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Governor Hassan Moves Forward To Protect State Control Of Health Marketplace

Maggie Hassan

Thousands of middle and low income families will soon start to see the benefits of the expanded healthcare options from the Affordable Care Act.  To ensure that Granite Staters get the best program for New Hampshire, Governor Hassan sends letter of intent to pursue partnership exchange.

By partnering with the Federal Government instead of opposing it, New Hampshire will receive the maximum benefit of the program.  Each state is required under the federal Affordable Care Act to have a health benefit exchange: a virtual marketplace where individuals and small businesses can compare qualified health plans, find out if they are eligible for tax credits or health benefit programs, ask questions about coverage, and enroll in a qualified health plan that meets their needs. While states may establish their own exchanges, a 2010 New Hampshire law prevents action to build an exchange, forcing the state to either allow the federal government to create our exchange or to pursue a partnership exchange.

“I do not believe it is in the best interest of our people to allow the federal government to impose a one-size-fits-all exchange on New Hampshire,” said Governor Hassan. “As the process moves forward, I will work with the federal government and in collaboration with the state legislature, to ensure that New Hampshire maintains flexibility and is protected financially.”

This is a strong move for our new Governor. By pushing forward with the partnership plan, she is showing that affordable healthcare is not only important, but that we could better manage the system at a state level.  New Hampshire has always been a very frugal state, with low revenue and no income tax you must be.  This is why many feel that controlling these changes locally makes more sense.

NH Legislatiors Katherine Rogers and Peter Sullivan Work To Keep Your Work Out Of Your Facebook Account

Social Media Logos

Have you ever applied for a job and as part of the job interview they asked you to supply you social media passwords?  Could you imagine if they did?

You do not have to imagine it because it does happen every day.  What is worse is that some  people are being fired for posting comments about their work on Facebook.

In October of 2012 the NLRB ruled in favor of the employee after he was wrongfully fired for posting negative comments about his employer.

“The National Labor Relations Board has found that the firing of a BMW salesman for photos and comments posted to his Facebook page did not violate federal labor law, because the activity was not concerted or protected.” (1)

The NLRB also ruled in favor of the employee after he was fired for comments while off the clock.

“The case—Hispanics United of Buffalo—started one Saturday morning in 2010. That was when domestic violence advocate Mariana Cole-Rivera took to Facebook to complain that one of her co-workers was unfairly accusing fellow employees of laziness. Several other staffers at Hispanics United of Buffalo chimed in to say they worked plenty hard already. Soon after Cole-Rivera and her co-workers returned to work, HUB fired five of them, arguing that their off-the-clock comments had violated the nonprofit’s anti-harassment policy. (2)”

The good thing that has come from these cases is that, time and time again, the NRLB is ruling in favor of the employees right to free speech on their personal accounts.  However none of these cases involve those people who are applying for a job. (It is very hard to fight back against your employer when your not actually their employee.)

Hopefully that will all change. Many states including New Hampshire are trying to pass laws that specifically address the growing concern over social media accounts.

“Rep. Peter Sullivan, D-Manchester, wants to bar employers from requiring an employee – or prospective one – to disclose social media passwords.”

Sullivan stated: “I think it’s better to make a statement at the outset that no, this is not something that’s appropriate.” (3)

The bill’s co-sponsor Katherine Rogers told the NH Union Leader that companies could potentially use Facebook to skirt current laws.

“Many people use sites such as Facebook to update family and friends about personal issues, Rogers noted. The risk is that potential employers could find out information that they are legally barred from asking job applicants about, such as age, race, weight or medical conditions.”

I think this is a fabulous idea. This is a prime example of legislators working to protect the people from potential harm.  Jut think of the pictures, comments, and links you have shared since you joined Facebook?

I look forward to seeing this bill pass through the NH Legislature.

Sad Day In Michigan: A message from AFL-CIO President Trumka

From @KTUERK on Twitter

From @KTUERK on Twitter

Statement by AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka
On Passage of Michigan ‘Right-to-Work’ Law
December 11, 2012

Gov. Snyder showed his true colors today: He’s a puppet of extreme donors, and he is willing to ignore and lie to his constituents. His action will undoubtedly please the Koch Brothers and corporate CEOs, but it will diminish the voice of every working man and woman in Michigan.

To make ‘right-to-work’ a reality, Governor Rick Snyder ignored working Michiganders, the faith and civil rights community, President Obama, people in his own party, autoworkers, nurses, teachers, firefighters, the Detroit Free Press editorial board and voters. He listened to Grover Norquist, Dick DeVos, the Koch brothers and the extremes of his party. In Gov. Snyder’s office, they might call that political reality. On Main Street, we call it a sham of democracy.

The so-called ‘right to work’ laws have never fostered employment, but they do bring out the worst kind of divisiveness. Gov. Snyder knows this is true. He publicly acknowledged this reality for years, and yet ultimately he chose to ignore it and embrace extreme politics under the guise of a job creation agenda.

But working people are resilient – and just like we’ve patiently worked together to rebuild after the Great Recession, we will continue to come together to say ‘no’ to overreach and to oppose this radical governor and state legislature. And we will continue to work for policies to put America back on track with good jobs and shared prosperity, because working people have always been the solution, not the problem.

USW Calls on Mich. Gov. Snyder to Veto Right-to-Work-for-Less

Michigan working families deserve state ballot vote for their economic future 

Pittsburgh (Dec. 11) – President Leo W. Gerard of the United Steelworkers (USW) issued the following statement  today in an appeal to common sense economics over politics as a Michigan lame-duck legislative session by Republicans rams through a ‘right-to-work-for-less’ bill for a promised signature by Gov. Rick Snyder.

“The USW active and retired members join other unions and allies in Michigan and across the nation to call on Gov. Snyder to support the proposal of the state’s Democratic congressional delegation. We ask the Governor to use his veto power to stop this unnecessary and divisive right-to-work bill.

“If the Governor feels this bill will move Michigan forward, he should delay the final legislative votes and allow an amendment that would put this issue before the public as a state ballot initiative.  We urge Governor Snyder to delay his signing of the bill. Let the people of Michigan debate and vote on a consequential matter that will affect all working families.

“We know the newly-elected Michigan state legislature convening early next year has added Democrats that would reject a right-to-work-for-less bill. Right-to-work is only supported by millionaires and billionaires who profit by taking more money out of the workers’ pockets.

“The USW applauds President Obama for his public statement yesterday in Detroit to do everything we can to keep good middle-class jobs that help workers rebuild security for their families. He said it straight and true. We shouldn’t be trying to take away workers’ rights to bargain for better wages and working conditions. The so-called ‘right-to-work’ laws don’t have much to do with economics — they have everything to do with politics.

“Hear our voices outside the Lansing State Capitol. Hear the voice of President Obama who said: We don’t want a race to the bottom. We want a race to the top.”

 

The USW is a North American union representing 850,000 workers in the manufacturing, mining, energy and service sectors. For more information: www.usw.org.

An Education Update from Bill Duncan and ANHPE

Bill Duncan

Education Funding Under Discussion
12-10-12

First, it’s worth scanning down the list of education bills we’re now following.  So far, these are just Legislative Services Requests and will not become bills with the details filled in for awhile. Many of the anti-education bills brought forward from in last year’s session are presumably DOA.  But still, there are a lot of bills.

Another education funding amendment is on the way

The headline is that Rep. Gary Richardson and Sen. Nancy Stiles will propose another education funding amendment.

Last year, Rep. Richardson made the case that a desirable amendment would be one that enabled targeting but did not change the responsibility of the Legislature to fund education or the power of the Court to enforce the Constitution.  Sen.Stiles says she is authoring an amendment that goes back to language that has received support in the past.  She might be referring to something like this, CACR 18 in the 2007 legislative session.  CACR 18 was focused more on targeting and less on the court as well, so might be similar to Rep. Richardson’s proposal.  Then-Sen. Hassan seemed supportive of the concept at that time.

Anything that Sen. Stiles and Rep. Richardson propose is automatically credible.  However, many attorneys, advocates and legislators knowledgeable about education funding make the case that targeting to communities in need is possible already – without a constitutional amendment.

ANHPE agrees and will flesh out the targeting-can-be-done-now case in the coming days.

 

Lots of early childhood development in New Hampshire

The Gap perpetuates poverty and poor educational performance.  But Spark NH, the hub of early child development energy in New Hampshire, is out to do something about it.  Look at the number and breadth of the council members.  They have a big agenda and will continue to grow.

Tom Raffio, chair of the New Hampshire Board of Education and CEO of Northeast Delta Dental, has been talking about the importance of early childhood development and getting business leaders interested.  He and Fred Kocher are forming a business and educator round table to promote improved student readiness for the workforce, including early childhood education.

That will be an important step because New Hampshire is one of only a few states in the country with no publicly supported Pre-K education program.  All the other New England states have good programs.  Vermont’s is most impressive, reaching 67% of the 4 year olds.  Vermont has built a highly productive public/private partnership – a model for us?

Rough sledding for private school vouchers
There’s been a lot of objection in other states to voucher programs funding secular schools that teach a creationist curriculum (and here).  The Louisiana voucher program has been declared unconstitutional in lower courts for that reason and others.  We have schools in New Hampshire that teach at same curriculum – this one, for instance.
In Wisconsin and other states, there are new calls for accountability in voucher schools.  There is no accountability required of voucher schools in New Hampshire.
Governor-Elect Hassan and many legislators continue to discuss repeal of the voucher plan or at least putting the plan on hold right away while options are discussed.  It’s a bad plan paid for by our property tax payers.  And it, in effect, shifts money from poorer to richer communities.  One way or another, it needs to be gone.

Bill

State House Report Cards Available

Website provides voters with level of detail rarely found in down-ballot races

A friendly reminder that Granite State Progress has made publicly available a State House Report Card of more than 200 roll call votes from the past session, categorized by issue and legislator; and a State Senate Report Card of just over 50 roll call votes. The website makes available the same type of resources and attention that top of the ticket races have enjoyed for years.

GSP State House & State Senate Report Cards

http://www.granitestateprogress.org/service/legislator-report-cards

“Granite Staters looking to cut through the election rhetoric can visit our website and see for themselves the voting record of their current legislators, many of whom are running for re-election,” said Zandra Rice Hawkins, Granite State Progress Executive Director. “We’ve removed the confusing legislative jargon around these bills and instead explained in a straight-forward way what they really mean for Granite State families and small businesses. State legislators make big decisions about local roads, public schools and the economy. It’s long overdue that voters are provided with the same type of resources and attention for down ballot races that top of the ticket candidates have enjoyed for years.”

Examples of the roll call vote descriptions include:

  • Rep. Will Smith voted for repealing major sections of the anti-bullying law and leaving our children vulnerable to bullying on-line and off school grounds. (HB370, Roll Call #69, 3/15/2011)

“Whether or not you agree with Granite State Progress’ particular take on a piece of legislation, one thing is clear: you will know exactly which legislators you side with,” Rice Hawkins said. “We are very proud to provide this resource to Granite State voters.”

For the full, original press release, visit http://www.granitestateprogress.org/press-releases. The website was built by Hoeferweb, an Internet Marketing and Strategy Agency based in Keene, New Hampshire and online at www.hoeferweb.com.

 

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