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NH Health Protection Program, aka NH Medicaid Expansion, Moves Forward After Key Vote

Yesterday, the New Hampshire House of Representatives Finance Committee, by a bipartisan 18-8 margin, approved HB 1696, which would reauthorize the New Hampshire Health Protection Program through December 2018.

“It is clear that our bipartisan New Hampshire Health Protection Program is getting results for our people and businesses and boosting our economy, while also strengthening our efforts to combat the heroin and opioid crisis and help save lives. The House Finance Committee’s vote is another step forward, and I will continue to work with members of both parties to reauthorize this critical program,” state Governor Maggie Hassan.

“We applaud the House Finance Committee vote in favor of reauthorizing the New Hampshire Health Protection Program,” said Zandra Rice-Hawkins, Executive Director of Granite State Progress. “The legislators who cast a vote in favor of the legislation are taking a much needed step forward to ensure that the nearly 48,000 Granite Staters currently on the program can continue to have affordable access to preventative and primary care in New Hampshire.”

“At the same time, we ask those few politicians who voted against New Hampshire families to recall the stories of hardworking small business owners who can’t afford health care coverage, and of mothers who are thankful to finally be able to see a doctor about health concerns so that they can be there for their children for years to come, and to reconsider whose side they stand on,” added Rice-Hawkins.

New Hampshire Fiscal Policy Institute Executive Director Jeff McLynch applauded the committee’s decision.

“Today’s vote by the House Finance Committee represents another positive step toward reauthorizing the program for two more years and continuing a successful, unique, and bipartisan approach to promoting health security and fostering economic growth.”

“Many of the Granite Staters who take part in the Health Protection Program work in jobs that are low-paid, but that help keep the New Hampshire economy moving. They provide care to children and to the elderly, build roads and bridges, and staff restaurants and hotels in communities across the state,” added McLynch.

Reauthorizing the NHHPP will also help address the growing opioid addiction problem plaguing our state.

“The program would continue health insurance coverage for nearly 48,000 Granite Staters. Approximately 6,700 of those individuals will likely access treatment services for substance use disorders,” said Linda Saunders Paquette, Executive Director of New Futures. “The New Hampshire Health Protection Program is the single-most important tool NH has to address its drug and alcohol crisis.”

“New Hampshire had the third highest rate of drug induced deaths per capita (100,000 residents) in the United States in 2014. According to an October 2015 poll conducted by the University of New Hampshire, Granite Staters view the opioid crisis as the number one issue facing our state, added Saunders Paquette.

“New Futures’ advocates will be the first to tell you that access to treatment and recovery services are critical to someone physiologically snared by heroin. On behalf of our constituents, New Futures applauds the House Finance Committee for supporting a practical and bipartisan response to our drug and alcohol epidemic,” concluded Saunders Paquette.

NH House Kills Planned Parenthood Investigation And Defunding Bill

Planned_Parenthood_logo.svgBipartisan majority rejects HJR 3, which called for an investigation into Planned Parenthood and defunding for all health centers providing abortion services

87 Republican Representatives join Democratic Colleagues in Rejecting Attacks on Reproductive Health Provider

Today, a bipartisan majority in the New Hampshire House rejected HJR 3, a bill that called for a state investigation into a variety of inflammatory and disputed allegations directed at Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers.  The bill also would have blocked funding for women to get basic preventive services at Planned Parenthood health centers across the state — including affordable birth control, cancer screenings, HIV testing and other essential care. The measure was soundly defeated on a vote of 227 – 100.

“Planned Parenthood has been a trusted source of high-quality, compassionate and affordable health care in New Hampshire for 50 years — and that’s not going to change, no matter what our opponents throw at us,” said Jennifer Frizzell, vice president of the Planned Parenthood New Hampshire Action Fund.

“Today we saw our elected leaders from both parties stand up for New Hampshire women and families and reject the false and fraudulent attacks that are coming from a group of extreme legislators. That’s because despite what some politicians and pundits might say — access to reproductive health care is not a partisan issue in the Granite State,” continued Frizzell.  

“New Hampshire is a solidly pro-choice state and we applaud the House for standing up for their constituents to reject HJR 3. HJR 3 relied on the edited videos and claims of extreme, ideologically driven organizations that seek to interfere in a woman’s access to the full range of reproductive health options. We continue to stand with our allies at Planned Parenthood and other community health centers as they face a barrage of attacks from extreme politicians and organizations. Instead of protecting outdated workplace policies that discriminate against women and limiting reproductive rights, our priority in New Hampshire should be to guarantee fair opportunities for women to succeed and to take care of their families, and this vote is a step in the right direction,” said Kary Jencks, executive director of NH Citizens Alliance.

“Having children has huge personal, health, and economic impacts on women and their families, so guaranteed access to reproductive health care, including birth control, abortion, pre-natal and maternity care, is tied inextricably to a woman’s economic security,” said Zandra Rice Hawkins, executive director of Granite State Progress & Education Fund. “We thank Planned Parenthood and other community health centers for their dedication to ensuring women and their families, particularly those in medically underserved areas, have access to quality health care. Today’s vote against a nationally orchestrated smear campaign was the right one.”

Today’s vote comes just days after a 3-month investigation wrapped up in Texas, where the grand jury cleared Planned Parenthood of breaking any law. Of note, that same grand jury did hand down indictments for two individuals who were involved in making the allegations against Planned Parenthood public via covert recordings and illegal tactics. These findings and the similar exoneration of Planned Parenthood affiliates in more than 10 other state investigations in recent months has led to a national call for the GOP to give up its crusade against Planned Parenthood and the reproductive health care services it provides.

“The citizens of our state want their elected officials to keep us moving forward – not backward – on women’s health. Today’s vote demonstrates that legislators from both parties reject these coordinated attacks that seek to end access to safe, legal abortion, ” concluded Frizzell.

More than 14,000 women, men and young people rely on Planned Parenthood health centers in New Hampshire for high-quality, affordable health care. With 33 percent of Planned Parenthood health centers providing care in rural or medically underserved areas statewide, Planned Parenthood serves as an essential source of primary and preventive health care in New Hampshire.

Local Community Groups Host Women’s Economic Roundtable January 12th

African American waitress serving lunch --- Image by © Matt Hess/Golden Pixels LLC/Corbis

African American waitress serving lunch — Image by © Matt Hess/Golden Pixels LLC/Corbis

ROC (Restaurant Opportunities Centers) United, along with Granite State Progress Education Fund, New Hampshire Citizens Alliance and other national and local allies, invite you to join us for a roundtable discussion on economic security for women and their families. This discussion will particularly focus on key issues that women in the restaurant industry face, including: low wages, lack of paid family leave and earned sick time policies, and virtually no access to affordable childcare. 

Tuesday, January 12th
10:00 am to 2:00 pm
to be held at|
Puritan Conference Center, 245 Hooksett Road, Manchester 

Background: The restaurant industry is the fastest growing industry in the nation. Nearly 70% of tipped restaurant workers are women. Not only does the industry reflect the same antiquated and limited workplace policies we see across low-wage industries, but the restaurant industry presents particularly egregious challenges when it comes to earning a living wage because of the tiered wage system that denies tipped workers the same right to minimum wage that other workers receive. Because these workers are paid only $2-3/hour, tipped workers are often forced to live off tips from their customers rather than wages from the employer. In this industry, like elsewhere in the service sector, the customer is always right. Therefore, without one fair wage for all workers, many tipped employees must endure disrespect and mistreatment from customers in order just to make a living.

The roundtable discussion will follow short presentations from Presidential candidate surrogates on what they plan to do to address fair wages, antiquated leave policies and affordable childcare in order to advance gender equity.  Following the candidate presentations and the moderated roundtable discussion attendees will participate in a lunch discussion. 

Speakers for the event include Saru Jayaraman, Co-Founder and Co-Director of ROC United; Ellen Bravo, Executive Director of Family Values at Work; State Representative Jackie Cilley, sponsor of the One Fair Wage bill in New Hampshire; State Representative and childcare provider Mary Jane Wallner; Nina Mujakovic, owner of Old Europe in Concord; and Executive Councilman and small business owner Chris Pappas.

Please RSVP to Sheila Vargas at sheila@granitestateprogress.org or (603) 848-3229.

New Hampshire Issue Advocacy Groups Join Forces, Rally Ahead of Democratic Presidential Debate

Rally and Downtown March Called on Democratic Candidates to Articulate Vision for a Clean Energy Future, Invest in Economic Security for Families and Small Businesses, and Put Voters Ahead of Special Interests

2015-12-19 march 1MANCHESTER, NH – Today, more than 20 issue advocacy groups gathered in Manchester to share a collective vision for a better future in advance of the New Hampshire Democratic Primary Debate.  The march and rally, titled “The Future We Want,” made its way down Elm Street in a show of unity. The march began at the Radisson Hotel, where leaders from across the region discussed how the activist community is coming together to demand action on the issues that matter to New Hampshire and the nation.

“There are so many great organizations doing important work in the state,” said Mike Padmore, State Director for NextGen Climate New Hampshire. “Every group here is working together for justice and progress, by protecting our planet, restoring democracy through campaign finance reform, supporting reproductive rights, investing in economic security for working families and defending the refugees seeking safety and a better life.”

Close to 200 people attended the event. Participants discussed how their work supports a unified vision to move our state and country forward and the importance of working together to ensure a fairer and more just future for all Americans. New Hampshire has a long tradition of using its First-in-the-Nation Primary status to vet candidates on the issues that matter most to Americans and for months Granite State “bird dogs” – issue advocates that follow the candidates and pin them down on the tough questions – have worked the Democratic Primary field. Rally speakers pointed to tonight’s Democratic Primary Debate, happening just two miles away at St. Anselm College’s New Hampshire Institute of Politics, calling it an opportunity for candidates to be champions of justice and progress.

“In New Hampshire, we have a unique opportunity to be in the spotlight of the national conversation in the months leading up to the First in the Nation primary” said Will Hopkins, Executive Director of New Hampshire Peace Action. “With that opportunity comes an important responsibility to engage with the candidates and articulate a vision for the future that demands strong leadership on the issues that matter to Granite Staters.”

The participating organizations from today’s rally and march will continue to work together to articulate and demonstrate a fair, just, and progressive vision for America during the Presidential Primary.

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NextGen Climate NH is a non-profit, non-partisan dedicated to averting climate disaster and promoting prosperity for all Americans. NextGen is calling on our elected leaders to get America to 50% renewable energy by 2030.

350 Action is pushing presidential candidates during the New Hampshire Primary to keep fossil fuels in the ground. It empowers New Hampshire residents to use creative direct action and bird dogging to influence our leaders.

Granite State Progress is a progressive advocacy organization that addresses issues of immediate state and local concern. Granite State Progress works as a communications hub for the progressive community to provide a strong, credible voice in advancing progressive solutions to critical community problems.

People For the American Way is dedicated to making the promise of America real for every American: Equality. Freedom of speech. Freedom of religion. The right to seek justice in a court of law. The right to cast a vote that counts. The American Way. Our operational mission is to promote the American Way and defend it from attack, to build and nurture communities of support for our values, and to equip those communities to promote progressive policies, elect progressive candidates, and hold public officials accountable.

Moms Clean Air Force is a community of parents working together to combat air pollution, including the urgent crisis of our changing climate – to protect our children’s health.

The American Friends Service Committee’s “Governing Under the Influence” project is a non-partisan, educational effort to raise awareness about the excessive power held by the ultra-wealthy and major corporations, especially those that profit from militarism and incarceration.  To date the project has trained more than 1000 NH people to be effective “bird dogs,” brought its giant GUI banners to dozens of political events, sponsored educational programs with hundreds of participants, and engaged all major presidential candidates in substantive discussions about nuclear weapons spending, the immigrant detention mandate, the influence of the military industrial complex, and other issues.

The cross-partisan NH Rebellion has mobilized thousands of citizen rebels to #FightBigMoney in politics by walking the talk for democracy all across the Granite State – 30,000 miles and counting. #NHRebellion educates candidates and voters on how our democracy could be fixed through its We the People pledge,  including overturning Citizens United, ending the Legislator to Lobbyist revolving door, requiring donation transparency, and other reforms. #NHRebellion is part of Open Democracy, the nonpartisan organization founded by legendary reformer Doris “Granny D” Haddock.

The New Hampshire AFL-CIO is a strong statewide voice for all working people, bringing together the unions of New Hampshire under one banner to fight for economic and social justice in our workplaces and communities.

Rights and Democracy is bringing people together to take action to build healthy communities and make the values of our communities guide the policies of our government. Together, we create change through grassroots organizing, educating and mobilizing around the issues that affect our communities, recruiting and training candidates to run for office, and working through the political and electoral process to advance progressive policies that lead to happy, healthy, and just communities for everyone.

New Hampshire Sierra Club represents over 15,000 Members and Supporters who care about the environment and the future of the Granite State. NHSC supports pollution-free clean energy future that can benefit the local economy and create jobs, like energy efficiency, wind and solar energy. Our goal is to have a zero carbon polluting economy by the year 2050.

The members of New Hampshire Peace Action are dedicated to making a contribution to world peace. We envision a world in which nuclear disarmament, mutual security, global understanding, international cooperation and respect for human rights create social, economic, and environmental benefits for all humanity.

Planned Parenthood New Hampshire Action Fund is an independent, nonpartisan, not-for-profit membership organization formed as the advocacy and political arm of Planned Parenthood of Northern New England in New Hampshire. The Action Fund engages in educational and electoral activity, including legislative education, grassroots organizing, and legislative advocacy. Follow us on Twitter.

After nearly 40 years NH Citizens Alliance continues to lead the movement for social and economic justice in the Granite State. We focus on creating a more engaged electorate through issue education, leadership development and voter engagement and mobilization. Central to our work is a women’s economic justice framework. We must take action now to ensure that women have equal rights and receive fair treatment on the job, in health care and in the new economy.

Better Future Project works to build powerful grassroots movements to address the climate crisis and advance a rapid and responsible transition beyond fossil fuels in Massachusetts and beyond.

350 Massachusetts for a Better Future is building a powerful statewide social movement to confront the climate crisis, hold our politicians accountable and undermine the destructive influence of the fossil fuel industry.

 The UNH Peace and Justice League is a social justice advocacy group.  We have worked on issues ranging from the student debt crisis at UNH to the nationwide issue of money in politics.

Divest UNH is pressuring the University of New Hampshire to divest their endowment from fossil fuels.  No one, especially universities, should be profiting of the devastating effects of climate change.  Our goal is not just to push the University of New Hampshire to divest but to create a long lasting student movement to fight for climate justice.

At the Organic Garden Club we manage an organic farm on campus.  Our goal is to provide a place for students to learn how to garden and to educate our community on where their food comes from.

The UNH Student Environmental Action Coalition is a collaborative of sustainability initiatives and committees seeking to promote a better environment and a stronger community

350NH is a climate movement of neighbors. We work as a community to turn off new fossil fuel infrastructure and turn on New Hampshire’s potential for a renewable energy future.

Support Our Local Community Non-Profits: The NH Labor News’s Suggestions For #GivingTuesday

giving_tuesday_logostackedToday is Tuesday, December 1st, 2015.  Not only is it my birthday – Thank You – but it is #GivingTuesday.  #GivingTuesday is a relatively new tradition following #BlackFriday, #SmallBusinessSaturday, and #CyberMonday.

#GivingTuesday is intended to inspire you to give something back this holiday season.  There are millions of great organization out there doing amazing work on a variety of issues.  These organization tend to be very lean because as non-profits they do not have a boatload of funds to fuel their agenda.

Donations to a Non-Profit are also tax deductible. Double bonus.  Unfortunately the NH Labor News is not a non-profit charity so if you choose to make a donation to us you cannot write it off on your taxes.

To help narrow down the monstrous list of possible places you can donate to I have compiled a short list of NH based non-profits, with links to their websites.  I have worked with each and every one of these groups on different campaigns over the last six-years.  (In no particular order.)

Special Note: Some of the groups listed below have sent out emails stating that if you act today, #GivingTuesday, your donation will automatically be matched by an anonymous contributor.  If you miss the double matching, it is ok, they will still be happy to receive your donation.

Granite State Progress: An all encompassing organization that monitors the NH Legislature.  Led the fight against ALEC in our state house, transparency in our legislative process, higher minimum wage, blocking Right To Work and more. (CLICK HERE TO DONATE)

The NH Citizens Alliance: A champion of low-wage workers, women’s rights and all Granite Staters.  Pushing for equal pay, higher minimum wage, paid sick time and more. They have also launched a new campaign #StandWithWomen to guarantee full and fair opportunities for women to succeed and take care of their families. (CLICK HERE TO DONATE)

The AFSC- New Hampshire: For 40 years Arnie Alpert has been fighting Right To Work in the NH Legislature. This Quaker organization is dedicated to helping working families as well has making the world a better place.  Fighting for social and economic justice and bringing back the founding principles of our democracy. If you have not already you must sign up for their State House Watch! (CLICK HERE TO DONATE)

MIRA: The Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition (MIRA) is the largest organization in New England promoting the rights and integration of immigrants and refugees. Eva Castillo is the NH director and together with help from the NH Labor News and other community activists we hosted a welcoming vigil for refugee children last year. (CLICK HERE TO DONATE)

League of Women Voters: The League of Women Voters, a nonpartisan political organization, encourages informed and active participation in government, works to increase understanding of major public policy issues, and influences public policy through education and advocacy. (CLICK HERE TO DONATE)

The NHFPI: the New Hampshire Fiscal Policy Institute (NHFPI) is an independent nonprofit organization dedicated to exploring, developing, and promoting public policies that foster economic opportunity and prosperity for all New Hampshire residents, with an emphasis on low- and moderate-income families and individuals. (CLICK HERE TO DONATE)

Planned Parenthood of Northern New England: PP offers low-cost or even free healthcare to thousands of Granite State women. Preventative medicine is the best medicine.   (CLICK HERE TO DONATE)

Every Child Matters Education Fund of NH: ECMEF is a non-partisan, non-profit focused on improving the lives of our future generation by ensuring they get a quality education.  They lobby for early childhood education and expanding public school.  Along with education, ECM pushes back against cuts to programs designed to help combat poverty. ECMEF-NH Director MaryLou Beaver is also a feature commentator on the NH Labor News with her weekly Granite State Rumblings update.  (CLICK HERE TO DONATE)

Second Wind Foundation for Pulmonary Fibrosis: A charity organization to help people suffering with the little known, life threatening disease, Pulmonary Fibrosis.  The organization was started when my good friend Ron Geoffroy’s wife, Marylou, was diagnosed with PF. After her passing, Ron continues to lead the organization and help others who are suffering with PF. (CLICK HERE TO DONATE)

Whether you give $5 or $500 dollars, every dollar is appreciated.  

Please make a contribution to any or all of these great groups and let them know that Matt from the NH Labor News sent you

Activists Rally at #KochProblem Event at St. Anselm College

Top Koch Industries PR officer visits New Hampshire
to spin about the Koch agenda that hurts everyday Granite Staters
 

Koch Problems Picture 1, 11.10.15MANCHESTER, NH – Granite State Progress and People For the American Way rallied outside of the St. Anselm Institute of Politics this morning against the Kochs’ latest PR event, a talk titled “Beyond the Political Spin: How Koch is Driving Freedom, Fairness, and Prosperity” given by Koch Industries Inc. chief communication and marketing officer Steve Lombardo.

“Faced with opposition from a growing number of concerned Americans over their big dollar contributions to politicians and campaigns that hurt working families, the Koch brothers have been on a public relations blitz this year to improve their image,” said Zandra Rice Hawkins, executive director of Granite State Progress. “This speaking tour is nothing but a public relations stunt to whitewash their bad practices.”

“More than two-thirds of New Hampshire voters want to limit big money in politics, regardless of party,” said PFAW New Hampshire Campaign Organizer Lindsay Jakows. “The Kochs’ PR events won’t change the fact that they are shamelessly attempting to buy political influence across the country. New Hampshire students and voters won’t support the big-money takeover of our democracy no matter how many publicity events the Kochs put on.”

Activists spoke out against the political activity of Koch front groups – like the LIBRE Initiative and Generation Opportunity – as well as the outsized influence the billionaires are able to buy on the federal, state, and local level. The LIBRE Initiative attempts to attract Latinos to the GOP’s base, yet advances policies—like opposing raises to the minimum wage—that disproportionately hurt Latinos. Similarly, Generation Opportunity reaches out to students while opposing policies—like the Affordable Care Act and student loan reform—that would make education and healthcare more affordable for millions of young people.

 The Koch network plans to spend nearly $900 million this election cycle.

Koch Problems Picture 2, 11.10.15

World Breastfeeding Week Kicked Off at NH State House With Calls for Family-Friendly Workplace and Public Policies

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New Hampshire event part of Stand With Women campaign to secure public policy advances for women and their families

CONCORD, NH – Elected leaders and advocates for women and their families kicked off World Breastfeeding Week at the New Hampshire State House today with calls for family-friendly workplace and public policies. The theme of this year’s World Breastfeeding Week is “Breastfeeding and Work – Let’s Make It Work.”

“More women than ever are working outside the home, heading households and leading in the workplace,” said Zandra Rice Hawkins, executive director of Granite State Progress & Education Fund. “Though times have changed, policies and rules have lagged behind. We must work to prioritize laws to guarantee that women have full and fair opportunities to succeed and raise healthy families. One way to do that is to stand with women and support workplace policies that protect women from discrimination, harassment, and maternity penalties on the job.”DSC_4223

Speakers at the press conference highlighted SB 219 as an example of one of those polices. The bill would ensure all working nursing mothers have reasonable break time and a sanitary, private location – other than the bathroom – to express breast milk.  Federal law currently only covers hourly workers. SB 219 successfully passed in the Senate earlier this year, but was retained in House Commerce.

“We stand with New Hampshire women in support of their right to breastfeed where and when their babies need and their right to work place friendly lactation policies that allow them to express their milk during work breaks so that their children may continue to receive the proven benefits of breastmilk even when Mom is not nearby,” said Kary Jencks, executive director of NH Citizens Alliance. “As a mother who breast fed all three of my children I personally know the importance of creating breastfeeding supportive communities and workplaces.”

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State Senator Martha Fuller Clark

Bill sponsor, Senate Majority Leader Jeb Bradley, stated that, “SB 219 has my support, the support of the full Senate, and the support of the BIA because the bill will reasonably accommodate breast feeding families and support the businesses who employ them, improving New Hampshire’s productivity and making it an even better state to live and work.”

Prime bill sponsor, Senator Martha Fuller Clark, stated that, “SB 219 is an attempt to address the fact many working women never undertake breastfeeding  or stop nursing their children upon returning to work because they have no access to decent accommodation at their place of employment. Nationally when women stop breastfeeding prematurely, a total of $126.1 million in indirect costs is incurred in time away from work for sick employees and babies. Women make up half the workforce and are the primary breadwinners in 41% of families with children. And of the more than 350,000 working women in New Hampshire today, nearly half are between the ages of 20 and 44 – prime years for giving birth to children. Passage of SB 219 would encourage working mothers to breastfeed their children. It would help to ensure healthy and prosperous families and save New Hampshire businesses many thousands of dollars in sick days and the loss of able and skilled women employees.”

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State Senator Martha Fuller Clark

On the federal level, U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen and Kelly Ayotte are working on legislation to protect pregnant women and nursing mothers in the work place. Representatives from each office issued a statement for the “Breastfeeding and Work – Let’s Make It Work” press conference:

U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen: “As Governor, I was pleased to sign into law the Breastfeeding Bill which protects the rights of mothers in New Hampshire to breastfeed in public. I was also proud to support the breastfeeding provisions in the Affordable Care Act, which requires insurance plans to cover breastfeeding support, supplies and counseling with no co-pay. I continue to work with the Department of Health and Human Services to ensure that these provisions are implemented as Congress intended. Women should have every right to reasonable workplace accommodations as they provide for their families and contribute to the economy. That’s why I introduced the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act. This legislation would ensure that expectant mothers are not forced out of their jobs simply because they need minor adjustments to their duties to continue working during pregnancy. As more womenwork longer into their pregnancies, they should have the confidence that their safety, health and financial security are not at risk. And when they return to work following childbirth, they deserve every opportunity to provide for their child without retaliation or interference.”

U.S. Senator Kelly Ayotte: “As someone who worked during both of my pregnancies and also breastfed, I understand the challenges facing pregnant women and new mothers in the workplace. To ensure that pregnant workers and nursing moms are treated equally in the workplace, Senator Shaheen and I recently introduced the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA), bipartisan legislation that would require employers to make reasonable accommodations for pregnant employees and new moms. The PWFA is modeled on the legal standard in the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and would ensure that pregnant workers and nursing moms are able to continue working while protecting them from being forced to take unpaid time off or leave their jobs altogether. The bill also prohibits employers from denying employment opportunities to women based on their need for reasonable accommodations related to pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions.”

Also at the press conference was Christine Dodson, co-founder of Mamava which creates lactation and breastfeeding stations, including the one at Fenway Park.

“When the idea for Mamava first struck, we were nursing mothers working for a breastfeeding friendly employer, and benefiting from Vermont’s progressive breastfeeding laws. At work we had a place to pump and the break time to do it. It was when we traveled for business that we ran in to challenges, often having to pump in restrooms, cars, and storage closets. We thought about all the other moms in other states, with less supportive employers and challenged ourselves to find a way to make it easier for mamas to meet their breastfeeding goals, and employers and communities to support them. So our free standing lactation suite was conceived from a place of empathy by nursing mothers who had to hit the road with our breast pumps. As it takes hold as an amenity for pumping and nursing we think of it as a billboard communicating that there are many, many breastfeeding moms who could use all the help they can get, actually bringing the discussion into the open – not hiding it in a bathroom stall or under a blanket.”

Following the press conference, Terie Norelli, President of the NH Women’s Foundation, led a count-down to the Big Latch On, a synchronized worldwide breastfeeding event at 10:30 am on July 31st and August 1st to raise awareness during World Breastfeeding Week.

DSC_4212The New Hampshire World Breastfeeding Week kick-off and day of events were hosted by NH Citizens Alliance, Granite State Progress & Education Fund, the NH Breastfeeding Rights Coalition & The Rustik Baby Project, with sponsor support.

About World Breastfeeding Week

On the 1st – 7th of August every year, to raise awareness of the benefits of breastfeeding and the need for global support, the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action organizes World Breastfeeding Week. World Breastfeeding Week is celebrated in 120 countries and marks the signing of the WHO/UNICEF Innocenti Declaration, which lists the benefits of breastfeeding plus global and governmental goals. To mark the occasion, on Friday July 31st and Saturday August 1st at 10:30 am thousands of breastfeeding women and their babies/children across the world gather in their own communities to take part in the Global Big Latch On, a synchronized breastfeeding event in multiple locations. Breastfeeding contributes to the normal growth and development of children, and children who are not breastfed are at increased risk of infant morbidity and mortality, adult obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, and premenopausal breast cancer and ovarian cancer (both mom and baby.) The World Health Organization recommends breastfeeding exclusively for the first six months of a baby’s life to optimize these benefits, continuing to breastfeed for 2 years and as long thereafter as is mutually desired by a woman and her child. The New Hampshire Statewide Big Latch On took place during the kick-off and press conference at the NH Statehouse; additional Big Latch On’s were scheduled in Dover, Littleton, and Meredith.

 

About the Stand With Women Campaign

Times have changed. Today, women are central to our families and our economy. More women than ever are working outside the home, heading households and leading in the workplace. We must take action now to ensure that women have equal rights and receive fair treatment on the job, in health care and in the new economy. The Stand With Women campaign in New Hampshire is led by NH Citizens Alliance and Granite State Progress Education Fund.

NH House Republicans Push Through Their Immoral Reckless Budget

 

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Today hundreds of Granite Staters filled the State Capitol building holding signs and asking legislators to oppose these reckless cuts to the New Hampshire budget.  Labor leaders, community activists and concerned citizens delivered over 800 signed petitions opposing these reckless budget cuts.

“A budget is a statement of our priorities as a community and in that sense it is an expression of our values,” explained the Rev. Jonathan Hopkins, President of the NH Council of Churches and pastor of Concordia Lutheran Church. “Our faith leads us to pay attention to the common good, not just to the interests of individuals. Our faith calls for a budget that is fair and just.”

One area of the proposed budget cuts that drew outrage today were the cuts to social programs to help people overcome their additions to drugs and alcohol. Hundred gathered and participated in a “die in” on the State House steps. (Images above of the ‘die in’ courtesy of Steve Kloppenburg)

Their voices and concerns were ignored as the House Republicans pushed through their budget with devastating cuts to a variety of state programs.

“In amending the House Finance Committee-recommended budget that already hurt families, undermined business growth and took our economy backward, Republicans in the House of Representatives managed today to make a reckless budget even worse,” stated Governor Maggie Hassan. (Full Statement Here)

“To gain the support of Bill O’Brien and the Koch Brothers, House Republicans passed a budget today that is so extreme that even the Republican House Finance Chair admitted that our state would suffer if it were actually enacted,” said Ray Buckley, Chair of the New Hampshire Democratic Party.

“The House did a fantastic job of making New Hampshire more free market and more competitive, and forth and for most it takes out all the tax increases,” said AFP State Director Greg Moore in an press conference last week.

During the debate on the House floor Representative William O’Brien, who pushed a similar budget cuts through the House in 2011 when he was Speaker, offered an amendment to raid the state’s “Rainy Day Fund” to find extra money to make their budget work.

“From raiding dedicated funds to downshifting costs onto local communities, the O’Brien-Jasper budget proves once again that New Hampshire Republicans can’t be taken seriously on fiscal responsibility,” said Buckley. “Possibly the most fiscally irresponsible action in the O’Brien-Jasper budget deal — and that’s saying something — is O’Brien’s floor amendment to empty the state’s rainy day fund.”

“As lawmakers entered the State House, today they were greeted by hundreds of protesters decrying the O’Brien-Jasper budget’s drastic cuts. But instead of listening to the outcry from every corner of the state, O’Brien and Jasper decided to wipe out the state’s rainy day fund and threaten a credit downgrade to make even deeper cuts, including cutting funding for community colleges, further cutting our already strained corrections system, and laying off nurses at New Hampshire hospital,” continued Buckley.

“Voters will not stand for the fiscally irresponsible Jasper-O’Brien budget that empties the state’s rainy day fund, raids dedicated funds, slashes critical economic priorities for small businesses and middle class families, and downshifts costs onto local property taxpayers,” concluded Buckley.

One of the budget tactics used by Republicans to fund their disastrous budget would reverse the pay increased negotiated by the State Employees Association. These are the same workers who are now facing the potential of massive layoffs.

“When I was a child growing up in NH, the state leaders were fiscally conservative and responsible,” said Richard Gulla, President of SEA/SEIU Local 1984. “The legislature was primarily Republican and when need be, they would find ways to raise revenue for items our state’s citizens needed and there was a good balance between revenue and spending. That is no longer the case.”

The Tea Party extremists have taken over the House and refuse to raise revenues even though the state desperately needs it.

“The members of SEA/SEIU 1984 want our state to be a safe place for everyone to live, work, and prosper. The NH House budget does not promote these priorities – it disrupts them,” wrote the State Employees Association. “Even though they did not prevail, we salute the legislators who voted in favor of funding the state employees’ contract.”

“While today’s vote was gravely disappointing, we now look to the NH Senate to prepare a budget that is frugal yet reasonable and responsible,” concluded the SEA.

Community groups and fiscal watchdogs were quick to blast Republicans in the House for passing this budget that is guaranteed to harm our state and our economy.

“The House version of the budget is foolhardy and shortsighted. It unnecessarily pits important state priorities against one another rather than making real investments in our community, our infrastructure, and our people,” said Zandra Rice Hawkins, Executive Director of Granite State Progress. “It kicks the can down the road on identifying reasonable revenue sources that ensure the wealthy and corporations are paying their fair share, and it turns its back on programs that, if funded today, will save our state money in the long run.”

“The House budget pits vital public services against one another in an attempt to achieve a misguided sense of balance. This budget puts many of our state’s most vulnerable residents at risk, forcing cities and towns — and local taxpayers – to take on greater responsibilities and to face higher costs in the long run,” said New Hampshire Fiscal Policy Institute Executive Director Jeff McLynch. (Full Statement Here)

Now we look to the New Hampshire Senate to see how they blend their two proposals together and craft the budget for the next two years. We already know that the Senate passed a business tax reduction that gives away millions to businesses while force deeper cuts to state agencies.

Will the Senate find a way to fix the cuts proposed by the House, or will they bend to the Tea Party extremists and force New Hampshire backwards?

 

Related article and recommended reading:

Republican Budget Cuts In New Hampshire Provoke Backlash From Clergy

 

NH House GOP Jeopardize Voter Privacy And Force Towns To Pay For Equipment In Voter ID Mandate

NH House Finance Republicans Vote to Pass Costly
Unfunded Voter ID Mandate on to Cities and Towns;
Jeopardize Voter Privacy

CONCORD, NH – In a party line vote yesterday afternoon, Republicans on the House Finance Committee voted to pass a costly and unfunded mandate on to cities and towns to implement the camera provision of the voter ID law. Amendment 2015-1103h eliminates the requirement that the Secretary of State provide each city and town the photography and printing supplies to implement the voter ID law. Each municipality will now be responsible for purchasing a camera, color printer, photo paper, and any other supplies necessary to comply with the provision of the law set to go into effect in September 2015.

“The House Republicans are passing a costly and unfunded mandate on to local towns and cities to implement an unnecessary camera provision of an already unnecessary voter ID law,” said Zandra Rice Hawkins, executive director of Granite State Progress. “It is clear from the hasty introduction of this amendment that sponsor Rep. Dan McGuire and the other Republicans who voted for it did not even take the time to read the current statute. McGuire told the committee that the state does not need to provide the equipment because cameras and electronic communication are already so common, implying that election moderators should just take a photo with a smart phone and email it to the SOS. However, the voter ID law specifically says the photo must be printed out in color and then the electronic copy immediately deleted.”

“If House Republicans want to change the voter ID law to an electronic record-keeping version, this raises real concerns over privacy. Under that scenario, moderators could use private phones and email accounts to transfer or store images of the electorate with no data protections whatsoever,” Rice Hawkins said.

Granite State Progress and other election protection advocates are calling for the New Hampshire legislature to eliminate the costly camera provision of the voter ID law, saving taxpayer dollars and preventing long delays at the polls.

Transcript of Rep. Dan McGuire (R-Epsom) remarks available here.

Video link 

After 5 Years Data Shows The ACA Is Working For Granite State Families

On 5th Anniversary of Affordable Care Act, Landmark Health Law is Covering More Families, Lowering Health Care Costs

CONCORD, NH – Today marks the fifth anniversary of the landmark health care law, the Affordable Care Act – otherwise known as Obamacare. Statement from Granite State Progress Executive Director Zandra Rice Hawkins:

“The Affordable Care Act has provided New Hampshire families and small businesses with the security and stability they need in health care coverage. More than 53,000 Granite State consumers have enrolled for private health care coverage through the ACA marketplace, and an additional 37,000 of our neighbors have signed up for expanded Medicaid and can now access preventive care instead of relying on emergency rooms which drives up health costs for everyone. The ACA, or Obamacare as it is known to some, is achieving its goal of providing quality, affordable health care coverage to more Americans and bending the health care cost curve that was previously wildly out of control.”

According to HHS, 70 percent of New Hampshire consumers who signed up on the marketplace qualified for an average tax credit of $244 per month. Reporters can access more information on the impact of the Affordable Care Act in New Hampshire here. HHS also announced that the ACA has reduced hospital uncompensated care costs across the country by an estimated $7.4 billion in 2014. A report detailing the economic impact of Medicaid expansion and the overall accomplishments of the Affordable Care Act over the past five years are available on the HHS website.

New Hampshire Democratic Party Chair Ray Buckley released the following statement on the 5th anniversary of the Affordable Care Act:
 

“Five years after the President signed the Affordable Care Act into law, it’s clear that the ACA is working here in New Hampshire.”

“To date, over 53,000 Granite Staters have enrolled in private coverage on New Hampshire’s Health Insurance Marketplace, not to mention the 37,000 Granite Staters and counting who have gotten covered through New Hampshire’s Medicaid expansion plan.”

“Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, New Hampshire’s workforce is healthier and stronger and we’re already seeing a decline in the costs of uncompensated care, saving money for individuals and businesses.”  

“It is unconscionable that five years later, Kelly Ayotte and Frank Guinta are still fighting to take away health coverage from tens of thousands of Granite Staters and repeal critical new consumer protections that are not only saving money, but also saving lives. In 2016, voters across New Hampshire will hold them accountable for their backwards health care policies and elect Democrats who will fight for middle class families and small businesses.”

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