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New Report Shows Ways To Help Small Businesses And Economy Include Raising The Minimum Wage

“Economic Agenda for America’s Future” includes set of short and long-term policy recommendations Washington can act on now and in the future that will drive economic growth, job creation and competitiveness 

(Image Sam Howzit FLIKR CC)

(Image Sam Howzit FLIKR CC)

Washington D.C.–Today, Small Business Majority released its updated Economic Agenda for America’s Future, a set of short and long-term policy recommendations government leaders can follow to ensure an environment where entrepreneurs, and our economy, can thrive. The Agenda outlines things Washington can do to bolster small business – including simple actions that can be taken during the next few months.

The recommendations range from action on access to capital, taxes, infrastructure, healthcare, immigration and freelance economy to minimum wage, workforce training, clean energy and exports, and are all tied to creating economic opportunities for small businesses and entrepreneurs.

“There is no denying the impact our 28 million small businesses have on our economy,” said John Arensmeyer, Founder & CEO of Small Business Majority. “Yet, small businesses too often find their needs being subordinated to those of big business, and sometimes even hijacked to support ideologically driven polices that don’t benefit them. Moreover, policymakers fail to recognize the rapid expansion of our new Internet-driven freelance economy, where much of the dynamic and innovative entrepreneurial activity happens today.”

Small businesses represent 99 percent of employer firms, employ half of all private sector employees and pay around 40 percent of U.S. private sector payroll. Small businesses and entrepreneurs have long been America’s engine for job growth and today more jobs are created by small businesses and the self-employed than any other way in America.

“Until we recognize and support the vital role of small businesses, we’re not giving our economy the best chance to flourish,” Arensmeyer said. “We must have a clear economic agenda that ensures we’re creating an environment where small businesses thrive, that provides the resources for small businesses to succeed and that ensures an economy that works for everyone. Focusing on small businesses and entrepreneurs is the surest way to drive the nation’s growth, job creation and competitiveness.”

The Agenda outlines things Washington can do over the next couple months that will create greater opportunity for entrepreneurs, which include:

  • The Securities and Exchange Commission can release final rules for crowdfunding to provide more opportunities for small business to access capital.
  • Congress can expand support for the State Small Business Credit Initiative, which funds new and existing state programs that support lending to and investment in small businesses.
  • Congress can pass long-term reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank to ensure small businesses have access to global markets.
  • The Administration can facilitate the sharing of online tax data between the IRS and lenders, which will streamline the lending process for small businesses.
  • Congress can permanently raise the small business expensing (sometimes called Section 179 expensing) level to $500,000, and allow small businesses to deduct up-front the cost of purchasing new equipment, software and property.
  • Increasing the national minimum wage to $12 per hour.
  • Passing a comprehensive immigration law guaranteeing eventual citizenship for those who play by the rules and contribute to our economic success, coupled with appropriate and reasonable employment verification provisions

The list of things Washington can do to help small business over the next two years is even greater. To read the full agenda visit: http://www.smallbusinessmajority.org/economic-agenda

For an executive summary of the report, visit: http://www.smallbusinessmajority.org/economic-agenda/downloads/Economic-Agenda-2015-Executive-Summary.pdf

5-20-15 AFT-NH Legislative Update: Restoring Budget Cuts In The Senate

AFT NH Legislative Update

The Senate has had several hearings and meetings regarding their work on the state budget. When they held a public hearing several hundred citizens of New Hampshire showed up and spoke. Many expressed concern over the lack of funding in the House budget and its many cuts to programs needed by our most vulnerable citizens.

The Senate seems to have worked through much of what they want to do even before convening the Finance Committee meetings.  They have started with many noncontroversial items.

Again, I must repeat that we know that in New Hampshire we have few revenue sources and we have a regressive tax system, meaning that citizens who have the least to spare pay the most. To read more on this click here. AFT-NH supports incremental, common-sense reforms designed to make NH’s existing tax system fairer and to produce the revenue needed to preserve the public services essential to NH’s residents, businesses, and visitors.  All of this is vital to our shared economic success.

Once I know more on what the Senate is recommending I will send out an update.

This past Thursday the full Senate passed HB 507: relative to teacher personally identifiable data. This bill adds provisions relating to the protection of teacher personally identifiable data and adds in language that no school shall record in any way a school classroom for any purpose without school board approval after a public hearing, and without written consent of the teacher and the parent or legal guardian of each affected student. AFT-NH is very pleased that both chambers have passed this bill and we ask that the governor signs this bill into law.

The full Senate will be voting on HB 323: relative to the administration of the statewide assessment program. AFT-NH believes that this will allow for some district flexibility with regards to state wide assessment. We have seen an over-emphasis on high stake testing across the country and think New Hampshire is moving in the right direction.

AFT-NH believes that assessments should support teaching and learning, and that they should be aligned 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.  Development and implementation of such tests must be age appropriate for the students, and teachers need to have appropriate computers to administer such assessments.

Further, AFT-NH believes that assessments should support teaching and learning. They 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. We know that collaboration with educators is necessary to ensure that high-quality instruction and content are given their proper emphasis.

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

In Solidarity,
Laura Hainey
AFT-NH President

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Wednesday, May 20

Senate FINANCE, Room 103, SH
Sen. Forrester (C), Sen. Little (VC), Sen. Morse, Sen. Reagan, Sen. D’Allesandro, Sen. Hosmer

Thursday, May 21

10 am Senate in Session

10:00 a.m. Continued public hearing on CACR 5, relating to legal actions. Providing that taxpayers have standing to bring actions against the government.

Friday, May 22

In recognition of your support, the New Hampshire Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Association cordially invites you to the 23rd Annual New Hampshire Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Ceremony. The ceremony will be held on Friday, May 22, 2015, beginning promptly at 10:00 a.m., on the Memorial Site in front of the Legislative Office Building. The ceremony will proceed rain or shine. Refreshments will be served immediately the ceremony. Please do not hesitate to contact Major Kevin Jordan of the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department at 602-271-3128 if you have any questions.

Thursday, May 23

Senate FINANCE, Room 103, SH
Sen. Forrester (C), Sen. Little (VC), Sen. Morse, Sen. Reagan, Sen. D’Allesandro, Sen. Hosmer

Tuesday, May 26

10:00 a.m. Subcommittee work session on retained bills
HB 527, establishing guidelines for school districts relative to the use of school resource officers,
HB 538-FN-L, relative to the implementation of new statewide education annual assessments,
HB 581-FN, requiring schools to continue the education of a child during the child’s suspension or expulsion, and
HB 243, changing the definitions of “focus school” and “priority school” in the school performance and accountability law.
1:00 p.m. Continued subcommittee work session on retained bills
HB 218-FN, relative to additional funding for third grade proficiency in mathematics,
HB 549-FN-A-L, allowing school building aid grants for certain authorized projects,
HB 242, relative to the statewide improvement and assessment program, and
HB 231, relative to applications for school building aid.

Monday, June 1

1:15 p.m. Regular meeting.

Wednesday, June 3

10 am House in Session

Thursday, June 4

10 am House in Session

On The Senate Floor, Jeanne Shaheen Urges Action On Her Amendments To Trade Bill

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – During floor debate today about the Trade Promotion Authority legislation currently under consideration by the U.S. Senate, Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) urged her colleagues to support two of her amendments to the legislation: the first, would boost small business exports and make sure that trade agreements work for small businesses, and the second, would eliminate a wasteful and duplicative government program on catfish regulation.

Video of her remarks are available here.

More information on the Shaheen amendment to help Small Businesses trade in the international marketplace:

Senator Shaheen’s amendment takes a number of steps to help small businesses take advantage of trade, such as reauthorizing the State Trade and Export Promotion (STEP) grant program through 2020 and increasing funding for the program by $5 million per year. The STEP programwhich Shaheen helped create, is an export initiative that has successfully helped small businesses to enter the international marketplace and create jobs.

One company that has benefitted from the program is Corfin Industries of Salem, New Hampshire. Before STEP was implemented, its international sales were just 2%. Now, that number is up to 12%, and as a result the company has added 22 employees.

The appropriations bill that funded the government for the 2015 fiscal year reauthorized and funded the program. The Shaheen amendment would reauthorize the program through 2020. The STEP program has supported more than $900 million in U.S. small business exports, producing a return-on-investment of 15 to1 for taxpayers.

Shaheen’s amendment, in addition to reauthorizing the STEP program, would require an assessment by the Small Business Administration on the impact of a potential trade agreement on U.S. small businesses.

More information on the Shaheen amendment to eliminate a wasteful and harmful catfish inspection program:

The Shaheen amendment would repeal a new program tasked with inspecting and grading catfish that places jurisdiction for catfish inspection with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), while leaving regulation of all other seafood with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

During a hearing in the Small Business Committee earlier this month, Senator Shaheen highlighted the impact creating a duplicative and wasteful catfish inspection program at the USDA would have on High Liner Foods, a seafood company with operations based in Portsmouth, New Hampshire that employs more than 300 Granite Staters. As a seafood processor, High Liner currently deals with inspections from the FDA. The impending creation of a new inspection program just for catfish is preventing the company from expanding its offerings and operations, as the costs of complying with two different inspection regimes is prohibitive. A letter from High Liner is available here.

USDA has warned that the program may cost as much as $15 million a year to operate and has already cost $20 million without having inspected a single catfish. The U.S. Government Accountability Office, which evaluates risk for wasteful spending, has recommended eliminating the program in nine separate reports, calling it “duplicative” and “high-risk” for waste, fraud, and abuse.

Senator Shaheen wrote an op-ed “End the Catfish-Inspection Boondoggle,” that was published in Roll Call newspaper earlier this month.

Senators Shaheen & Cochran Introduce New On-The-Job Training Bill

Legislation Would Help Businesses and Job Seekers Through

Highly Successful Workforce Development Programs

Image from Senator Shaheen's Website

Image from Senator Shaheen’s Website 2014

(Washington, DC) ­– U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Thad Cochran (R-MS) today introduced bipartisan legislation that would help Americans find new jobs and update their skills through on-the-job training (OJT) programs. The On-the-Job Training Act of 2015 authorizes the Department of Labor to award competitive grants to establish and support local OJT programs, which have been demonstrated to be the most effective training model to help people gain the skills they need to get and keep jobs.

“This legislation is about getting Americans back to work with the skills they need in today’s economy,” said Shaheen. “On-the-job training programs are a highly effective way to boost local economies and help the long-term unemployed get their careers back on-track. These programs have been a success in New Hampshire and across the country and this legislation would expand them to keep America’s workforce competitive.”

“In times of economic uncertainty, we should focus on programs with a proven track record of helping businesses and creating jobs. On-the-job training programs work.  They connect employers with future employees and ensure that they have the skills needed for career advancement in many fields,” Cochran said.  “I’m pleased to join with Senator Shaheen to promote this important, bipartisan legislation.”

In on-the-job training programs, participating employers sign a contract with a local workforce board agreeing to hire workers that need training. In exchange, the employers are reimbursed for a percentage of the wages they pay the employees undergoing training, until the workers gain the skills they need for the new occupation. The participating businesses are expected to keep the newly trained employees on after their on-the-job training has completed.

Last year, Senator Shaheen secured passage of two on-the-job training provisions as part of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act that became law. The first increased the amount that businesses participating in on-the-job training can be reimbursed for wages they pay employees hired under the program and the second would enable more young people to participate in on-the-job training programs.

On-the-Job Training has the best results of all training programs that are part of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity ActIn 2013, 88 percent of OJT participants were still employed at their training sites or in other jobs three months after having finished the program, and 79 percent were still employed one year later.

On-the-job training programs have already demonstrated success helping the unemployed launch into new careers in New Hampshire, as demonstrated in this video made by New Hampshire Works featuring employers and employees who have used the program.

The bill text can be found here.

Election Bill Creating Poll Tax, Residency Requirements Passes House Election Law Committee

SB179 would penalize New Hampshire voters
rather than improve elections

Concord, NH – Today the House Election Law Committee passed an elections bill along party lines (11-8) that creates unnecessary hurdles for New Hampshire voters by instituting an arbitrary vehicle registration “poll tax” and a 30-day residency requirement. The key features of SB 179, which also passed along party lines in the state Senate earlier this month (14-10), are likely unconstitutional at both the state and federal level.

The House Election Law Committee amended SB 179 to require voters to obtain a driver’s license and register their car in New Hampshire – a change that has no clear connection to maintaining the integrity of elections. New Hampshire’s constitution clearly states that “all elections are to be free,” and this amendment acts as a poll tax by charging engaged Granite Staters vehicle registration fees in order to vote.

Furthermore, SB 179 falls short of meeting the standards set in the United States Supreme Court case Dunn vs. Blumstein, which permitted up to a 30-day registration requirement in states that need it for administrative purposes. Given that New Hampshire is a same-day registration state, there is no compelling argument that the state’s election administration officials need the additional time.

“The sponsors of this legislation claim these restrictions will somehow stop voter fraud, but the proposed changes would penalize New Hampshire voters rather than help our elections,” explained League of Women Voters New Hampshire Election Law Specialist Joan Flood Ashwell. “There are many ways for voters to confirm their identity without forcing them to pay vehicle registration fees, and there are many ways to ensure they live in our state without a 30-day residency requirement. We can’t deny eligible voters the right to vote here in New Hampshire.”

Despite all evidence to the contrary, politicians continue to push restrictive election laws based on a false narrative of ‘phantom’ voters. New Hampshire attorney general investigations and a national Washington Post investigation** found that in-person voter impersonation and registration fraud is virtually non-existent.

America Votes-New Hampshire State Director Paula Hodges said, “SB 179 is one of more than a dozen dangerous bills proposed by radical lawmakers that would deter voters and undermine New Hampshire’s long-held tradition of streamlining voting. The various proposed bills range from eliminating same-day registration, to creating new inter-state cross-check programs that could purge thousands of eligible voters from the rolls. It’s clear these politicians are trying to influence elections by discouraging voters, and that’s wrong.”

“We urge the governor to veto SB 179 should it pass both chambers this year,” Hodges added.

Shaheen-Portman “Energy Efficiency Improvement Act” Headed To President’s Desk For Signature

 Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio) today announced that their Energy Efficiency Improvement Act of 2015 passed the House and is now headed to the President for signature. This bill, which passed the Senate in March, contains key energy efficiency provisions that will strengthen the economy, save consumers money, and reduce pollution.

“At long last, Congress is finally going to deliver bipartisan energy efficiency legislation to the President’s desk,” said Shaheen. “On the bill’s merits – creating jobs, saving consumers money and reducing pollution – it was never a hard sell. The tough part was convincing Washington to not play politics with a good idea.  But persistence has paid off and this legislation is a small but significant victory over legislative gridlock. I will continue to work across the aisle to pass more common sense energy efficiency proposals and get Congress back in the business of legislating for New Hampshire and the American people.”

“Our targeted energy efficiency bill has garnered widespread support because of a simple fact – it is good for the economy and good for the environment,” said Portman. “This is an important part of our energy plan for America that can help bring jobs back, help make our manufacturers more competitive, and actually help to protect the environment. I’m pleased that it is now headed to the President for signature, and will continue to work for passage of my larger bill and a national energy strategy that boosts American workers while protecting the environment at the same time.”

Kateri Callahan, president of the Alliance to Save Energy, said, “Senator Shaheen, the Honorary Chair of the Alliance, is a leader who recognizes that energy efficiency ‘delivers the goods’ to American consumers and businesses by creating jobs, growing the economy and protecting the environment so she has worked tirelessly with Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) to make energy efficiency the ‘bipartisan sweet spot’ in the national energy policy debate – and together they have succeeded with the passage of S. 535.”

The Energy Efficiency Improvement Act of 2015 includes three simple but effective provisions that have been scored by the Congressional Budget Office to be budget neutral. Title I establishes a voluntary, market-driven approach to aligning the interests of commercial building owners and their tenants to reduce energy consumption.  Title II exempts certain electric resistance water heaters used for demand response from pending Department of Energy regulation. Title III requires that federally-leased buildings without Energy Star labels benchmark and disclose their energy usage data, where practical.

Kuster has long been a supporter and cosponsor of the House version of the Shaheen-Portman legislation.  The Energy Efficiency Improvement Act, which passed the House last night, includes important provisionswhich will improve energy efficiency standards, reduce emissions, and could spur job creation across the country. 


“As a nation, we must consider smart ways to reduce our energy consumption and cut costs for taxpayers and small businesses, and energy efficiency is an effective way to achieve these important goals,” said Congresswoman Kuster.  “I applaud Senators Shaheen and Portman for joining together to address our nation’s energy deficiencies, and I was proud to join members of both parties in helping to pass this common sense energy efficiency legislation in the House.  This bill will boost job creation and help protect our environment for generations to come, and I urge the President to sign it into law.  This legislation takes important steps towards establishing a sustainable energy future that lays the groundwork for continued economic growth.”

Text of the legislation can be found here.

Portman and Shaheen introduced their larger energy efficiency bill, the Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act, earlier this year. It is scheduled to receive a hearing in the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources on April 30th.

Obama Hints Of Vetoing The Keystone Pipeline

There is one thing that is abundantly clear now that the Republicans control both the House and the Senate, the Keystone XL Pipeline will pass through Congress. Republicans are trying to convince us that this monumental piece of crap will “spur economic growth” and “create thousands of jobs.”

Thankfully we elected a President who is willing to stand up for our Mother Earth by standing up against the Keystone Pipeline. Well maybe he has not said it yet, but like my Magic 8 ball says, all signs point to veto.

It is becoming more and more obvious that President Obama will not sign the Keystone legislation even if it was to pass. He told The Hill that, “building the Keystone oil pipeline would ‘not even have a nominal benefit’ to consumers, pushing back at claims it would lower gas prices further.”
That is what we progressives have been trying to say for years.

The Republicans are trying to sell the Keystone XL Pipeline as a “jobs bill” that would create tens of thousands of good paying jobs.

Yes, we need a jobs bill that will create tens of thousands of good paying jobs, but the reality is that the Keystone Pipeline would only create a few thousand temporary construction jobs and 35 permanent jobs.


We also need to look at who is really going to benefit from the Keystone Pipeline? It will not be us, it will the be the Canadian oil industry as they move their tar sands oil right through America’s heartland to the Gulf of Mexico to be shipped off and sold to foreign countries.

Even President Obama knows this.

“That oil currently is being shipped out through rail or trucks and it would save Canadian oil companies, and the Canadian oil industry enormous amounts of money if they could simply pipe it all the way down to the Gulf,” Obama said during his final press conference of 2014.

It also begs the question, why would this group of fiscal conservatives be willing to take out a $3 Trillion dollars loan, pushing us further into debt, to benefit a foreign oil company? I will give you a hint, TransCanada’s profits would go through the roof and that would be very good for Wall Street insiders. (Side note: Did you know that Grover Norquest is the lobbyist for the Keystone XL pipeline?)

In 2009, the economy was hemorrhaging jobs and unemployment was skyrocketing. Congress passed the “American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA)” that nearly every Republican balked at. The $900 million dollar investment in America increased the number of “people employed from between 1.5 and 3.3 million” workers, and reduced unemployment from “between .7% and 1.8%.” Ultimately the stimulus only added $200 million dollars to our national debt and started us back on the road to recovery.

How is this $3 Trillion dollar investment going to help us? Will you be one of the lucky 35 people to get a permanent job after the pipeline is created? Instead of spending $3 Trillion dollars for 35 jobs, we could spend $1 Trillion and create millions of jobs.

Lets not forget that we have seen a significant rise in oil pipes leaking their toxic sludge over the past few years.

“History has shown that these pipelines are notorious for springing leaks, and middle class American homeowners, farmers, and ranchers stand to lose the most if there is a spill,” said Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter (D-NH) in her opposition to H.R. 5682, a bill to fast track the Keystone Pipeline. “The sections of the Keystone Project that are already in use suffered over thirty spills in their first year of operation.”

So let me sum this all up. The Republicans, who are heavily funded by Wall Street and oil tycoons like the Koch Brothers, are pushing a bill that would require us to take out a $3 Trillion dollar loan, potentially wrecking our environment, all to boost the profits of a foreign corporation.

Opposing the Keystone Pipeline is a bold step for President Obama. He is opposing the Republicans, opposing Wall Street, and standing up for our environment. We progressives need to stand behind him.

The fight is far from over, in fact it has just begun.

Statement by AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka on Pending State Legislative Battles

In the wake of last Tuesday’s elections, many state and local politicians have already begun to signal their intent to wage assaults on working people in their states. While national political pundits debate outcomes, the AFL-CIO and its allies also have a keen eye on the developments at state and local levels.

We have no illusions there are radical politicians who are far more concerned with appeasing their corporate donors and being a tool for groups like ALEC than standing for working family issues. This is despite the fact that the Raising Wages agenda remain of upmost important to most Americans. A majority of the electorate are struggling economically and sixty-eight percent of voters agree that raising wages is good for workers and the economy. The majority of people want rights at work. We want the ability to stay home if we’re sick. We want fair and equal pay. And we believe if you work for and earn a pension, you should get it.

Make no mistake that the labor movement is more prepared and ready to combat these attacks than ever before.

We also know that this fight will not be the labor movement’s alone. We are fully engaged with our allies in the community and more importantly know that the values we stand for are in complete sync with the majority of Americans. It will take a collective effort to preserve and expand our values, and we are up to the task.

Kuster Helps Introduce Bill in Response to Hobby Lobby Decision

Legislation would protect Granite State women’s right to make their own health care decisions

WASHINGTON, DC – In response to the recent Supreme Court Hobby Lobby decision to restrict women’s access to employer-covered contraceptive health coverage, Congresswoman Annie Kuster (NH-02) today helped introduce the Protect Women’s Health from Corporate Interference Act of 2014. This legislation would explicitly prohibit for-profit employers from using religious beliefs to deny employees coverage of contraception or any other vital health services required by federal law.

“Women’s personal health care choices can and should only be decided by each individual woman for herself, not dictated by her employer,” said Congresswoman Annie Kuster. “I was very disappointed by the Hobby Lobby decision, which strips away the right of working Granite State women to access comprehensive health care coverage. I’m proud to help introduce legislation that will take medical decisions out of the hands of the Supreme Court, politicians, and corporate bosses, and put them back where they belong – in the hands of the patient and her doctor.”

The Protect Women’s Health from Corporate Interference Act of 2014 would protect employees’ rights to all federally mandated health services, including contraception. The bill exempts federally mandated health services from the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, while keeping in place the existing exemption for religious employers (e.g. houses of worship) and accommodation of religious non-profits who do not wish to provide contraceptives. A companion bill is being introduced in the Senate by Senators Jeanne Shaheen (NH), Patty Murray (WA), and Mark Udall (CO).

UPDATED: Senator Shaheen Backs Legislation To Protect Women’s Health After Hobby Lobby Decision, Gov. Hassan Applauds Senators

Legislation would keep health care options between women and their doctors, not women and their employers

(Washington, DC) – In response to last week’s Supreme Court Hobby Lobby ruling, U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) will be joining a coalition of Senators today to introduce legislation that would protect women’s health care from employer interference. The legislation, the Protect Women’s Health from Corporate Interference Act of 2014, would help ensure that no employer who provides group health insurance coverage to its employees can deny any specific health benefits, including contraception coverage, to employees or their dependents.

“Women, not their employers, should be in charge of decisions about their own health care,” Shaheen said. “We need to act now to make sure employers aren’t selectively denying health care to their employees. Women must have the access to the health coverage and benefits, including contraception coverage, they have been guaranteed under federal law.”

The Protect Women’s Health from Corporate Interference Act of 2014, introduced by U.S. Senators Patty Murray (D-WA) and Mark Udall (D-CO) and co-sponsored by Shaheen, would amend the Public Health Service Act to prevent employers from denying their employees or their employees’ dependents health coverage that is guaranteed to them under existing law. Under the legislation, employers, regardless of religious affiliation would not be allowed to deny their employees contraceptive coverage or any other specific health care item or service. The law also maintains the existing exemption for houses of worship and religious non-profits.

*       *        *


Governor Hassan Statement on the Protect Women’s Health from Corporate Interference Act

CONCORD – Governor Maggie Hassan today issued the following statement on the introduction of the Protect Women’s Health from Corporate Interference Act in the United States Senate by Senators Patty Murray and Mark Udall and cosponsored by Senator Jeanne Shaheen:

“When women and their families can make their own health care and family planning choices, they do better economically, and the economy of our entire state and nation does better. With its Hobby Lobby decision, the Supreme Court allowed businesses, based on the religious beliefs of their officers, to discriminate against female employees.

“Company-provided health insurance is part of a worker’s compensation, not a gift. When women are denied health insurance coverage that covers their basic health care needs, but their male colleagues receive full coverage for their basic health care, then women are – unfairly – being compensated less than their co-workers. Contraception costs are one of the biggest health care expenses for women and their families. Affordable access to this basic health care coverage is critical to the economic security of women and families.

“The Protect Women’s Health from Corporate Interference Act ensures that women are free from interference when they make decisions about contraception and other health care and it ensures that they are free from discrimination in employment because they will receive equal compensation for equal work. This bill protects women’s access to critical health services while also protecting women’s religious freedom. I applaud Senator Shaheen and Senator Murray for their leadership on this issue, and I urge Congress to pass the Protect Women’s Health from Corporate Interference Act as quickly as possible in order to reinforce our commitment to building an even stronger country in which women are treated as true equals.”

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