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NATCA Applauds FAA Funding, Warns Of Potential Future Instability

air traffic controller

WASHINGTON – The National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) today applauds the full funding of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for Fiscal Year (FY) 2015, as part of the passage of the “Cromnibus” spending bill approved last week. At the same time, NATCA President Paul Rinaldi warns that sequestration remains a threat to the modernization and stability of the National Airspace System (NAS).

“The ground beneath our NAS has settled for the moment, thanks to the work of Congress to pass this funding bill,” Rinaldi said. “However, this is only a nine-month deal. Sequestration is a 10-year law. We cannot forget how damaging sequestration was in 2013 for the NAS and for the aviation safety professionals who work so hard maintaining it as the safest, most efficient, and most complex in the world.”

Aviation creates nearly 12 million jobs that contribute $1.5 trillion to the nation’s gross domestic product. Every day, there are 70,000 flights that transport two million passengers. Thus, said Rinaldi, this FY15 spending bill is a “nice holiday present” for both travelers and the NAS.

However, he added, NATCA and its fellow stakeholders in the aviation system must continue to advocate for long-term funding stability.

“The current stop-and-go funding process increases costs and makes planning for complex modernization projects impossible. Stable long-term funding is needed to keep progress moving forward,” Rinaldi said.

NATCA’s collaboration with the FAA and the industry couldn’t be better and NextGen is advancing due to this collaborative effort. NATCA is issuing an update today on several NextGen programs that are progressing well, with notable recent successes. It’s our second quarterly issue of NextGen Now, available by clicking HERE.  (http://natca.uberflip.com/i/434417)

Join the discussion on social media: #NextGenNowUS

“NextGen is happening now,” Rinaldi said. “This is why stable funding for the long term is so critically important. The progress of modernization, as well as an effective pipeline for hiring and training the controller workforce to use the tools of a more modernized system, cannot and must not be slowed or stopped again if the U.S. is to maintain its standing as the world leader in aviation.”

Congresswoman Shea-Porter and Congressman Earl Blumenauer (OR-3) Host Roundtable on Multimodal Transportation

CSP

CSPPortsmouth, NH – Yesterday, Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter and Congressman Earl Blumenauer (OR-3) hosted a roundtable on the future of multimodal transportation and livable communities.  The event brought together State and Federal Department of Transportation staff, regional planning officials, business owners, and bike-walk activists.  

“I was proud to help secure TIGER grant funding that made the Memorial Bridge possible.  In order to rebuild our infrastructure and create a transportation system for the 21st Century, we need a public-private partnership. Federal investment in infrastructure spurs economic development. I support creating a National Infrastructure Development Bank and I am working in Congress to help states, communities, and businesses with transportation and infrastructure challenges.” Shea-Porter said.

“Congresswoman Shea-Porter is a leader in Congress in working to ensure that America’s infrastructure remains world class. New Hampshire has always been a trailblazer in searching for new, innovative ways to face our country’s challenges, and I’m happy to see that tradition continuing. This roundtable shines a spotlight on the reasons we need multimodal transportation options if we want to build communities that are healthier, secure, livable, and economically viable. It’s a pleasure to spend time with Carol and other experts and leaders who understand that,” said Blumenauer.

In Congress, Congresswoman Shea-Porter was instrumental in securing TIGER Grant funding to rebuild the red-listed Memorial Bridge in Portsmouth. The Memorial Bridge was successfully awarded $20 million in federal funding. The Congresswoman has repeatedly supported increased funding for transportation alternatives, and has fought to bring federal transportation funds to New Hampshire.  She is also a cosponsor of HR 2553, the National Infrastructure Development Bank Act, which would leverage private investments to create billions of dollars in infrastructure investment.

 

Congressman Earl Blumenauer is a leading advocate for rebuilding and renewing America – from repairing the nation’s roads and bridges, to modernizing our water and electrical infrastructure. Blumenauer is a member of the Ways and Means Committee, where he works to strengthen long-term infrastructure finance.  Since being elected to Congress in 1996, he has traveled to hundreds of communities across the country, supporting economic development and sustainable transportation options.

Participants at yesterday’s roundtable included Paul Yarossi, President HNTB Holdings; Roger Bowers, VP Government Relations HNTB; Larry Major, Government Relations Pike Industries; Rad Nichols, Executive Director COAST Busses; Rick Taintor, City of Portsmouth Planning; Juliet Walker, City of Portsmouth- Bicycle coordinator; Mark Nelson, City of Portsmouth Public Works; Jeff Latimer, Owner of Gus’ Bike Shop; Bob Spiegleman, Bike Walk Activist; Tim Blagden, Executive Director NH Bike-Walk Alliance; Rebecca Harris, Director Transport NH; David J. Preece, CEO Southern NH Planning Commission; Scott Bogle, Senior Transportation Planner, Rockingham Planning Commission (also the head of Seacoast greenway); Eric Weiss, Trail Coordinator for the East Coast Greenway Alliance;  Patrick McKenna, Deputy Commissioner NH DOT; Patrick Bauer, FHWA NH Division Administrator.

 

50,000 Massachusetts Residents Call For Hospital Finance Transparency

Hospital Profit Transparency and Fairness Act

50,000 Signatures Gathered For Two Ballot Initiatives Ensuring That They Go Before the Voters in November:

Patient Safety and Hospital Finance Transparency
New Poll Finds Strong Support for Both Initiatives by Mass Voters 

Hospital Profit Transparency and Fairness ActCANTON, Mass. — The Massachusetts Nurses Association/National Nurses United announced today that it has collected and will submit the final round of signatures needed for two ballot initiatives that will dramatically improve patient safety in Massachusetts’ hospitals and ensure that tax dollars for health care are used for patient care not excessive CEO compensation or accounts in the Cayman Islands.

More than 50,000 signatures on both measures were gathered by nurses and supporters from health care, social justice, labor and senior advocacy groups throughout the Commonwealth, who were out in their communities, at special events, shopping centers and local festivals over a four week period. Both initiatives met with wide acceptance by the public. Allowing MNA/NNU to submit well over the 11,000 signatures required by law to place each question on the ballot in November.  Once town clerks certify the signatures, the petitions will be delivered to the Secretary of State for final approval.

“We are thrilled that the public is so receptive to both of these important initiatives. It’s a testament to how important the issues of safe patient limits and hospital financial transparency are to the public,” said Donna Kelly-Williams, RN, President of the MNA/NNU. “Many voters were shocked to learn that there is currently no limit on the number of patients hospitals can assign to a registered nurse at one time. And most voters expressed outrage that hospitals are storing tax dollars in offshore accounts and paying their CEOs excessive compensation, while hospital administrators cut services vital to communities.”

A recent poll of Massachusetts voters on both questions finds strong support for both measures, with nearly 7 in 10 voters (67 percent) supporting the Patient Safety Act and 6 in 10 voters (60 percent) supporting the Hospital Profit Transparency and Fairness Act.

The Patient Safety Act (HB 3843) – Safe Patient Limits Will Save Lives

On Wednesday, June 18, the MNA/NNU will deliver petitions with more than 25,000 signatures to town clerks for certification of the Patient Safety Act, a ballot initiative that will set a safe maximum limit on the number of patients assigned to a nurse, while also providing flexibility to hospitals to adjust nurses’ patient assignments based on the needs of the patients.

Dozens of studies and reports have shown the need to set a maximum limit on the number of patients that can be assigned to each registered nurse if we are to avoid — mistakes, serious complications and preventable readmissions. To view these studies and to learn more about the initiative, visit PatientSafetyAct.com

A recent survey found that nearly 8 in 10 registered nurses (78 percent) in Massachusetts hospitals say that patient care is suffering because hospitals require nurses to care for too many patients at once, and nearly 9 in 10 nurses (88 percent) support the Patient Safety Act.  A survey of physicians in Massachusetts found 6 in 10 doctors (62%) believe hospital care is suffering because of excessive patient loads for nurses, and a majority (58 percent) support the initiative.

The Hospital Profit Transparency and Fairness Act  (HB 3844)

On June 18 the MNA/NNU will also deliver petitions with more than 25,000 signatures to town clerks for certification of the Hospital Profit Transparency and Fairness Act. The law would require that hospitals receiving tax dollars disclose in a timely and fully transparent manner how large their profit margins are, how much money they hold in offshore accounts, and how much compensation they pay their CEOs. To ensure access to needed services by all patients, the act also provides for enhanced funding options for hospitals serving poorer populations.

“Every hospital, receives a substantial amount of money from tax dollars to provide health care for the residents of Massachusetts, yet there is no way for the public and policy makers to know how those taxpayer dollars are allocated,” said Julie Pinkham, RN, Executive Director of MNA/NNU. “Too many hospitals store money in the Cayman Islands or use tax dollars for excessive CEO compensation, while community hospitals that serve predominately poor patients are struggling to survive. The public has a right to know how and where their health care dollars are being spent.”

7 in 10 doctors (72 percent) favor the Transparency Initiative and believe that greater financial transparency will help to protect valuable patient services.

The legislature has until July 2 to act on both initiatives, and if they fail to do so, both measures will appear as a ballot question this November.

Congresswoman Annie Kuster Discusses How Her New Transportation Funding Bill Could Save Summer Transportation Projects

Tuesday, June 3rd, 2014 | Congresswoman Kuster discusses her legislation to save the Highway Trust Fund

Kuster recently introduced the DRIVE Now Act to save the Highway Trust Fund and support local infrastructure projects

Tuesday, June 3rd, 2014 | Congresswoman Kuster discusses her legislation to save the Highway Trust Fund

Tuesday, June 3rd, 2014 | Congresswoman Kuster discusses her legislation to save the Highway Trust Fund

WINCHESTER, NH – This morning, Congresswoman Annie Kuster (NH-02) toured the Route 10 bridge replacement project near the Winchester-Swanzey town line, where she discussed her new bill to support continued federal investment in our roads and bridges.  State transportation officials led Congresswoman Kuster on the tour, and she was joined by other local leaders and planners to discuss the importance of continued funding for transportation infrastructure in New Hampshire and across the country.

Last month, Congresswoman Kuster introduced H.R. 4601, the DRIVE Now Act, which would ensure that the Highway Trust Fund remains solvent for the remainder of the fiscal year.  The Trust Fund, which provides crucial funding to states for transportation and infrastructure projects like the Winchester-Swanzey bridge project, is expected to drop below a critical funding threshold in July.  This could bring transportation projects to a halt this summer in New Hampshire and around the country, and put construction jobs in jeopardy.  Kuster’s DRIVE Now Act (Deficit Reduction for Infrastructure, Value, and Efficiency Now Act) provides a fully-offset $5 billion dollar payment to the Highway Trust fund, which would prevent it from running dry and ensure our summer construction projects can continue.

“As we head into the busy summer construction months, it’s more important than ever to protect the federal funding needed to complete vital infrastructure projects like the one we saw here today, the Winchester-Swanzey bridge replacement,” said Congresswoman Annie Kuster. “Not only will projects like this protect Granite Staters from the safety hazards that come along with unstable infrastructure, it will also provide construction jobs for our workers.  I call on Congress to immediately pass my DRIVE Now Act, which would replenish the Highway Trust Fund so that projects like this one won’t be forced to come to a halt right in the middle of the summer construction season.”

The DRIVE Now Act would make a one-time payment of $5 billion to the Highway Trust Fund to pay for transportation projects for the remainder of Fiscal Year 2014, which ends September 30, 2014.  At the same time, the bill would reduce the deficit by taking common sense steps to eliminate a costly and duplicative catfish inspection program, consolidate federal data centers, and force agencies to close long-empty bank accounts.  These combined actions would reduce spending by more than $10 billion, offsetting the $5 billion payment for the Highway Trust Fund, and further reducing the nation’s deficit.

The Route 10 bridge, which crosses the Ashuelot River, is included on the state’s “red list” of structurally deficient bridges.  Construction of the new bridge, which will sit just west of the current structure, began in December and is expected to continue through July 2015.  The project is projected to cost about $3.9 million, with federal funding from the Highway Trust Fund covering 80 percent of the cost, and the remaining 20 percent coming from state funding. Without a solution to the Highway Trust Fund’s funding deficiency, projects like the Route 10 bridge replacement could be in jeopardy – and during today’s tour, Kuster called on Congress to immediately pass her DRIVE Now Act to save this project and others like it.

Congresswoman Annie Kuster is a strong proponent of fixing our state’s roads and bridges in order to protect the safety of Granite State residents, ease congestion, and create construction jobs for our workers.  Prior to introducing her DRIVE Now Act, Kuster called on House Leadership to work together to provide additional funding for the Highway Trust Fund.  She has also toured the I-93 construction project in Windham, another crucial construction project that could come to a halt without passage of the DRIVE Now Act or other legislation to save the Highway Trust Fund.

NOAA Announces Deal On Distribution Of Fishery Disaster Funds To New England States

Jeanne Shaheen 3

U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) today welcomed an announcement by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) that the New England states have reached a compromise on how to distribute $32.8 million in federal fishery disaster funds. The funds are part of $75 million in disaster relief resources that were secured earlier this year. The compromise outlines how the funds will be distributed between the states and will support New Hampshire’s fishing industry.

New Hampshire will receive more than $2 million in funds with more than $900,000 going to direct assistance for New Hampshire fishermen. More than $1.1 million will be used at the state’s discretion.

“Today’s announcement by NOAA that an agreement has been reached to distribute fishery disaster funds is welcome news for New Hampshire’s fishing industry and the seacoast economy,” Shaheen said. “This means that funds will be distributed more quickly to those struggling and that New Hampshire will receive its fair share of the disaster resources to help protect and preserve this historic industry. I will continue to work with NOAA and stakeholders to protect the long term sustainability of New Hampshire’s fishing industry.”

“This agreement is welcome news and will help provide short-term relief to New Hampshire’s fishermen. But more importantly, our struggling small-boat fleet needs relief from onerous federal regulations so New Hampshire’s fishermen can continue to make a living. I will continue to urge federal officials to work toward a more sensible regulatory climate,” said Ayotte, a member of the Senate Commerce Committee.

Shaheen and Ayotte have been strong advocates for New Hampshire’s fishing industry which has been struggling under onerous catch limit regulations and consequent economic losses, and earlier this month the Senators sent a letter to NOAA advocating for the incorporation of local ideas and prompt distribution of disaster funds. Earlier this year, they successfully called on the Commerce Department to waive the state matching requirements for federally declared disaster relief funds for the Northeast Multispecies Groundfish Fishery. They also met with federal officials to discuss disaster relief and ways to protect the fishing industry.

Shea-Porter Announces Manchester Community Health Center Receives $1.5 Million Grant

Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter 
(image by MARCN Creative Commons On Flickr)

MANCHESTER, NH – Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter (NH-01) is pleased to announce that Manchester Community Health Center will receive a $1.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

“I have been proud to support the Manchester Community Health Center over the years, and I am confident that this grant will allow them to continue providing the highest quality health care to Manchester’s working families,” Shea-Porter said. “I am also grateful for the role the Center played in helping New Hampshire citizens obtain health care coverage through the Affordable Care Act. I will continue working with MCHC to ensure more Granite Staters have access to quality, affordable health care.”

MCHC President Kris McCracken said, ”MCHC is extremely grateful to have the continued support of HRSA and HHS for our Federally Qualified Health Center’s two locations of care. The consistent support we’ve received from HRSA has been a foundation of our ability to provide high-quality primary care, prenatal care and support services like counseling, nutrition and interpretation. The New Access Point funding we are now receiving as a part of this grant, supporting our new location at 184 Tarrytown Road, has allowed us to add over 1,500 new patients to our practice in the last 12 months. We are now serving almost 12,000 patients of all ages at our two locations, and we are able to meet the needs of this diverse patient population with our talented staff, including Family Practice, Pediatrics, Obstetrics, Internal Medicine and Podiatry. Recently, our Outreach & Enrollment staff have been able to help almost 2,000 community residents apply for healthcare coverage through the Exchange under the Affordable Care Act. We look forward to continuing to enroll new patients as NH expands access to healthcare coverage. With this continued funding from HHS/HRSA, as well as the funds we receive from several local and state organizations, we will be able to continue to grow the practices and provide more care to the estimated 19,000 individuals in Greater Manchester without a primary care provider or health home.”

The funding from HHS will allow Manchester Community Health Center to continue its operations and services at both its primary care site at 145 Hollis Street and at its New Access Point site at 184 Tarrytown Road, which opened for services in March 2013. Manchester Community Health Center is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) federally qualified health center offering high quality, comprehensive, and family-oriented primary health care and support services since 1993.

Congresswoman Shea-Porter has long supported community health centers and the vital role they play in providing health care to uninsured and underserved populations. This year she received the National Association of Community Health Centers’ Distinguished Community Health Advocate Award. The award was presented by Bi-State Primary Care Association President and CEO Tess Stack Kuenning in a ceremony at the Manchester Community Health center.

Opposing Ideas On How We Can Fix The NH Retirement System: The NH Labor News Vs Fosters Daily Democrat

Smashed Piggy Bank Retirement

Fosters Daily Democrat is basically a right-wing talking machine. Between Fosters and the Union Leader, they cover a majority of the state pushing half-truths and dis-information to drive the right wing, Tea Party agenda in NH.

Take for example this week’s Sunday editorial “Sharing the burden of reform,” talking about the NH Retirement System’s fiscal problems.

Fosters is arguing against a recent op-ed penned by John Broderick Jr., NH State Supreme Court Justice and the current Dean of the UNH Law School, entitled “State employee pensions are a promise, not a gift.” Both editorials agree that the NH Retirement System is not fully funded and that changes need to be made to protect the taxpayers, and the workers.

Broderick argues that the William (“Bully”) O’Brien legislature forced through pension reforms that were unjust, unfair, and unconstitutional. Since the NH Supreme Court has already ruled in Broderick’s favor, it is simple to see that he is correct.

Fosters, on the other hand, argues that fixing the “broken pension system” means gutting the defined pension system, and forcing all employees to pay more of their money to the pension fund. Forcing employees to pay more for retirement, Fosters argues, would relieve the overpaying, taxed enough already, taxpayers from having to pay more to fix the NH Retirement System. The part that Fosters ignores is that over 75% of retirees’ pension benefits are paid out from investment returns. Increasing employees’ contributions is NOT going to fix Wall Street.

Long gone are the days when companies, and municipalities cared about ensuring that their workers could live happily in retirement after years of dedication to their employer. As Pulitzer Prize winning author Hedrick Smith explains in his book, “Who stole the American Dream”: just three decades ago, 84% of large companies offered a full pension. In 2010, only 30% did. Companies and municipalities have been pushing workers away from pensions and into defined contribution (401K) plans – which makes employees responsible for funding their own retirement. Yet workers’ wages haven’t been raised to compensate for the benefit cuts.

This pro-business mentality of reducing benefit expenses while refusing to raise wages has made corporations billions in additional profits. Workers are getting screwed out of their retirements, while the corporate giants and Wall Street hedge fund managers add more zeros to their already inflated paychecks.

Fosters is arguing the same for the NH public workers: “make the workers pay more, to save the taxpayers money.” There are a few problems with this idea. The NH Retirement System is underfunded due to the Legislature over-estimating the investment returns (not putting enough in to cover their share of the cost) and the 2008 recession.

“As recently as 1999, the New Hampshire Retirement System was more than 100% funded.  But then the Trust Fund lost 10% of its value in the recession of 2001.  It lost another 25% of its value in the 2008 recession,” wrote Liz Iacobucci in her blog post entitled, “Going Behind the Rhetoric on Public Employee Pensions.”

During the O’Brien reign of terror, they created legislation to absolve the state from have to uphold their end of the retirement bargain. O’Brien and his Tea Party buddies re-wrote the pension laws to make employees pay more to cover the money. Thankfully, the NH Supreme Court has ruled those changes unconstitutional.

No matter what Fosters tries to tell you, the taxpayer already has an obligation to their public employees. They made an agreement when they hired the employee and that includes paying the costs associated with hiring these workers. Taxpayers and the Legislature have been avoiding paying their portion of the bill.

Avoiding a problem does not make it go away, it only makes the problem worse. I believe it was the GOP who really coined the phrase “kicking the can down the road.” Well, now that can is kicking back.

Kuster Introduces Bill To Prevent Highway Trust Fund From Running Dry

Rep Kuster On House Floor

DRIVE Now Act would keep vital transportation projects going during the busy summer construction season


WASHINGTON, D.C. – On the heels of her tour of the I-93 expansion project in Windham, Congresswoman Annie Kuster (NH-02) introduced a bill to ensure that the Highway Trust Fund remains solvent for the remainder of the fiscal year.  The Highway Trust Fund, which provides crucial funding to states for transportation and infrastructure projects like the I-93 expansion, is expected to drop below a critical funding threshold in July.

During her tour of the expansion project, New Hampshire Department of Transportation officials and local leaders expressed their concern that should the Highway Trust Fund run dry, critical transportation projects across the state would be forced to come to a halt in the middle of the busy summer construction season due to lack of funding.  This would result not only in a loss of revenue for the state, but would also put the jobs of hardworking New Hampshire construction workers in jeopardy.  Kuster introduced the DRIVE Now Act to help ensure the funding will still be available for these transportation projects.

“Our transportation network is critical to growing our economy, creating jobs, and ensuring public safety in New Hampshire and all across the country,” said Congresswoman Kuster. “If Congress lets the Highway Trust Fund run out of money, then important projects like the I-93 expansion won’t get finished, leaving commuters in the lurch and hurting both New Hampshire businesses and the construction workers that rely on this funding for their livelihoods.  My bill will ensure that these vital projects can continue in the short-term, and I call on my fellow Members of Congress to pass a long-term transportation bill to fund the Highway Trust Fund for the next six years.”

Kuster has been urging her fellow Members of Congress to address this crisis for months, most recently calling on House leadership to take immediate action.  Now, with only about two months left before the trust fund falls below critical levels, Kuster has introduced the DRIVE Now Act (Deficit Reduction for Infrastructure, Value, and Efficiency Now Act).  This legislation would make a one-time payment of $5 billion to the Highway Trust Fund (HTF) to pay for transportation projects for the remainder of Fiscal Year 2014, which ends September 30, 2014.  At the same time, the bill would reduce the deficit by taking common sense steps to eliminate a costly and duplicative catfish inspection program, consolidate federal data centers, and force federal agencies to close long-empty bank accounts.  These combined actions would reduce spending by more than $10 billion, offsetting the $5 billion payment for the Highway Trust Fund, and further reducing the nation’s deficit.

The Highway Trust Fund, established in 1956, is the primary source of funding for highway and transit programs and projects on the state, local, and federal level.   The HTF is funded by a federal fuel tax of 18.3 cents per gallon on gasoline and 24.4 cents per gallon on diesel fuel.  Declining revenues from these fuel taxes in recent years have led to funding shortfalls in the HTF, which has been supplemented by additional federal funds appropriated by Congress.

Authorization for the HTF and other surface transportation programs, last reauthorized by the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21) in 2012, will expire on September 30, 2014.  The Obama Administration and House and Senate committees are working on legislation to reauthorize these programs for the next six years, but action is needed now to ensure that current projects continue and the HTF remains solvent for the remainder of the fiscal year. Kuster’s bill would provide this short-term solution for states that rely on these funds for ongoing construction projects, like the I-93 expansion.

The NH House Passes A Bill To Create Jobs And Rebuild Our Roads

NH House-2

Our roads and bridges are finally going to see some much needed improvements.  Today the NH House passed SB367, the Senate Transportation Funding bill.  The major part of the bill is a $.04 cent gasoline tax, hence the bill was commonly referred to as the “gas tax bill.”

The Republican controlled Senate rejected last years House “gas tax” bill that raised the tax by $.12 cents and in turn submitted a new bill with a lower increase.  The four-cent increase will generate over $30 million dollars a year.  The data shows that this increase will cost the average driver around $16 dollars a year.  This is a severely need boost to the funding of our state Department of Transportation.

After the vote Governor Hassan released the following statement:

“A solid, modern transportation infrastructure is the foundation for long-term economic growth, critical to the success of New Hampshire’s people and businesses. Today’s bipartisan vote to strengthen infrastructure investment reinforces that there is broad agreement about the need to take action, and I applaud the House of Representative for taking action to improve our roads and bridges.

“I also thank Senator Rausch for his bipartisan leadership, as well as the Business and Industry Association of New Hampshire, various chambers of commerce and other representatives of the business community across the state for their advocacy to support this important legislation.

“Today’s vote represents an important step toward addressing our transportation needs. I look forward to signing this bipartisan legislation into law so we can keep New Hampshire’s economy moving forward by advancing critical road and bridge projects and finishing the long-overdue expansion of I-93.”

This bill will help finish the I-93 project and repair some of the hundreds of red listed roads and bridges throughout NH.

This also means more jobs.  With additional funding, the state will be able to hire more road crews, which means work money in our local communities.  A small investment from the gas tax increase, approximately $16 dollars a year, will help put unemployed workers back to work and start to repair our broken roads.  This is how government should work, and it is good to see that the legislators in Concord are finally starting to understand that.

3-31-14 AFT-NH Legislative Update: Smarter Balance Testing and A ‘Thank You’ To Legislators

AFT NH Legislative Update

Now that crossover has come and gone both chambers will start working on each other’s bills.  Both chambers have till May 15th to act on these bills.

I would like to thank all the representatives that supported us on the following bills:

AFT-NH supported the recommendation of Ought To Pass as amended on HB 1494-FN, relative to administration of the New Hampshire retirement system and authority of the board of trustees. The amended version ensures this is just a housekeeping bill that establishes a procedure for the determination of the costs of purchase of service credits, clarifies the ability to earn service credit while on a salary continuance plan, changes the date for the approval of the comprehensive annual financial report (CAFR), adds a penalty for employers who fail to timely remit data on compensation paid to retired members, and repeals obsolete provisions.

AFT-NH was also in support of the Inexpedient To Legislate on HB 1228, establishing a commission to investigate the procedure for public employee collective bargaining. There have been many committees/commissions that have studied this issue and too often, it only seems to open the door for destructive legislation.  Rather than risk opening a Pandora’s Box with a study commission, let’s prepare specific legislation to remedy some of the problems already identified in previous study committees.

We are disappointed that the following bills were defeated: 

HB 1105-FN-L, relative to aid to school districts for costs of special education. AFT-NH supported this bill because it would have lifted the current cap of 72% on catastrophic special education funds and fully funded it. With this cap of 72% the state has downshifted roughly $8 million to communities. Catastrophic aid is a state fund that helps local district with exorbitant special education costs for our severely disabled children.

HB 1114: which sought to establish a minimum state expenditure for school building aid of $50,000,000 per fiscal year. This bill would have put a floor to building aid not a cap. For the past six years many district have not been able to afford completing upgrades, repairs or build new buildings because of the cost. Keep in mind, 50% of our school buildings are over 60 years old and many need infrastructure upgrades necessary for a 21st century learning environment.

Common Core and The Smarter Balance State Assessment

There were several bills voted on in the House that were related to the Common Core and the Smarter Balance state assessment. Knowing that both of these will be moving forward in New Hampshire we need to ensure that all schools have the following in place:

  • There needs to be planning time for understanding the Standards and time to put them into practice.
  • We need opportunities to observe colleagues implementing Standards in class.
  • We must provide teachers with model lesson plans aligned to Standards,
  • Ensure textbooks/other curricula materials align with Standards,
  • Communicate with parents on the Standards and the expectations of students, AND
  • Develop best practices and strategies along with coaching to help teachers teach content more deeply.
  • We need to ensure all districts have the equipment and bandwidth to administer computer-based assessments, AND
  • Make sure we have fully developed curricula aligned to Standards and available to teachers.
  • Assessments need to be aligned to Standards indicating mastery of concepts,
  • Professional development and training in the Standards needs to be offered, AND
  • We need to develop tools to track individual student progress on key Standards.
  • We need to make sure the assessments inform teaching, not impede teaching and learning.
  • Assessments need to support teaching and learning, and must align with curriculum rather than narrow it.
  • Assessments should be focused on measuring growth and continuous development of students instead of arbitrary targets unconnected to how students learn.
  • Assessments should be diverse, authentic, test for multiple indicators of student performance and provide information leading to appropriate interventions that help students, teachers and schools improve, not sanctions that undermine them.
  • The development and implementation of assessments must be age appropriate for the students, and teachers need to have appropriate computers to administer such assessments.
  • These assessments must contribute to school and classroom environments that nurture growth, collaboration, curiosity and invention—essential elements of a 21st-century education that have too often been sacrificed in favor of test prep and testing.

If you have any questions or concerns please email me at lhainey@aft-nh.org.

Thank you!
In Solidarity,
Laura Hainey

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UPCOMING COMMITTEE HEARINGS

TUESDAY, APRIL 1

Senate FINANCE, Room 103, SH
1:00 p.m. HB 1146, establishing a committee to study the feasibility of funding a kindergarten
to college/career ready program and a universal college savings account.
1:30 p.m. HB 1489-FN-A-L, establishing a committee to study the establishment of a fund to
reimburse costs associated with firefighters who have cancer.
Executive Session May Follow

Senate JUDICIARY, Room 100, SH
10:30 a.m. HB 1435, requiring law enforcement officials to disclose specific information relating
to a police checkpoint.

House EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENTS AND ADMINISTRATION, Room 306
10:30 a.m. SB 395-FN, relative to the retirement classification of the Director of the Division
of Forests and Lands.
11:30 a.m. SB 418, relative to the proclamation of firefighters memorial day.

House MUNICIPAL AND COUNTY GOVERNMENT, Room 301, LOB
11:30 a.m. SB 236, relative to delivery of the final budget and recommendation of the municipal
budget committee to the governing body.

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 2

Senate EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENTS AND ADMINISTRATION, Room 100, SH
9:30 a.m. HB 1152-FN, terminating the benefit program for call, substitute or volunteer firemen
administered by the New Hampshire retirement system.
10:00 a.m. HB 1398-FN, allowing the retirement system to make payments in lieu of payments
to estates in certain instances.
10:30 a.m. HB 1617-FN, permitting the retirement system to access death, marriage, and
divorce records of the division of vital records administration for the administration of
RSA 100-A.
Executive Session May Follow

House ELECTION LAW, Room 308, LOB
10:00 a.m. SB 120-FN, relative to political contributions and expenditures and relative to
reporting by political committees.

House LABOR, INDUSTRIAL AND REHABILITATIVE SERVICES, Room 307, LOB
1:30 p.m. SB 295, prohibiting an employer from using credit history in employment decisions.

THURSDAY, APRIL 3

Senate HEALTH, EDUCATION AND HUMAN SERVICES, Room 103, LOB
9:00 a.m. HB 1488-FN, establishing the New Hampshire program on educational support for
military children.
9:20 a.m. HB 1587-FN-L, relative to the collection and disclosure of student data.
Executive Session May Follow

House FINANCE, Rooms 210-211, LOB
11:15 a.m. SB 339-FN, relative to instituting a credit card affinity program in which fees
received are directed to offset the retirement system’s unfunded liability.

House FINANCE – (DIVISION I), Room 212, LOB
1:30 p.m. Work session on SB 339-FN, relative to instituting a credit card affinity program in
which fees received are directed to offset the retirement system’s unfunded liability.

TUESDAY, APRIL 8

House EDUCATION, Room 207, LOB
11:00 a.m. SB 335-FN, (New Title) establishing a commission to study career and technical
education centers.

LABOR, INDUSTRIAL AND REHABILITATIVE SERVICES, Room 307, LOB
10:15 a.m. SB 207-FN, relative to paycheck equity.

12:30 p.m. LOB 305-307: All legislators are invited to a showing of the acclaimed documentary “Inequality for All” which features Robert Reich, economics professor, best-selling author, and former U.S. Secretary of Labor, as he demonstrates how the widening income gap is having a devastating impact on the American economy. The film is described as “a passionate argument on behalf of the middle class.” The showing is open to all. This event is part of the film’s “50 State Capitals Tour” this winter and spring, designed especially for Legislators and policy-makers.

THURSDAY, APRIL 10

Senate JUDICIARY, Room 100, SH
9:00 a.m. HB 1624-FN, modernizing the juvenile justice system to ensure rehabilitation of
juveniles and preservation of juvenile rights.
Executive Session May Follow

House EDUCATION, Room 207, LOB
10:00 a.m. SB 343, relative to the duties of the statewide education improvement and
assessment program legislative oversight committee and repealing the school
administrative unit legislative oversight committee.
11:00 a.m. SB 350, relative to the transfer of adequacy aid calculation data from the
Department of Education to the Department of Revenue Administration.
1:15 p.m. SB 348, establishing a commission to study sexual abuse prevention education in
elementary and secondary schools.

TUESDAY, APRIL 15

House EDUCATION, Room 207, LOB
10:00 a.m. SB 355, relative to access to social media by educational institutions.
11:00 a.m. SB 414-FN, relative to Medicaid-funded services provided as a part of a child’s
individualized education program.

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 16

12:30 p.m. 62 North Main Street:  Big Money and Politics – New Hampshire is the highest per-capita recipient of outside special-interest money. Learn about the efforts to address this issue at the state level, understand the federal landscape and what you can do about it. This presentation, including a panel discussion led by the Coalition for Open Democracy and Americans for Campaign Reform, is part of New England College’s education series to take place at the college’s new Concord facility. Walk south on North Main, Located on the clock tower side, near the Norway Bank, three-minutes from the steps of the State House.

THURSDAY, APRIL 17

10:00 a.m. Senate in Session

MONDAY, APRIL 21

CHARTER SCHOOLS AND OPEN ENROLLMENT LEGISLATIVE OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE (RSA 194-B:21), Room 100, State House
11:30 a.m. Regular meeting. Presentation by Paul Leather, Deputy Commission Department of Education on HB 435.

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