this morning’s forum.

Hudson, NH – Today, Congresswoman Annie Kuster (NH-02) hosted a forum at Alvirne High School with students, administrators, and community members to discuss the importance of increasing college affordability. During the forum, students and parents engaged with a panel of key stakeholders, who shared initiatives aimed at increasing access and reducing the costs of postsecondary education. 

“For the Granite State to continue to succeed in the 21st century and beyond, we must ensure that our students have access to quality education and training,” said Congresswoman Kuster. “Moreover higher education must be made more affordable for middle-class families. Today was a valuable opportunity to hear directly from the students about their experiences, as well as to discuss how we can make higher education accessible through college savings programs and reasonable loan opportunities. I thank our leaders in postsecondary education and Alvirne High School students for joining today’s important conversation. Education is one of the single most critical investments we can make in our children’s lives, and I remain committed to supporting legislation and initiatives in Congress that will help put higher education within reach for every Granite State student and family.” 

At today’s forum, students spoke about their own higher education aspirations, as well as their thoughts and concerns regarding college affordability.  Kuster was joined at the forum by Alvirne High School students and administrators, Granite State College President Mark Rubinstein, representatives from Nashua Community College, Rivier University, and the New Hampshire Higher Education Assistance Foundation, among others. During the discussion, panelists discussed local initiatives to support college affordability through financial aid awareness and planning services, increased academic preparation and college readiness efforts at the secondary school level, dual admissions with the state’s public two- and four-year institutions, as well as career and technical training options. Kuster also outlined steps she is taking in Congress to help students access postsecondary degrees, including her support for the Every Student Succeeds Act, which rectifies many of the flawed provisions implemented under the No Child Left Behind Act.   

Kuster has long fought to increase the accessibility and affordability of higher education for students throughout New Hampshire. She routinely holds roundtables and forums across the state to hear directly from Granite State students about how she can best support their success in Congress, and she will continue to meet with other students at schools across the Second District.

Senate Rejects Protections for Reproductive Health Service Providers

Planned_Parenthood_logo.svgConcord, NH –Senator David Pierce (D-Lebanon) released the following comments after the Senate defeated SB 542, which would have created the new crime of criminal interference with health services. Its aim is to prohibit and deter criminals who commit attacks on health care facilities. After a series of 12-12 votes where 2 Republican Senators joined the 10 Democratic Senators in support of SB 542, the bill was laid on the table. 

“I am very disappointed that the Senate chose to reject protections for our reproductive health care providers, but I am pleased that we had a bipartisan coalition that recognized that this legislation is not about the reproductive choice issue—it is about protecting health care facilities and their clients who have been viciously and specifically targeted. Our reproductive health facilities provide an array of services such as cancer screenings, family planning counseling, and STD testing and criminals who carry out these targeted attacks need to be held accountable,” said Senator Pierce. 

The Planned Parenthood in Claremont was the target of two acts of violence against its facility in October of last year. The attacks caused the health center to be closed for 6 weeks and carried a price tag of nearly $90,000. 

“The families of Claremont region were without access to critical primary and preventative health care services for weeks last fall because we have criminals who believe their violence is justified because it is directed at reproductive health care facilities. This type of targeted violence should be strongly condemned by all, regardless of how one feels about the reproductive choice issue. I am very disappointed that the Senate decided not to protect the safety and health care needs of our Granite State citizens.”

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka Blasts Trump As An Anti-American Bigot

(Fort Lauderdale, Florida – March 3, 2016) – In a speech today to the Plasterer’s and Cement Workers union (OPCMIA), AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka challenged Donald Trump’s appeal to working class voters:

Trumka said:

Richard_TrumkaWe must come together to elect a president who will raise wages, so working people can build better lives…

That is the choice we face in this presidential election.

On the one hand, Republican candidates have used some of the ugliest, most racist and destructive language I have heard in my lifetime… 

On the other hand, the Democratic candidates have engaged in a substantive and vigorous debate about how best to raise wages.

Donald Trump is tapping into the very real and very understandable anger of working people. 

A majority of people in this country are living paycheck to paycheck.  It’s a precarious way to live…

Listen, I know real down-home talk when I hear it, and I know a load of baloney and bluster, too, and I don’t think I have to tell you that Trump is full of baloney and bluster.

He is also a bigot.  From his anti-American proposal to ban Muslims to his horrendous comments about women and immigrants, Trump is running on hate.  It seems the only group he won’t criticize is the KKK.

Those statements and positions are bad enough.  But what’s getting less attention is how Donald Trump really feels about working people…

First, Trump loves right to work.  He said it is “better for the people” and his position is “100 percent.”  Meanwhile, he is fighting tooth and nail against workers at his hotel in Las Vegas. 

Second, Trump was a major financial backer of Scott Walker and says he admired the way Walker took on public unions in Wisconsin.

Finally, and most disturbingly, Trump says our wages are already too high.  Can you believe that?  Trump is advocating the polar opposite of our raising wages agenda.

You see, Trump says he’s with the American working class, but when you look close, it’s just hot air.

For the full speech click here: http://www.aflcio.org/Press-Room/Speeches/At-the-2016-OPCMIA-West-Coast-Business-Managers-Meeting

Insurance Department Announces Redesign, Major Updates to NHHealthCost.org Website

Screen Shot 2016-03-03 at 1.48.08 PMCONCORD, NH – The New Hampshire Insurance Department announces major consumer-oriented updates to its nationally recognized health transparency website, NHHealthCost.org.

NH HealthCost, which was created by the Insurance Department in 2007, uses actual paid claims data, collected from the state’s health insurers, to show prices for health care procedures at facilities across the state. The website allows people to see the total costs of their procedures, including physician fees, lab fees, and facility fees, based on their insurance type, deductible, and coinsurance (or the amount they would pay if they were uninsured). The site’s goal is to give people knowledge about the real cost of their care so they can make informed choices about how and where to spend their health care dollars.   

“These updates to our renowned HealthCost website give New Hampshire residents even greater transparency on health care costs in the state,” said New Hampshire Insurance Commissioner Roger Sevigny. “People in the Granite State do their research before any important purchase, such as buying a car. They ought to have that same right when it comes to their health care expenses. Through our redesigned NH HealthCost website, people can now find the best prices statewide on 67 medical procedures and 16 dental procedures, as well as information on 65 prescription medications.”

Updates to the NH HealthCost website include: 

Procedures:

The site features 31 new medical procedure costs

  • 16 dental cost estimates
  • Pharmacy retail charges for 35 brand name drugs and 30 generic drugs.
  • Searchable lab tests as well as an averages report
  • Physical therapy
  • Behavioral health
  • Chiropractic care
  • Sleep studies

Quality of care: This new section offers a convenient way to see nationally available quality data on local health care facilities, such as infection rates, patient experience, and readmissions. The goal is to level out price disparities between providers and to increase the quality of care that patients can expect to receive.

A Guide to Health Insurance: The guide features frequently asked questions about getting health insurance, navigating the insurance system, and how to manage costs. The guide is interactive: Users can submit their own questions and give feedback on the information presented.

New Hampshire is considered a national leader in health care transparency. In 2015, it was the only state in the country to earn an A in a national report card on access to health care prices, issued by two nonprofit organizations that focus on health care reform. The report card cited NH HealthCost.org as “a prime example of a price transparency website built with consumers in mind.” 

“We commend New Hampshire for the effort it has put into the site and urge other states to use NH HealthCost as a model when developing price information for their residents,” said the report, developed by the organizations Catalyst for Payment Reform and Health Care Incentives Institute. (More information: http://www.nh.gov/insurance/media/pr/2015/documents/070915.pdf)

The New Hampshire Insurance Department developed NH HealthCost with the help of the University of New Hampshire, the University of Massachusetts Medical School, and many other interested parties in the public and private sectors. 

The website: www.NHHealthCost.org

The New Hampshire Insurance Department’s mission is to promote and protect the public good by ensuring the existence of a safe and competitive insurance marketplace through the development and enforcement of the insurance laws of the State of New Hampshire. For more information, visit www.nh.gov/insurance.

Senator David Watters Applauds Senate Passage of Legislation to Help Finance Pre-Kindergarten Education

CONCORD- Today, the NH Senate approved an innovative “pay for success” financing program for pre-kindergarten education. After the Senate passage of SB 503, Senator David Watters (D- Dover) released the following comments:

“I applaud my Senate colleagues for supporting this innovative approach to financing pre-kindergarten education,” said Senator Watters. “New Hampshire is one of a few states in the country that does not provide early childhood education, but SB 503 gives our communities an alternative way to finance this education without putting the burden on the local school districts.” 

Through SB 503’s “pay for success” model, funding for pre-kindergarten education would come from private investors who would then be reimbursed by the state if the program results in improved third grade reading levels or reduces the cost of special education remedial services. The payments will only be made if savings exceed the costs of the program. The first “pay for success” program was established in Utah in 2013 and has proven effective at reducing the cost of special education services and saving the school districts money. The total savings in the first year of the Utah program was $281,550.

“SB 503 is a ‘New Hampshire’ solution to improving education for our children by creating a partnership between our educators and private investors. I thank my Senate colleagues for their support, as this legislation is critical to expanding access to quality education to our children.”

Governor Hassan Highlights Gateway to Work Initiative at New Hampshire Community Colleges

Governor Touring Community Colleges Across the State to Discuss Program Aimed at Expanding New Hampshire’s Workforce
and Closing Opportunity Gap

 MANCHESTER – As part of her efforts to expand middle class opportunity and build an even stronger workforce that innovative businesses need to grow and thrive, Governor Maggie Hassan today visited Manchester Community College to highlight her Gateway to Work initiative. The visit was part of a statewide Gateway to Work Community College Tour that the Governor launched yesterday at Great Bay Community College in Portsmouth.

“As we educate our young people and build the highly skilled workforce of the future, innovative businesses looking to grow here in New Hampshire need more workers now,” Governor Hassan said. “We have an opportunity to better use the talent of our own people right here in New Hampshire, helping our businesses thrive while closing the opportunity gap for New Hampshire’s children and families.” 

Announced in Governor Hassan’s State of the State Address, Gateway to Work will repurpose existing federal funds to help New Hampshire’s citizens succeed in the workforce by strengthening job training, creating new partnerships between community colleges and businesses for apprenticeship opportunities, helping remove the barriers that cause too many citizens to fail in the workplace, and helping young people in the Granite State get a leg up on their futures.

“Through Gateway to Work, we can provide more of the workers our businesses need to thrive,” Governor Hassan said. “We can help give more of our families the opportunity to work their way to self-sufficiency and into the middle class. And we will do so using only existing federal funds, while achieving long-term savings for taxpayers by moving people off of public assistance.”   

The Department of Health and Human Services will collaborate with New Hampshire Employment Security, the Department of Resources and Economic Development, the Community College System of New Hampshire, and New Hampshire nonprofits to administer the program, refer participants and recruit businesses. The state is aiming to have contracts in place by July 1 to begin implementing Gateway to Work.

PCCC Targets 8 Vulnerable Republican Senators With Home State Pressure

Will Deliver 1.5 Million Petition Signatures With Allies to Offices of Ayotte (NH), Johnson (WI), Portman (OH), Blunt (MO), Burr (NC), McCain (AZ), Toomey (PA), Grassley (IA) Telling Them:
Do Your Job.

Petitions gathered by Organizing For Action (OFA), Progressive Change Campaign Committee (PCCC), MoveOn.org Civic Action, UltraViolet Action, Color of Change, Daily Kos, Demand Progress, People For the American Way, Common Cause, NextGen Climate, CREDO Action, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Rep. Donna Edwards, and Every Voice Action

PCCC Online Ad

PCCC Online Ad To begin appearing on Thursday 

This Thursday — March 3, 2016 — local PCCC members will join supporters of ally organizations to deliver 1.5 million petition signatures to the home state offices of 8 vulnerable Senate Republicans in New Hampshire, Wisconsin, Ohio, Missouri, North Carolina, Arizona, Pennsylvania, and Iowa.

The petitions demand Senate Republicans follow the Constitution and do their job by allowing a fair process on the president’s upcoming Supreme Court nomination. The PCCC will also launch online ads in those 8 states holding Senate Republicans accountable for obstruction.

Petition signatures have been gathered by Organizing For Action (OFA), Progressive Change Campaign Committee (PCCC), MoveOn.org Civic Action, UltraViolet Action, Color of Change, Daily Kos, Demand Progress, People For the American Way, Common Cause, NextGen Climate, CREDO Action, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Rep. Donna Edwards, and Every Voice Action. OFA members will also participate in other events across the nation.

Last week, the PCCC held a press conference in Washington D.C. where they delivered petitions to Mitch McConnell and ask all the senators to “Do Your Job.”

“Senate Republicans have doubled down on obstruction, extremism, and attacking the Constitution,” said Adam Green, PCCC co-founder. “We’re doubling down on home state grassroots pressure, which will be key to winning this fight.”

LIST OF EVENTS PCCC IS PARTICIPATING IN NATIONWIDE:

  • Phoenix, AZ
  • Des Moines, IA
  • Kansas City, MO
  • Manchester, NH
  • Cincinnati, OH
  • Cleveland, OH
  • Milwaukee, WI
  • Winston-Salem, NC (This event is on March 8)
  • Philadelphia, PA
  • Pittsburgh, PA
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