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With Shutdown Over, Union Hopes Real Governing Can Begin

AFGE says keeping agencies, employees in budget limbo is disservice to them and nation

WASHINGTON – In response to Congress passing a short-term spending bill to re-open the federal government, American Federation of Government Employees National President J. David Cox Sr. issued the following statement:

“Congress has ended a crisis of its own making, allowing the government to fully reopen after forcing a shutdown at midnight Friday.

“Even though the shutdown lasted just three days, it was long enough to cause a massive disruption to our government operations and widespread confusion for federal workers, federal agencies, and the public.

“None of this would have happened if lawmakers had done their job in the beginning and passed a federal budget on time. Instead most federal agencies are limping by on borrowed time, unable to start new projects, fill new positions, or focus on long-range projects. This counterproductive cycle of short-term continuing resolutions must end now.

“Lawmakers now have 17 days to pass a budget that will fund federal agencies through the rest of the fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30. I urge Congress and the administration to come to the table, resolve their differences, and pass a long-term budget so that federal employees can continue to do their jobs in service to our country.

“Americans deserve to be able to access the programs and services that their tax dollars have funded, and federal employees deserve to be able to go to work without wondering when or if they will get paid.

“I do want to thank lawmakers for ensuring that federal employees who were impacted by the shutdown do not lose any pay. Federal employees and their families should not be forced to go without pay when they are not allowed to do their jobs because Congress cannot pass a funding measure. A special thanks goes to Senator Ben Cardin of Maryland and Congressmen Don Beyer and Rob Wittman of Virginia for first introducing the retroactive pay language in Congress.”

Largest Federal Union Says Government Shutdown is Result of Failed Leadership

AFGE says millions of Americans will feel the effects of federal budget stalemate

WASHINGTON – In response to the federal government running out of funds to continue operations past midnight Friday, American Federation of Government Employees National President J. David Cox Sr. issued the following statement:

“Congress and the administration have only themselves to blame for failing to keep the federal government open. This shutdown is a direct result of lawmakers continuing to punt the ball instead of having the courage to make the tough decisions that we elected them to do.

“Federal employees want to go to work. They believe in their mission and want to provide quality services to the American people. But now, 850,000 of them will report to work on Monday, only to be told to go home, while a million or more will be forced to work without pay for as long as this shutdown drags out.

“Every day that this shutdown continues, more Americans will begin to feel the effects as federal offices close their doors to the public, the government stops paying its bills, and millions of government workers and military service members no longer get paid.

“Failing to fund the government even for a day has real-world consequences. The 2013 shutdown lasted 16 days, cost American taxpayers $24 billion, and caused valuable work to grind to a halt. Hundreds of cancer patients were prevented from enrolling in NIH clinical trials, 6,300 children were denied access to Head Start programs for up to 9 days, 1,200 EPA site inspections were cancelled, and 1,400 OSHA inspections to prevent workplace fatalities and injuries were stopped. These are just a few examples.

“In a government shutdown, it is the American people who pay the price. They deserve to know that the government services they pay for will be there when they need them. I urge lawmakers to come to the table at once, resolve their differences, and pass a budget that ends this shutdown and all the uncertainty that comes with it.”

NATCA Condemns Shutdown That Harms The National Airspace System

Stable, Predictable Funding For National Airspace System Is Essential

WASHINGTON – National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) President Paul Rinaldi and Executive Vice President Trish Gilbert issued a statement this morning condemning the shutdown of the federal government now underway, calling it the clearest proof that the status quo is broken, and a stable, predictable funding stream for the National Airspace System is essential:

“A government shutdown harms the National Airspace System (NAS). Employees, such as air traffic controllers, who are required to work during the shutdown don’t know when they will receive their next paycheck. They cannot be paid until the government is again able to expend funds.

“Making matters worse, these employees won’t have the support for them and their team that is so important in making the system work well. While all NATCA members perform duties that are critical and essential to the NAS, more than 3,000 NATCA-represented employees have been furloughed. These furloughed members work across our bargaining units at air traffic control and other FAA facilities. They are among the hundreds of thousands of federal employees negatively affected by the government shutdown. When these professionals are prohibited from working as a result of political brinksmanship, the flying public and the NAS suffer.

“Whether the shutdown lasts one hour, one day, one week, or more, it reinforces our strong belief that the status quo is broken. The NAS requires a stable, predictable funding stream in order to adequately support: air traffic control services, staffing, hiring and training, long-term modernization projects, preventative maintenance, ongoing modernization to the physical infrastructure, and the timely implementation of NextGen modernization projects. The NAS continues to be challenged by the lack of a stable, predictable funding stream. The constant funding crises that arise from stop-and-go funding continue to wreak havoc on our system and perpetuate the current staffing crisis, which has resulted in a 29-year low of certified professional controllers.

“We will not rest until Congress ends the shutdown. In the long term, we will continue to advocate for the kind of change that will ensure the NAS has a stable, predictable funding stream for years to come.”

‘Marsy’s Law’ A New Constitutional Amendment Being Proposed In New Hampshire

New Hampshire’s Top Elected Leaders Announce Bipartisan Support for Constitutional Amendment to Create Equal Rights for Victims of Crime

Governor, Senate and House Leaders Join Victims, Law Enforcement, Prosecutors, and Advocates to Support Marsy’s Law for New Hampshire

Concord, NH – A nationwide effort brought to the Granite State by the New Hampshire Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence has quickly surged to a major policy priority for Governor Chris Sununu and legislative leaders in both parties, who seek to pass a constitutional amendment recognizing rights for victims of crime. Governor Sununu joined Senate and House leadership and dozens of victims, law enforcement, and advocates to launch efforts to pass Marsy’s Law for New Hampshire.

While most states provide crime victims with constitutional-level protections, New Hampshire remains one of only 15 that does not. Once passed by the legislature and adopted by the voters, Marsy’s Law will grant constitutional rights to crime victims on par with those provided to the accused and convicted.

Under the Marsy’s Law for New Hampshire amendment, crime victims would be afforded the following rights:

  • The right to be provided with notice of all proceedings involving the accused
  • The right to be heard in any proceeding involving release, plea, sentencing, disposition, and parole
  • The right to reasonable protection from the accused
  • The right to reasonable notice of any release or escape of the convicted
  • The right to restitution resulting from the financial impact of the crime

“New Hampshire’s constitution lacks important rights like notifications for victims, the right to be present in court, and the right to have a voice in the process,” explains Governor Sununu. “Granite Staters have long supported equal rights, and this constitutional amendment is necessary to ensure that our state’s constitution protects us all.”

“Right now, victims have statutory rights, but not constitutional rights,” explains Senator Sharon Carson, primary sponsor of Marsy’s Law for New Hampshire. “By elevating the basic rights of the victim to meet the rights of the defendant, we will restore balance and ensure that victims also have a voice in the courtroom.”

“When dealing with issues affecting victims of crime, elected officials must put partisan differences aside and act with one voice,” says Senate Democratic leader Jeff Woodburn.  “This amendment does not impact the rights of the accused, rather it creates a system were victim’s rights and defendant’s rights are balanced.”

“This will be a priority for House leadership on both sides of the aisle, and we urge our colleagues to recognize the importance of equal rights in our criminal justice system,” said NH House Speaker Gene Chandler

“Victims of crime shouldn’t be re-victimized by New Hampshire’s criminal justice system. The clear inequality in that exists in New Hampshire’s Constitution must be addressed this legislative session” said House Democratic Leader Steve Shurtleff.

“In recent years, New Hampshire’s lawmakers have passed some of our nation’s most comprehensive victims’ rights laws. However, without state constitutional rights, victims of crime will always be at a distinct disadvantage in New Hampshire’s criminal justice system. The passage of Marsy’s Law is a critical step toward ensuring fairness in our criminal justice system” says Amanda Grady Sexton, Director of Public Affairs for the NH Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence and State Director for Marsy’s Law for New Hampshire.

About Marsy’s Law:

The Marsy’s Law movement began in 1983, when a young woman named Marsy Nicholas was stalked and killed by her ex-boyfriend. Only a week after her murder, Marsy’s mother and brother, Henry T. Nicholas, walked into a grocery store where they saw the accused murderer. The family, who had just come from a visit to Marsy’s grave, had no idea the accused murderer had been released on bail. In an effort to honor his sister, Dr. Henry Nicholas has made it his mission in life to give victims and their families across the country constitutional protections and equal rights.

For more information on the Marsy’s Law for New Hampshire initiative, please visit https://marsyslaw.us/marsys-law-state-efforts/new-hampshire/ and follow us on Facebook (Marsy’s Law for New Hampshire) and Twitter (@MarsysLawforNH) #ML4NH

Congresswomen Kuster and Shea-Porter Push For A Return Of Net Neutrality

Today, Congresswomen Carol Shea-Porter (NH-01) and Annie Kuster (NH-02)  announced her support for a Congressional Review Act resolution sponsored by Congressman Mike Doyle (PA-14) to reverse the FCC’s repeal of net neutrality protections.

In December, the Federal Communications Commission voted to reverse the Open Internet Order, which regulated Internet Service Providers (ISPs) in order to ensure net neutrality.

“We can’t stand by as the FCC and big corporations steal our right to equal access to the Internet,” said Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter. “I am cosponsoring this resolution because we need to reverse the FCC’s shameful repeal of net neutrality protections. The FCC’s decision will allow Internet service providers to favor big businesses over startups, hurting New Hampshire innovators; it needs to be stopped.”

“The message I’ve heard from thousands of Granite Staters has been abundantly clear, Congress should overturn the FCC’s misguided proposal to repeal net neutrality protections,” said Kuster. “It is imperative that New Hampshire consumers and small businesses are able to maintain the freedom to access internet services without obstruction from Internet Service Providers.  To compete in a 21st Century economy, we must ensure that the internet allows for a free exchange of ideas, and this common sense legislation would pave the way for a simple up or down vote in Congress to restore net neutrality protections for all Americans.”

The resolution has the support of 50 Senators, just one vote shy of what would be needed to reverse the FCC’s decision using Congressional Review Act procedures.

Last month, Shea-Porter sent a letter with the New Hampshire congressional delegation to New Hampshire Attorney General Gordon MacDonald and Governor Chris Sununu, urging them to take action to protect Granite State consumers and small businesses from the negative impacts of the FCC’s repeal of net neutrality protections. Shea-Porter and 118 colleagues also sent a letter asking FCC Chairman Pai to delay the scheduled net neutrality vote due to public comment irregularities.

Senator Push Legislation To Help Veterans Get CDL Certificates

Bipartisan Legislation Cosponsored by Senators Shaheen and Hassan to Ease Requirements on Military Members Seeking Commercial Driver’s Licenses Signed Into Law

(Washington, DC) – The bipartisan Jobs for Our Heroes Act of 2017, which Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Maggie Hassan (D-NH) cosponsored, was signed into law by the President this week. The legislation, introduced by Senators John Cornyn (R-TX) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), streamlines and eases the burden on the process whereby active-duty military, reservists, and veterans apply for their commercial driver’s license.

“This bipartisan bill eliminates an unnecessary, bureaucratic obstacle so our brave men and women have easier access to the job opportunities they deserve,” said Senator Shaheen. “This legislation cuts through burdensome red tape so active-duty service members and reservists who gained experience operating trucks or buses in the military can more easily secure jobs here at home. I’m glad to see the Jobs for Our Heroes Act signed into law and will continue to prioritize bipartisan efforts on behalf of our military members and their families.”

“Service members, reservists, and veterans have sacrificed bravely in defense of our freedoms, and they deserve to use the skills that they developed during their service to find civilian jobs,” said Senator Hassan. “Active-duty service members and reservists with training and experience in operating large military vehicles should be able to use that experience to qualify for a commercial driver’s license. This bipartisan legislation will make it easier for them to do that. Improving veterans’ access to good-paying civilian jobs is paramount, and working across the aisle to fulfill that goal will continue to be a top priority.”

The latest surface transportation reauthorization bill, the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, directed the Secretary of Transportation to establish a unique, streamlined set of standards for veterans applying for a CDL. The standards exempt veterans from all or a portion of civilian commercial vehicle driving tests if that veteran had experience driving similar vehicles while in the armed forces or reserves.

However, the FAST Act did not include active-duty members of the military and reservists in their application of standards for veterans with previous training in military driving. To correct this, the Department of Transportation (USDOT) granted a two-year exemption allowing states to waive the commercial driver’s licenses knowledge test for current service members, reservists, and national guardsmen if they completed military heavy-training programs and had been regularly employed in a military position requiring the operation of heavy vehicles within the past year prior to their application.

The Jobs for Our Heroes Act of 2017 makes the USDOT’s two-year exemption permanent, providing active-duty service members and reservists the same training and testing standards granted to veterans under the FAST Act. The legislation also makes it easier for veterans to receive the DOT-required health examination to hold a commercial driver’s license.

After Two Years, Amherst Teachers and School Board Reach Agreement

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Amherst, NH –  The Amherst School Board (“Board”) and the Amherst Education Association (“AEA”) are pleased to announce they have reached agreement on a four- year collective bargaining agreement effective July 1, 2018, subject to approval of cost items by Amherst voters this March.

Amherst PreK-8 teachers have been working under an expired agreement for two years, and this four-year agreement provides stability for teachers, the Amherst School District and taxpayers, allowing all stakeholders to better plan for the future.

To balance the needs of teachers and taxpayers, concessions were made on health insurance with the greatest concessions coming from the costliest health plan. The health insurance cost sharing arrangement will shift more of the premiums towards teachers each year, with the costliest plan shifting at a higher rate than less expensive plans – essentially, teachers who choose the more expensive plan will pay more for that plan.

The new agreement also addresses Board and AEA concerns about retirement. A scaled approach to limit the District’s long-term retirement obligations will ultimately eliminate costs associated with Section 14.4 of the previous agreement. Over time, the retirement model will shift away from a defined benefit plan to a defined contribution plan, yielding significant savings for the District.

Teachers who have not been paid according to experience for the past two years due to an expired collective bargaining agreement will have their experience steps corrected over the first two years of the agreement in exchange for a 0% cost of living adjustment during those two years, followed by two years of a step plus a 2% cost of living adjustment. Teachers at the top of the salary scale who did not receive cost of living adjustments in four of the previous five years will see increases of 3% in the first two years and 2.8% in the second two years of the agreement.

This agreement affirms the commitment of the Board and the AEA to providing educators with the development, resources and support needed to ensure the success of every student. This also means attracting, developing and retaining quality educators and staff who share our commitment to excellence in teaching as outlined in the SAU 39 Strategic Plan, and retaining Amherst’s ability to ensure that every teacher in the classroom is qualified, caring and committed.

Throughout the past few months, negotiations have been productive, with the Board and AEA able to reach mutual goals through a collaborative process. Both teachers and Board members alike are deeply committed to providing Amherst students with a high-quality education and allowing every student to succeed. The Board and AEA believe this new agreement will help achieve these goals while remaining fiscally responsible.

The tentative agreement reached by Board and AEA negotiating teams in December has already been ratified by teachers and the full school board, and will be presented to voters for approval as part of the Amherst School District budget process for the 2018-2019 school year.

New Hampshire Legislative Children’s Caucus Votes to Support Transgender Freedom

CONCORD, N.H. — In a near unanimous vote, the Children’s Caucus will now formally support the newly filed HB 1319. HB 1319 will update New Hampshire’s existing nondiscrimination laws – which currently protect people from discrimination at work, in housing, and in places open to the public – to also protect people who are transgender.

The NH Children’s Caucus is a group of bipartisan legislators committed to the children of New Hampshire. The Caucus voted to support HB 1319 which will affirm the dignity of transgender Granite Staters – including transgender parents and children – and ensure their freedom and opportunity for all.

Below is a statement from Linds Jakows, Campaign Manager of Freedom New Hampshire:

“We’re so proud that HB 1319 has earned the endorsement of the Children’s Caucus. This legislation is critical to ensuring that all children in New Hampshire – including those who are transgender – are safe and protected in the communities they call home. The Granite State  should be a land of freedom and opportunity for all, and HB 1319 will provide urgent legal protections for transgender people, including transgender youth.

“Transgender youth are at a disproportionately high risk of substance abuse, depression, and even suicide. In fact, an estimated 40% of transgender adults reported having made a suicide attempt. 92% of these individuals reported having attempted suicide before the age of 25. It is paramount that we ensure that all children know that they will be protected by the laws of our state and that they have happy, healthy, productive lives to look forward to.

“Transgender people are our loved ones, friends, and family members. It is clear that support is growing for full opportunity in the Granite State as more of us are introduced to our transgender neighbors. Updating the law is one more tool to help ensure that every person in our state – including those who are transgender – is able to take advantage of every opportunity and live their lives free from discrimination.”

Freedom New Hampshire is a nonpartisan coalition working to educate people about what it means to be transgender, the unique hardships that transgender people face and to grow support for fair and equal treatment of transgender Granite Staters under the law.

Mayor-Elect Joyce Craig Names City Hall Team

Manchester, NH — Today, Mayor-elect Joyce Craig announced the hiring of Ryan Mahoney as Chief of Staff; Lauren Smith as Policy and Strategic Outreach Director; and, Donald Stokes as Community Engagement Director.

Former Chief of Staff for the New Hampshire House of Representatives, Ryan Mahoney will serve as Craig’s Chief of Staff and direct all operations in the Mayor’s office. Mahoney, of Manchester, most recently served as the senior staff member to NH State Senate Minority Leader Senator Jeff Woodburn and the NH State Senate Democratic Caucus. Mahoney will rely on his extensive experience in government administration to support Mayor-elect Craig’s plans to improve and modernize the function of city government.

Lauren Smith will act as Policy and Strategic Outreach Director and will work with city officials, business and community leaders, and residents to implement an agenda that builds a stronger Manchester. Smith will assist Mayor-elect Craig in implementing her innovative plans to improve our city with an emphasis on making Manchester’s school district a model for educating our children for the jobs of tomorrow. Prior to joining Craig’s staff, Smith served as the Communications Director for SEA/SEIU Local 1984, managing communications to over 12,000 public and private-sector workers across New Hampshire.

Donald Stokes will join the team as Community Engagement Director. A recent graduate of Saint Anselm College, Stokes worked on Mayor-elect Craig’s 2017 campaign, as well as on the re-election campaign of Executive Councilor Chris Pappas. Stokes will oversee interactions with residents to ensure the Mayor’s office is more open, responsive and accessible than ever.

“As we begin the hard work of building a stronger Manchester, I am thrilled to announce the hiring of my key staff members,” said Craig. “Ryan, Lauren and Donald share my desire to make the mayor’s office work in the best interest of all Manchester residents. As a team, we are excited to address Manchester’s challenges and ensure that the Queen City reaches its full potential.” 

Freedom NH Applauds Governor Sununu’s Commitment to Civil Rights and Diversity

Today, Governor Chris Sununu joined Attorney General Gordon MacDonald to announce the signing of an executive order establishing the Governor’s Advisory Council on Diversity and Inclusion, and the formation of a new Civil Rights Unit at the New Hampshire Department of  Justice. New Hampshire NAACP State Coordinator Rogers Johnson, community leaders and State Government officials joined Governor Sununu and Attorney General MacDonald at today’s announcement.

“Today is an incredibly important day for New Hampshire,” said Governor Chris Sununu. “If we really want to be the Live Free or Die State, we must ensure that New Hampshire is a place where every person, regardless of their background, has an equal and full opportunity to pursue their dreams and to make a better life for themselves and their families. I am proud to join Attorney General MacDonald to bring together leaders from across the State to engage in these efforts, and to establish the first Civil Rights Unit in the history of the New Hampshire Department of Justice. The actions we are taking today will keep New Hampshire on the forefront of efforts to combat discrimination and promote diversity and inclusion. As Governor, I am committed to ensuring that everyone is welcome and valued in the Granite State.”

The new Advisory Council will work collaboratively with the New Hampshire Commission for Human Rights and any other relevant State entities to review state laws, regulations and policies and recommend changes to further combat discrimination and promote diversity and inclusion.  The Council will also recommend ways in which the State can support local and community efforts and partner with non-governmental organizations to advance diversity and inclusion.  Governor Sununu announced that Rogers Johnson, the State Coordinator of the New Hampshire NAACP, has agreed to chair the Council.

“The course we are about to undertake is nothing short of historic, and I am humbled that I was asked to be a part of it,” said Rogers Johnson.

Attorney General Gordon MacDonald offered his thoughts on today’s announcements and the new Civil Rights Unit.

“The creation of the Civil Rights Unit reinforces and advances the fundamental mission of the New Hampshire Department of Justice to enforce our laws, protect our residents and visitors, and provide training, resources and support to state and local officials,” said Attorney General MacDonald.  “I thank Governor Sununu for his strong support of this initiative.  I am delighted that Assistant Attorney General Elizabeth Lahey has agreed to be the first leader of the Civil Rights Unit.  She brings to this new position not only exceptional skills as a lawyer but also a deep commitment to equality and justice.”

Freedom New Hampshire applauds Governor Chris Sununu’s decision today to establish an Advisory Council on Diversity and Inclusion and Attorney General Gordon MacDonald’s creation of the Civil Rights Unit within the NH Department of Justice.

Freedom New Hampshire is the nonpartisan coalition of businesses large and small, law enforcement, schools, anti-violence advocates, civic leaders, faith leaders, and transgender residents and their families working to introduce Granite Staters to their transgender neighbors and to make the case for equal opportunity and freedom from discrimination.

Below is a statement from Linds Jakows, Campaign Manager of Freedom New Hampshire:

“We applaud the Governor’s leadership and recognition that transgender Granite Staters deserve the opportunity to work hard and provide for their families like anyone else. The establishment of this Advisory Council is an important first step towards ensuring that the Granite State is welcoming to all.

“Right now, under New Hampshire state law, there are no measures that explicitly protect transgender people from discrimination in the workplace, access to housing, or public spaces like restaurants, shops, and government buildings. There are thousands of transgender people living and working in our communities, but despite growing public awareness of and support for them, they still face disproportionate rates of discrimination, harassment, and violence in all areas of life.

“New Hampshire lawmakers can do something about this. They can enact HB 1319, legislation to affirm the dignity of transgender Granite Staters and ensure their freedom and opportunity for all. Updating the law is one more tool to help ensure that every person in our state— including those who are transgender—has the opportunity to earn a living, meet their obligations, provide for themselves and their families, and build a better life.

“Treating transgender people with dignity and respect is not only the right thing to do, it’s good for business. Business leaders want to work in states where their employees, customers and families can live and work without fear of discrimination. Businesses large and small, tourism boards, chambers of commerce, as well as conference and major sporting events organizers have been at the forefront of the fight for LGBT freedom. They know that if New Hampshire is going to compete in the U.S. and global markets, it must invest in its reputation as an open and welcoming place to do business.

“Transgender people are our neighbors, friends, coworkers, and family members. Now more than ever, it is critical that we ensure that all people – no matter who they are – are welcomed, valued, and safe in the communities they call home. We look forward to working with the Governor, the Attorney General, and other members of the Advisory Council to make the Granite State a place of freedom and opportunity for all.”

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