TONIGHT: Koch Bros AFP-NH to Supply UNH Students with Free Alcohol to Oppose Obamacare, Not Sign Up for Health Coverage

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Koch-funded Americans for Prosperity Part of National Campaign to Discourage Young Adults, Others from Getting Health Coverage; Dartmouth Stop Scheduled for Next Week

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Concord, NH – Billionaire Koch brothers funded groups Americans for Prosperity and Generation Opportunity are supplying University of New Hampshire students with free alcohol tonight to encourage them to oppose Obamacare and not sign up for health coverage.

The “Thirsty for Freedom” event will be held at the Dover Brickhouse just off campus. It provides students with two free drink tickets to hear about “big governments war on youth” and is hosted by Koch-funded AFP, Koch-funded Generation Opportunity, Young Americans for Liberty, and the College Republicans. A boozy tailgate event hosted by some of the same sponsors at the University of Miami last fall included a fleet of Hummers, paid models as “brand ambassadors” and beer pong tables as part of an effort to discourage students from using new benefits and financial assistance available under the Affordable Care Act.

See photos: http://www.tampabay.com/blogs/the-buzz-florida-politics/chugging-beers-with-creepy-uncle-sam/2151865

Statement from Granite State Progress Executive Director Zandra Rice Hawkins:

“Young adults are more likely to be uninsured than any other age group. Under Obamacare, young adults can stay on their parent’s plan until age 26, and they have options for premium assistance to help them afford private coverage on the marketplace. Americans for Prosperity is encouraging UNH students to go without affordable health coverage and in doing so they are playing politics with the health and well-being of New Hampshire’s young adults. UNH students should look elsewhere for information instead of listen to a group that would encourage them to pay a fine and still go without adequate health care coverage. Covering New Hampshire is the official, free resource for Granite Staters to learn about the Health Insurance Marketplace and the new, affordable health insurance plans that are now available to them.”

“Americans for Prosperity has hit a new low with this alcohol-fueled campaign to entice New Hampshire’s young adults to go without health care coverage. Medical bankruptcy is no way for a new graduate to start their life. Being able to count on health insurance when you have an accident or access routine preventive care to catch a health problem before it grows is an important resource for our young adults, but Americans for Prosperity wants to take that away.”

*** Note: A similar event targeted at Dartmouth students is scheduled for March 25th. ***

More info:

Tampa Bay Times: Chugging beers with Creepy Uncle Sam
http://www.tampabay.com/blogs/the-buzz-florida-politics/chugging-beers-with-creepy-uncle-sam/2151865

Think Progress: Koch Group Throws Boozy Anti-Obamacare Tailgate Party At College Football Game
http://thinkprogress.org/health/2013/11/11/2923411/creepy-uncle-sam-tailgate/

Yahoo News: Creepy Obamacare ad hits college campuses and your nightmares
Note Generation Opportunity quote telling young adults not to get health coverage, period
http://news.yahoo.com/obamacare-battle-moves-to-college-campuses-200027191.html

Americans for Prosperity event announcement
http://americansforprosperity.org/new-hampshire/event/thirsty-for-freedom-thursday-happy-hour/

Much Rejoicing As NH Senate Unanimously Passes Paycheck Fairness Bill

sylvia larsen

“This definitive, bipartisan action by the full Senate affirms that both Republicans and Democrats agree we must act to close the wage gap in New Hampshire,” said Senate Democratic Leader Sylvia Larsen.

Senate Bill 207 has been cited by Senate and House Democrats as a top priority for the 2014 legislative session. All Senate Democrats have sponsored the legislation with House Speaker Terie Norelli serving as the leading House sponsor along with co-sponsors Rep. Shannon Chandley (D-Amherst), Rep. MaryAnn Knowles (D-Hudson), and Rep. Marjorie Porter (D-Hillsboro).

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Senator Sylvia Larsen

“The New Hampshire Paycheck Fairness Act will give the more than 60% of women working in today’s economy, as the primary or co-breadwinners for their families, the much needed tools they need to combat the wage gap,” stated Larsen.

“It’s distressing that, in the year 2014, women in New Hampshire, who are working full-time jobs, still earn only 77 cents on the dollar compared to men. National studies have found that a pay gap exists between men and women in nearly every occupation. However, with this bipartisan, unanimous vote, we are sending a crystal clear message that the Legislature is on the side of all workers guaranteeing fair and equal paycheck, without fear of retaliation.”

Senator Larsen concluded her statement by saying, “I look forward to a quick House action, so New Hampshire can renew our commitment to the fundamental principle of, an equal day’s work deserves an equal day’s pay.”

“Today’s unanimous Senate vote to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act is an overwhelming, bipartisan affirmation of the principle that an equal day’s work deserves an equal day’s pay,” stated Governor Maggie Hassan. “This common-sense measure to help eliminate the pay gap between women and men will strengthen our economy and the financial security of working families across our state. I applaud the Senate for today’s bipartisan vote and encourage the House to pass this critical legislation in order to help all of New Hampshire’s workers earn a fair and equal paycheck.”

“We commend members of the Senate for voting unanimously to remove a remaining barrier to pay equity in New Hampshire,” stated Mark MacKenzie, President of the NH AFL-CIO. “Passing SB207 was the right thing to do for fairness and equality, and the right thing to do for the majority of Granite State working families who depend on women’s earnings to get by.”

“We commend the Senate’s unanimous adoption of the New Hampshire Paycheck Fairness Act,” stated Zandra Rice-Hawkins, Executive Director of Granite State Progress. “This law would give employees the tools they need to challenge wage gaps. Data shows that New Hampshire women make 77 cents for every dollar a man earns. Coupled with the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act already in law, these two acts can help to create a climate where wage discrimination is no longer tolerated.”

Along with the Democratic leadership in the House and Senate, community groups helped push legislators to pass this Paycheck Fairness bill.  Below are statements from some of the other organizations celebrating today’s vote.

Kary Jencks, Executive Director, NH Citizens Alliance for Action: “The Senate recognized today that ensuring equal pay for equal work is important to protecting New Hampshire working families.  A woman’s earnings, whether she is married or not, are crucial to family support. Closing the wage gap is the right action for New Hampshire to take for the economic security of Granite Staters.”

Devon Chaffee, Executive Director of the New Hampshire Civil Liberties Union: “We applaud the Senate’s bipartisan approval of the New Hampshire Paycheck Fairness Act. In approving this critical legislation, the Senate has taken an important step towards eliminating unfair gender paycheck inequities in the state of New Hampshire.”

Dawn Andonellis, Public Policy Chair for the American Association of University Women (AAUW) of New Hampshire: “We applaud the New Hampshire State Senate for passing the Paycheck Fairness Act in a bipartisan fashion and for taking this important step toward closing the wage gap and ending gender discrimination in the workplace. Moving this bill forward would give the women of New Hampshire a reason to actually celebrate Equal Pay Day on April 8. Finally, women are closer to achieving equal pay for equal work.”

Mary Jo Brown, Chair of the New Hampshire Women’s Initiative: “The New Hampshire Women’s Initiative applauds the Senate’s unanimous adoption of SB 207. SB 207 is a great step toward reducing the wage gap and promoting pay equity for all Granite Staters. The bill, which includes provisions towards paycheck transparency, honors NHWI’s agenda and findings from our 2013 statewide listening sessions with NH citizens. We are proud to thank Senator Larsen and her cosponsors for the bipartisan support of the bill. We are excited that the Senate has passed this important piece of legislation and look forward to working with the House.”

Fatima Goss Graves, Vice President for Education and Employment at the National Women’s Law Center: “This bipartisan vote reflects the simple fact that giving women tools to combat pay discrimination and close the wage gap is a common sense solution that everyone should be able to get behind.”

The NH Senate was realistically the only hurdle this bill faced in getting passed in New Hampshire.  The GOP controlled Senate was the only truly unknown in this bills likelihood of passing.  The bill will now moved to the Democrat controlled house, where I should pass with ease.  I expect the Governor could be signing this bill before May first.

 

The New Hampshire House Passes Minimum Wage Increase

NHhouse

The New Hampshire House of Representatives today by a vote of 173 to 118 approved HB 1403, a bill to increase the state minimum wage to $9.00 an hour over two years and apply cost of living adjustments in future years. New Hampshire’s current minimum wage is $7.25 an hour and the wage has remained at this level since 2008.

“New Hampshire’s current minimum wage leaves workers struggling to get by,” said New Hampshire Fiscal Policy Institute Executive Director Jeff McLynch. “Raising the minimum wage and ensuring it is adjusted for the cost of living in future years would help families make ends meet, boost sales at local businesses, and put New Hampshire on a path towards an economy that works for everyone.”

HB 1403 would increase the minimum wage to $8.25 per hour on January 1, 2015, and to $9.00 per hour on January 1, 2016. Beginning January 1, 2017, it would automatically increase New Hampshire’s minimum wage to account for inflation (based on the Consumer Price Index).

An analysis conducted by the Economic Policy Institute indicates that HB 1403 would either directly or indirectly increase the wages of 76,000 Granite Staters. Of those who would be affected, 72 percent are adults age 20 and older; 32 percent work full-time; 59 percent are women; and 14 percent are parents.

On average, those who would be affected by a $9.00 minimum wage would see their pay go up by $870 per year. As minimum wage workers spend every dollar they earn, this spending will boost the bottom lines of stores, shops, and businesses in communities across the state while adding $64 million to the New Hampshire economy over the next two years.

The WMUR Granite State Poll released on February 6 found that 76% of state residents support increasing the minimum wage to $9.00. The poll question asked respondents if they supported an increase to $8.25 in 2015 and to $9 an hour in 2016. Across the political spectrum, the majority of Democrats (91%), Republicans (64%), and Independents (70%) favored this proposed increase to the minimum wage.

“I applaud members of the House of Representatives for their recognition of the need to restore and increase New Hampshire’s minimum wage,” said Governor Hassan. “In order for economic growth to truly accelerate, working families and individuals must be confident in their own financial circumstances and able to afford critical goods and services.”

Governor Hassan continued, “This measure will help improve the financial security of working families and people of all ages and will support businesses by putting more money in the pockets of their consumers. I look forward to working with members of the Senate, as well as workers, businesses and all stakeholders, to strengthen our state’s economic future by restoring and increasing New Hampshire’s minimum wage.”

“The legislators were not swayed by false testimony or attempts to weaken the bill,” said Zandra Rice-Hawkins, Executive Director of Granite State Progress. “We all know that a strong minimum wage means more money in the pockets of families and more money in the cash registers of local businesses. Raising the wage is a win-win situation for our whole economy and we strongly encourage the Senate to support it.”

“The vote in the House today signals a strong desire to help working people and we are proud of the legislators who voted with us,” continued Rice-Hawkins.  “Three-quarters of Granite Staters, including majorities of Republicans, Independents, and Democrats, also support increasing the minimum wage to $9 per hour.”

Now everything lies in the Senate.  Will they do what is right for Granite Staters or hold fast to the anti-worker ideology of the current Republican Party?

Statement on NH House Democrats & Republicans Decision to Allow Corporate Special Interests to Write State Law Behind Closed Doors

NH House-2

CONCORD, NH – The New Hampshire House voted HB 1207, disclosure of model acts, inexpedient to legislate today. The bill would have simply required model bills to list their origin. Statement from Granite State Progress Executive Director Zandra Rice Hawkins:

“Drafting legislation is the most fundamental act of lobbying, yet New Hampshire has a huge, gaping hole for reporting and disclosure of this lobbying activity. Corporate and other special interests are allowed to write state laws behind closed doors, often without any disclosure or transparency as to who is writing them and why. Knowing who is writing our state laws is an important part of having an open and transparent government. We are disappointed by the House’s decision. Otherwise strong public servants, who rally at length against special interest influence in their campaign speeches, missed a key opportunity to act on those values this week.”

“This law would have applied equally to conservative and liberal groups, to Democrats and Republicans, to partisans and non-partisans. Good government should be a shared democratic value regardless of political party or persuasion, and no one should shy away from identifying who is drafting our state laws and why. We appreciate that the committee that heard this bill agreed, but their recommendation to put this into House rules instead of law means bills originating in the Senate will not have the same disclosure, and House Rules also change with administrations. This policy needs to be law.”

Background on HB 1207:

Right now national cookie-cutter model legislation, designed to promote a particular interest, has no disclosure requirements. This allows special interests to unduly influence laws behind closed doors. In the 2011-2012 session, Granite State Progress identified 30 model bills from one national organization alone, 16 of which became law. Many of the bills had no visible involvement from the entities who designed them meaning, often, legislators and constituents didn’t even know who was originally behind the bill or why – a key part of understanding the intent and potential impact of a policy.

HB 1207 would have simply required bill sponsors to let the Office of Legislative Services know when they were using a model act, and OLS would note that in the bill analysis. To be considered a model act, the legislation has to be national cookie-cutter legislation that is officially voted on and adopted by an organization or corporation, then distributed in more than one state. Home-grown New Hampshire bills would not be impacted. Laws from other states are not formally distributed by those states and, thus, are not considered model acts. Model legislation is not inherently bad, but the special interests promoting it – regardless of political persuasion – should be disclosed as part of an open and transparent legislative process. Granite State Progress supported having this disclosure on all model legislation to lessen the corruption of our legislative process.

 

Bill Text: http://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/legislation/2014/HB1207.html

 

High Praise For The NH Senate Commerce Committee’s Unanimous Vote For Paycheck Fairness

Equal Pay for Equal Work (lilly ledbetter act)

The Senate Commerce Committee unanimously voted to recommend the passage of Senate Bill 207, the New Hampshire Paycheck Fairness Act.  After the vote Senate Minority Leader Sylvia Larsen released the following statement:


”This definitive, bipartisan action by the Senate Commerce Committee affirms that both Republicans and Democrats agree we must act to close the wage gap in New Hampshire.”
 

“The New Hampshire Paycheck Fairness Act will give the more than 60% of women working in today’s economy, as the primary or co-breadwinners for their families, the much needed tools they need to combat the wage gap.”

 

“It’s distressing that, in the year 2014, women in New Hampshire, who are working full-time jobs, still earn only 77 cents on the dollar compared to men. National studies have found that a pay gap exists between men and women in nearly every occupation. However, with this bipartisan, unanimous vote, we are sending a crystal clear message that the Legislature is on the side of all workers guaranteeing fair and equal paycheck, without fear of retaliation.”



”I look forward to a strong vote of the full Senate and quick House action, so New Hampshire can renew our commitment to the fundamental principle of, an equal day’s work deserves an equal day’s pay.”

Senate Bill 207 has been cited by Senate and House Democrats as a top priority for the 2014 legislative session. All Senate Democrats have sponsored the legislation with House Speaker Terie Norelli serving as the leading House sponsor along with co-sponsors Rep. Shannon Chandley (D-Amherst), Rep. MaryAnn Knowles (D-Hudson), and Rep. Marjorie Porter (D-Hillsboro).

Governor Hassan also showed her support for SB 207 in her statement:

““I applaud the Senate Commerce Committee for their bipartisan recognition of the need to eliminate the pay gap between our working women and men. Well over half of the women working in today’s economy are either the primary or co-breadwinners in their families, and it is unacceptable that women in New Hampshire working full-time jobs earn only 77 cents on the dollar compared to men.” 

“This legislation will improve the financial security of working families and help business grow by putting more money in the pockets of consumers. I encourage the full Senate to continue demonstrating that, unlike Washington, in New Hampshire, we can come together on common-sense solutions by passing the Paycheck Fairness Act.”

Aside from the political leaders in Concord many other groups voiced their praise in the committee unanimously supporting paycheck fairness.

Mark MacKenzie, President of the NH AFL-CIO: “Equal pay for equal work is more than a motto – it’s the law. SB 207, the New Hampshire Paycheck Fairness Act, is another step in the right direction. It prohibits employers from barring an employee from disclosing information about his or her wages and it also prohibits employer retaliation against an employee who does disclose the amount of his or her wages.”

Kary Jencks, Executive Director, NH Citizens Alliance for Action: “We thank Senator Larsen for encouraging bi-partisan action today to ensure equal pay for equal work. A woman’s earnings, whether she is married or not, are crucial to family support. Closing the wage gap in New Hampshire is important for the equality and economic security of Granite Staters.”

Zandra Rice Hawkins, Executive Director of Granite State Progress: “Data shows that New Hampshire women make 77 cents for every dollar a man earns. SB 207 will give employees the tools they need to challenge wage gaps. Coupled with the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act already in law, these two acts can help to create a climate where wage discrimination is no longer tolerated.”

Devon Chaffee, Executive Director of the New Hampshire Civil Liberties Union: “We applaud the Senate Committee for its bipartisan support of this important effort to eliminate unfair gender paycheck inequities in the state of New Hampshire.”

Kimberly Pollard, Regional Organizer for the American Association of University Women (AAUW) of New Hampshire: “Today, women are the leading or sole breadwinner in forty percent of households. The pay gap affects whether families can buy food, pay the mortgage, and stay healthy. By moving forward with the Paycheck Fairness Act, the Senate Commerce Committee has taken a positive step toward closing the wage gap and ending gender discrimination in the workplace.”

The Paycheck Fairness bill is about closing the gap between pay disparities between men and women. This bill is another step in the process by allowing women (and men) to openly discuss their wages with others, ensuring that they are being fairly compared to those in the same job.

Americans for Prosperity Obamacare TV Ads Leave Out Key Details, Stretch Truth

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Koch-funded Americans for Prosperity forgets to mention Republican activist ties, anti-Obamacare sentiments of women featured in ads, among more egregious errors

Concord, NH –Billionaire Koch brothers funded group Americans for Prosperity released new TV ads in New Hampshire today that share the story of two New Hampshire women who purportedly lost their health insurance because of Obamacare. What the ad and accompanying press materials don’t do is provide enough information for reporters and the public to determine whether the ad message fits reality. AFP has already been under fire in other states for its misleading ads. In “More Obamacare horror stories: Do they add up?” The Washington Post writes about the AFP ad fiasco in Michigan which was quickly debunked by Glenn Kessler, and draws potential parallels to the latest ad targeting New Hampshire leaders today. (Article below.) A starter look at the New Hampshire ads already reveals inconsistencies and loose rhetoric. Here’s more on each specific ad:

AFP-NH Ad on Rep. Shea-Porter

Helen DePrima of Bedford states she lost her secondary health insurance because of the Affordable Care Act, and that her cost for prescription drugs increased.

  • Did DePrima’s overall health care costs go down because of the Medicare provisions in the ACA? It appears that DePrima is likely primarily covered by Medicare; the ad does not mention the many ways that DePrima and other seniors will benefit under the Affordable Care Act – such as how  Medicare now covers certain preventive services, like mammograms or colonoscopies, without charging for the Part B coinsurance or deductible. It also provides a free yearly “Wellness” visit.
  • Is the increased cost in her new plan off-set by the lowered cost overall? The ad only discusses that DePrima’s cost for prescription drugs has increased, but it doesn’t say if her premium has gone down. It also doesn’t mention that the ACA works to close the Medicare donut hole and that seniors who are in it now get a 50% discount when buying Part D-covered brand-name prescription drugs.
  • Why does the ad punt on whether DePrima’s medications are covered? The ad has DePrima state that “some of my medications may not be covered” but it doesn’t say whether or not that is actually true. If DePrima has already selected a plan or reviewed them enough to assert that her cost for prescriptions has spiked, then it is questionable why the ad can’t also say whether those medications are covered.
  • About DePrima: DePrima has been critical of the health law before, using borderline ‘death panel’ language in a letter to the editor of the local paper in July 2012.

AFP-NH needs to provide more information to back-up the claims made in this TV ad.

AFP-NH Ad on Rep. Kuster

Donna Marzullo of Deering states her insurance policy was cancelled because of the Affordable Care Act, and that she’s not sure if she can keep her doctor or hospital of choice.

  • The ad neglects to indicate that Marzullo’s plan covers her until November 2014. The TV ad makes it appear that the cancellation letter means Marzullo has just been dropped from coverage; the press release states her policy actually ends in November 2014. This also begs the question of when Marzullo purchased her coverage. The Celtics customer care line recording states that policies purchased prior to October 2013 will be ending and most plans are sold in one-year increments. Did Celtic sell her a policy last November for which it then turned around and sent a cancellation notice? If so, Marzullo likely would have known that a cancellation was imminent. Or, it’s possible that Marzullo had an unusual policy plan year. Reporters should follow up for more details.
  • Which consumer protections does Marzullo’s current plan not cover, and how does she feel about them? Non-grandfathered health plans have to meet a deadline this year for coming into compliance with new consumer protections under the Affordable Care Act. Marzullo’s current plan does not cover some of those important protections – which consumer protections does she want to go without? Potential reasons for the cancellation include that the insurance plan does not limit out-of-pocket spending, or that it does not cover essential health benefits. Most Americans support the popular consumer protections in the Affordable Care Act.
  • AFP-NH wrongly states that Marzullo will lose access to hospitals close to her. The press release states “… Marzullo will lose access to the two hospitals nearest her (Concord Hospital and Monadnock Hospital) when her policy ends in November.” But that’s not right: there’s no way to know which hospitals will be covered in Marzullo’s new plan until she picks one. In fact, the insurance company she currently uses is continuing to sell plans in the state outside of the marketplace; there are over 500 providers within 25 miles of Deering available under this year’s plan with Celtic – including Monadnock Hospital.
  • The TV ad also misrepresents why Concord Hospital isn’t available in the marketplace plans. The ad misrepresents why Concord Hospital is not included in Anthem’s marketplace plans. Concord Hospital was approached to be in the plan offerings, but the hospital and insurance company couldn’t agree on rates so Concord Hospital turned it down. This is the free market approach conservatives wanted instead of the public option, and it mirrors how insurance companies and hospitals currently negotiate networks.
  • About Marzullo: Donna Marzullo is the wife of NH GOP Vice Chair J.P. Marzullo. She is also the Vice Chair of the Contoocook Valley Republican Committee.

AFP-NH takes cheap shots in this TV ad and avoids sharing the full picture.

Statement from Granite State Progress Executive Director Zandra Rice Hawkins:

“Americans for Prosperity has always opposed health care reform. AFP-NH wants to return to a broken system of insurance company abuses and low quality, high cost health coverage. The group even held events last summer actively discouraging people from accessing quality, affordable health care. Real health care advocates are looking for ways to get more people covered, and to improve the coverage that is already out there. We’re speaking to people like the women in this ad to explain the changes and educate them about the new consumer protections, such as how insurance companies can no longer drop you from coverage when you get sick. These are important provisions that increase economic and health security for Granite State families. Americans for Prosperity is ideologically opposed to health care for all, they offer no solutions and only work to slow or obstruct health care reform efforts.”

NH House Committee Passes Study Commission on Gun Violence and Background Checks

Granite State Progress

Proposed 10-member commission would study impact of firearms violence, background checks, and other firearms safety measures

CONCORD, NH – The NH House Criminal Justice committee voted 12-6 in a bipartisan fashion to pass an amended bill today establishing a study commission on gun violence and background checks, among other firearms safety measures. Statement from Granite State Progress Executive Director Zandra Rice Hawkins:

“We appreciate the dedicated legislators who are as concerned as we are about gun violence for moving forward with a commission to study gun violence and remedies for it. We all know that 89% of Granite Staters already support background checks, but frankly the public is ahead of some politicians on this one. Study commissions are a common way for the New Hampshire legislature to address heated political topics, and while public safety shouldn’t fall into that category, the legislature will benefit from a dedicated study of firearms violence and remedies for our state.

“The proposed commission will include a diverse set of stakeholders from law enforcement, the mental health community, domestic and sexual violence experts, gun violence prevention advocates, gun owners, and retail firearm businesses in addition to legislators. This fair and balanced representation of interests will make the study commission insightful and fruitful. We look forward to its passage.”

Background:

The amendment was added to HB 1264, which originally sought to allow a nonresident from a state that does not require a license to carry a loaded pistol or revolver to carry in New Hampshire. Rep. JR Hoell is the sole sponsor of the underlying bill. Rep. Hoell last week introduced an amendment to HB 1589, the background checks bill, which would have replaced it with a committee to study the “correlation between current New Hampshire law and the low violent crime rate in this state.”

HB 1264, as amended, establishes a commission to study the impact of firearms violence, explore options to strengthen the background check system for firearms sales, and consider measures to promote firearms safety.

NH House Shows Strong Support For Working Families With Today’s Votes

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NH House Shows Strong Support for Working Families on Votes to Pass Paycheck Fairness, Paycheck Protections & Raise the Wage

GRANITE STATE PROGRESS PRAISES HOUSE, COMMITTEE VOTES ON HB 1188, HB 1404, AND HB 1403

CONCORD, NH – The New Hampshire House voted today to pass a paycheck fairness bill and strengthen worker payroll protections; in addition the House Labor Committee voted to support a bill to raise the minimum wage in New Hampshire. Statements from Granite State Progress:

Paycheck Fairness (HB 1188)

The NH House of Representatives voted 183-125 in bi-partisan support of HB 1188 today, which provides stronger protection for employers by clarifying the conditions when wage disparities between men and women performing the same work are allowable. The legislation also strengthens the protections of current equal pay laws by prohibiting employers from adopting workplace policies that bar employees from voluntarily disclosing earnings information, and by prohibiting retaliation against employees who opt to share information about their wages, salaries, and benefits.

Statement from Granite State Progress Political and Research Director Caitlin Rollo:

“This is an important piece of legislation that provides employees with the legal tools they need to challenge the wage gap in New Hampshire. According to the most recent data from the US Census Bureau, full-time female workers in New Hampshire make 77 cents for every dollar their male counterparts, which mirrors the national pay gap average. Today, 40% of women are the sole providers for their family and another 20% are co-providers. The existence of such disparities in pay equity reduces the wages of working families who rely on the wages of all the workers in the family to make ends meet. There are current barriers in the workplace that make it hard for women and other workers to determine whether they are being paid in an equitable fashion, and HB 1188 remedies that situation. We applaud the legislature for their work on the important issue of paycheck fairness.”

(Also read the statement from NH House Leadership on the passage of HB 1188)

Payroll Cards (HB 1404)

The NH House of Representatives also voted 201-104 in bi-partisan support of HB 1404 today, which provides more consumer protections for payroll cards. Payroll cards act as a form of debit cards, often carrying a brand such as Visa or Mastercard, and are used as such – right down to the fees for withdrawals, payments and balance checks. At American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) meetings in 2010 and 2011, Visa introduced model bills and resolutions on payroll cards to encourage their use. In response, HB 1404 updates New Hampshire consumer protections for payroll cards to eliminate a number of “gotcha” or surprise fees, provide better access to card balances, and mandate disclosure of all payment options in clear, plain language.

Statement from Granite State Progress Executive Director Zandra Rice Hawkins:

“Corporations like Visa have been eager to transition workers from paychecks to payroll cards to collect more fees from the transactions, including transaction fees charged at local businesses who accept the cards for payment. HB 1404 is a smart piece of legislation that will update New Hampshire’s consumer protections and eliminate the additional fees and expenses for workers to collect and use their paycheck. It also requires that all payment options be shared with workers upfront, in clear, plain language. Granite State Progress is proud of the House members who stood strong to protect workers and small businesses in our state.”

Raise the Wage (HB 1403)

The NH House Labor committee voted 10-8 in support of HB 1403 today, raising the minimum wage in New Hampshire.  HB 1403 would raise New Hampshire’s minimum wage in two stages and provide for annual cost of living increases in the future.  It would increase the minimum wage from $7.25 to $8.25 per hour on January 1, 2015 and to $9.00 per hour on January 1, 2016.  Beginning January 1, 2017, it would automatically increase New Hampshire’s minimum wage to account for inflation, based on the Consumer Price Index.

Statement from Granite State Progress Political and Research Director Caitlin Rollo:

“Our organization absolutely believes that working people should be able to pay their own bills rather than rely on taxpayer assistance, and because of that we support having a strong minimum wage that reflects the real needs and economic climate in our state. Raising the wage will benefit thousands of workers and families across our state with a modest increase set in two stages then indexed to the cost of living. These are primarily adults who work at least half or full time, who have real responsibilities and families. We applaud the House Labor Committee for its support to raise the wage and encourage the full House to move forward with this bill.”

Note: Three-quarters of Granite Staters – including majorities of Republicans, Independents, and Democrats – support increasing the minimum wage to $9 per hour, according to the Granite State Poll.

New Out-Of-Stater Jumps Into The NH U.S. Senate Race

a Mike Morrill for US Senate - Emphasis

New U.S. Senate Candidate Launches Campaign in New Hampshire; Will Challenge Scott Brown, Bob Smith in Republican Primary

a Mike Morrill for US Senate - Emphasis

Courtesy Photo

CONCORD, NH – A new candidate for New Hampshire’s U.S. Senate race launched his campaign during a press conference at the New Hampshire State House on Monday, January 27th. Michael Morrill announced he is running for United States Senate from the state of New Hampshire, seeking the Republican nomination in the primary. Morrill does not believe the fact that he currently lives in Pennsylvania will be a detriment to his campaign.

“There’s an open seat in the Republican Senate primary and someone has to fill it. Why not me?” Morrill said. “Like Scott Brown and Bob Smith, I see this race as pure opportunity.”

During the press conference Morrill outlined his qualifications to be elected the next U.S. Senator from New Hampshire, and his promises to the people of the state.

“Like Scott Brown, my family and I have strong ties to the Granite State that go back many generations. I have two brothers who live here. My father spent his last years here. I went to Boy Scout camp in Antrim. My mother lives in Amesbury.  I know that’s in Massachusetts, but it’s close enough. In addition, I have found Lost River –on many occasions. My car has climbed Mt. Washington. I have skied Attitash.  Well, I have ridden the alpine slide.”

“But it’s not just my deep New Hampshire roots that have compelled me to seek to become your U.S. Senator.  As I said earlier, this is really about one thing: pure opportunism. And that’s really why I want to be your United States Senator.  Like former Senators Smith and Brown, I’m looking for a cushy job, with lots of travel opportunities, great publicly-funded healthcare and a retirement plan that requires little investment on my part, but produces a retirement income that will make me comfortable in my old age. I promise to visit this great state at least twice a year once elected.”

Granite State Progress, a progressive advocacy organization, arranged the tongue-in-cheek press conference. Michael Morrill is the executive director of Keystone Progress, Granite State Progress’ sister organization in Pennsylvania.

“Morrill’s intent to run for U.S. Senate may not be real, but his New Hampshire credentials are and follow the same logic that Massachusetts’s Scott Brown and former Sen. Bob Smith, most recently of Florida, are using to justify their presence in New Hampshire’s U.S. Senate race,” said Zandra Rice Hawkins, executive director of Granite State Progress. “New Hampshire voters will choose for themselves who they want to represent them, but let’s not forget that Brown and Smith are jumping into this race out of political opportunity, pure and simple.”

#OrbitGiving Contest To Help Granite State Progress (@ProgressNH)

Granite State Progress

It is the last week of December.  It is also when we get those annual request for donations from every nonprofit group from Concord to California.  I must have received 100 requests for donations to meet that ‘end of the year goal’.

I wish I had a million dollars so I could give money to all of these great organizations. Unfortunately like many Americans I am not able to support them all.

Then I heard about the ORBIT.DO contest that would donate $300 dollars to a number groups today.

For this contest I have chosen to advocate for Granite State Progress (GSP).

Over the last three years I have spent countless hours working with the crew at GSP.  Those who know me already know that my blog is focused on labor issues. The work I do will GSP allows me to really spread my progressive wings.  I get to take action and help push for things that the labor community may not agree with or really care about.

Countless times I have stood, in and around the State Capitol, helping to bring awareness to issues that GSP is focused on. Together we have used our combined social media presence to fight against the #ALEC agenda in NH.

As a community organizer, Granite State Progress brings people together to show support for some of the smaller organizations in New Hampshire as well.  For example, last spring I got a call from Zandra Rice-Hawkins (Executive Director of GSP, and my personal friend).  That is usually how it works. I get a call from Zandra on Sunday for something happening on Tuesday.  Most of the time it is a reminder because I can be forgetful with so many things going on.

This one was however was different.  Zandra was working with a smaller group called Project for Safer Communities (NH) who advocate for stronger gun safety laws.  GSP and Project for Safer Communities were hosting a press conference to highlight a few bills in the NH Legislature that would help to protect our communities.  Like many I was still thinking of the children in Newtown who lost their lives in that horrible school tragedy.  I quickly said “yes I will be there” and then I remembered that my wife had a doctor’s appointment.  That would mean I would be taking care of two of my three children that same morning.

As I explained the situation to Zandra, I could hear the sudden change in her voice.  She calmly suggested that I bring the kids with me to the press conference.  After a brief discussion with my wife, we agreed that it would be allowable for me to bring the kids.  Zandra could not contain her excitement any longer.  She was ecstatic that I was bringing my very cute (if I do say so myself) children to the press conference.

The event had great media coverage, which is the best you can hope for when you’re holding a press conference like this.  My children were photographed sitting and holding their signs, and ended up as the cover photo for the NH Public Radio article.   I was even quoted in a couple of different articles.  Most asked the same question, “What made you bring your children today”?  My answer was simple, “because I am doing this for them. I want them to have safer schools and safer communities.”

Image from NHPR Reporter Michael Brinkley Tweet

Image from NHPR Reporter Michael Brinkley Tweet

I could tell you many other stories about the work that I have done with GSP but this post would go on forever.  I will say that Zandra and her dedicated team are doing amazing work.  From community organizing to legislation tracking to monitoring the actions of right-wing fringe groups, they do it all.

I hope the people at Orbit read this and agree that GSP deserves their donation.

 

(If you would like to donate to GSP click here.)

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