The Sierra Club Of NH Endorses 83 “Environmental Champions” In 2016 Elections


CONCORD, NH—Today, the New Hampshire Chapter of the Sierra Club has released its list of carefully selected candidate endorsements for Governor, Executive Council, State Senate and State House of Representatives. The Chapter endorsements include 65 NH State Representatives, 14 State Senators, 3 Executive Councilors and a Gubernatorial candidates. Of the total 83 endorsed candidates, each has expressed concern for the New Hampshire environment supporting action on climate solutions, public land protections, and the impacts of pollution on human health.

“New Hampshire Sierra Club is pleased to announce the official endorsements for election of these Environmental Champions,” said Jim Allmendinger, the Political Committee Co-Chair for the New Hampshire Sierra Club.

“These candidates are our best hope for preserving clean air and clean water; protecting the wild places of New Hampshire, and promoting a sustainable clean energy future,” continued Allmendinger. “The incumbents worked hard to defend against the radical climate change denying conservative agenda that threatened to dismantle smart, popular energy programs and other successful state programs. The new candidates showed their support for key environmental issues facing the state, using creative problem solving techniques that will move New Hampshire toward a more progressive clean energy future.”

“New Hampshire Sierra Club endorsed these candidates based on responses to an in-depth questionnaire, voting record, and history of environmental involvement. The New Hampshire Sierra Club endorsement list will be distributed to the Sierra Club Members in the state online and in the mail. Members will be encouraged to volunteer and support the various campaigns in a vigorous state-wide member to member outreach program.”

Full list of endorsements here.

Senator Sanborn Lines His Pockets By Refusing To Raise The Minimum Wage

The Hypocrisy Of Senator Sanborn’s Opposition To Raising The Minimum Wage

For many years now New Hampshire legislators have been locked in a battle over raising the state’s minimum wage. After Republicans repealed the state’s minimum wage law, the New Hampshire minimum wage defaults to the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour. For “tipped” workers the starting wage is even worse. The state’s tipped minimum wage is $3.30 an hour.

One of the biggest opponents to raising New Hampshire’s minimum wage is businessman and State Senator Andy Sanborn. Sanborn owns “The Draft Sports Bar and BBQ Grill” in Concord.

In his opposition to raising the minimum wage Sanborn states that raising the minimum wage is a “war on employers” but fails to mention that his vote against an increase is all about protecting his own self interest.

In August, Sanborn’s bar The Draft put up listings on Craigslist and iHireHospitalityServices looking for servers at a starting wage of $3.50 an hour plus tips.

iHireHospitalityServices - 09-01-16Jeanne Dietsch, a Democrat and successful technology entrepreneur seeking the nomination on September 13 to challenge Sanborn in District 9, took Sanborn to task for paying poverty wages in a statement released Tuesday morning:

“This confirmation that Sen. Sanborn pays his servers a starting wage of $3.50 an hour explains why he has been such a vocal opponent of raising the minimum wage in New Hampshire. Taxpayers pick up the tab for underpaid employees’ food stamps and health care subsidies, while their employers pocket profits.

“Republicans argue raising wages will cause prices to rise and no one will be better off. However, our economy is being dragged down by the low wages employers like Sanborn, are paying. Young workers are living with parents because they can’t afford to start their own households, buy their own furniture and appliances. Workers with families have no discretionary income to drive the consumer economy. Raising the minimum wage will put more money in people’s pockets to spend in local businesses, and that’s what will raise all boats.

“Employers who pay lower than a living wage are not job creators. They are moochers, who expect the rest of us to pick up the bill for their workers’ food stamps and health care subsidies. That’s probably why Sen. Sanborn’s $3.50 per hour wage would be against the law in 22 states – and not just ‘blue’ states or ‘rich’ states. In Alaska, the minimum wage for tipped workers is $9.75 an hour. In Montana, it’s $8.05 an hour. In Nevada, it’s $8.25 an hour.

“It’s time to raise the minimum wage in New Hampshire, including a raise for tipped workers. Raising the minimum wage will boost our economy, save taxpayers money and help moms and dads better care for their families.”

In 2013, over 11,000 workers were paid at or below the minimum wage. One recent proposal would have raised the minimum wage to $9.00 that would have lifted the wages of over 76,000 workers in the Granite State. An increase to $9.00 would boost the wages of 11% of hourly workers in the Concord area alone and 12% across the entire state. Republicans in the New Hampshire Senate rejected this proposal.

In February of this year, Senate Republicans rejected another proposal by Senator Donna Soucy to raise the state’s minimum wage to $12.00 an hour. According to a report by the Economic Policy Institute, raising New Hampshire’s minimum wage to $12 would have benefitted 141,000 New Hampshire workers, 60% of which are women and 84% of which are above the age of 20.

With the 9th highest cost of living in the country, low-wage workers are forced to work two or three jobs just to pay their rent. To keep the cost of housing below 35% of their income, a minimum wage worker in New Hampshire would need to work at least 100 hours a week.

It is time to elect representatives who will follow the will of the people, not their own greedy self interests. Over 70% of Granite Staters support a minimum wage increase to $10 an hour, yet Republicans like Senator Sanborn continue to reject even modest increases.

NEA-NH Recommends Lee Nyquist In Senate District 9 Primary

CONCORD – Community leader, town moderator, and attorney Lee Nyquist received the recommendation of the National Education Association of New Hampshire (NEA-NH), New Hampshire’s largest public sector union. 

“Lee Nyquist knows first-hand how a high quality public education can change a student’s life for the better,” said Scott McGilvray, NEA-NH President. “That’s one of the many reasons why we are excited to recommend him. We know that as a state senator, Lee will work tirelessly to ensure that our educators and support staff have the resources they need to help every child reach their full potential.” 

“As the first in my family to attend a four year college, thanks in very large part to dedicated public school teachers, the recommendation of NEA-NH is an honor I am very grateful to have,” said Lee Nyquist. “As a state senator I look forward to working to build partnerships between school districts and employers for vocational training programs, continuing the tuition freeze in the UNH system, and to working to ensure that our educators and support staff have the resources they need to help so many children have brighter futures.” 

Nyquist and other candidates go through a vetting process that includes a education and labor questionnaire that is then reviewed by the Government Relations Committee. The committee is made up of  “teachers, education support professionals and retired members appointed by the NEA-NH president and approved by the Executive Board,” explained NEA-NH spokesman George Strout.  

A recommendation is the fullest and most complete level of support NEA-NH can give a candidate.  

“The process is designed to find out, face-to-face, where candidates stand on our issues, and then recommend to our members the candidate who the Committee believes would best serve our students, our members and public education.  The Committee does not look at issues beyond public education and public sector collective bargaining rights,” Strout added.

Nyquist is currently in a contested primary against businesswoman Jeanne Dietsch who recently made headlines on the NHLN for burning the AFP’s Right to Work Pledge.

The winner of the primary with then go on to face Senator Andy Sanborn who referred to raising the minimum wage as a “war on employers,” voted against the medicaid expansion and is a strong proponent of Right to Work legislation.

Charlie Chandler Announces Bid for Senate District 2

Experienced, North Country leader makes bid for open District 2 seat.

Charlie ChandlerWarren, NH –  Charles “Charlie” W. Chandler of Warren, announced that he is a candidate for the Democratic nomination for the open District 2.

“As a lifelong Granite Stater, it is my strong desire to continue my many years of public service to the citizens of New Hampshire as the State Senator for District 2.  My experience as a small town attorney, the director of a state agency, and as a selectman have uniquely prepared me to deliver the people of District 2 the results they expect, and deserve, from Concord,” said Chandler.

Over the past 45 years, Chandler has held many elective and appointed state and local positions. He has served in the New Hampshire Legislature, on the New Hampshire Ballot Law Commission, was the New Hampshire Presiding Officer of the FRM matter, and as New Hampshire Election Monitor appointed by the Secretary of State and Attorney General. Additionally, Chandler is a selectman in his hometown of Warren.

“As a State Senator, I will bring to Concord a strong business background and public service record rooted in social responsibility. I am committed to providing excellent education for all of our children, as they are our future. We must fully fund and provide this adequate education in order to keep New Hampshire moving forward.”

Chandler currently serves as Chairman of the Board at Franklin Savings Bank, a strong, service-minded mutual savings bank; as well as on the Board of Directors for Pemi-Baker Land Trust. He also serves as Governor Hassan’s appointee to the Cannon Mountain Advisory Commission.

“I am excited to get out to all 27 towns across District 2 and hear directly from Granite Staters about practical solutions to the challenges that face our state. I look forward to a spirited, positive campaign, that focuses on the issues that matter to the people of the second district like access to affordable healthcare, protecting our state’s natural beauty and ending the crippling opioid epidemic.” Chandler concluded.

About District 2

With Haverhill to the north, Center Harbor in the east, Tilton in the South and Wilmot in the west, New Hampshire Senate District 2 is a swing district in northwestern New Hampshire comprised of 27 towns in Belknap, Grafton, and Merrimack Counties. It is noteworthy that Governor Hassan won this district with 52% of the vote in 2014, and President Obama won it in 2012 with 53% of the vote. 

Roger Tilton To Run For New Hampshire Senate To Unseat Senator Gary Daniels

RHT MainWe have just learned that Roger Tilton of Milford will be announcing his candidacy for New Hampshire Senate, District 11 (Milford, Merrimack, Amherst and Wilton) on June 10th.

Currently, the District 11 Senate seat is held by, Gary Daniels, who is no friend to labor. From his time as chair of the Labor Committee in the NH House and now in the Senate Daniels has repeated voted against raising the minimum wage. Raising the minimum wage would lift the wages of over fifty thousand hard working Granite Staters.

Daniels also co-sponsored SB 107, which would have prohibited “collective bargaining agreements that require employees to join or contribute to a labor union,” the official description of his so-called Right to Work bill.

Tilton has been a long time supporter of organized labor including a stint as a union organizer. Tilton helped AFTRA organize production workers at KING5, Seattle’s NBC affiliate in the late 80’s. As a former union organizer, Tilton understands the true power unions and collective bargaining.

“The past 40 years have not produced fair gains for the people who put the economy in motion, and without taking steps in the other direction we will not change anything. I know first-hand the immediate and long-term beneficial impact that organizing workers has on their working conditions and standards of living. I will support both those who have organized, and those who need help in doing so,” said Tilton in a recent interview.

Tilton said he opposes so-called Right to Work legislation and any other attacks on workers rights to form unions and collectively bargain.

“So-called ‘right to work’ legislation has been shown to reduce wages, decrease worker safety and protection, and slow regional economic development. ‘Right to Work’ makes sense for big businesses taking big profits out of the local area, but it makes no sense for the people in towns like Wilton, Milford, Amherst, or Merrimack,” added Tilton.

Tilton also plans to announce his own legislation to raise the minimum wage to $10 an hour in 2017, with a goal of $15 by 2021.

“Since 1938 the federal minimum wage has been increased 22 times, and our economy has never suffered because of it. Keeping New Hampshire’s minimum wage down has reduced consumer demand, which keeps local businesses from growing. We need a $10 per hour minimum wage right now, and increases to $15 an hour in reasonably short-order,” Tilton explained.

Sen. Daniels has also been a long time supporter of ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council, which has come under serious scrutiny over the last few years. Daniels was first selected as the NH Co-Chair when he was a State Rep a number of years ago and continues to be a NH Co-Chair as a State Senator.

ALEC is well known for allowing corporate sponsors to supply legislators with lavish gifts and vacation getaways and in return the legislator introduces model legislation in their home state that benefits the corporate sponsors.

In 2013, leaked documents showed that corporate special interest lobbying group ALEC asked state chairs, including New Hampshire State Rep Gary Daniels, to sign a pledge stating: “I will act with loyalty and put the interests of the organization first.”

“It is unbelievable that these politicians participate in an organization that asks them to pledge allegiance to corporate special interests over their constituents,” said Zandra Rice Hawkins, Executive Director of Granite State Progress who first reported on the ALEC pledge in 2013.

“We are being invaded and undermined by big corporate money. ALEC is buying elections in exchange for candidates’ pledges to put outsiders’ interests ahead of the locals. Gary Daniels took that pledge, and we must stop him from selling out New Hampshire,” added Tilton.

In this current legislative session Sen. Daniels introduced legislation interfering with a woman reproductive rights, including repealing NH’s “buffer zone” law around reproductive health care facilities.

Daniels also sponsored legislation to require specific licensing of outpatient facilities that provide abortion services. Other states have used similar legislation to “trap” women’s health clinics and force them to shut down, taking away a woman’s legal right to a safe abortion.

Tilton disagrees with Daniels when it comes to women’s reproductive rights.

“I believe in a woman’s right to make her own reproductive healthcare decisions,” said Tilton. “Senator Daniels sponsored multiple pieces of legislation attacking a woman’s right to choose and attacking women’s healthcare providers like Planned Parenthood, which provides thousands of women with quality healthcare options at little to no cost.”

Tilton will officially announce his candidacy for District 11’s Senate seat on June 10th.

As a Merrimack resident, I look forward to his candidacy and look forward to Tilton tossing Daniels out of office.

Tilton Sign 2014

P.S. Tilton is also a huge proponent of legalizing cannabis in New Hampshire like they did in Washington and Colorado. He believes this could be a strong revenue source for the state.

New Hampshire Senate Republicans Blocking Rail Funding Once Again

(Image by Loco Steve FLIKR CC)

(Image by Loco Steve FLIKR CC)

Concord, NH – Today, Senate Republicans blocked the restoration of the $4 million funding for environmental and engineering assessment work, the next phase in bringing commuter rail to New Hampshire. After the vote, Sen. Bette Lasky (D-Nashua) offered the following comments:

“We talk a lot in the Senate about what our workers and businesses need to thrive and grow here in New Hampshire. And while our businesses have many needs, commuter rail addresses two of their most basic problems: a modern, safe, transportation infrastructure and the retention of a highly educated workforce,” said Sen. Lasky. “I’m disappointed that Senate Republicans have once again blocked this funding. In addition, the people of New Hampshire continue to be frustrated by the lack of effort by the Republicans in the legislature to find a consensus way forward on commuter rail when the economic benefits have been shown to be undeniable.”

“The fact that this next phase would not cost the state a penny makes the opposition to this proposal even more unbelievable. We have more than enough toll credits to complete this work, without sacrificing other projects, and the funding proposed for this project cannot be used for any other project within the 10-Year Transportation Improvement Plan. There is no logical reason to oppose this funding except for those who are ideologically opposed to bringing commuter rail and the economic boost it will provide to New Hampshire.”

Federal transit funds would make up 80% of the $4 million needed for the project, with the state’s 20% share being covered by excess toll credits.

“I, along with my Senate Democratic colleagues and the more than 74% of New Hampshire citizens, continue to be frustrated by the refusal of our Republican colleagues to act on commuter rail. But even though the Senate has once again blocked this common sense solution to move this project forward, we will continue fighting to make commuter rail a reality in the Granite State,” Laskey concluded.

“I am disappointed that the amendment to leverage federal funds for the environmental and engineering work necessary to bring commuter rail from Boston to Nashua and Manchester was eliminated. Commuter rail would help improve access to the entire region, provide new housing and transportation opportunities, spur economic development and create jobs. The business community continues to call on us to take action on this and we must keep working together with members from both parties, local communities, the federal government, our businesses and the State of Massachusetts to come to an agreement to make this vital project a reality,” said Governor Maggie Hassan.  

NH Senate Passes Medicaid Expansion, Heads To Governor For Signature

In a truly bipartisan vote of 16-8, (10 Democrats and 6 Republicans) the New Hampshire Senate approved HB 1696, which would reauthorize the New Hampshire Health Protection Program (NHHPP) through December 2018.

Governor Maggie Hassan applauded legislators from both parties and said she will sign the bill.

“Two years ago, we worked across party lines to pass the bipartisan New Hampshire Health Protection Program, which has made a real difference for our people, for our businesses and in our efforts to combat the heroin and opioid crisis,” said Governor Maggie Hassan. “With its bipartisan vote today, the New Hampshire State Senate has taken another important step forward to build on that progress, joining the House of Representatives in its recognition of the importance of this critical program.”

“Thanks to our bipartisan healthcare expansion plan, nearly 50,000 hard-working Granite Staters have access to quality, affordable health insurance, reducing healthcare cost-shifting onto all of our people and businesses. I applaud legislators from both parties, the medical community, advocates and other stakeholders for their efforts to reauthorize our bipartisan New Hampshire Health Protection Program, and I look forward to signing this legislation into law so that we can continue this critical program that is strengthening the health and financial security of our people and boosting our economy,” concluded Hassan

“We applaud the Senate reauthorization of the NH Health Protection Program, which will ensure that the nearly 48,000 Granite Staters currently on the program can continue to have affordable access to preventative and primary care in New Hampshire,” said Zandra Rice-Hawkins, Granite State Progress Education Fund Executive Director. “Families struggling in low wage jobs or caught between tough times don’t need health concerns to further hold them back. Being able to see a doctor when you are sick or access preventative care means less time away from work and better health in the long run. We are pleased that the Senate vote had strong bi-partisan support, despite a handful of politicians who chose to stand in the way of New Hampshire families.”

“The next step is to address the underlying reasons why so many Granite Staters are in need of this program. Raising wages, tackling outdated workplace policies that discriminate against women and minorities, and empowering families to be able to take control of their reproductive health are all important pieces of the overall puzzle.,” added Rice-Hawkins.

NH Citizens Alliance Executive Director Kary Jencks added, “The biggest issue for reauthorization was the percentage of the total cost the State of New Hampshire was required to cover. Let’s pay our workers the worth of their jobs so that New Hampshire women and families don’t need these safety nets; saving our tax payer dollars and in turn allowing hardworking families greater financial security.”

Along with many other organizations, the New Hampshire Fiscal Policy Institute has been very vocal in support of reauthorizing the NHHPP.

“New Hampshire has many fine traditions, but few can rival the bipartisanship and common-sense pragmatism that the Senate displayed today in reauthorizing the New Hampshire Health Protection Program,” said the New Hampshire Fiscal Policy Institute Executive Director Jeff McLynch. “Its vote today – in combination with earlier efforts by the House of Representatives — will ensure that more than 48,000 Granite Staters continue to have access to affordable health insurance for another two years.”

The NHHPP is specifically designed to provide healthcare to those who fall between the cracks in coverage. These are people who make too much to qualify for Medicaid but make too little to qualify for healthcare subsidies under the Affordable Care Act.

“Health Protection Program enrollees include many individuals who work in low wage jobs that keep the state economy moving, but that don’t pay enough to make ends meet. The program provides thousands of hard-working Granite Staters with access to the care they need to stay healthy and able to provide for their families,” added McLynch.

“NHFPI looks forward to working with the members of the upcoming study commission to identify ways to enhance the effectiveness of the Health Protection Program still further and to ensure that it remains a vital element of New Hampshire’s efforts to promote health and economic security for years to come,” concluded McLynch.

State Senators who stood with New Hampshire women and their families include the entire Democratic caucus and six Republicans: Senate President Chuck Morse (R), Majority Leader Jeb Bradley (R), Sen. Jerry Little (R), Sen. Nancy Stiles (R), Sen. David Boutin (R), Sen. Sam Cataldo (R), Minority Leader Jeff Woodburn (D), Sen. Lou D’Allesandro (D), Sen. Andrew Hosmer (D), Sen. Molly Kelly (D), Sen. Martha Fuller Clark (D), Sen. David Pierce (D), Sen. Dan Feltes (D), Sen. Bette Lasky (D), Sen. Donna Soucy (D), and Sen David Watters (D).

State Senators who stood in the way of access to health care coverage for Granite State families are: Sen. Jeanie Forrester (R), Sen. Andy Sanborn (R), Sen. Gary Daniels (R), Sen. Kevin Avard (R), Sen. Sharon Carson (R), Sen. John Reagan (R), Sen. Regina Birdsell (R), and Sen. Russell Prescott (R).

“Jeanie Forrester’s vote to take away healthcare from nearly 50,000 Granite Staters is the latest example of her putting far-right ideology ahead of the lives of everyday people,” said NHDP Chair Ray Buckley. “Just as shameful, in a time when our state is facing an opioid crisis, she voted to take away substance abuse services from 6,000 people receiving treatment. This disgraceful vote is a perfect example of the right-wing extremism spewing from the Republican candidates for governor.”

Forrester isn’t the first Republican candidate for governor to try to kill Medicaid expansion. In October 2013, Chris Sununu was the only member of the Executive Council to vote against endorsing Gov. Hassan’s call for a special session to consider the recommendations of a commission that endorsed Medicaid expansion. Then, in July 2014, Sununu was one of two councilors to vote against a $292 million contract that would allow Medicaid expansion to begin September 1, 2014. He touted these efforts as recently as last month.


Read also the statement from NH Senate Democrats. 

NH Senate Passes SB 427 To Provide Funding For Police Standards And Training Council

police motorcycles manchester

Yesterday the NH Senate passed SB 427, which provides critical funding to ensure that the Police Standards and Training Council could continue training law enforcement officers across the state. 

“The Police Standards and Training Council does an exceptional job training our police officers and preparing them for the public safety challenges our state faces,” said Sen. Lou D’Allesandro, the prime sponsor of SB 427. “In recent years, the council has had to do more with less funding due to declining revenue and we have reached the point of no return. To cut back on law enforcement, especially now with the opiate crisis, would be a huge mistake and I thank the Senate for their support of this vital funding.” 

“We must assure that New Hampshire has strong and well-trained police officers. This is one of our most important responsibilities. SB 527 ensures that we live up to that responsibility. I look forward to working with the House to get this important legislation to the Governor’s desk as soon as possible,” added D’Allesandro. 

“Public safety is our most important responsibility as a state, and it has never been more important than it is now for New Hampshire to continue our strong practice of unified training and community policing,” said Governor Maggie Hassan. “The Police Standards and Training Council helps prepare our dedicated officers for the challenges and dangers that they face every day, and this important measure will help address the funding challenge that the council faces.” 

“I thank the Senate for passing this critical legislation to support the Police Standards and Training Council’s work to help prepare our law enforcement community for the challenges that they face every day, and I urge the House to join their colleagues in support of this bill so that we can keep New Hampshire’s law enforcement officers among the most effective in the country,” added Hassan

Senator David Watters Applauds Senate Passage of Legislation to Help Finance Pre-Kindergarten Education

CONCORD- Today, the NH Senate approved an innovative “pay for success” financing program for pre-kindergarten education. After the Senate passage of SB 503, Senator David Watters (D- Dover) released the following comments:

“I applaud my Senate colleagues for supporting this innovative approach to financing pre-kindergarten education,” said Senator Watters. “New Hampshire is one of a few states in the country that does not provide early childhood education, but SB 503 gives our communities an alternative way to finance this education without putting the burden on the local school districts.” 

Through SB 503’s “pay for success” model, funding for pre-kindergarten education would come from private investors who would then be reimbursed by the state if the program results in improved third grade reading levels or reduces the cost of special education remedial services. The payments will only be made if savings exceed the costs of the program. The first “pay for success” program was established in Utah in 2013 and has proven effective at reducing the cost of special education services and saving the school districts money. The total savings in the first year of the Utah program was $281,550.

“SB 503 is a ‘New Hampshire’ solution to improving education for our children by creating a partnership between our educators and private investors. I thank my Senate colleagues for their support, as this legislation is critical to expanding access to quality education to our children.”

NH Senate Republicans Threaten To Shut Down The Government Over Budget

Ranking Democratic Finance Committee Members Respond to Republican Threats to Shut Down Government Unless They Get Their Way

Concord, N.H. – Ranking Democratic Finance Committee members Representative Mary Jane Wallner and Senator Lou D’Allesandro issued the following statement in response to New Hampshire Republicans’ threats to shut down government unless they get their way on the budget:

“It’s extremely disappointing that New Hampshire Republicans are sending such a clear signal that they are not willing to compromise during the Committee of Conference process and are threatening to shut down the government if they don’t get their way. Enacting a balanced, fiscally responsible budget will require Republicans to compromise with Democrats – not just with Bill O’Brien and the Tea Party.”

“While Governor Hassan has made clear that she’s ready to roll up her sleeves and work across party lines to reach a bipartisan compromise that will move New Hampshire’s economy forward, New Hampshire Republicans are already planning to shut down state government.”

“We urge our Republican colleagues to reconsider this uncompromising stance and work with us to pass a fiscally responsible budget that continues our bipartisan progress for New Hampshire’s people, businesses, and economy.”

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