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GOP Candidates in New Hampshire Celebrate Potential Tax Hike on Granite State Working Families

Frank Guinta (Image by Mark Nassal)

 Frank Guinta 1 (Image by Mark Nassal)

Scott Brown, Frank Guinta, Andrew Hemingway, Bill O’Brien celebrate court ruling that would raise taxes for 48,000 NH working families while sending their money to other states; Potential tax hike only possible because NH Republicans refused to create a New Hampshire-run health care exchange

Concord, NH – GOP candidates up and down the ballot in New Hampshire are celebrating a potential tax hike on Granite State working families. A federal district court in Washington, D.C. today issued a ruling in the Halbig v. Burwell case that would take away health care tax credits from families and small businesses that live in states where conservative Republicans blocked a state-based exchange.

The ruling trumpeted by U.S. Senate candidate Scott Brown, Congressional candidate Frank Guinta, Gubernatorial candidate Andrew Hemingway, and Speaker of the House candidate Bill O’Brien – all Republicans – would raise costs on average $3,480 for the 48,000 Granite Staters who currently use the Affordable Care Act subsidy to afford quality health care coverage or who are eligible to do so.

“On average, these Granite Staters stand to lose an annual $3,480 tax credit and yet politicians like Scott Brown and Frank Guinta are cheering,” said Zandra Rice Hawkins, executive director of Granite State Progress. “Scott Brown voted to continue $24 billion in tax breaks for the five largest oil companies in the United States, but he supports taking away a $3,480 tax credit from tens of thousands of New Hampshire working families. Worse, New Hampshire taxpayers would continue to pay for health care coverage for residents of other states.”

“Some of the same politicians celebrating this ruling are the very ones who got us in this predicament to start. Bill O’Brien and Andrew Hemingway worked to block New Hampshire from creating and running its own health care exchange; doing so would have allowed us to have our own uniquely New Hampshire approach and would have guarded us against this court decision,” Rice Hawkins said.

Despite the celebratory campaign statements, it is questionable whether the district court ruling will be upheld. Today’s ruling was made by a majority conservative 3-judge panel and may be overturned by the full DC Circuit en banc panel, especially in light of a separate unanimous ruling today by the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals that upholds the subsidies.

SEA/SEIU Local 1984 Responds to Governor Hassan’s Executive Order for Spending Freeze

SEIU 1984 Logo

SEIU 1984 LogoA Statement from the SEIU Local 1984

Concord, NH, May 22, 2014 – Earlier today, the Joint Legislative Fiscal Committee unanimously approved Gov. Maggie Hassan’s plan to issue an Executive Order to immediately freeze state hiring, equipment purchases and out-of-state travel. This comes on the heels of last week’s disappointing news that April’s revenue came in at $22 million less than projected in the state budget.

Last week the Governor wrote in her request that “we should act prudently, responsibly, and expeditiously to continue to ensure a balanced budget.” The Governor’s response to the shortfall was sensible and necessary to deliver a balanced budget for the biennium.

We assert that it is not this governor or the state employees who are holding NH back from being the best it can be.

April revenue projections were approved by the Legislature, as is the entire budget. While we are disappointed the actual revenues fell short, we aren’t surprised, given the corporate tax breaks the O’Brien legislature implemented two years ago.

When you combine the tax code changes and more businesses applying for tax credits with the state’s recent bond outlook warning from Standard & Poor’s; the dispute over the Medicaid Enhancement Tax; and class action lawsuits still pending; it is apparent that longstanding and risky legislative behavior is undermining NH’s future, rather than strengthening it.

Since 2006, the budgets passed by the Legislature have eliminated 2,000 good full-time jobs from the state employee workforce. Currently, including vacancies – some of which are intentionally held vacant to meet budget mandated cuts – we are operating with a workforce 27 percent smaller than it was pre-recession.

The freeze Gov. Hassan is now forced to impose will only further delay and diminish the delivery of critical services and leave more citizens with unmet needs.  This will also leave state employees and the people relying on the services they provide in a constant state of uncertainty.  Such uncertainty is damaging to the state’s economy and future. We need strong budgets with well-developed and funded priorities to put a stop to all the uncertainty NH taxpayers and businesses are experiencing.

SEA/SEIU Local 1984 stands ready to support and advocate for the employees who are once again being asked to serve and do more with less.

Former Speaker Considers A Run In NH CD 02

From Concord Monitor
From Concord Monitor

From Concord Monitor

Can you believe it. The elections were only four months ago and we are already talking about the 2014 elections.

I did hear the funniest thing this week.  Former Speaker of the NH House, Bill (the bully) O’Brien is considering running for the US House against Rep Annie Kuster.    Stop laughing, he is serious.

“I’m concerned for the country, I really am. I think we need another fiscally responsible voice down in Washington.” (National Journal)

Could you just imagine that campaign?  I mean everyone would have something to say about Candidate O’Brien.  The women’s organizations would cite his extreme views on women’s health.  The LGBT community would bring up his extreme views on gay marriage and gay rights.  Then the unions would have a field day highlighting his extreme stance against unions by trying to repeal collective bargaining in New Hampshire.

How do I know what they would say? Because that is exactly what they said this election. Speaker Bill O’Brien was the TEA Party leader who led the Republican party into the dumpster this election.  Literally everything that went wrong in the last legislative session could be blamed on Bill O’Brien.

I find it absolutely hilarious that he thinks he could win in CD2 when he could not even win both towns in his own district.  I wish I had an ego that big.

Since we are already talking about NH CD2, I will go ahead and say it.  I think that former Senator Lambert should also hang up his political shoes.  He would have been crushed in Nashua if he would have ran.  He is an unknown.  He rode the TEA Party revolution to the NH Senate (I am still scratching my head over that).  He had no real political experience.

I actually met Sen Lambert at a legislative event in Nashua.  We asked him questions about legislation being pushed through the NH Senate.  He would respond, I will have to look into that because I am not really familiar with that bill.  My response was, “Really, you are the prime sponsor of the bill.”  I would never in a million years vote for former Senator Lambert.

If these are the people that the NH GOP plans to put up against Annie Kuster in 2014, I feel pretty secure in Rep Kuster’s reelection.

Why Labor Should Be Pushing Harder For Medicaid Expansion

Medicaide Eligible

Workers in America are continuing to see this corporate race to the bottom.   Lower wages, and benefit reductions around every corner.  How long has it been since an employee was given healthcare options for a part time job?  Now even full time employment does not guarantee a living wage or any healthcare options.

Over the last four years labor unions have been working with President Obama to pass and institute the Affordable Care Act.  Part of the Affordable Care Act is an expansion of the Medicaid program.

Medicaid is a healthcare program that has one simple purpose. Providing healthcare options to low income, and needy families.  Yet here in New Hampshire some legislators are against the expansion of this program.

Medicaide Eligible

Why would any legislator be against helping needy families?  As you can plainly see from this chart over 50% of all Medicaid money goes directly help children in low income families.   Most of these families would be living without any healthcare option at all if it were not for Medicaid.

You may be saying, well there are not that many people in New Hampshire who need this kind of assistance.  You would be completely wrong.  According to the data from the NH Citizens Alliance, over 130,000 people qualified for Medicaid in 2010. Remember 70,000 of those qualified people are children.

So how can we fix this? There are multiple answers.  First, we in the labor movement must continue to push our legislators for higher wages, especially a higher minimum wage.   Raising the minimum wage will left lift many of these families out of poverty and put them on a better path.

Second, we need to organize.  Unions have always fought for healthcare for their workers.  In many cases unions have given up pay raises to keep healthcare affordable.  We need all employers to see that providing their employees the option to have healthcare at a reasonable price is a benefit to everyone.

Third, we need to expand the Medicaid program until such a time when everyone has coverage either through their employer first then through Medicaid or Medicare if needed.

Until such time that every worker has the opportunity to have good reasonable healthcare options, I will continue to push for more Medicaid options here in New Hampshire.

Next week will be the first test for the expansion of Medicaid with the NH House hearing on expansion bills. Rep. Bill O’Brien’s bill, HB 271 (which wants to stop the expansion), will be debated in Reps Hall at 10 am on Feb  5th.  We need to make a strong showing and be there to push back for all the needy children who need medicaid. The NH Citizens Alliance is hosting a lobby day (more information here)  and I hope you will join us.

Protecting the little guy, isn’t that what labor has always been about?

Granite State Progress Testimony Against HB 323 RIGHT TO WORK for Less

Testimony in Opposition to HB 323: An Attempt to Pass Right to Work for Less
January 30th, 2013

My name is Caitlin Rollo and I’m the political director of Granite State Progress, a multi-issue advocacy organization working on issues of immediate state and local concern.

I am here, yet again, to testify against Rep. O’Brien’s on-going attempt to undermine the rights or workers in New Hampshire. After countless hours spent in the last two years debating this measure, we are back again today to repeat what we’ve said before, what the people of New Hampshire expressed with the results of last Fall’s election, what Gov. Lynch and Gov. Hassan have repeatedly said, and what, ultimately, the House and Senate decided. This bill would do nothing to drive economic development; it would interfere in employee-employer agreements. It is still, after countless hours of protest, testimony, conflict, and chanting, terrible public policy and should, still, be voted down.

To briefly recap how we got to this point, I think, will illustrate that this bill has never enjoyed the support of the citizens of New Hampshire and should be dismissed with as little fanfare as possible. This legislation, then number HB 474 was introduced in the NH House on January 6, 2011. It passed the House on February 15, 2011 by a roll call vote of 221-131. The NH Senate then passed it by a margin of 16-8 on April 20, 2011. Democratic Governor John Lynch vetoed the bill on May 11, 2011. Then-speaker O’Brien publicly announced that the NH House would vote on whether to override or sustain the Governor’s veto on Wednesday, May 25th.

On the anticipated day of the veto vote, O’Brien belatedly realized he did not actually have the votes to override the Governor’s veto. The Speaker decided to postpone it rather than face the rejection of his extreme agenda. It was a miscalculation that would follow him for the next 8 months, over a span of 7 House Sessions. Then, refusing to name when the veto vote will be taken, O’Brien called the House back into special session three times in a legislative maneuver to get the right vote count in the room. The November 30th special House session fell during a National Council of State Legislator’s conference, causing several pro-worker representatives to cancel flights or miss the vote.

The reality is Right to Work for Less is based on model legislation from the American Legislative Exchange Council, which allows corporations to draft bills that are then introduced in State Houses across the country. You can see a side by side comparison of the ALEC model legislation and the bill before you on the Granite State Progress website.

Let’s not again tread the road of this divisive and anti-worker legislation. I’m sure others will lay out, again, the economic reasons why this legislation is still a bad idea so I won’t repeat them here. But New Hampshire has taken the measure of this legislation – and it’s sponsor – and rejected it. Granite State Progress urges you to do the same.

LIKE A TOXIC WEED OR A BAD MEAL, RIGHT TO WORK “FOR LESS” IS BACK ! A message from Laura Hainey President of AFT-NH

aft sqaure

Former Speaker O’Brien is at it again and he is coming straight at you and middle class families. We must again stand together and stand strong.

The House Labor Committee will be hearing Right to Work “for less” (HB 323) on Wednesday January 30. Please contact the committee members and ask that they defeat this bill.

Over the past two years hundreds of NH citizens voiced opposition to this bill with only a handful of people speaking in support. This attack on working people like you is led by out of state interests such as the National Right to Work Committee and ALEC. Don’t let the voice of NH residents to be silenced.

Please pass the word to friends and family members. These representatives need to hear from you. Simply put this is a union-busting bill and an attack on our public employees and middle class families.

Please share this with colleagues so they know the seriousness of these attacks. So let’s GET ACTIVE and let these state representatives hear our voices.

Thank you!
In Solidarity,
Laura

Right To Work To be Reviewed by the NH House Labor Committee, by Rep Schmidt

Representative Jan Schmidt

Editors Note: This is the first (of hopefully many) posts from NH House Rep Jan Schmidt.  She is currently serving on the NH House Labor Committee.  She is going to provide some insight about what is going on with the labor committee.   This week she talks about Right To Work.

Right To Work To be Reviewed by the House Labor Committee

Wednesday January 30th the House Labor, Industrial and Rehabilative Services Committee will be addressing an issue this same committee has been addressing every session for years. This bill isn’t something any company has asked for, it wasn’t developed to deal with a problem we have in NH, and it isn’t something that will improve the economy or bring high-paying jobs into our state, it’s another out of state creation, with a name that doesn’t actually tell us what it would do, its the O’Brien Right to Work bill – HB323.

We’ll be told its all about worker’s rights, proponents will use that buzz word “Freedom” as if they invented it, and we’ll be promised it’ll bring in companies, jobs and happier workers. However with just a little research we know that RTW states suffer from lower wages which depress the entire economy, we know there are more accidents in the workplace, and the rights our parents worked so hard for become a thing of the past. In other words, this law is designed not for ‘We the People’ but for corporations, and not to make our state a better place to live but its designed to take even more money out of NH’s economy. We can’t afford RTW, and once again it won’t be passed by our Legislature.

With RTW having failed every year, people have been questioning why O’Brien’s bothering with supporting another failed attempt.

The answer is two-fold, and rather simple.

1) Representative O’Brien has received substantial incentives from the RTW organization and from ALEC to push this and other corporate-centric model bills though to law.

2) And he will be using the data collected from the vote to fuel attack mailings for the next election. First to purify his party with primary attacks on those who vote against this, then again in the general election against Democrats.

O’Brien spends his time playing dirty politics, wasting NH’s time, energy and money. And next Wednesday I’ll have to watch him do this in person.

The Bully Is Back In Town: Rep O’Brien Pushes Right To Work For Less In NH (AGAIN)

Obrien4

Welcome to Nightmare on  Main Street.  Instead of Freddy we have Bill “the bully” O’Brien.

As he told us at the end of last year, Right To Work is once again going before the NH House Labor Committee. Bill O’Brien’s Right To Work bill will be brought up for a committee hearing on January 30th.  As of right now it is scheduled to be held in LOB Room 307 at 9:30am.

Even after strong bi-partisan support to hold Governor Lynch’s veto, former Speaker O’Brien is pushing this bill again!

The New Hampshire Legislature has shown time and time again that NH does not want a Right To Work for less bill.  This bill comes up every couple of years. With the exception of 2011’s super majority in the House and Senate, RTW has never even gone to the Governor before.

O’Brien is no fool.  He knows that Right To Work has a snowballs chance in hell of passing with a Democratic House and Governor.  He wants to use this bill to put giant targets on the Republicans in the House who oppose RTW and the go after them in 2014. It is truly sad, that he is putting RTW for less above everything, even his fellow Republicans.

The NH AFL-CIO will be there opposing the bill.  If you would like to join them, just follow the link and RSVP.

Lets show O’Brien that he does not represent us, and we do not want or need Right To Work here in NH.

 

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Obrien4

The Next Session Of The NH House Has Begun. New Leaders, Same Fireworks

NH House-2

Yesterday was the official start of the 2013-2014 legislative session in the New Hampshire House. As we all know the house completely flipped from a GOP super majority to a Democratic majority.  We also see a return of speaker Terri Norelli.

The first day brought, what seems to becoming the norm in the House, fireworks.  Yesterday’s inaugural session opened with fierce debates.  The very heated debate from the radical Tea Party Republicans over the new House ban on guns.

The Republican opposition to the ban revolved around safety in the House. “By removing handguns from the Statehouse, you will create a gun-rich target much as was done at the elementary school in Newtown, Conn. (Rep. Lenette Peterson, R-Merrimack).” This ridiculous statement implies that a place full of gun wearing extremist is a safer place than one where only law enforcement are packing.  We have completely disproved this mentality in our previous post, on Guns in the State House.

After the debate, Granite State Progress released a statement “Legislators Who Wasted Taxpayer Time Opposing Deadly Weapons Ban Have Record of Extreme Guns Votes” highlighting that the legislators who opposed the gun ban have been working over the last two years to reduce all legislation around gun ownership.

*   *   *   *   *   *

Looking Forward

With the new House seated and the session begins I wanted to take a moment to introduce you to this sessions House Labor Committee.

The committee will be Chaired by Andrew White(d) and Vice Chaired by Sally Kelly(d)

Members:

There are many new names on the list and some repeat offenders as well. The links above will take you to the NH House website and provide you with contact information on each of the Reps.  If you would like more information on some of these Reps, check out Granite State Progress’s Legislator Report Card site where you can see how they voted in previous years.  It is yet to be seen as to how this committee will play out under new leadership.

While the bills to be referred to the Labor Committee have yet to be announced we know that Right To Work (for less) will once again be debated.  Former Speaker O’Brien personally sponsored the legislation this year.  Another bill that could spark huge debate will be the proposal to increase the state’s minimum wage law.  To raise the state’s minimum wage law they first will have to pass a law stating that the NH minimum wage can be higher than the Federal Minimum. Then they have to determine how much they want to raise it.  These are only two of the many bills that will go through the House Labor Committee and the NH Labor News will do our best to cover all the bills that progress through the committee.

 

The NH Labor News Looks Back Over The Last 12 Months

Labor Pic

As we close out another year everyone is taking a moment to look back over the last year.  The New Hampshire Labor News has been focused on issues surrounding labor and the middle class in New Hampshire (and beyond).  I wanted to take a few minutes to go back and highlight some of our greatest posts and a few you may have missed.

What will you remember about 2012? 

For many of us the Presidential election was the biggest thing that happened this year.  For the NH Labor News the statics back that up.  Our biggest winner of the year was a post written by NHLN Blogger Bill Brickley.  As a Letter Carrier (NALC) Bill explained the issues surrounding the funding problems and the fallacy that the USPS is going bankrupt.  It was not until Bill connected Mitt Romney to the USPS that the NHLN became a facebook phenomenon with over 6,000 ‘likes’.  The post titled, Romney working to eliminate the USPS (July 2012) racked up over 13,000 views in one day and over 30,000 views overall.

Not to be outdone, fellow Letter Carrier and labor advocate Wayne Alterisio chimed in with his post on why we need to ‘Occupy the Election‘.  While Wayne’s post did not generate the same numbers as Bill’s it still rounded out the top ten overall.

The New Hampshire Tea Party Experience

As I said we try to focus on the issues in New Hampshire first and foremost.  The extreme right wing agenda in the New Hampshire House of Representatives created lots of content.  With Speaker Bill O’Brien at the helm, labor was on the front of every newspaper on a weekly basis.  O’Brien started with his straight forward repeal of collective bargaining and ended up taking up Right To Work (for less) for a second time.  There are too many posts to talk about them all (see some here) but my favorite was when the Speaker took aim at the USPS.   He made the claim that ‘Union Thugs’ at the USPS were deliberately delaying his mail in an effort to railroad his election (read post).  As it turns out the Speaker tried to blame the postal employees for his mistake.

The local elections presented more chances for the NH Tea Party to show their true anti-worker position.  Well known Tea Partier, Ovide Lamontagne, decided to make a run for the states highest office.  As a candidate for NH Governor, Ovide received endorsements from many different organizations.  None of the endorsements were as vile to union members as the Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) Endorsement. This endorsement and his statement ‘I will be Walker on steroids‘ was all it took for union members in NH to mobilize against him.

The ABC also made another endorsement that caused a stir among union members in NH.  The ABC endorsed Congressman Frank Guinta. Guinta lead the charge in the US House to repeal Project Labor Agreements on Federal projects.  His anti-union advocacy even won him an award from the ABC.  Middle class families did not buy into Guinta’s Tea Party rhetoric either.  Now he is spending his last few days in Washington D.C.

ALEC Exposed

2012 was also the year that many Americans realized what an influence ALEC (the American Legislative Echange Council) has in State House’s throughout the country.  New Hampshire was no exception.

The NHLN worked closely with Granite State Progress to help bring awareness to ALEC’s influence.  GSP released their in depth research on ALEC in NH over the last 30 years.  This research reveled the connections between ALEC and Right to Work (for less), Voter ID, School Vouchers, and Union Wage Deductions. As Granite Staters became more aware the people of New Hampshire began to oppose ALEC and ALEC’s model legislation.  Throughout the year corporate sponsorship also began to distance themselves from ALEC.

Moving on

Now as we start 2013 I am hopeful that things will be different this year.  With the election of Maggie Hassan as Governor and a Democratic majority in the house, we can rest assured that Right To Work legislation will not pass.  This does not mean that we can relax in our due diligence on holding our elected officials responsible for their actions. We at the NHLN will continue to keep pressure on both sides to continue to do what is right for the middle class families in NH.

We Want To Hear From You

What was your favorite post from the NHLN this year?  What would you like to see more (or less) of in the coming year.  Go to our Facebook Page and let us know what you think.

 

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