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New Hampshire In Urgent Need Of National Paid Family Leave Program

 A National Paid Family and Medical Leave Plan Could Reduce by 83 Percent* the Number of New Hampshire Families Facing Economic Insecurity When They Need Time to Care

An analysis of demographic data in New Hampshire released today reveals the significant and growing need for a national paid family and medical leave plan that covers all working people in the state for the full range of serious caregiving and medical reasons. The release kicks off a series of nationwide activities marking next Monday’s 25th anniversary of the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which provides unpaid leave. Across the country, working people, businesses, lawmakers, advocates and others will come together on the ground and online to celebrate the law’s progress, recognize state and private sector innovations and call for a national paid family and medical leave policy that advances the movement for more equitable and family friendly workplaces.

The new analysis was conducted by the National Partnership for Women & Families. The full set of findings for New Hampshire is available here. Similar findings for all 50 states and the District of Columbia can be found at NationalPartnership.org/PaidLeaveMeansMap.

“Twenty-five years after the FMLA was signed into law, it is past time to take the next step by ensuring paid leave for all working people,” said Debra L. Ness, president of the National Partnership, which drafted and led the fight for the FMLA. “The FMLA has transformed our workplaces and culture in tremendously positive ways, but these data show that unpaid leave is inaccessible for too many people. Working people and families are caught between the demands of their jobs and their families, and as a result, our economy and businesses are not reaching their full potential.”

The New Hampshire analysis sheds light on why the failure of policymakers and the private sector to guarantee paid family and medical leave is causing people in the state to experience conflicts between their jobs and their families. For example, women, and especially women of color, are key breadwinners for their families while also continuing to be primary caregivers. People already have significant family and medical care needs that are increasing as the workforce ages. And the consequences for the economic well-being of families and the state can be serious when people are not able to hold paying jobs while providing and receiving critical care. Specifically:

  • In 75 percent of New Hampshire households with children – more than 180,000 homes – all parents hold jobs;
  • In less than 15 years, the share of New Hampshire’s population age 65 and older will grow by nearly 45 percent;
  • One person dies every day from a drug overdose in New Hampshire;
  • In New Hampshire, there is a 10-percentage point gap in labor force participation between men and women; and
  • A national paid leave plan would reduce the number of working families in New Hampshire facing significant economic insecurity when they need to take family and medical leave by 83 percent.

Nationally, the FMLA guarantees unpaid leave, but it is inaccessible to 58 percent of workers in New Hampshire because they either are not covered by the law or cannot afford to take the unpaid leave it provides. Just 15 percent of workers in the United States have paid family leave through their employers, and fewer than 40 percent have paid medical leave through employer-provided temporary disability insurance. California, New Jersey, Rhode Island and, as of Jan. 1, New York, have paid family leave insurance programs in place. Washington state and the District of Columbia have enacted similar measures that have not yet taken effect. Research shows that existing programs are working well and lawmakers in other states continue to use them as models as they consider programs of their own.

“The recent progress on a bipartisan proposal to establish a statewide family and medical leave insurance program shows that lawmakers are listening to the majority of New Hampshire residents who know that better workplace policies will help families, businesses and our economy,” said Amanda Sears, director of the Campaign for a Family Friendly Economy in New Hampshire. “The future of our state depends on New Hampshire being an attractive place to live, work and raise a family – access to paid leave is a critical resource for both employees and businesses that will help drive our economy forward.”

“We now have a powerful body of evidence that shows the widespread benefits of paid family and medical leave, the urgent need for it, and the key components of a meaningful policy that would promote gender and economic equality, strengthen businesses and our economy, and promote the culture change we need,” explained Vicki Shabo, vice president for workplace policies and strategies at the National Partnership. “Lawmakers who advance strong paid leave proposals demonstrate that they understand their constituents’ needs and the value we all place on knowing we can care for our loved ones without risking our jobs. Voters’ support for a strong national paid family and medical leave law cuts across parties and ideologies, and large and small companies say they support a national paid leave plan too. It is past time for all lawmakers to show the same interest in real policy solutions.”

New Hampshire lawmakers are currently considering a paid family and medical leave proposal for the state. Federally, the Family And Medical Insurance Leave (FAMILY) Act, sponsored by Sen. Gillibrand (D – N.Y.) and Rep. DeLauro (D – Conn.), is the leading paid family and medical leave proposal in Congress. Reps. Kuster and Shea-Porter are co-sponsors of the legislation. The FAMILY Act would create a national insurance program, similar to those in the states, that would be funded through small employer and employee contributions of 0.2 percent each (less than $1.50 per week each for a typical worker). It would allow workers to take up to 12 weeks of leave for serious family or medical reasons while receiving a portion of their pay.

The National Partnership’s reports for all 50 states and the District of Columbia are available here. They were released in advance of the 25th anniversary of the signing of the FMLA, which is Feb. 5. To celebrate the day and advance the movement for paid leave, a broad and diverse coalition of organizations is joining with businesses, state and local lawmakers, and working people across the country to call for a national paid family and medical leave law like the FAMILY Act. Supporters will be sending messages to Congress, hosting events, sharing stories with the media and their networks, and using #FMLA25 and #PaidLeaveMeans on social media.

For more information on paid family and medical leave, including details on existing laws, a summary of recent employer policy announcements, a collection of fact sheets and the latest research on the impact of paid leave policies, visit NationalPartnership.org/PaidLeave.

 

*Figure calculated using new data released by Brandeis University’s diversitydatakids.org.

“Right to Work” Rears Its Ugly Head Again

It must be Groundhog Day. There’s another Supreme Court case that could “deal a major blow to labor unions.”

Yes, the National Right to Work Foundation is getting another chance to impose “Right to Work” on the entire nation through Supreme Court fiat.

Nevermind how voters may feel about it. After Maine lawmakers passed “Right to Work” in 1947, voters repealed the law by a two-to-one majority. In 1958, California and Colorado voters refused “Right to Work” by three-to-two margins; Ohio voters turned it down two-to-one; and voters in the state of Washington said “no” by a margin of nine-to-five. Ohio lawmakers ignored the 1958 ballot results and passed “Right to Work” in 2011; and voters repealed the law by an overwhelming margin. Missouri lawmakers passed “Right to Work” last year; but the law is now on hold, and voters will have the final say in a referendum this fall.

Nevermind the state legislatures that have had second thoughts about “Right to Work.” In both New Hampshire and Delaware, state legislatures adopted “Right to Work” in 1947 – and then repealed it in 1949. Louisiana’s legislature passed “Right to Work” in 1954 and repealed it in 1956 (and then passed it again in 1976). Indiana passed “Right to Work” in 1957 and repealed it in 1965 (and then passed it again in 2012).

Nevermind that conservatives are supposed to be opposed to judicial activism. The National Right to Work Foundation wants the Supreme Court to make “Right to Work” the law of the land. The Foundation has been using court cases to chip away at labor unions since 1968 – and they’re proud of it. You can read a list of the court cases they’ve brought against unions here.

If they succeed, what happens next? All the press coverage has been about the potential damage to labor unions. But what about

Government contracting? The National Right to Work Foundation wants the Supreme Court to rule that government contracting is an “inherently political” process. That may sound good to the Foundation, in the context of union-busting, but what about the rest of government contracting? At last report, the federal government negotiated more than 3.8 million contracts a year, totaling about $440 billion in spending – and about 2% of the federal workforce was made up of “contract professionals” (who are not union members). What happens if the Supreme Court adds “politics” to the list of reasons a procurement decision can be challenged? Will taxpayers or business competitors be able to challenge contract decisions on the basis of politics? (For instance, the $24 million refrigerator upgrade to Air Force One – was that decision tainted by the $16.7 million in lobbying that Boeing paid for, last year? The more than $1 million its PAC has “invested” in this year’s federal campaigns? The more than $2 million it spent on the 2016 campaigns?)

Employers’ rights? The National Right to Work Foundation wants the Supreme Court to rule that an employee’s “right” to not associate with the union takes precedence over his employer’s right to determine conditions of employment. That may sound good to the Foundation, in the context of union-busting, but what about the rest of employer-employee relations? What happens when an employer requires a security clearance, but the employee wants to associate with terrorist organizations? When an employer wants to maintain a mainstream “brand” but the employee wants to use Facebook and Twitter to advertise his association with the American Nazi Party?

States’ rights to decide the terms and conditions of their workers’ employment?

40 years’ worth of judicial precedents, not just in labor law, but also First Amendment interpretation? (If workers’ First Amendment rights trump their public employers’ interests, won’t that open the floodgates for “leaks” to the press?)

What about all the other potential ramifications of this case?

Yep, it’s Groundhog Day. Another opportunity for the Supreme Court to overlook long-term consequences, in a case brought by political insiders.

Remember Citizens United? Citizens United President David Bossie is on the GOP’s National Committee and a “veteran conservative operative.” The Supreme Court used his court case to overturn campaign finance laws. Now Congress is openly doing what their donors (not voters) want. Read the Brennan Center’s How Citizens United Changed Politics and Shaped the Tax Bill.  Read Politico’s Big donors ready to reward Republicans for tax cuts. Is this really what the Supreme Court had in mind, when it ruled in Citizens United?

Remember Hobby Lobby? Salon describes how Hobby Lobby is “quietly funding a vast right-wing movement.” The Supreme Court used its case to give religious rights to for-profit corporations, and now we’re beginning to see the consequences. Cardozo Law Review explored how employers could use the Hobby Lobby decision to sidestep employment-discrimination laws. And at least one federal court has already allowed a corporation to fire an employee for “religious” reasons, notwithstanding the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

Notice how “Right to Work” is being pushed by special-interest organizations? The Koch-connected American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). The Koch-funded Americans for Prosperity. The Koch-affiliated US Chamber of Commerce. And, of course, the Koch-funded National Right to Work groups. Notice how it’s not being pushed by actual businesses? Not in New Hampshire. Not in Ohio. But the ripple effect of this court case could be huge.

Groundhog Day. Janus v. AFSCME. Another chance for the Supreme Court to reinforce the impression that it’s an extension of the Republican Party. After all the headlines about Merrick Garland and Neil Gorsuch, what are citizens supposed to think? Both President Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell claim Justice Gorsuch as “an accomplishment.” The RNC based a fundraising campaign on his confirmation. The Court just blocked a lower court’s order that North Carolina redraw its election maps, because the old maps were unconstitutional partisan gerrymandering that favored the GOP. (And now Pennsylvania’s GOP legislators want the Court to block a similar ruling in their state.)

Groundhog Day. Another attack by the special interests that have been transforming our government into an oligarchy. (“Oligarchy” – government by the few, especially despotic power exercised by a small and privileged group for corrupt or selfish purposes)

Voters’ view, last election day: 72 percent agree “the American economy is rigged to advantage the rich and powerful.” 75 percent agree that “America needs a strong leader to take the country back from the rich and powerful.”

Granite Staters’ view, now: only 14% think voters have more influence than special interests.

Groundhog Day, the movie, reminds us that we can be doomed to repeat the same thing over and over until we “get it right.” (How fitting that the movie is now back in theaters for its 25th anniversary.)

It’s supposed to be our government. When are we going to get this right?

Suddenly Governor Sununu Wants To Protect The Voting Rights Of College Students

 After signing SB3 a voter suppression bill Governor Sununu does an about-face on HB372 another voter suppression bill.

On Friday, Governor Chris Sununu was confronted by Ben Kremer, an activist with the NH Youth Movement about House Bill 372,  a Republican-driven disenfranchisement bill that would force voters to declare residency upon registration, effectively a poll tax that would discourage legally eligible young voters from participating in democracy.

The Governor responded that he “hated the bill” and “hopes the legislature kills it.”

“It is once again disappointing to see the legislature focus on limiting participation in our election process rather than finding ways to modernize our elections” America Votes New Hampshire State Director Liz Wester said in an op-ed in the Manchester Ink Link. “We are pleased that Governor Sununu has a new found commitment to ensuring that every eligible voter can vote. We should be focusing on ways to ensure every eligible voter participates in our elections instead of continuing the trend of politicians trying to pick their voters.”

“I’ve seen dozens of friends pack their bags and move out of state because our politicians aren’t putting policies in place that support young people and represent our values.  Bills like HB 372 alienate out of state students and make young people that much more likely not to come to New Hampshire,” said Kremer.

The Governor’s position on HB372 is surprising as he was one of the biggest advocates for pushing SB3 a bill that “severely tightens qualifications for voting in New Hampshire and potentially criminalizes legitimate same-day registration voters.”

Republicans in the Legislature pushed SB3 in an attempt to crack down on [non-existent] Voter Fraud but in reality it was about voter suppression.

“Senate Bill 3 will accomplish one thing: the disenfranchisement and intimidation of thousands of young voters across New Hampshire,” said University of New Hampshire student Eli Tyrrel-Walker. “Any measure that works to disenfranchise young people from participating in our vibrant civic culture is counterproductive and will only hurt our state.”

No local election officials supported the bill after hours of testimony in both the House and Senate and were not engaged in the drafting of the legislation. SB3 will jam lines at the polls, as some voters will have to fill out pages of additional paperwork.

“People shouldn’t be fined for exercising their right to vote and doing nothing wrong other than not returning to a government agency with certain paperwork—paperwork that these legitimate voters may not have,” said Gilles Bissonnette, Legal Director of the ACLU of NH. “SB 3 is also a violation of voters’ privacy by sending government agents to voters’ homes to check their documents. Requiring people to accept this government intrusion as a condition of voting will chill the right to vote.”

Suddenly, Governor Sununu wants to protects voting rights after signing SB3 into law only to have the NH Supreme Court strike down the penalties within the bill.

“Governor Sununu realizes it’s not politically viable for him to keep pushing voter disenfranchisement laws,” said NH Democratic Party Chair Ray Buckley. Sununu continues to struggle to walk back his widely debunked claim that Massachusetts voters were bused in to vote in New Hampshire illegally. His voter fraud lie paved the way for SB3, designed to combat an problem that doesn’t exist.”

“In a way only Chris ‘doublespeak’ Sununu can do, he did leave the door open to supporting the bill by failing to commit to vetoing HB372 if it gets to his desk. Thanks to immense public pressure, Sununu is being backed into opposing this bill, but until HB 372 is pulled or vetoed, Sununu’s voter disenfranchisement reputation precedes him,” Buckley said.

 

“Governor Sununu helped plant the seeds of widespread voter fraud lies in New Hampshire, which have since spread across the country and culminated in his signing of SB3, the restrictive voting bill,” said St. Anselm sophomore and voting rights activist Olivia Teixeira. “Students, activists, and voters everywhere have spoken out loudly to protect their rights, forcing Sununu to start backtracking on his radical agenda.  HB372 is another example of Republicans in Concord making it their priority to disenfranchise and alienate Millennials like us, the exact group our state needs to attract and retain in order for our economy to grow and thrive.

Given the Governor’s disappointing record of adversely targeting Millennials, we will continue working day and night like we have been for months, until this bill is killed in the Senate or vetoed by Sununu,” she added.

Who are we to believe? The Governor who says “I will never support anything that suppresses the student vote” or the Governor who supported the voter suppression bill SB 3 by stating, “this legislation helps protect the integrity of New Hampshire’s electoral process.”

 

 


More on Hb 372 moving to the NH Senate from the Fosters: Fight looming in NH Senate over voting rights

Small Business Owner Chris Pappas Officially Kicks Off Campaign for Congress  

“I want to live in a country where your journey, your struggle, and your hard work can take you where you want to go.”

Manchester – Today, Chris Pappas, joined by grassroots leaders from across the state, officially launched his campaign for Congress.  At the event, Chris discussed the important challenges Granite Staters face – that our economy and democracy are tilted toward special interests and those at the top. Chris vowed to be steadfast champion of the people, communities, and Main Street businesses that make New Hampshire the best state to call home.

“I am running for Congress because I want to live in a country where your journey, your struggle, and your hard work can take you where you want to go,” said Chris Pappas. “We have to make success attainable again for everyone who works hard in life and plays by the rules. We have to make the American Dream—the one that built the middle class and created opportunity for generations–-a realistic possibility for every man, woman, and child in this country. But instead of making progress on the challenges we face today, our political system is failing us. Our country is divided, and leaders have not summoned the courage to relate to one another and find common ground on issues that directly impact us all.  Big money has poisoned our democracy and weakened the voices of regular people.  And Washington is increasingly slanted toward corporations and special interests at the expense of the rest of us.”

Chris also discussed his plan to focus on the issues that affect Granite Staters’ everyday lives, including creating jobs, addressing the opioid crisis, making health care more accessible and affordable, investing in roads and bridges, taking care of our veterans, and promoting a clean energy future.

Grassroots leaders also discussed why Chris is uniquely qualified to represent the people of New Hampshire:

Josh Bourdon, Derry Town Council Chairman: “My wife and I are proud to support Chris Pappas for Congress because he’s a man of integrity, a talented entrepreneur, extremely smart, respectful, personable, and one of the most important things for me is work ethic.  I’m convinced that Chris will work his heart out day in and day out for as long as his feet are on the earth.” 

Stefany Shaheen, Portsmouth Business Owner: “I’m proud to endorse Chris Pappas. We’re here to stand with Chris because he’s always stood up for us.”

Marjorie Smith, Durham State Representative: “I know that when Chris makes a decision, he does so with integrity, intelligence, decency, and an awareness of the people he represents.  There’s no one that will represent the citizens of the 1st District better than Chris Pappas.”

Andrew Hosmer, Laconia Community and Business Leader: “Chris has demonstrated the ability to work with others, to find solutions, and to make the Granite State the best place to work, live, and raise a family.” 

“To be sure, changing Washington and making progress for the people of New Hampshire won’t be easy,” said Pappas. “The good news is, I have never been one to shy away from hard or even unglamorous work, and I am ready to step up and serve you.”

Portsmouth Police Commissioner, Joseph Plaia, Endorses Terence O’Rourke for Congress

Portsmouth, N.H. – Yesterday, Portsmouth Police Commissioner, Joseph Plaia, announced his endorsement of Terence O’Rourke in the Democratic Primary in the 1st Congressional District to replace Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter.

As a parent, a member of the Portsmouth Police Commission, and a former law enforcement officer in the U.S. Marines, properly dealing with the opioid crisis is first, and foremost, in my mind. Terence O’Rourke is the only candidate running for Congress in the First District who has the strategic vision and a comprehensive plan to protect our great Nation and our families. Terence, a former federal and county prosecutor, understands that some doctors overprescribe opioids and should be prosecuted if they unnecessarily make patients into opioid addicts. Further, he is the only candidate that makes the link between our opioid crisis and Afghanistan, which produces 90 percent of the world’s opium and fuels the illicit opioid trade throughout the world. This linkage, absent from our political discussion for years, shows that he views the opioid crisis in the right context: a problem that could be solved at the source of the drugs.

Over-prescription of opioids by doctors and over-production of opium by Afghan farmers has led to our citizens getting hooked on prescription opioid pills and then turning to drug dealers on the street, who sell heroin that is cheaper than a pack of cigarettes due to the large and profitable opium crops in Afghanistan. Terence O’Rourke will lead the charge to make sure that doctors face severe penalties for overprescribing and Afghans no longer find opium farming profitable (which also de-incentivizes East Asian drug traffickers from manufacturing synthetic opioids, e.g., fentanyl, and adding them into their opioid products).

I have known Terence for nearly a decade and he is the type of visionary and results-oriented leader we need in Congress. He is a wonderful father and the hardest working, most dedicated public servant I have ever met. As such, I am endorsing my friend, my colleague, and my fellow veteran, Terence O’Rourke, for Congress.

Joseph “Joe” Plaia
Portsmouth Police Commissioner

For his service in the US Army, O’Rourke earned the Bronze Star and the Combat Action Badge.

O’Rourke currently serves as the City Attorney in Rochester. As the City Attorney he also helped to create “Rochester’s first-ever Victim Witness Advocate position.”

Terence is a proud husband, father, alumni of Marquette University and Tulane University, and a staunch Red Sox fan.

3 NH Counties See Child Poverty Grow To Over 20%

New Data Finds Regional Disparities in Median Household Income, Child Poverty Rates Exceed 20 Percent in Three New Hampshire Counties

Concord, NH – New data released today by the U.S. Census Bureau measuring median household income and poverty rates for the state’s ten counties and municipalities with more than 20,000 residents finds regional income disparities across the state. These new data point estimates for 2016 show median household incomes remaining highest in the more urban counties, while the state’s rural regions continue to experience lower household incomes and higher child poverty rates.

“While New Hampshire has the lowest overall poverty rate among states, this new data shows troubling trends in certain regions of the state,” said John Shea, executive director of the New Hampshire Fiscal Policy Institute. “Child poverty rates of above 20 percent in Belknap, Carroll and Coos counties make clear that there is much work to be done to ensure economic stability for New Hampshire’s children and their families.”

On a county level, Granite Staters see widely different median household incomes from statewide median of $70,936. The state’s two most populous counties, Hillsborough and Rockingham, help boost the statewide median income, but the least populous county, Coos, has a substantially lower estimate of $47,092. The state’s other predominantly rural counties — Sullivan, Grafton, Carroll, and Belknap — have estimated median household incomes lower than the cluster of more urban counties — Strafford, Merrimack, Hillsborough, and Rockingham.

New Hampshire boasts the lowest statewide poverty rate in the country, at 7.3 percent. Despite these low statewide numbers, the percentage of people living in poverty varies widely by county. The four northernmost counties in the state all have estimated poverty rates of 11 percent or higher, while Rockingham County’s overall poverty rate is 3.6 percent. Manchester had a poverty rate of 14.1 percent, and Nashua’s poverty rate was 9.1 percent.

Relative to the 2015 estimates, Coos and Strafford counties saw statistically significant decreases in their poverty rates, while Belknap County had a statistically significant increase. Belknap County was the only county to have a statistically significant increase in child poverty, while it dropped in Cheshire, Rockingham, Strafford, and Sullivan counties.

NHFPI’s analysis of the October 19 Census Bureau data release is available here.


The New Hampshire Fiscal Policy Institute is an independent, non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to exploring, developing, and promoting public policies that foster economic opportunity and prosperity for all New Hampshire residents, with an emphasis on low- and moderate-income families and individuals. Learn more at www.nhfpi.org.

ACLU-NH Drops “Voter Information” Lawsuit After State Agrees To Mutual Resolution

NH Secretary of State Agrees to Resolve NH Voter Information Case

The Plaintiffs in this case are pleased that the Secretary of State will obey the law by only transmitting pictures of the publicly available marked checklists maintained by the town and already available both from towns and from the State Archives.  The original statements from the Secretary of State manifested an intent to release voter information in a searchable digital file, which the Commission stated would be made available publicly. Today’s resolution means that no digital searchable information will be released and the Secretary, who is himself a member of the Commission, has stated that the material submitted will not be made public.

Today the Secretary of State has elected to produce to the Commission, the distinct voter checklist-marked copies that are used by individual municipalities on Election Day and that are distributed to the State Archives after each election pursuant to RSA 659:102.  Critically, this information — unlike the current statewide checklist at issue in this litigation — is not aggregated on a statewide basis (but rather on a town-by-town basis) and is not text searchable.  This information — which only contains whether the voter’s name, domicile address, mailing address, party affiliation, and whether that voter voted — will be disseminated in the same manner in which they are made available today to anyone in the public the public requesting this information from the individual towns or from the Secretary of State.

In his ultimate response to the demands of the Plaintiffs and the ACLU, The Secretary of State wisely chose to limit his  transmission of voter information to that allowed by State law, conforming to limitations that exist to protect the privacy of the voters.

“I am pleased that the Secretary of State has agreed to not disclose the statewide public checklist.  The Secretary of State had no statutory authority to release digital information on  the statewide public voter data base to anyone other than a political party, political committee, or candidate for New Hampshire office,” stated Senator Bette Lasky (D-NH), a plaintiff in the case.

“The legislature carefully designed strict restrictions on the sharing of the statewide voter checklist—and limited to political entities—for good reason: to protect voter privacy by helping avoid the mass dissemination of statewide vote information in a form that represented a threat to the privacy of the voters,” stated Representative Neal Kurk (R-NH), another plaintiff in the lawsuit.

Representative Kurk was involved in the crafting of the relevant statutes under RSA 654:31, which limit the prospect of mass dissemination of this statewide voter checklist in order to ensure that it is only used for political purposes, and not for commercial gain. (RSA 654:31(VI) explicitly prohibits voter information from being used for commercial purposes.)

RSA 654:31(II)-(III) only allows requesters to: (i) view the current statewide public digital database on the statewide centralized voter registration database at the state records and archives center during normal business hours where requesters are prohibited from printing, duplicating, transmitting, or altering the data and (ii) obtain hard copies of the current public checklist from local municipalities on a town-by-town/ward-by-ward basis at a fee of at least $25 per municipality or ward.

“We are happy that the Secretary of State is not entitled to grant the Commission special, unwritten exemptions that circumvent New Hampshire law,” stated Gilles Bissonnette, Legal Director of the ACLU of NH. “He must apply the law to the Commission no differently than he would apply the law to a regular member of the public seeking this information.”

The Plaintiffs in this case are pleased that the Secretary of State will be obeying the law by only transmitting pictures of the publicly available marked checklists maintained by the town and already available both from towns and from the State Archives. The parties also believe that the laws relating to the disclosure of voter information need to be tightened so voters are even further protected in the future and pledge to work in a nonpartisan manner to bring about such changes.

After the case was dropped by the ACLU, Senator Laskey and Representative Kirk, Ray Buckley from the NH Democratic Party released the following:

“The state has agreed to limit the scope of information they are releasing to President Trump’s sham election integrity commission. While this is progress in protecting the personal information of Granite Staters, New Hampshire’s voter data in the hands of a leak-happy White House is a risky proposition, especially since the administration has already released unredacted complaints they’ve received about the commission from concerned citizens. This info was requested –and some will be handed over — under the false pretense of President Trump’s constant lies about massive voter fraud to soothe his own insecurities.

These are the same lies propagated by Governor Sununu, who claimed that Massachusetts voters were bused into New Hampshire to cast Democratic votes against him and Trump. As we learned yesterday, on WMUR’s CloseUp, Governor Sununu is still a strong supporter of President Trump despite his offensive statements about the state. Granite Staters need to remain wary of frivolous requests by this administration to pry into our personal information without giving any specific reason. The governor seems more than willing to blindly hand over info without studying up on the law and that speaks to his instinct of defending Trump over protecting New Hampshire.”

NH Passes Full Day Kindergarten, Sort Of

Yesterday, the Senate passed SB 191 also known as “Keno-garten” to partially fund full-day kindergarten in New Hampshire.

The bill would pay a portion of the costs ($1,100 of the $1,800 per pupil) to expand half-day kindergarten to full day with revenue generated through the state’s new Keno lottery.  There are no guarantees that Keno revenue will be enough to fund the program in the coming years and the bill still does not require all NH schools to expand kindergarten to a full day program.

The National Education Association of NH, representing thousands of educators across the state, explained the dilemma over SB 191 in their open letter urging legislators to support SB191.

“To be clear, SB 191 as amended by the Committee of Conference, is not perfect. NEA-New Hampshire has always, and will always continue, to advocate that full day kindergarten be funded in full in the same manner as all other grades. However, NEA-NH also recognizes sometimes you have to compromise in the process of getting to your ultimate goal.

SB 191 is just such a compromise. Yes, it does not guarantee full funding of kindergarten, and yes, the funding mechanism is not necessarily the one I would have chosen. But it is also the largest step New Hampshire has ever taken toward fully funding full day kindergarten that has occurred since I began teaching 18 years ago.

…New Hampshire’s current method of kindergarten funding puts an enormous burden on the 70% of New Hampshire municipalities (covering 80% of New Hampshire’s students) that have voluntarily elected to offer full day kindergarten. SB 191 will provide significant tax relief to those towns, and hopefully, encourage the remaining cities and towns to adopt full day kindergarten as well.

NEA-New Hampshire believes that all school districts should offer full day kindergarten. While passage of SB 191 does not accomplish that goal, it certainly puts New Hampshire much, much closer to reaching it than we ever have before.”

Senate Democratic Leader Jeff Woodburn is disappointed that Republicans refused to adopt a fully funded, full day kindergarten program and vows to continue to push for a fully funded, mandatory full day kindergarten program.

“Senate Democrats have been leading advocates for Kindergarten, and for fully funding full-day Kindergarten, for many years — we know this issue well and we know what this means for our communities. Passing full funding for full-day Kindergarten should have been an easy task. Governor Sununu promised to support it during his campaign and full funding for full-day Kindergarten passed with overwhelming, bipartisan support in both the House and the Senate.”

“It’s disappointing that in the final hour, Governor Sununu and Republicans snatched defeat from the jaws of victory by removing full-day Kindergarten from the budget, abandoning full funding, and choosing to push a half-measure tied to Keno. Make no mistake, SB 191 does not fully fund full-day Kindergarten. But, Democrats will continue to lead the fight for full funding for full-day Kindergarten with no strings attached.”

NH Democratic Party Chair Ray Buckley highlighted that newly elected Governor Chris Sununu campaigned heavily on expanding kindergarten and has “broken a key campaign promise.”

“The governor broke a key campaign promise today. Instead of the fully-funded full day kindergarten he pledged on the campaign trail, he offered a half-measure and turned a blind eye while Republicans gutted even that. Because of Sununu’s abject failure to lead, Democrats were forced to pick up the pieces and salvage what was left for the sake of our kids. Governor Sununu and the Republicans always seem to make common sense a complicated calculus. While Democratic leaders would simply pass fully-funded full day kindergarten, Republicans need to cut it in half, tie it to gambling measures, and beg their members to vote yes. Real reform requires real champions, and Republicans are anything but.”

After the bill passed NEA-New Hampshire praised its passage.

“NEA-New Hampshire applauds the passage of SB 191, and thanks Governor Sununu and the bi-partisan coalition of legislators for finally putting New Hampshire on the path to full day kindergarten,” said Megan Tuttle, President of NEA-NH. “The benefits of full-day kindergarten are clear. Those students that attend full-day kindergarten are better prepared to enter first grade, have a higher high school graduation rate and are more likely to go to college. Full day kindergarten is a sound educational investment and I am thrilled that the legislators in Concord have recognized that.”

Now that the bill has passed questions still remain about the constitutionality of the legislation.  Andru Volinsky, Executive Councilor, and the lead lawyer in the Claremont education funding case of 1997, told WMUR last week that the bill is unconstitutional.

… Senate Bill 191 fails to meet the standard set out in the landmark 1997 New Hampshire Supreme Court decision in the Claremont school funding case requiring the state to provide and fund a constitutionally adequate education to all students.

….The Claremont ruling did not specifically refer to kindergarten, but it did say that the state’s system of funding “elementary and secondary public education” at the time, almost entirely through property taxes, was unconstitutional.

“Full-day kindergarten is part of a constitutionally adequate education,” Volinsky said Friday. “And once you understand that concept, you understand that the state must pay for constitutional adequacy.”

Volinsky also said, by failing to fully fund, full day kindergarten local school districts who choose to expand kindergarten will be putting even more “burden on local taxpayers”.

For those that have already chosen to expand kindergarten programs, this bill is a step in the right direction but it does not go as far as it should. This bill will help the 70% of school districts that already offer full day kindergarten.

Activists To March Against Monsanto May 20th

Protester against Monsanto. Image by Die Grünen Kärnten FLIKR

NH March Against Monsanto Rally and March at the NH State House

WHAT: A Peaceful March through downtown Concord and a rally with speakers to provide information about a Global Call to Action at informing the public about genetically engineered food and calling it into question. There will be information about saving our Bees, Monarchs and much more. Tyler Road, a local band, will kick off the rally for the third year in a row with their organic themed song, “You Can’t Bio-Engineer Love” by Dave Carroll. Experts and speakers will be followed by the march through Downtown Concord. An organic seed swap table will feature generously donated High Mowing Seeds, as well as, a collection of organic, non-GMO food for the McKenna House. Free. Family Friendly.

DATE: Saturday: May 20, 2017

TIME: 11:00AM-2:00PM

LOCATION: Concord City Plaza, in front of the NH State House, 107 N Main St. Concord NH 03301

March Against Monsanto Concord, NH Rally and March! May 20, 2017 11:00 a.m.
Rain or Shine! ~ City Plaza, Next to the Famer’s Market ~ Concord, NH

Join a world-wide event with millions of people marching in solidarity. The peaceful rally intends to educate with speakers and information tables to call into question the long term health risks of genetically engineered food for the protection of our food supply and pollinators. Tyler Road, a local band, will kick off the rally with their organic themed song, “You Can’t Bio-Engineer Love” by Dave Carroll. Speakers include bee keeper Ann Antonucci, NH State Rep Jim McConnell, Marty Michener, PH D Ecologist, Laura Wolfner, M.A. Molecular Biologist & M.A. Archealogist, and Bonnie Wright, from Non-Toxic NH, NH Right to Know GMO. The march will follow through Downtown Concord.

The goal of the day is to identify the risks to pollinators, promote organic solutions, supporting local farms and will share information about Monsanto’s herbicide Round-up, which has been declared a probable carcinogen by the World Health Organization. We support food and seed sovereignty. You, your family and friends are invited. People are encouraged to bring posters, costumes and noise makers. There will be excellent opportunities for photos and interviews. This is for our present and future seven generations to come. Our time is now to stand united and create positive change. We would like to thank NH Sierra Club and NH Peace Action for co-sponsoring this event.

We will collect donations of GMO-Free or organic foods for the McKenna House Homeless Shelter in Concord, NH.

Event Organizers: Fawn Gaudet~NH March Against Monsanto Community, MAM NH, Catherine Corkery~NH Sierra Club, Doreen Desmarais~NH Peace Action, NH Rebellion, Carline Carpenter~NH March Against Monsanto Community, MAM NH

List of speakers: 

Amy Antonucci, Local Bee Keeper
State Representative, James McConnell
Marty Michener, PH D Ecologist
Laura Wolfner,  M.A. Molecular Biologist & M.A. Archealogist
Bonnie Wright, Activist~ Non-Toxic NH, NH Right to Know GMO

Tables and Supporters:

NH March Against Monsanto Community
March Against Monsanto NH
Bees and Pollinators Against Monsanto
NH Right to Know GMO
NH Sierra Club
NH Peace Action
Non-Toxic NH
NH Rebellion
Rights and Democracy
League of Conservation Voters
“Half Hour to Health” Crossroads Chiropractic radio show on WTPL “The Pulse 107.7 FM”
“Queen City Chronicles” hosted by Jon Hopwood on Manchester Public Access Television WMNH
NH Organic Farmers Association
Peppercorn Natural Foods Plymouth, NH
Kearsarge Gore Farm Certified Organic Produce in Warner
Others

Legislators Consider Prohibiting Union Dues Deductions From Public Employees

On March 1st, the NH House Labor Committee will hear public testimony on HB 438, a bill to prohibit a “public employer from withholding union dues from a public employee’s wages.” Essentially this would prohibit workers from choosing how they want to spend their own money and how they choose to spend their own money.

According to RSA 275:48 an employee can elect to have money deducted from their paycheck and sent directly to the account of their choice for dozens of reasons.  A public employee could have their rent deducted, their utilities deducted, their medical bills deducted, send money to their personal savings accounts, or to make a donation to the charity of their choice.

This bill is singling out our police, firefighters, teachers, plow drivers, public health professionals, and state employees from being allowed to have their union dues automatically deducted from their paychecks.

What benefit does the State gain by taking away the option to deduct union dues?  None.  There is no cost to have the deductions automatically withdrawn and there is no savings to be found by prohibiting automatic dues deductions.

For a state that boasts “live free or die” why would we want legislation that infringes on a workers freedom to choose how they spend their paycheck.  It is not for the government to decide how and when I spend my own paycheck.

This is a purely an assault by out-of-state lobbying groups on unions in an attempt to weaken and destroy the public unions in New Hampshire. These are the same out-of-state lobbyists who pushed so-called “Right to Work” and the repeal of collective bargaining bills in the past.  They only have one goal, destroy unions.  Since they already lost the “Right to Work” fight they are grasping at anything in an attempt to weaken the public employee unions in New Hampshire.

The Labor Committee should reject this bill again this year as they have done in years past.

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