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Air Force Agrees to Provide City of Portsmouth $1.3 Million to Continue Ongoing Pease Clean-Up Effort

 PORTSMOUTH, NH — Senator Jeanne Shaheen, Senator Maggie Hassan, and Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter (NH-01) today announced that the U.S. Air Force has agreed to pay the City of Portsmouth $1.3 million to complete next steps in the ongoing Pease clean-up effort.

“Today’s announcement demonstrates a real and ongoing commitment from the Air Force to rid the Pease wells of dangerous water contaminants,” said Senator Shaheen. “Granite State families who are worried about their children getting sick from drinking contaminated water deserve peace of mind, and the additional funding for this carbon filtration system is an important step forward. I’ll continue to work to improve the safety of drinking water in New Hampshire communities.” 

“The announcement of this funding from the Air Force to address water contamination at Haven, Harrison, and Smith Wells  is a step in the right direction, but there is more work to do to ensure that all Granite Staters and their families have access to clean, safe drinking water,” Senator Hassan said. “Communities exposed to emerging contaminants in their water understandably have many concerns about their health, and I will continue working with the Congressional Delegation and federal partners to ensure that those concerns are urgently addressed.”

“Today’s investment by the Air Force is a good next step toward addressing unacceptable PFC contamination in our drinking water,” said Congresswoman Shea-Porter. “I will continue to insist that the Air Force take financial responsibility for both cleaning up our water and for studying the health impacts of the level of PFC exposure that Pease-area residents have already experienced.”

Today’s Environmental Services Cooperative Agreement for Engineering Design Services will require the Air Force to provide the City of Portsmouth with funding to complete design plans for the carbon filtration system that will remove perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs) in water from the Haven, Harrison and Smith Wells, which are treated at the former Pease Air Force Base water treatment facility now operated by the City. This is the third agreement between the Air Force and the City for expenses related to mitigating PFC levels, which have been measured at levels exceeding the EPA’s lifetime health advisory in local drinking water. The first two agreements provided funding for preliminary design services and for a pilot project and demonstration of PFC removal. 

To date, the financial commitment of the Air Force for Pease mitigation activities totals $25 million. The Air Force’s projected $30 million investment in 2017 includes $13 million to retrofit the water treatment facility.

Last month, Shea-Porter’s amendments directing the Department of Defense to fund a CDC health impact study of exposure to PFCs in groundwater around military installations, as well as an amendment she cosponsored to fund ongoing mitigation efforts, passed the House with unanimous support as part of its annual Defense Appropriations bill. 

In April 2017, Senator Shaheen introduced the Safe Drinking Water Assistance Act, bipartisan legislation, which Senator Hassan cosponsored, that would help strengthen Federal and state efforts to improve drinking water systems. The Safe Drinking Water Assistance Act creates a national strategy to coordinate the Federal response to emerging contaminants and provides state assistance in responding to related public health challenges. Shaheen also successfully included a provision in the National Defense Authorization Act that directs the Department of Defense to fund a nationwide health study on the implications of perflourinated chemicals in drinking water. Both Senators and the Congresswoman continue to work to ensure that the Air Force continues to engage with the Pease community and responds to their concerns.

Chicago Teachers Pension Fund Win First Anti-Trust Case Against Big Banks

 Ruling advances case alleging world’s largest investment banks conspired to maintain anti-competitive stranglehold over $275-trillion market.

Case brought forward by the Chicago Teachers Pension Fund

NEW YORK  — In a critical victory for investors and traders across the country, a federal judge ruled today to uphold a majority of claims in a class action lawsuit against many of the world’s largest financial institutions for allegedly conspiring to engineer and maintain a collusive and anti-competitive stranglehold over the market for interest rate swaps (IRS) in violation of federal antitrust laws. In a decision issued by U.S. District Judge Paul Engelmayer, the court ruled that 11 “Dealer Defendant” banks, including Bank of America J.P. Morgan Chase & Co, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, and Credit Suisse, must face claims brought forth in litigation led by the Chicago Teachers Pension Fund, which seeks an injunction against the banks’ anticompetitive arrangement and compensatory damages.

“We are pleased with the judge’s decision and look forward to vigorously pursuing justice for the Chicago Teachers Pension Fund and other investors harmed by this conspiracy by the world’s biggest banks,” said Michael Eisenkraft, a partner at Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll, which is co-lead counsel for the plaintiffs in the class action.

 “For far too long, the world’s banking giants have shut investors out of electronic trading, and today’s ruling is a critical victory in leveling the playing field,” said Carol Gilden, a partner at Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll also representing the Chicago Teachers Pension Fund and working on the case. “Interest rate swaps represent a multi-trillion-dollar market that traders across the world depend upon, and we will fight to ensure investors have access to the transparency, competitive pricing, and faster execution denied to them by the Defendant Banks.”

Interest rate swaps, which are regularly used by a broad spectrum of investors, including pension funds, university endowment funds, hedge funds, and municipalities, allow an entity to swap its fixed interest-rate payments for the floating interest-rate payments of a benchmark, or vice-versa.  Given their daily use across the financial industry, interest rates swaps are a critical, multi-trillion dollar market which investors depend upon.

According to the lawsuit filed in November 2015 in the U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, interest rate swaps have been standardized and ripe for exchange trading for years. Exchange trading brings transparent and competitive pricing and faster execution to a market, thus bringing significant benefits to investors.

As alleged in the complaint, the market for interest rate swaps has been economically ready for standardized exchange trading, but investors remain stuck trading IRS in an inefficient and antiquated market dominated by the Dealer Defendants. The lawsuit alleges that by blocking the entry of exchanges into the IRS market, the banks force investors to trade with them in an opaque and inefficient over-the-counter market, allowing the Dealer Defendants to extract billions of dollars in higher fees and costs. According to the lawsuit, the Dealer Defendants maintained this profit center by conspiring to squash potential market entrants that threatened to bring competition and transparency to the buy-side in the IRS market. As detailed in the complaint, the Dealer Defendants have jointly threatened, boycotted, coerced, and otherwise eliminated any entity or practice that had the potential to bring exchange trading to investors in the IRS market.

The plaintiffs are being represented by Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll and Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan.

Despite Eversource Assurances, Concerns Remain Relative to Seacoast Reliabilty Project 

Durham Expends $90,000 to Date on Independent, Third-Party Analysis to Protect the Health of the Great Bay Estuary

On Friday, July 28, 2017, Durham Town Manager Todd Selig submitted a listing of concerns as part of pre-filed testimony that his community has with regard to the proposed Eversource Seacoast Reliability Project, currently being reviewed by the NH Site Evaluation Committee (SEC).

The $70 million transmission line would run 13 miles from Madbury to Portsmouth, a portion of which would be constructed in the Town of Durham, including through the campus of the University of New Hampshire, and under Little Bay to Newington.

The project is intended to bolster transmission infrastructure in a region with rising power demand.  Many Durham residents have objected to the project, particularly the method of burying cables under Little Bay, arguing it will disturb sediment that could harm water quality.

“The Town of Durham wishes to go on record at this point in time as recommending that the SEC look carefully at all options that would have less impact and be less disruptive from an environmental and public interest perspective,” stated Selig.

Specifically, Durham prefers in declining order of preference the following options:

  1. To support what Durham understands to be the Town of Newington’s position that the Gosling Road Autotransformer Solution would be a far less impactful alternative to this Project;
  2. If the Transformer Alternative is not possible, then Eversource should use horizontal directional drilling (“HDD”) underneath Little Bay as a means of avoiding what could be significant impacts on Little Bay that would result from jet plowing and associated activities;
  3. If HDD is proven to be infeasible, then at a minimum the SEC should require Eversource to revise its plans, as per Durham’s experts’ testimony (see attached letter from Todd Selig to Eversource President William Quinlan dated 7/27/17 outlining concerns identified by GeoInsight-Woods Hole Group and Dr. Steve Jones of UNH), to adequately demonstrate that cable laying will occur under impact controls that will ensure adequate protection of the Little Bay ecosystem, and thus assure the residents of Durham and the Seacoast region that there will be no unreasonable adverse effects on water quality and the natural environment of Little Bay or that the impact on natural resources will be manageably limited in the Little Bay.

“The Town of Durham believes that absent consideration of these alternatives, this Project will have an unreasonable adverse effect on water quality and the natural environment, will unduly interfere with the orderly development of the region, and will not serve the public interest,” stated Selig.

Selig continued, “The residents of Durham consider Little Bay to be a priceless and fragile natural resource that must be protected against adverse impacts, especially when there are better alternatives available that could avoid those impacts.” 

The Little Bay and the Great Bay Estuary as a whole provides critical wildlife habitat, nurseries for seafood production, buffering from coastal flooding, recreational enjoyment, and safe harbor for marine commerce such as lobster fishing and an emerging industry of oyster aquaculture

The Great Bay Estuary also serves as a magnet for tourism supporting the local economy and increases the value of nearby properties.  This contributes to state and local tax revenues, as well as a uniquely special region within New Hampshire and Maine to live, work, and play.  The Great Bay Estuary is part of the National Estuary Program, and it is recognized broadly as an exceptional natural area in need of focused study and careful protection.

Unfortunately, the Great Bay Estuary is showing signs of a failing ecosystem. The 2013 State of the Estuaries Report, published by the Piscataqua Region Estuaries Partnership, showed 12 of 16 environmental indicators with negative or cautionary trends.

“At a minimum, it is imperative that the Eversource Seacoast Reliability Project not contribute in any way toward further degradation of the Little Bay or the Great Bay Estuary,” stated Selig.

Durham resident Vivian Miller, who is leading local opposition to the project slated to move right past her home, agrees the health of the bay is paramount and is advocating for potentially less intrusive means of burying the cable that will not stir up sediment in the water body.

The Durham community has consistently supported “Do no harm to the Bay.” The Bay’s future depends on how the SEC views the value of our precious Estuary and how they decide to protect it; particularly when there are alternatives,” said Miller.  “Eversource either clearly does not understand the delicate nature of the Bay or just thinks no one is paying attention. “It’s important: Let’s make sure!” she continued.

The Gosling Road Transformer Alternative

Representatives from the Town of Durham have been in ongoing contact with representatives from the Town of Newington to discuss the Gosling Road Transformer Alternative. Durham’s understanding of Newington’s position is that the SRP as proposed to the SEC is not in the public interest when one examines all of the required factors.  These factors include that the Transformer Alternative would impact less geography and fewer resources than the proposed Project and that the Transformer Alternative would be better from an economic growth perspective.

Durham supports Newington’s position on this issue.  It is Mr. Selig’s understanding that UNH also supports this position.

“Both Durham and UNH believe that if there is a more viable way to provide the benefits to the electrical grid of the Project without having to construct a whole new transmission line through the Town, the campus and Little Bay that this would be far preferable,” Stated Selig.

The Horizontal Directional Drilling (HDD) Alternative

In the event that the SEC elects not to proceed with serious consideration of the Transformer Alternative, Durham believes the SEC should exercise its authority under RSA 162-H:10,V and hire an independent consultant to look into the option of HDD under Little Bay as a less impactful alternative to jet plowing, concrete mats, and significant associated activities that would be required to install the transmission cable in Little Bay.

The Town and its residents question whether Eversource has properly evaluated the HDD option.  Eversource appears to have completed a limited review of HDD, saying it will take too much time, is too expensive, has environmental risks (from slurry and bore fracking) and that it would create a high level of disturbance for residences (for the layout area) and roads.

Eversource provided generalized information (e.g., marketing brochures of HDD companies, pictures of other projects, etc.) about HDD, with their pre-filed testimony to the SEC and responses to data and record requests, but in the Town’s view it has not provided adequate and specific information to support the reasons it provides for not doing HDD.

The Town of Durham believes that Eversource did not complete an adequate analysis, such as a subsurface geotechnical investigation, to demonstrate to the public or the SEC why HDD is infeasible, or if it is in fact feasible, whether it is less impactful ecologically.

The fact that HDD could be technically challenging should not trump the negative impact of the proposed plan to Little Bay.  More specifically, such an expert should look at Eversource’s costs in the context of other public costs (i.e. costs of cleaning Durham’s and other towns’ point source wastewater discharge to comply with stricter EPA requirements, costs of cleaning Little Bay over prior decades, costs of reclaiming oyster beds by reseeding done over last 20 years, and other relevant public costs expended to revitalize the Bay).

Durham also submits that it is important for an independent, expert analysis to be done that would weigh these issues, along with the environmental risks of jet plowing and associated underwater cable installation activities raised in the Joint Little Bay Testimony, as compared with HDD. Without a clear independent comparison of the risks of jet plowing versus the risks of HDD, the Town believes that there are major uncertainties that make the project risky to the Little Bay.

“We believe that the SEC, the affected towns and their residents, and the region as whole would benefit from such an independent analysis of whether HDD is a better alternative.  Without such an independent review of HDD as compared with the current jet plowing proposal, Town residents feel they are being asked to assume significant risks without the benefit of a thoughtful and thorough analysis of what appears to be a viable and preferable alternative,” stated Selig.

Unitil used HDD in a different part of the same watershed fairly recently to place a natural gas line under the Piscataqua River as part of the Spaulding Turnpike widening project.

Durham’s Position on the SRP at this Time

“At this time, without having seen the agency reports that are due on August 1, 2017 and without having seen a thorough analysis of the Transformer Alternative and the HDD alternative, Durham believes that this Project as currently proposed will have an unreasonable adverse effect on water quality and the natural environment, will unduly interfere with the orderly development of the region, and will not serve the public interest,” said Selig.

To date, Durham has expended approximately $90,000 on independent, third-party expert analysis relative to the environmental impact the proposed SRP may have relative to Little Bay and the Great Bay Estuary.

State agencies are required to issue final permits and conditions to the SEC relative to the project, if any, by August 1, 2017.

To learn more about the Eversource SRP, go to https://www.eversource.com/Content/nh/about/major-projects-infrastructure/new-ham.

Letter to William Quinlan on Eversource SRP 072717

AFL-CIO Executive Council: Working People Need Real Trade Reform, Not Just Rhetoric

 (Silver Spring, Md., Wednesday, July 26, 2017) – For decades, America’s trade agenda has failed working people. Last year, voters in both parties called for change. In the early days of the Trump administration, actions have been initiated on existing trade policies, from assessing the national security impact of steel and aluminum imports to considering reform of the North American Free Trade Agreement and the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement. Updating our nation’s trade deals is vital, but only if the focus is on how to increase and improve the quality of jobs. Much work lies ahead, and the direction and effectiveness of President Trump’s efforts still is unknown.

No task is more pressing than ensuring the administration’s renegotiation of NAFTA results in new rules that reflect the needs and interests of working families, not global corporations. NAFTA has failed working people in Canada, Mexico and the United States. Since NAFTA’s inception in 1994, corporate profits are up, but wages in all three countries are stagnant. Despite increased productivity, workers are not receiving a fair return on their work. There is more trade between the three NAFTA countries, but that trade is unbalanced, with the United States running consistent deficits with Mexico and Canada. The freedom to negotiate together is under attack in all three countries, diminishing the voices of working people and increasing inequality. As with other policy failures, broken trade deals disproportionately have harmed communities of color.

We can do better. NAFTA is not a failure of trade itself, but the result of trade rules rigged to favor global corporations and the wealthy elites in all three countries. Trade should be a cooperative endeavor that benefits us all. For that to happen, NAFTA must change dramatically.

NAFTA and its inequities can’t be fixed with mere tweaks or by substituting language from the failed Trans-Pacific Partnership. Nor should the United States adopt a strategy that pits the working people of North America against each other. We must end the race to the bottom that hurts working families, as it impoverishes our democracy and starves investment in our public infrastructure. We must replace NAFTA’s vicious cycle with a virtuous one—with a set of rules that promote shared prosperity for workers in all three nations.

We must incorporate the lessons learned from NAFTA’s failures into its new rules. This means NAFTA’s labor provisions must be substantially strengthened to improve protections for all working people, regardless of immigration status. NAFTA’s labor rules must meet international standards. Swift and certain monitoring and enforcement tools must replace the current convoluted, ineffective process. This will require effective labor inspections and explicit protections for workers who migrate, including a ban on recruitment fees, accountability for abusive practices by employers and labor recruiters, transparency regarding wages and terms of employment, and real access to justice and legal assistance. Only when all workers share these protections will we be able to effectively join together to negotiate for a better life.

A new NAFTA, with rules that working people help write, is an opportunity to begin constructing a Global New Deal for working families. The critical elements of a new NAFTA are:

  • A democratized renegotiation process
  • Strong labor rules with swift and certain enforcement that prevent the commodification of workers
  • Elimination of corporate courts
  • Enforceable currency rules
  • Stronger rules of origin
  • Protection for responsible government purchasing and Buy American policies
  • Improved screening for foreign domestic investment
  • Improved trade enforcement as part of a robust manufacturing policy
  • Elimination of obstacles to effective trade enforcement
  • New rules to prevent tax dodging
  • Removal of rules that undermine protections for workers, consumers and the environment
  • Commitments to invest in infrastructure
  • Consumer protections that ensure financial stability
  • Prohibition of unsafe and unfair cross-border transportation services
  • Protection for intellectual property while ensuring the right to affordable medicines
  • Prohibition on global corporations from using NAFTA to capture public services for profit
  • Strong environmental rules with swift and certain enforcement

Working people and our unions are united and will mobilize with the same level of intensity as our campaign to defeat the TPP. We will work to advance a set of positive and forward-looking trade rules through a comprehensive public campaign on the ground, online and over the air. The elements of the campaign will include the follow action points:

  • Educate elected officials, policy makers, opinion leaders and all workers about the causes and effects of NAFTA and other U.S. trade policies, showing there is another way, and that we need to act collectively to achieve a higher standard of living;
  • Report and publicize the impact of NAFTA on the quality of life for North America’s working people, including the effect on jobs, wages and negotiating power;
  • Demand greater democracy, transparency and participation in the NAFTA renegotiation process—and publicize any failure to open up the process;
  • Mobilize our members, community allies and all workers to demand a better NAFTA, with rules centered on working people’s policy choices—not those of the corporate class;
  • Develop and execute joint strategies with labor movements and allies in Mexico and Canada to ensure that meaningful and effective protections for working people and higher standards are at the core of any changes to NAFTA; and
  • Utilize all available strategies, including public and social media, to broaden the base of popular engagement and advance our vision of a worker-centered NAFTA.

Congresswoman Shea-Porter Wants To Support People With Alzheimer’s And Their Families

Shea-Porter Co-Introduces Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Confront the Challenges of Alzheimer’s Disease

WASHINGTON, DC – Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter (NH-01) today co-introduced the Alzheimer’s Caregiver Support Act and the Alzheimer’s Research Semipostal Stamp Act in recognition of Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month.  These two bipartisan bills have more than 50 original cosponsors and were endorsed by the Alzheimer’s Association and the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America.

“Alzheimer’s disease is a heartbreaking and growing crisis in New Hampshire. I’m co-introducing these bills because we must act now to support people with Alzheimer’s and their families, as well as to invest in research to find a cure,” said Congresswoman Shea-Porter.

The Alzheimer’s Caregiver Support Act (H.R. 2972) authorizes grants to public and non-profit organizations to expand training and support services for families, and caregivers, of patients with Alzheimer’s disease.

The Alzheimer’s Research Semipostal Stamp Act (H.R. 2973) requires the U.S. Postal Service to issue and sell a semipostal stamp, with the proceeds helping to fund Alzheimer’s disease research at the National Institutes of Health.  The bill is modeled on the popular and successful Breast Cancer Research Semipostal Stamp.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 5 million Americans were living with Alzheimer’s disease in the year 2013, and this number is expected to almost triple to 14 million by the year 2050.  The Alzheimer’s Association calculated that caregivers provided more than 18 billion hours of unpaid care for people with dementia in 2016, at an estimated value of over $230 billion. Compared with caregivers for people without dementia, twice as many caregivers for people with dementia indicate substantial emotional, financial and physical stress.

As a member of the Bipartisan Congressional Task Force on Alzheimer’s Disease, Shea-Porter supports more research to defeat this disease and educating the public about its symptoms and effective management.

One Week After US Withdrawal From Paris Climate Accord, Twelve NH Cities and Towns Lead the Way on Clean Energy

PORTSMOUTH, NH – One week after President Donald Trump announced the United States’ withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement, local leaders in the New Hampshire seacoast are rapidly expanding a community clean energy initiative to save money and help save the planet, one home at a time.

Energize 360 brings together twelve New Hampshire cities and towns in a first-of-its-kind campaign to help residents take control of their energy future by leveraging the power of group discounts and funding clean energy projects in the local communities. The program combines public education with personalized site visits by local clean energy professionals to help people in the participating towns lower their energy use, drive down energy costs, and transition to clean energy in their homes, businesses, and public institutions.

“People are really concerned about the high cost of energy in New Hampshire and our continued reliance on imported fossil fuels,” said Charles Forcey, chair of the Durham Energy Committee and a volunteer coordinator of Energize 360. “While Washington politicians refuse to address the climate crisis, Energize 360 is giving folks the tools they need to lower their carbon footprint and save money through energy efficiency and renewables.”

Every participant in Energize 360 receives a free site visit, a Home Heating Index score, and a comprehensive analysis of their energy use. Depending on the results, they can then choose to install insulation, solar systems, heat pumps, or all of the above at special Energize 360 discounts, and receive help qualifying for available rebates and incentives. The program is open to any resident or business/organization in the participating towns.

Launched in March 2017 by local energy leaders in Durham, Dover, Lee, Northwood, and Portsmouth, Energize 360 this week announced the addition of seven more towns in response to high demand from citizens concerned about the cost of both energy and climate change. The newly-confirmed towns include Exeter, Hampton, Newmarket, Madbury, Rye, and Strafford, and Stratham.

“This program is about educating and empowering communities to bring about the energy transition from the bottom up,” added Energize 360 coordinator Henry Herndon of Dover. “It has been so inspiring to see the groundswell of leadership at the community level.”

In order to encourage widespread participation, Energize 360 provides tiered discounts for consumers and pledges to fund clean energy projects in each community. The discounts and funds available for community projects both increase as participation in the campaign increases. Program participants will have the opportunity to select the free clean energy projects in their towns. Residents of the original five towns must complete their project agreements by July 31st while those in the second seven towns have until August 31st.

Energize 360 is a partnership between Seacoast Regional Energy Hub, Seacoast Area Renewable Energy Initiative (SEAREI), ReVision Energy, and Yankee Thermal Imaging. The participating program vendors were selected by an independent committee through a competitive bidding process that took into consideration competence and cost. Energize 360 discounts cannot be combined with other discounts.

“With the cost of solar panels down 75 percent over the last decade, anyone with a roof or lawn and a clear view to the sun has the potential to generate their own electricity,” said Dan Clapp, General Manager at ReVision Energy. “And thanks to complementary technologies offered by Energize 360, you can now use that power to heat and cool your home, provide hot water, charge your vehicle, and power your daily life.”

Tori Martin of Yankee Thermal Imaging added, “Energy efficiency is by far the cheapest energy resource. Every dollar we invest in energy savings helps to stem the economic drain of energy dollars leaving our state to pay for imported fossil fuels. Energy efficiency is about stimulating our local economy and making New Hampshire more energy independent.”

Energize 360 was not the only local response to President Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris accord. Portsmouth Mayor Jim Blalock, a champion of Energize 360, this week joined 278 other US Climate Mayors, including the mayors of Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Boston, and Nashua, NH in pledging to adopt, honor and uphold the Paris Climate Agreement goals.

Residents can learn more about Energize 360 or sign up for a free consultation at www.Energize360.org.

New Hampshire Congressional Delegation Announces $2.9 Million in AmeriCorps Funding for New Hampshire

 

New grants will support 233 AmeriCorps members in the Granite State

 President Trump’s budget would eliminate the AmeriCorps program

(Washington DC) – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) led the New Hampshire Congressional Delegation in announcing that New Hampshire has received $2.9 million in AmeriCorps funding from the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), the federal agency for volunteering and service programs. Senator Maggie Hassan and Representatives Annie Kuster and Carol Shea-Porter joined Shaheen in today’s announcement. The grants will support 233 AmeriCorps members in the state and create additional funding for Volunteer NH, the Granite State nonprofit organization that administers AmeriCorps programs in New Hampshire. The federal investment is projected to generate an additional $2.5 million in local support.

“AmeriCorps members are an indispensable resource for nonprofits, communities, and the individuals they serve,” said Senator Shaheen. “Citizen service is an essential part of the solutions to many of the challenges New Hampshire faces, which makes President Trump’s proposal to eliminate the AmeriCorps program all the more concerning. I am incredibly glad to have AmeriCorps members and Volunteer NH working hard in the Granite State to make a difference in our communities. I’ll continue to work in the Senate to make sure that President Trump’s misguided budget, and the elimination of the AmeriCorps program, is not enacted. Today, I congratulate the organizations receiving grants, and thank all AmeriCorps volunteers for their commitment to serving our country.”

“I’m glad to join my colleagues in announcing that four outstanding New Hampshire organizations – City Year New Hampshire, Campus Compact for New Hampshire, New Hampshire Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence, and Student Conservation Association – will receive AmeriCorps grants to support their critical work,” said Senator Hassan. “Not only do AmeriCorps programs help support New Hampshire communities, but they also teach volunteers valuable skills that will help them compete in the workforce – which is why it is so concerning that President Trump’s budget proposal would completely eliminate the Corporation for National Community Service and in turn put these important programs and many others in New Hampshire at risk. I look forward to continuing to support their work.”

“I want to thank the Corporation for National and Community Service for awarding these AmeriCorps grants to City Year, Campus Compact for New Hampshire, NH Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence, and the Student Conservation Association,” said Congresswoman Kuster. “These organizations embody the spirit of public service and community that help make the Granite State a wonderful place to live. I am deeply grateful to them and all the men and women of AmeriCorps for their important work, and I look forward to seeing what they do next for our great state.”

“As a Red Cross volunteer in Louisiana after Katrina hit, I witnessed the great work AmeriCorps members performed. Their attitudes and their work ethic made a terrible situation more bearable for the victims, and the volunteers made a huge difference. At home in New Hampshire, I’ve seen the dedication and energy AmeriCorps volunteers bring to serving our K-12 students, seniors, and veterans. I am pleased this grant will allow AmeriCorps to continue harnessing the energy and the compassion of our state’s most valuable resource – our citizens – to perform valuable public service in New Hampshire communities,” said Congresswoman Shea-Porter.

“As Volunteer NH prepares to launch these programs, we welcome hundreds of bright, talented individuals into service across the Granite state,” said Gretchen Berger, Executive Director of Volunteer NH. “AmeriCorps members have made an immeasurable impact in our communities, they will continue to improve lives and address our states most difficult problems through service; including domestic violence, environmental education, land stewardship and education. AmeriCorps service transforms individuals, accelerates their pathway toward meaningful employment and offers them the opportunity to grow as civilly engaged citizens.”

The federal investment includes four grants totaling $1.3 million. AmeriCorps members will tackle some of the toughest problems in New Hampshire including improving educational outcomes for young students, assisting domestic violence victims, and providing conservation and environmental education to residents and visitors in New Hampshire. CNCS will also provide up to $937,015 in education scholarships for the AmeriCorps members funded by these grants to help pay for college, vocational training, or pay back student loans.

The federal investment announced today also includes $645,344 for Volunteer NH!, the Governor-appointed state service commission. Later this summer, Volunteer NH! will make additional grants to support AmeriCorps programs in the state.

Below is a listing of 2017 AmeriCorps competitive grants in New Hampshire:

  • City Year New Hampshire: AmeriCorps members will provide academic and youth development services to students in six public schools in Manchester (50 AmeriCorps members)
  • CCNH Success Corps: AmeriCorps members will increase access to college for 293 economically disadvantaged and special needs youth (127 AmeriCorps members)
  • AmeriCorps Victim Assistance Program: AmeriCorps members will provide direct assistance to victims of domestic and sexual violence and stalking. (26 AmeriCorps members)
  • Student Conservation Association New Hampshire Corps: AmeriCorps members will provide conservation stewardship to public lands and environmental education to residents and visitors. (30 AmeriCorps members)

AmeriCorps engages more than 80,000 members in intensive service annually to serve nonprofit, faith-based, and community organizations at 21,600 locations across the country. These members help communities tackle pressing problems while mobilizing millions of volunteers for the organizations they serve. Since 1994, more than 1 million men and women have served in AmeriCorps, providing more than 1.4 billion hours of service and earning more than $3.3 billion in scholarships to pay for college, more than $1 billion of which has been used to pay back student loan debt.

AmeriCorps is administered by the Corporation for National and Community Service, a federal agency that engages millions of Americans in service through AmeriCorps, Senior Corps, the Social Innovation Fund, and the Volunteer Generation Fund, and leads the President’s national call to service initiative, United We Serve. For more information, visit www.NationalService.gov .

New Hampshire Legislature Becomes 34th State to Allow Electronic Poll Books

Trial Poll Book Devices are Step toward Modernizing, Securing, and Streamlining Elections 

CONCORD – New Hampshire voting rights advocates praise the passage of electronic poll books, which will modernize, secure and streamline elections in the state. The New Hampshire Legislature passed Senate Bill 113 today with strong bipartisan support.

SB 113 will authorize a trial of electronic poll book devices for voter registration and check-in at future municipal and statewide elections and was part of a modernization package that ACLU, America Votes, League of Women Voters NH, and Open Democracy advocated for to relieve congested polling locations and help towns and cities’ Election Day burden.

Having a closed, electronic database available on election day makes it easier for officials to maintain accurate lists of eligible voters and make sure that only eligible American citizens are able to participate in our elections.

“I’m thrilled that the legislature has taken this pragmatic step forward in modernizing our election process,” said bill sponsor and longtime champion Senator Bette Lasky, Nashua. “New Hampshire prides itself on a tradition of strong citizen participation in elections. But we also know that high voter turnout can create long lines at the polls. We must do everything we can to ensure that voting is accessible and efficient for everyone.”

“This pilot is a commonsense solution that gives communities the opportunity to test the system and help election workers process voters more quickly and ensure that busy Granite Staters have every opportunity to participate,” said Olivia Zink, Open Democracy Executive Director. “The program also provides enhanced features that will ensure less errors on the voter rolls and increased efficiency that helps free up more local resources post-election.”

All towns and cities participating in the trial program must have adequate back-up systems and cover all costs associated with electronic poll books. The programs covered in SB 113 must also meet certification standards established by the Secretary of State.

Alliance For Retired Americans: Trump’s Promise Not To Cut Social Security Broken

Budget Proposal Includes Deep Cuts to Health Care, Disability Insurance, Food Assistance and Massive Tax Breaks for Billionaires and Corporations 

The following statement was issued by Richard Fiesta, Executive Director of the Alliance for Retired Americans, regarding President Trump’s fiscal 2018 budget proposal.

“President Trump has betrayed America’s seniors. His White House staff claims that the President’s budget does not cut ‘core’ Social Security benefits, which is a distinction without a difference. Cuts to Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) are Social Security cuts plain and simple. They will weaken the earned benefits that millions have paid for during decades of work.

“Trump’s budget plan takes health care away from millions of Americans. At a time when 10,000 Americans are turning 65 every day, slashing Medicaid funds for elderly health care is wrong-headed and cruel.

“The budget follows through on the Trumpcare health bill passed by House Republicans and cuts more than $800 billion from Medicaid over 10 years. The Congressional Budget Office estimated that this could end Medicaid benefits for about 10 million people – including millions of seniors, the disabled, veterans and children.

“This budget also decimates the Community Development Block Grant, which provides funding to states and communities to fund home-delivered meals for home-bound seniors, through organizations such as Meals on Wheels.

“Trump’s proposal would cut the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) by more than 25 percent, taking benefits away from the 45 million citizens, especially seniors, who need basic nutrition.

“All of this is in addition to slashing the earned pension benefits of current and future federal workers.

“Cutting pensions and other critical programs to fund tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans and highly profitable corporations, which pay little to no tax already, is an affront to working families.

“President Trump’s fiscal 2018 budget is a terrible mix of warped values and blatant dishonesty. The Alliance for Retired Americans will mobilize our 4.4 million members to see that it never advances.”

NH Insurance Department Announces Companies That Have Filed to Offer 2018 Marketplace Plans

Concord, NH – The New Hampshire Insurance Department has received initial form filings from insurance companies that intend to offer medical and dental plans on the 2018 New Hampshire Marketplace (HealthCare.gov).

Four companies have applied to offer individual plans: Ambetter from NH Healthy Families, Anthem, Harvard Pilgrim, and Minuteman Health. Three companies have applied to offer small-group plans to groups of 50 employees or fewer through the Marketplace’s Small Business Health Options (SHOP) program: Anthem, Harvard Pilgrim, and Minuteman Health. Two companies have applied to offer dental insurance, both as individual plans and through SHOP: Anthem and Delta Dental.

New Hampshire’s Health Insurance Marketplace is run by a partnership between the federal government and the state. The Insurance Department reviews forms and rates and then recommends them for final approval by the federal government, which operates the Marketplace. May 12 was the deadline for insurance companies to submit initial form filings to the Insurance Department; companies have until June 2 to submit initial rate filings to the department. The Insurance Department will make its final recommendations to the federal government by September 27, and the federal government will formally sign off on plans by October 12. Open enrollment for 2018 individual plans will take place between November 1 and December 15. (SHOP plans can be purchased by an employer at any time throughout the year.)

By law, the Insurance Department cannot release rate information for 2018 Marketplace plans until November 1. If any proposed rates reflect an increase of 10% or more above last year’s rates, the federal government, through the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), will publish information about them, likely sometime this summer: https://ratereview.healthcare.gov/.

However, the Insurance Department will host two information sessions in June on the health care provider networks likely to be available through Marketplace plans in 2018. The first session will take place Monday, June 26, from 10-11 a.m. in Concord, at the Brown Auditorium, 129 Pleasant St. The second will be held online on Wednesday, June 28, from 11 a.m. to noon. For more information, and to register for either session: https://www.nh.gov/insurance/media/pr/2017/documents/050917-release-nhid-2018-networks-information-sessions.pdf


About the New Hampshire Insurance Department

The New Hampshire Insurance Department can help residents with questions or concerns about their existing coverage. To speak to a member of the Consumer Services Department, call at 603-271-2261 or email consumerservices@ins.nh.gov.

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.

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