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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.

http://youtu.be/RY5ToZgJmo4

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 $30 billion 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.

*       *        *

UPDATED 11:30

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.”

Senator Shaheen Introduces Bill To Support And Expand Afterschool STEM Education Programs

(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) today introduced legislation to strengthen and expand afterschool programs that focus on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields and help encourage students to pursue careers in STEM. The Supporting Afterschool STEM Act would provide resources to support afterschool STEM programing and strengthen state, local and community partnerships that research has demonstrated is critical in building STEM-relevant skills and interest among students.

“Encouraging students to pursue careers in STEM fields will help meet future economic demand for skilled, high-tech workers in the 21st century,” Shaheen said. “Giving young people the opportunity to get involved in STEM after school and develop STEM-related skills at a young age will help foster our economic competitiveness in the future and ultimately help grow New Hampshire’s economy.”

Research shows that most students who go on to pursue STEM fields in college and beyond are exposed to and engaged in STEM activities by the 8th grade; by bringing STEM education and activites to students in afterschool programs, Shaheen’s bill will help grow our increasingly important STEM workforce.

“The STEM Education Coalition is proud to stand behind Senator Shaheen’s Supporting Afterschool STEM Act,” said James Brown, Executive Director of the STEM Education Coalition. “One of our Coalition’s top goals is to ensure that we are using every opportunity possible to improve student success in the critical STEM fields, and this bill will help advance the notion that afterschool and informal learning programs have a powerful role to play in addressing our national challenges in STEM education. We need to leverage federal programs in this area, along with private-sector and non-profit efforts to ensure that we are improving student access to high quality afterschool STEM experiences – and this bill will help do that.”

“We commend Senator Shaheen for her ongoing commitment to afterschool programs and their role in STEM education,” said Jodi Grant, Executive Director of the Afterschool Alliance. “In New Hampshire and across the country, afterschool providers have enthusiastically embraced STEM as an important component of their offerings for children. Many providers want and need support and technical assistance to grow and scale their STEM programs. Senator Shaheen’s bill recognizes this need and will help them get those resources, leveraging existing support systems like the New Hampshire Afterschool Network and other such statewide afterschool networks.”

 “The New Hampshire Afterschool Network is pleased to endorse this bill,” said Lynn Stanley, NH Afterschool Network Lead and Afterschool Master Professional. “Afterschool and summer programs provide children and youth hands-on, experiential activities that encourage an interest in STEM learning. Younger children exposed to fun and engaging STEM activities outside the school day are more likely to take upper level science and math classes in high school. This sets them on an educational pathway leading to STEM fields and careers.”

Shaheen has made promoting STEM education one of her top priorities in the Senate and is a recognized leader by STEM Connector in their 100 Women in STEM publication. Shaheen helped launch and co-chairs the Senate STEM Caucus and has been a longtime supporter of efforts that promote programs like FIRST Robotics since her days as New Hampshire’s governor. She has met with students across New Hampshire to promote STEM programs and promote policies like the Innovation Inspiration School Grant Program to provide high schools with new incentives to invest in STEM programs.

Senate Passes Shaheen Backed Legislation To Improve On-The-Job Training Programs

Jobs legislation expands on-the-job training 

(Washington, DC) – The U.S. Senate approved bipartisan legislation today to improve the nation’s workforce development system and prioritize on-the-job training (OJT) programs that have been championed by U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH). With OJT programs included, the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) will modernize and improve existing federal workforce development programs, help workers attain the skills necessary for 21st-century jobs, and foster the modern workforce that evolving American businesses rely on to compete.

“On-the-job training programs are a proven way to help the unemployed find and keep a job while making sure businesses have incentives to hire,” Shaheen said. “The bipartisan jobs plan the Senate passed today is great news for New Hampshire’s economy and job seekers around the country, and I urge the House to pass this common-sense plan so we can help Americans who need jobs find and keep work.”

Shaheen has been a strong advocate for workforce training programs that give American workers the knowledge and skills needed to compete for quality jobs, and has introduced bipartisan legislation with Senator Thad Cochran (R-MI), the On-the-Job Training Act, to help Americans obtain employment and learn the skills they need to keep it.

The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act significantly expands opportunities for OJT, supporting access to real-world education and workforce development while encouraging businesses to expand hiring. The legislation requires state workforce investment boards to disseminate information identifying OJT opportunities and boosts incentives for employers to participate in OJT programs. Additionally, the bill focuses on career pathways and prioritizes work-based learning opportunities for out-of-school youth, including OJT, to give them the support they need to build successful careers.

OJT programs connect unemployed workers with jobs and provide employers with training subsidies, and have a proven track record as one of the most effective ways of helping unemployed workers gain new skills to find and retain employment. In New Hampshire, OJT, or “earn while you learn,” has proven particularly beneficial for long-term unemployed workers who might otherwise have not been able to find work and for employers who have been able to bring on additional staff to sustain and grow their businesses. According to a 2014 White House report, OJT agreements have been established with more than 170 New Hampshire companies in numerous industries including the manufacturing, service, information technology, telecommunications, engineering, medical, construction, energy and administration industries. As of the report’s January release, 96 percent of exited New Hampshire OJT participants remained employed six months after exiting the program, 86 percent of whom were still on the payroll of their OJT employer or OJT-related employer, rates significantly above other federal job training programs.

Senators Introduce Legislation To Protect Motorcycle Riders Rights

Motorcycle rider (image Philo Nordlund)Bipartisan amendment would prohibit
motorcycle-only checkpoints for one year
 

(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Ron Johnson (R-WI), Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) today introduced a bipartisan amendment to the Senate Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Appropriations bill that would prohibit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) from issuing grants to states for motorcycle-only checkpoints for one year. The amendment is similar to legislation introduced by the Senators earlier this year. The NHTSA initiated the Motorcycle Law Enforcement Demonstration Program in 2009, which provides states with funds to conduct discriminatory, motorcycle-only checkpoints where riders are specifically targeted by police to check that their vehicles meet state standards for noise, handlebar length, tire condition and a range of other legal requirements.

The bipartisan effort would block federal resources for one year from being used to fund these types of discriminatory motorcycle-only checkpoints. Currently, motorcycle riders are already subject to state registration, inspection, licensing and helmet laws and must stop at sobriety check points like all other motorists.

“Laconia Motorcycle Week in New Hampshire is a perfect reminder of how important motorcycles are to our state’s identity and economy,” Shaheen said. “These checkpoints unfairly discriminate against motorcyclists who already must comply with registration and inspection requirements like all motorists.”

“I often hear Wisconsin motorcyclists refer to their passion for the ‘freedom of the road,’” Johnson said. “Unfortunately, those freedoms would be severally, and I would argue unconstitutionally, hindered by the presence of federally funded motorcycle-only checkpoints. Bikers should not be stopped, searched and inspected by law enforcement solely because they’re on two wheels and not four.”

“Requiring bikers to drive through motorcycle-only checkpoints is not only an ineffective use of taxpayer dollars, but it also raises legitimate questions about discrimination against motorcyclists,” Manchin said. “In West Virginia, bikers travel near and far to drive on our winding roads and enjoy the beautiful scenery, which attracts tourism and helps boost both our local and state economies. As a Harley owner myself, I am pleased to work with my colleagues on this bipartisan legislation that simply would prohibit yet another senseless and unreasonable federal regulation which could harm states’ economies.”

“With motorcyclists from across the region in New Hampshire this week for Laconia Motorcycle Week, we renew our opposition to the use of federal funds to pay for discriminatory motorcycle-only checkpoints,” Ayotte said. “Motorcyclists shouldn’t be unfairly targeted just because they’re driving a motorcycle and not a car, and our amendment would protect their rights to abide by the same laws as other motor vehicles.”

Evidence suggests that motorcycle-only checkpoints do not effectively reduce motorcycle injuries or fatalities and do not address the factors that are the main contributors to motorcycle accidents. Accordingly, NHTSA does not list the practice in its own 2013 Highway Safety Countermeasure Guide for State Highway Offices, which details policies and activities that the agency considers effective at reducing crash injuries and fatalities.

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