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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

Kuster Introduces Bill to Increase Trade Opportunities for New Hampshire Businesses

 The “Promoting Travel, Commerce, and National Security Act” would facilitate U.S. preclearance operations in Canada 

Washington, DC – This afternoon, Congresswoman Annie Kuster (NH-02) introduced the “Promoting Travel, Commerce, and National Security Act” in the House of Representatives. This bipartisan legislation would streamline travel and commerce operations between the U.S. and Canada, thereby expanding trade opportunities for Granite State businesses and helping to strengthen our national security. Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) introduced companion legislation in the Senate today.

“Since taking office, I have made job creation and support for local business a number one priority. I’m proud to join with Senator Leahy to introduce this bill, which will increase economic and trade opportunities for New Hampshire companies all across the state,” said Congresswoman Annie Kuster. “What’s more, this bill will benefit our tourism sector, which is New Hampshire’s second largest industry. By streamlining travel processes between the U.S. and Canada, my bill will strengthen our national security by helping law enforcement stop individuals who pose a potential threat before they step foot on our soil. This is a win-win all around, and I encourage my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to come together to pass this important piece of legislation.”

“I am proud to support the introduction of this important legislation today along with my House and Senate colleagues. This preclearance agreement between Canada and the United States promotes travel and trade between our two countries and strengthens security along our border. U.S.-Canada trade supports millions of jobs and generates billions of dollars in revenue every year. This legislation will  strengthen those ties and provide Customs and Border Protection agents with the tools to keep our nations secure,” said Congresswoman Louise Slaughter.

The legislation introduced today paves the way for expansion of preclearance facilities, operated by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, at land, rail, marine, and air ports of departure in Canada. The United States currently operates preclearance facilities at 15 airports in six countries, including Canada.  These facilities allow travelers to pass through CBP inspections prior to traveling, expediting their arrival in the United States, and protecting national security by preventing those who should not be traveling to the United States from doing so before they arrive. 

Under a new agreement, the United States will expand its preclearance operations in Canada, which will include rail preclearance facilities for the first time. The Leahy-Kuster authored legislation ensures that the U.S. has the legal authority to hold U.S. officials accountable if they engage in wrongdoing while stationed in Canada – a necessary prerequisite to full implementation of this agreement. 

The bill was introduced in the House today by Congresswoman Annie Kuster, and in the Senate by Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) as the chief Republican cosponsor.  The other original cosponsors of the House bill are Elise Stefanik (NY-21), Suzan DelBene (WA-01), Louise Slaughter (NY-25), Brian Higgins (NY-26), Dan Benishek (MI-01), Dan NewHouse (WA-04), Kevin Cramer (ND-AL), Rick Nolan (MN-08), Chris Collins (NY-27), and Ron Kind (WI-03).

Since taking office, Kuster has pushed for increased job creation and economic opportunity for Granite Staters. She is the author of a Middle Class Jobs and Opportunity Agenda, a blueprint based on meetings with Granite State residents, families, and business owners that outlines common sense steps to help create jobs in New Hampshire. Through her Congress-At-Your-Company series, Kuster routinely visits small businesses and economic development projects across the state to hear how she can help support their success, and she has hosted a number of job fairs to connect employers with Granite Staters looking for work.

Congress Must Act Immediately to Meet Obligations of Failing Coal Country Pensions and Health Benefits

 Time is Running Out for Retired Miners and Families

UMWA President Cecil Roberts Tells Senate Finance Committee that Bipartisan Legislation is “Least Expensive” Option for U.S. Government 

UMWA United Mine Workers LogoWASHINGTON – Testifying today before the U.S. Senate Finance Committee, United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) President Cecil Roberts said Congress must act immediately to meet the nation’s obligations to retired miners and their families. 

America’s mine workers, Roberts said, “spent decades putting their lives and health on the line every single day, going into coal mines across this nation to provide the energy and raw materials needed to make America the most powerful nation on earth.”

Through no fault of their own, Roberts told the senators, retired miners and their surviving spouses now face an imminent loss of modest pension benefits – averaging $530 per month – as well as health care benefits that are literally a matter of life and death for many miners who confront work-related illnesses and injuries. 

Roberts appeared before the Finance Committee, chaired by Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), to urge immediate passage of S. 1714, the Miners Protection Act. The bipartisan legislation, backed by members of both parties, will ensure that America meets its often-stated obligations to America’s coal miners, who risked their lives and well-being for decades to meet our nation’s energy needs.

“UMWA retirees have a much higher level of cardio-pulmonary diseases than the general population,” said Roberts. “They have more musculo-skeletal injuries. They have higher rates of cancers. Many of them have black lung to at least some degree, and thousands have severe cases.”

Because pension funds for retired miners are backed by the taxpayer-guaranteed Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PGBC), said Roberts, any delay in Congressional action now will cause even larger problems later.  The miners’ pension fund is one of the largest in the country.  If it is unable to pay its bills and the PBGC if forced to step in, the PBGC itself could go bankrupt, putting tens of millions of other pensioners all across the country at risk.

Immediate passage of S. 1714, Roberts told the senators, “is less expensive to the government than any other outcome.” 

“Senators and Representatives from both sides of the aisle have worked to secure passage of this vital legislation because they know the disaster that awaits us in the coalfields if we fail to act,” said Roberts. “I’m here today to remind you that we are running out of time.”

NH Senate Commerce Committee Passes SB 488, Pregnant Workers Fairness Act

Bipartisan vote calls for an end to workplace
discrimination against pregnant women
 

Pregnant Woman (Image John Ted Daganato Flickr)CONCORD, NH – The New Hampshire Senate Commerce Committee voted today to pass SB 488, the New Hampshire Pregnant Workers Fairness Act. The bipartisan bill is a companion bill to the federal Pregnant Workers Fairness Act sponsored by both of New Hampshire’s US Senators, Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D) and Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R). 

SB 488 would guarantee the rights of pregnant women in the workplace. It calls on employers to offer reasonable accommodations for pregnant workers, including more frequent or longer breaks, temporary transfer to a less strenuous or hazardous position, job restructuring, and other temporary modifications.

“Despite existing protections, pregnant workers in the United States still face discrimination,” said Kary Jencks, executive director of NH Citizens Alliance. “Pregnant workers are too often forced out of their jobs and denied reasonable accommodations that would enable them to continue working and supporting their families. Pregnancy discrimination complaints are actually on the rise nationally, and the nearly 70% of New Hampshire women who work throughout their pregnancy deserve workplace protections that guard against discrimination.”

“No woman should have to choose between her job and a healthy pregnancy,” said Zandra Rice Hawkins, executive director of Granite State Progress & Education Fund. “We applaud the Senate Commerce committee for standing with women and their families to ensure they have the workplace protections they need to remain in the workforce. The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act seeks to end discrimination and promote healthy pregnancies and the economic security of pregnant women and their families.”

SB 488 passed Senate Commerce Committee with only minor changes, including removing the section stating that “the employer shall have the burden of proving undue hardship.” The bill is expected to be voted on by the full Senate next week. If it becomes law, New Hampshire will join fifteen states, the District of Columbia and four cities that have already passed laws requiring some employers to provide reasonable accommodations to pregnant workers.

The prime sponsor is Sen. Martha Fuller Clark (D-Portsmouth). Co-sponsors include Senator Molly Kelly, Dist 10; Senator Bette Lasky, Dist 13; Senator David Boutin, Dist 16; Rep. Tom Sherman, Rock. 24; Rep. Cindy Rosenwald, Hills. 30; Rep. Becky McBeath, Rock. 26; and Rep. P. Gordon, Rock. 29.


The Stand With Women or Stand in the Way campaign of NH Citizens Alliance and Granite State Progress Education Fund believes that instead of protecting outdated workplace policies that discriminate against women and limiting reproductive rights, our priority in New Hampshire should be to guarantee fair opportunities for women to succeed and to take care of their families.

“Gig” Or “On-Demand” Workers Should Be Considers Employees Under The Law

AFL-CIO Asserts that Gig Economy Workers Are Employees

Read Gig Economy Council Statement Here

uber-logo

One example of the “gig” economy workers are those who drive for UBER

(Washington, DC) –The AFL-CIO Executive Council affirmed that working people in the gig economy share a single common designation: employees.

The Council further affirmed that working people deserve the full benefits that come with that status. On-demand economy companies are increasingly leaving workers without the full rights and protections of regular employees. 

Innovation and technological progress have bolstered productivity, yet too many working people have not reaped the benefits of their labor. In a statement passed by the council labor leaders noted that:

“Making the right policy choices begins with ensuring people who work for on-demand companies enjoy the rights and protections of employees.  Under current law, only workers who are defined as ‘employees’ are protected by the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) and enjoy minimum wage, overtime, unemployment insurance, workers’ compensation, and family and medical leave.”

“Unions have long been fighting back against employers who misclassify working people and create precarious, vulnerable work. This is what we do.  The AFL-CIO is committed to ensuring new technology – and new forms of employer manipulation – do not erode the rights of working people. Rest assured that if employers get away with pretending their workers aren’t employees, your job could be next.”

For decades, precarious and vulnerable work – such as part-time and temporary work with few benefits – have been the reality for a significant part of the workforce, especially for people of color, women and immigrants. The council is calling on companies to accept their responsibilities as employers and provide jobs that pay enough for working people to sustain themselves and their families.

“The AFL-CIO is committed to working with our allies, businesses and community partners to enact policies that will prevent gig economy workers from falling through the cracks,” said AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Liz Shuler. “If we act now, we can build a future of work that promises working people a better life.”

To read the complete statement, click here.

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