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NH Pushes Legislation To Limit Big Money In Politics

Overwhelming Cross-Partisan Majorities Believe Big Money in NH Elections is A Problem

Majority Support “Civic Dollars” Solution

CONCORD, NH — A survey of New Hampshire voters has found that large majorities in both parties believe big money is a problem in state elections, and support a current legislative proposal to fix it.

In the survey just released by Public Policy Polling, eight in 10 voters — including  79% of Democrats, 74% of Republicans and 85% of Independents — said they believe big money is a problem in Granite State elections.

House Bill 1773 would provide voters with four $25 “civic dollars” to donate to candidates for Governor, Executive Council and state Senate who pledge to limit their maximum donation from private donors to $250. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Renny Cushing, also includes other reforms, including stronger requirements to ensure financial transparency of SuperPACs and candidate campaigns, and tougher enforcement of campaign finance laws.

The House Election Law Committee has scheduled a hearing on the bill for January 16 at  10:50 a.m.

When the Civic Dollars proposal was described to the survey’s respondents, 60% said they would support it, including 64% of Democrats and 67% of independent voters. A majority of Democrats (71%) and Republicans (59%) also said they’d be more likely to support a Civic Dollars candidate who limits individual donations to $250 than a candidate who accepts donations up to $7,000.

“Civic Dollars will give New Hampshire voters a stronger voice,” said Olivia Zink, Executive Director of Open Democracy in Concord. “Our elected officials should work for all of their  constituents, not just for the big contributors who put them in office.”

“My lengthy and varied experience in New Hampshire election campaigns has convinced me of the need for a public election financing system as a voluntary alternative for candidates,” former state Senator Jim Rubens said in prepared testimony. “The present purely-private elections finance system seriously restricts participation by otherwise viable candidates for governor, councilor and state senate and narrows the range of debate and policy proposals during campaigns.  The result is fewer choices for voters among candidates and slower progress in solving public policy challenges.  Additionally, the current purely-private system tilts influence away from voters and toward those with money to spend on campaigns.”  Rubens has also served as chair of the GOP platform committee; chair of the 2000 GOP redistricting committee; and on two election finance panels which proposed public election finance legislation.  As candidate for US Senate, he proposed voter tax rebates as a means to provide public finance mechanism for Congressional elections.

Other key findings from the survey include:

•    A majority of respondents (63%) would be likely to contribute their Civic Dollars to qualified candidates, including 70% of Democrats, 54% of Republicans and 67% of Independents.

•    38% of respondents said they were even more likely to support the Civic Dollars program after learning that it would cost less than 1% of the New Hampshire state budget.

•    A plurality of respondents (34%) — including 37% of Democrats, 33% of Republicans and 34% of Independents — think wealthy campaign donors have the most influence in New Hampshire politics. Only 14% said they believe that N.H. voters have the most influence.

Kentucky AFL-CIO Creates A Legislative Wall of Fame-Wall of Shame, Encourages Others To Do The Same

By BERRY CRAIG, AFT Local 1360
Republished from the Kentucky AFL-CIO State Federation

“Which Side Are You On?” is a grand old union song.

Billy Thompson, USW District 8 director, came up with a Wall of Fame-Wall of Shame banner to show which side state senators and representatives were on when they voted on those union-busting bills last January.

We think the banner is a great idea. So we’re starting a complementary Wall of Fame-Wall of Shame on our website.

We want to show our union brothers and sisters how Kentucky lawmakers in Frankfort and Washington are voting on bills important to organized labor. (We invite other state federations, central labor councils and union locals to starts Walls of Fame and Shame for state and federal legislators in their neck of the woods. (Click here to check us out on The Union Edge: Labor’s Talk Radio.)

First up is the Republican Robin-Hood-in-Reverse tax legislation.

Like most Americans, most union members oppose the legislation, which the AFL-CIO has called “a job-killing tax plan that makes working people pay the price for massive tax giveaways to millionaires and wealthy corporations.”

Not surprisingly, Kentucky Republican Sens. Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul and Reps. James Comer, Brett Guthrie, Thomas Massie, Hal Rogers and Andy Barr voted for the bill.

Again, Rep. John Yarmuth, the only Bluegrass State Democrat in Congress, came through for us and voted against the bill.

So Yarmuth’s name is the first to go up on our Wall of Fame. The GOP sextet is debuting on our Wall of Shame.

We’re including a percentage that shows how often legislators back the president on bills. We think that’s important information because when GOP lawmakers are back in Kentucky they often promise the homefolks that they’re not just Trump rubber stamps. Evidence shows they are, more often than not.

The evidence comes from “Tracking Congress In the Age of Trump: An updating tally of how often every member of the House and Senate votes with or against the president.” Click here to see the House score and here for the Senate score.

WALL OF FAME (voting no on the tax bill)

Rep. John Yarmuth, D-Louisville (17.5)

WALL OF SHAME (voting yes on the tax bill)

Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Louisville (96.3)

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Bowling Green (84.6)

Rep. James Comer, R-Tompkinsville (94.7)

Rep. Brett Guthrie, R-Bowling Green (98.2)

Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Vanceburg (71.9)

Rep. Hal Rogers, R-Somerset (98.2)

Rep. Andy Barr, R-Lexington (94.7)

“Reward your friends and punish your enemies,” said union pioneer Samuel Gompers, the first and longest-serving president of the American Federation of Labor.

John Yarmuth is one of labor’s best friends in Washington. McConnell, Paul, Comer, Guthrie, Massie, Rogers and Barr are about as anti-union as legislators get.

Paul has introduced a national “right to work” law. The other six Kentucky Republicans are pro-RTW.  All seven were gleeful when the Bluegrass State went RTW.

“We will make sure no Kentuckian forgets on Election Day the Republican lawmakers who rewarded the wealthy on the backs of the working class,” Ben Self, Kentucky Democratic Party chair, said in a statement after the tax bill vote.

We hope our Wall of Fame-Wall of Shame will help Kentuckians who pack union cards remember, too, when the Matt Bevin-led, GOP-majority state legislature convenes in January to continue its holy war against unions and working people, and the GOP-majority Congress, egged on by Trump, stays its anti-union and anti-worker course.

Kuster And Bipartisan Legislators Introduce Legislation Addressing Sexual Harassment In Congress

Rep. Speier, Sen. Gillibrand & Reps. Kuster, Costello and Poliquin Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Prevent & Respond to Sexual Harassment in Congress

(Washington, DC) – Today, Congresswoman Jackie Speier (D-CA) and U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), along with Representatives Ryan Costello (R-PA), Ann McLane Kuster (D-NH), and Bruce Poliquin (R-ME) introduced bipartisan, comprehensive legislation to prevent and respond to sexual harassment in Congress. The Member and Employee Training and Oversight On (ME TOO) Congress Act will require more transparency, overhaul the flawed complaint process, and provide better support for victims and whistleblowers. Additionally, both the House and Senate bills will require mandatory annual training for Members and staff, implement climate surveys to show the true scope of this problem, give interns and fellows the same protections as full-time staff, and end forced mediation.

“In 1995, Congress created the Office of Congressional Compliance to protect itself from being exposed, and it has been remarkably successful. Twenty years later, 260 settlements and more than $15 million have permanently silenced victims of all types of workplace discrimination,” said Rep. Speier. “Zero tolerance is meaningless unless it is backed up with enforcement and accountability. Today, I am proud that my colleagues in the House and the Senate, from both sides of the aisle, are joining me to end the era of impunity for disgraceful behavior and to protect the survivors.”

“We need to create a workplace climate where our staff members can come in and do their jobs without having to worry about being harassed – and if it does happen, they should be able to report the incidents without fear of retaliation, and without having to fear that it will ruin their careers,” said Senator Gillibrand. “Congress should never be above the law, Congress should not play by their own set of rules, and as elected officials, we should be held to the highest standards – not the lowest. This needs to change. We need accountability and we need transparency. We need reform, and we need it now. Congress needs to set a better example, and I urge all of my colleagues to join me in supporting this fight.”

“While many, if not most, Congressional offices, mine included, have policies in place regarding sexual harassment, this legislation will require annual sexual harassment training, and bring greater transparency and accountability to procedures for filing and investigating a complaint,” said Rep. Costello. “It is appropriate for the federal government to lead on this issue. This bill is an important step forward in supporting a professional work environment, and I hope to see it signed into law.”

“If we’re going to confront the challenge of sexual assault and harassment, we need to start with lawmakers and people in power,” said Congresswoman Kuster. “In recent months there has been a national groundswell of people coming forward to share their stories. This powerful conversation is letting others know that the experience of sexual harassment and violence is sadly all too common. As a young staffer I was assaulted by a guest of the Congress and had no training for how to respond, who to turn to, or what my rights were. This legislation is an important part of the conversation that will lead to real change in the way the House of Representatives responds to sexual harassment. I’m committed to continuing to work across the aisle to foster safer environments in all workplaces, on college campuses, in our military, and throughout our communities.”

“Every employee should always feel safe and comfortable in their own workplace, and it’s past time that Congress acts to ensure the employees in the Legislative Branch have the support to act on and prevent sexual harassment,” said Congressman Poliquin. “I applaud Congresswoman Speier for her bravery in bringing this issue to the forefront and am proud to work across the aisle and across the Capitol to make these necessary fixes. There can be no tolerance of any kind for sexual harassment anywhere—period.”

Earlier this month, Reps. Speier (D-CA), Costello (R-PA), Brady (D-PA), and Poliquin (R-ME) introduced the bipartisan H.Res. 604, the CEASE Resolution. It would require all members and staff of the House of Representatives to undergo annual sexual harassment prevention and response training. On Tuesday, Speaker Paul Ryan announced that House members and their staff will now be required to undergo mandatory anti-harassment and anti-discrimination training. Last week, the Senate passed a resolution instituting similar requirements.

A copy of the bill text, and a section-by-section summary of the bill are attached to this release.

METOO Congress Bill Text FINAL (002)
FINAL Section by Section ME TOO CONGRESS (004)

 

Congresswoman Shea-Porter Responds To Governor Sununu On Proposed Tax Reform Legislation

Congresswoman: Tax Plans Must Prioritize New Hampshire’s Working Families 

WASHINGTON, DC – Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter (NH-01) today responded to a letter Governor Chris Sununu sent her earlier in September regarding potential tax reform legislation. Shea-Porter’s letter outlines the pro-working-family, pro-small-business principles she will use to evaluate any Congressional tax proposal.

“I have long called for the elimination of tax expenditures written by corporations and lobbyists with no justification but their own financial gain, while I have also strongly supported the many provisions that benefit Granite State residents and businesses,” wrote Shea-Porter. “My priorities have not changed: I will continue to fight to unrig our tax code so that it supports working families and small businesses.”

In the letter, Shea-Porter outlined the principles any tax reform package must meet to earn her support. She wrote: “I am eager to work with policymakers on both sides of the aisle to reform tax policy in a way that achieves our shared goals of lowering taxes on small businesses and providing fairness for working people, and I am encouraged by your outreach regarding this effort…I strongly believe that tax reform proposals must meet the following minimum standards: fairness for families; lower taxes on small businesses; increased simplicity; inclusion of the Buffett Rule; and revenue neutrality.”

Shea-Porter has long championed tax reform “for the rest of us” while opposing recent Republican-led efforts to lower taxes for wealthy individuals and large corporations. In 2010, Shea-Porter sought to block the extension of Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans. Throughout her time in Congress, Shea-Porter has fought for tax breaks that help working families and support education. In 2012, she introduced the REPAY Supplies Act, a bill to allow K-12 teachers to claim an above-the-line deduction for classroom expenses, which became a permanent U.S. tax code provision. Earlier this year, she introduced a bill to make the above-the-line deduction for higher education tuition expenses permanent for students and families.

 

The full text of Shea-Porter’s letter:

Governor Christopher T. Sununu

Office of the Governor

 

Dear Governor Sununu:

Thank you for your September 5, 2017 letter expressing support for comprehensive tax reform. I could not help but notice, as I read your letter, that you highlighted a number of important issues that I, too, have long championed: fairness, tax relief for small businesses, and enhanced opportunity for American workers. My priorities have not changed: I will continue to fight to unrig our tax code so that it supports working families and small businesses.

As you know, tax reform has been a challenging goal for a number of years. In 2014, then-Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI) released a comprehensive tax reform bill, H.R.1, The Tax Reform Act of 2014. Mr. Camp spent months developing his proposal and created a tax plan that was (on paper) revenue neutral, lowered rates, created fewer brackets—and was widely disliked. This was not surprising. As you know, tax reform plans are only easy in concept: close loopholes to pay for lower rates and consolidate brackets in order to simplify compliance for taxpayers and stimulate job growth. It all makes for an easy soundbite and attractive political messaging, but Republican Speaker John Boehner could not get this through because comprehensive tax reform is hard.

In practice, crafting tax policy that advances our shared priorities requires specificity. For example, the $1.5 trillion in “special interest carve-outs, loopholes, and tax credits” that you identify in your letter – a figure commonly cited by the Treasury Department and Congress’s Joint Committee on Taxation – includes not only corporate giveaways, but also provisions like the mortgage interest deduction that benefit New Hampshire families and the real estate industry, which are very important to our state and national economy.

I have long called for the elimination of tax expenditures written by corporations and lobbyists with no justification but their own financial gain, while I have also strongly supported the many provisions that benefit Granite State residents and businesses. From the level of detail provided in your letter, I am unable to discern which tax expenditures you consider wasteful and which expenditures you think we should keep.

Do you support the Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credits, which together lift nearly 10 million Americans out of poverty? Do you support the exclusion for combat pay for our servicemembers? Do you support the exclusion for GI Bill benefits for our nation’s veterans? Do you support the mortgage interest deduction? Or property tax deduction? Or credits for higher education that help 12.6 million Americans and over 38,000 Granite Staters afford a college education? I do, and I will continue to speak up in support of these provisions – by name – as Congress works to reform our tax code.

I also agree that there are ways to simplify and eliminate waste from our tax code. For example, I believe we should eliminate the carried interest loophole, which allows Wall Street bankers to pay far lower taxes than middle class Americans, and end wasteful corporate subsidies, such as those for Big Oil. And I believe we should eliminate all tax incentives that encourage outsourcing jobs. These are just a few specific examples of changes that I support.

I am eager to work with policymakers on both sides of the aisle to reform tax policy in a way that achieves our shared goals of lowering taxes on small businesses and providing fairness for working people, and I am encouraged by your outreach regarding this effort. Unfortunately, the proposals that we have seen thus far from those leading the tax reform negotiations would disproportionately benefit the wealthy and add trillions to our debt. Furthermore, these proposals have not been made public or evaluated through the Congressional hearing process. Tax reform negotiations should be bipartisan, but neither the White House nor Republican leaders in Congress have made any effort to involve Democrats in this process. The Ways and Means Committee held over 30 public hearings prior to releasing Mr. Camp’s Tax Reform Act of 2014. The Tax Reform Act of 1986 was preceded by 30 days of full committee hearings.

I strongly believe that tax reform proposals must meet the following minimum standards: fairness for families; lower taxes on small businesses; increased simplicity; inclusion of the Buffett Rule; and revenue neutrality. It is my hope that we are in agreement both on these principles and on the elimination of the loopholes and corporate giveaways that I have specifically identified.

Your public support for these efforts, on behalf of those in the State both of us love and serve, would be sincerely welcome. I am hopeful that the Republican leadership in Congress and the President will work across the aisle to develop a plan that meets the standards outlined above. And I ask you to use your relationship with President Trump to influence him to release a detailed plan with specific proposals that meet these priorities.

Sincerely,

Carol Shea-Porter

Member of Congress

NH House Committee Pushes ‘Fetal Personhood’ Bill To The House Floor

In an unprecedented move,
House Criminal Justice Committee reopens a retained bill

CONCORD – In an unprecedented move, the NH House Criminal Justice Committee passed SB 66  out of committee by a vote of 12-8. The House Committee previously retained the bill by a margin of 21-1. SB 66, if passed, would recognize a fetus as an independent victim of a crime for the first time in New Hampshire law.

SB 66 is a bill that poses serious unintended consequences and threatens women’s rights and health. The bill, as reported out by the House Criminal Justice Committee, would recognize a fetus as an independent victim of a crime. In doing so, SB 66 pits the rights of women against the rights of a fetus – threatening to erode the reproductive rights of Granite State women and to advance a larger national agenda to undermine the Roe v. Wade decision protecting abortion access.

”In other states that have adopted personhood measures like SB 66, pregnant women have been subjected to surveillance, arrest, incarceration, and unwanted medical treatment,” says Devon Chaffee, Executive Director of the ACLU-NH. “SB 66 is inconsistent with existing New Hampshire statutes, and pits women’s rights against fetal rights in a manner that threatens to undermine pregnant women’s status as full persons under the law.”

As amended by the Senate, SB 66 uses medically inaccurate terminology. The Senate amendment to SB 66 removed the term “viability” from the bill and included a definition of “fetus” that is inconsistent with how that term is understood by the medical community.  Additionally, the Senate amendment’s use of a twenty-week marker has no grounding in medicine or law.

Current New Hampshire law recognizes the severe harm resulting from the death of a fetus and provides for an enhanced felony conviction in such cases. A person may be prosecuted for First Degree Assault if that person purposely or knowingly causes injury to another resulting in miscarriage or stillbirth—a class A Felony carrying a sentence of up to 15 years. People who commit violent crimes against pregnant women, especially crimes which result in miscarriage or stillbirth, should be punished and that punishment should recognize the severity of the harm and loss to women and their families. Representative Laura Pantelakos has submitted an amendment to SB 66 that would replace the bill with language that adds enhanced penalties to New Hampshire’s homicide statute. As such, Representative Pantelakos’ amendment would appropriately focus the law on the additional, often devastating injury suffered when a crime against a woman results in the loss of her pregnancy.

Leaders across New Hampshire are speaking out against SB 66 as passed by the Senate and as reported out of the House Criminal Justice Committee. Dalia Vidunas, Executive Director of the Equality Health, wrote in the Concord monitor: “SB 66 would become the first New Hampshire law to recognize a fetus as an independent victim of a crime. Such measures have been passed in other states to create a tension between women’s rights and fetal rights and provide a framework to overturn Roe v. Wade, which protects a woman’s right to choose.” Read the rest of Vidunas’ letter here.

Reverend Mary Westfall, Community Church of Durham, United Church of Christ wrote in the Portsmouth Herald: “We all agree that those who commit violent acts against pregnant women should be severely punished under the law. SB 66 is not the answer. Instead of providing recourse for tragic fetal loss, this bill is a slippery slope to eroding rights under Roe v. Wade. If the New Hampshire legislature wants to increase penalties for crimes against pregnant women it should do so without threatening women’s rights and in a manner consistent with existing law.” Read the rest of Westfall’s letter here.

Susan Arnold, Chair for the NH Reproductive Rights Advisory Council, wrote in Foster’s Daily Democrat: “SB 66, if passed, would recognize a fetus as an independent victim of a crime for the first time in New Hampshire law…In other states that have adopted personhood measures like SB 66, pregnant women have been subjected to surveillance, arrest, incarceration, and other deprivations of liberty for otherwise legal behavior that may or may not have harmed their fetuses. Justice for women? I think not. Read the rest of Arnold’s letter here.

Another Busy Day In Concord

NH House Acts On A Number Of Bills Including Full Day Kindergarten, Water Testing, Increase Civics Course Requirements, And Action To Censure Rep Fisher.

Yesterday was another very busy day in Concord as the House acted on many of the bills put forth by the Senate earlier in the year.

First, the House restored funding to the amended SB 191, agreeing to spend $14 million dollars to fully fund full day kindergarten.  Because the bill was changed from the one that passed the Senate, it will have to go back to the committee to finalize the details between the two bills.

“The House’s vote today in support of full-day kindergarten is a long-overdue recognition of the value that kindergarten programs provide to the development of our children.  This bill simply provides full funding for kindergarten programs in communities that offer it, finally giving kindergarten the support it deserves,” said House Democratic Leader Steve Shurtleff (D-Penacook).  “The business community recognizes the importance of early childhood education and strongly supports this bill.  I am hopeful that the House Finance Committee will reach the same conclusion in their review of this legislation.”


Another issue that has already hit the wires is the censuring of Rep Fisher for his involvement in the online “Reddit Red Pill”.  The House agreed to send the matter to the Legislative Adminstration committee for review where they will recommend reprimand, censure, expulsion, or no action.

“I was shocked to see a report linking the creation of the ‘Red Pill’ online forum to a New Hampshire State Representative,” said House Democratic Leader Steve Shurtleff (D-Penacook). “A brief search of the ‘Red Pill’ reveals that it’s central purpose is to train men how to manipulate and dominate women.  Misogynist beliefs about the intelligence of women are prevalent in ‘Red Pill’ discussions.  It is particularly troubling that Representative Fisher has shown no contrition for his actions since being revealed as the creator of this forum.”

“Referring this matter to the Legislative Administration Committee will allow for an investigation into Representative Fisher’s involvement with this forum since his election to the New Hampshire House.  As elected officials it is our duty to act with honor both inside the State House and out, and I am confident that the Legislative Administration Committee will give this serious matter the consideration it deserves,” Shurtleff added.

“The NH GOP is sending a loud message that it will work to provide political cover for individuals like Rep. Fisher who promote rape culture and misogyny,” said Zandra Rice-Hawkins, Executive Director of Granite State Progress. “There should have been no hesitation in calling out Fisher’s action and no hiding behind false equivalences.”

In an attempt to shield Rep Fisher, the House Majority Leader, Richard Hinch (R-Merrimack), stated there would be a “statute of limitations on the rape culture comments” and the committee would only investigate comments “Fisher made during the current legislative session” even though he founded and contributed to the website Red Pill over the course of many years.

The Republican’s in the House also pushed for similar actions against State Rep Sherry Frost who for making what some deemed inappropriate comments on Twitter earlier this year.  Rep Frost did already apologize for her comment.

“The NH GOP didn’t want to hold Fisher accountable, so they chose instead to target a female legislator who speaks her mind. This is the same playbook that encourages rape culture in the first place – blame the woman,” stated Rice-Hawkins.


The House approved legislation to significantly increase protections for children from lead in paint and drinking water. Senator Dan Feltes (D-Concord), prime sponsor of the legislation, offered the following comments after the bipartisan House vote:

“Today’s vote is the culmination of many months of bipartisan work by many committed stakeholders. I’m pleased that the House has joined the Senate to make this happen to protect our kids from the lifelong effects of disabling lead exposure.”

“Each year, several hundred children in New Hampshire test positive with dangerous and disabling levels of lead in their blood,” said Senator Feltes.

“SB 247 focuses on lead poisoning prevention by increasing testing, disclosures, and through modernization of our safety standards, addressing both lead in paint and lead in water. This bipartisan effort will save money in the long-run (for every dollar invested in prevention and abatement we save at least $17 dollars), help close the opportunity gap between low-income and upper-income children, and help combat a major public health problem.”

“This victory today is what it’s all about: getting things done for people that make a real difference in their lives, especially our kids.”


In an overwhelming vote of 328-30, the House of Representatives voted today to pass SB 9, which strengthens the Rape Shield Law.  SB 9 ensures that rape shield protections include the victim’s past, and apply throughout the entire criminal justice process.  The bill will now head to Governor Sununu’s desk for signature.

“Today’s vote to strengthen New Hampshire’s Rape Shield Law is critically important for victims of sexual violence.  Only 16% of rapes are currently reported to police, largely because victims fear retaliation and the public scrutiny they would endure by coming forward,” stated House Democratic Leader Steve Shurtleff (D-Penacook). “Ensuring that victims’ privacy rights are protected will allow people to come forward and seek justice without fear of their private life being broadcast to the world.”

“The strength shown by the Marriott family in their advocacy will ensure that other families are not forced to endure uncertainty, fear, and denial of rights as they seek justice.”


The House unanimously passed SB 45, legislation to increase civics course requirements for high school students. Senator Lou D’Allesandro (D-Manchester), prime sponsor of the bill, offered the following comments after passage:

“I’ve been advocating for more robust civics education in New Hampshire’s schools for years,” said Senator D’Allesandro. “Today’s students are graduating with limited knowledge of the systems and processes of the society they live and work in and without grasping their powers and responsibilities within that system. The key to increasing citizen participation and resolving some of the frustration with government that we’re seeing lately is to give people the knowledge they need to participate.  I’m glad we’ve taken this step to elevate the importance of civics education for our students.”

SB 45 creates a uniform framework for the administration of civics courses to include instruction on the U.S. Constitution, the New Hampshire Constitution, the structures and functions of federal government and how those branches interact with state and local government, opportunities and responsibilities for civic involvement and the skills to be an effective citizen.


The House passed SB 157, legislation to make clear all substance use disorder services shall be considered as part of network adequacy, and that carriers properly notify consumers of their rights, including the right to appeal and the right to access services out-of-network at the same cost as in-network. Senator Dan Feltes (D-Concord) offered the following comments after the bill was passed by unanimous consent:

“To make progress on our opioid and mental health crises, it is critically important that the New Hampshire Insurance Department finish its network adequacy rules, and promptly complete and make public its analysis of insurance carrier treatment of persons with mental health impairments,” said Senator Feltes, prime sponsor of the bill. “In the meantime, SB 157 makes it abundantly clear that substance use disorder services shall be considered as part of network adequacy analyses.  It also helps make sure consumers and their families know where to turn to for help, including when critical services are not available in their network. The first number many folks call when struggling to find mental health or substance use disorder services is the number on the back of their insurance card. SB 157 ensures that the right information is provided at the right time.”

Kuster Introduces Bill to Encourage STEM Education, Prepare Students for Jobs of Tomorrow

 (Washington, DC)Today, Congresswoman Annie Kuster (NH-02) introduced legislation to provide new resources for STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) subjects in early childhood education. The Early STEM Achievement Act would create a competitive grant program within the Department of Education to assist early childhood STEM programs and train educators to teach STEM subjects, helping prepare children for the workforce of tomorrow.  

“We need to prepare young people for the jobs of the future that will drive economic growth in New Hampshire and nationwide,” said Congresswoman Kuster. “Unfortunately, we are not doing enough to train students in the skills they need. We must ensure all students have access to STEM programs so they are prepared to compete in the 21st century economy. I will continue to work to provide students in the Granite State with STEM education opportunities that will inspire and prepare them for success.

Numerous studies have highlighted the benefits of quality early childhood education. For example, research has shown there are lower high-school dropout rates among children who participate in early childhood education programs, demonstrating that the positive results continue for many years. Additionally, STEM lessons support skills like resourcefulness, persistence, and problem-solving ability—all crucial to the 21st century workforce. Kuster is committed to increasing funding for STEM education and other efforts to help students gain the 21stcentury skills they need.

The New Book, Nation On The Take, Shows The Real Corruption In Washington

The New Book Show Just How Corrupt Washington Has Become, How Corporations Are Fleecing American Taxpayers, And What We Must Do To Take Our Democracy Back.

Our system of government has been corrupted by money. This corruption goes much deeper than just funneling millions of dollars into election campaigns from Super PACs and billionaires like the Koch Brothers.

A new book, “Nation on the Take,” takes an in-depth look at how big money has stolen our democracy.

The real corruption lies in how legislation gets tanked or amended by Congressmen at the will of the corporations.

nation-on-the-take-issue-oneThis could be something as simple as, naming a specific manufacturer in the proposed legislation, thereby guaranteeing that all the money from the government contract goes directly to them.

Or, it could be something much larger.

Lobbyists convinced Congress (with campaign donations) to include language in the Affordable Care Act that would prevent Medicare from negotiating prescription drug prices. This small amendment to the ACA allows Big Parma to continue to price gouge the American taxpayer for years to come.

In 2013, the U.S. paid “40% more than Canada” on prescription drugs and “twice as much as many European countries including France and Germany.”

Healthcare is not area of the government that lobbyist have bought and paid for legislation to protect their profits or steamroll the American people.

Wendell Potter and Nick Penniman, the authors of Nation on the Take, show examples ranging from Wall Street reform, climate change, and EPA health regulations.

“This marriage of great wealth and political influence has strangled the political process, leaving us unable to address our most pressing problems as a nation, from climate change to the wealth gap. It defines the terms of our daily concerns: from the cars we drive to the air we breathe, even to the bodies we occupy.”

Just when you have read enough to take the book and toss it across the room in disgust, Potter & Penniman sweep in with solutions on how we can take our government back.

Republicans, Democrats, and Independents all agree that our government has been hijacked by Big Money and it is time for us to take it back. It is not going to be easy but nothing worth doing is ever easy. It will take time and dedication if we want to take back our democracy.

 

You can read an excerpt and pick up, Nation on the Take: How big money corrupts our democracy,  by going here.

 

NH Senate Passes HB1697 To Better Regulate On-Demand Ridesharing Services

Last week, we talked about how companies like Uber and Lyft are examples of corporations taking us in the wrong direction. They exploit workers and put our safety at risk.

Uber skirts around taxi industry regulations that were implemented to protect workers and to protect the safety of the passengers.  In New Hampshire, that could be about to change.

Today, the New Hampshire Senate passed HB 1697, relative to the operation and insurance of transportation network companies, that would impose much needed regulations on this fast growing industry.  HB 1697 is a laundry list of regulations that bring the new on-demand taxi service in line with current taxi cab regulations. 

“I am pleased that HB 1697 passed with bipartisan support,” said Senator Donna Soucy. “Companies like Uber and Lyft are only going to keep growing in New Hampshire and the state needed to take action to provide uniform standards and regulations that protects consumers.” 

“A fine balance was struck between protecting New Hampshire’s small taxi businesses while allowing ride sharing companies like Uber to operate in our state. I am happy that HB 1697 was passed with bipartisan support and that a New Hampshire solution was created for the regulation of ride sharing companies,” Soucy added. 

Governor Hassan remains optimistic the House and Senate will come to an agreement on the newly passed legislation.

“It is critical that we continue to support our people and our businesses in adapting to the changing economy of the 21st century so that we can keep New Hampshire moving forward and ensure that our vibrant communities remain destinations for families, visitors and young people,” Governor Hassan said. “House Bill 1697 builds on those efforts by helping to ensure that Uber and other ridesharing companies have a permanent home here in New Hampshire, helping to make our state more attractive for students, young professionals, entrepreneurs and visitors alike.”

 “I hope that the Senate and the House can quickly agree on a final version of this bipartisan bill so that I can sign it into law. I remain committed to working with members from both parties to ensure that this is a bill that works for our innovative businesses, that ensures the safety of passengers, and that does not take away the rights of our workers,” added Hassan.

 Nobody wants to see Uber or Lyft destroyed. Many just want to enjoy the benefits of their service while knowing that workers and consumers are protected. This bill will move us in that direction. 

NH House Kills 9 Bills Attacking Women’s Health

Ten Bills Voted on Today, Nine defeated by the NH House that Formed a Broad Agenda to Ban Abortion

Planned_Parenthood_logo.svgConcord, NH — Today the New Hampshire House voted to oppose dangerous changes in the landscape of reproductive health. Ten bills, an unprecedented number of attacks on women’s health, were voted on. One bill, a repeal of New Hampshire’s voluntary Buffer Zone law, was passed and will go to the Senate for further consideration.

“On behalf of New Hampshire’s women and families I applaud the New Hampshire House today for rejecting a package of legislation that would devastate reproductive health in the Granite State. Today’s proposed legislation was part of a broad agenda to ban abortion and eliminate reproductive care. We are pleased that a majority of Representatives stood up to extreme legislators and stood with New Hampshire’s women and families,” stated Jennifer Frizzell VP for Public Policy at the Planned Parenthood New Hampshire Action Fund.

Ten Separate Bills were voted on today

Extreme anti-women’s health lawmakers attempted today to pass legislation that would make the constitutional protections of safe and legal abortion under Roe v. Wade, established more than 40 years ago, meaningless for New Hampshire women and families. The vast majority of these dangerous bills were stopped, including bills to ban abortion later in pregnancy, a bill to ban fetal tissue donation for medical research, and a bill that would deny family planning (Title X) funding to New Hampshire which provides preventative care like birth control, well women exams, and STI screenings.
The majority of the New Hampshire House agreed with their constituents. Support for access to safe, legal abortion is higher in New Hampshire than any other state in the country and that more Republicans here consider themselves pro-choice than pro-life on issues like abortion and funding for Planned Parenthood.

New Hampshire has a strong tradition of respecting women and doctors, not politicians, to make personal, private decisions about pregnancy and childbearing, and today the House respected that tradition. New Hampshire currently has some of the best public health outcomes in the country for women, including the lowest teen pregnancy rate, and the best perinatal and maternal health outcomes. The proposed anti-women’s health legislative package would have dramatically jeopardized care for New Hampshire women and reduce access for New Hampshire communities.

Despite the views and values of their constituents, a handful of extreme Republicans continue their assault on women’s health care. At the beginning of the 2016 session, they introduced a legislative package consisting of 16 bills that aimed at dismantling women’s preventive care and ending access to safe, legal abortion.

“Planned Parenthood of Northern New England knows that ruthless attacks from extreme politicians will continue. However, we won’t let these politicians take us backwards and make it impossible to get safe and legal abortion, putting women’s lives and health in danger. Today’s successes show that the majority of New Hampshire’s Representatives understand the importance of fighting from preventing these dangerous bills from becoming the law. The stakes for women’s health and rights have never been higher, and our doors will always remain open,” stated Jennifer Frizzell, VP for Public Policy at the Planned Parenthood New Hampshire Action Fund.

Ten Bills Voted on Today:

HB 1662: relative to abortion-inducing drugs.

CACR 19: relating to the taking of human life. Providing that the general court shall not appropriate nor authorize any expenditure to benefit any corporation having as its object the taking of innocent human life.

HB 1328: limiting pregnancy terminations to pregnancies of 20 weeks or less.

HB 1399: requiring licensure of outpatient abortion clinics.

HB 1570:  repealing the law governing access to reproductive health care facilities (Buffer Zone Repeal). *bill passed 160-152

HB 1623:  prohibiting an abortion based on genetic abnormalities.

HB 1625: relative to banning abortion after viability.

HB 1636: prohibiting abortions once an unborn child can feel pain.

HB 1663:  prohibiting buying, selling, and experimenting on unborn infants or bodily remains resulting from abortion.

HB 1684: prohibiting the use of public funds, employees, and facilities in assisting or performing abortions.


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 advocacy. Follow us on Twitter.

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