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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.

Introduction To HB115: Legislation To Establish And Raise The NH Minimum Wage

Yesterday, the NH House Labor Committee began discussions on establishing and raising the NH Minimum Wage, which currently defaults to the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour.

State Representative Doug Ley is the prime sponsor of HB 115 to establish and raise the NH minimum wage.  Below is his testimony introducing the legislation and why it is important to working people to raise the minimum wage.


TESTIMONY INTRODUCING HB 115

“Establishing a state minimum wage and providing for adjustments to the minimum wage” 

Douglas Ley

NH House: Cheshire 9 (Dublin, Harrisville, Jaffrey, Roxbury)

The legislation presented today would re-establish a NH minimum wage exceeding that set by the Federal Government, which has remained at $7.25/hour since 2009.

The basic provisions of the bill as currently drawn would provide the following:

  1. increase the minimum hourly wage in NH to $9.50/hour on 1/1/2018
  2. increase the minimum hourly wage in NH to $12.00/hour on 1/1/2019
  3. annually adjust the minimum wage to match corresponding increases in Northeast CPI as determined by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, beginning on 1/1/2020.
  4. raise the sub-minimum or tipped wage to 60% of the minimum wage.
  5. create a training wage of $1.00/hour less than minimum for those aged 16-17 years for three calendar months or upon reaching age 18, whichever comes first.

Thus, the proposed legislation aims to increase wages for those at the bottom of the NH wage scale, create a mechanism for systematic readjustment of the minimum wage, raise the tipped sub-minimum to better provide for those in the hospitality industry, and create a training wage to cover seasonal teen labor.

Having said all this, I want to make clear this is a platform, a starting place. While I believe the proposals being set forth today are both fair and beneficial to wage-earners, employers, and the State of NH, I am always willing to listen to and consider adjustments and amendments, in the conviction that any increase is a positive step for NH.

What is the context for this proposed legislation?

National:

  • 20 states besides NH adhere to the Federal minimum wage of $7.25/hour.
  • 29 states now exceed the Federal minimum wage.
  •  3 of the 20 joining NH in adhering to the Federal minimum will be   breaking ranks over the next year:
    •  LA: $10.00/hour (1/1/2018)
    •  OK: $10.25/hour (7/1/17) & $10.75 (7/1/2018)
    •  VA: $11.00/hour (1/1/2018).

Thus, if NH remains unchanged, as of 1/1/2018, we will be one of 18 states still maintaining a minimum wage of $7.25, while 32 states will have higher minimums.

Regional:

  • NH is the only New England state still adhering to the Federal minimum of $7.25/hour.
  • CT:     $10.10 per hour
  • RI:       $9.60 per hour
  • MA:    $11.00 per hour
  • VT:      $10.00 per hour ($10.50 per hour on 1/1/2018)
  • ME:     $9.00 per hour ($11.00 per hour on 1/1/2018)

In addition, ME, VT and MA all tie future increases to the Northeast CPI as proposed in the legislation now before you.

New Hampshire:

            According to data provided by DES, in 2015 there were 389,000 resident hourly wage-earners in New Hampshire. Of those 389,000:

  • 16,000 earned at or below the minimum (4.1%)
    •   11,000 earned below the minimum (tipped wage)
    •   5,000 earned at the minimum

Even more interesting is the gender breakdown:

Sub-minimum:            2000 male        9000 female

Minimum:                   2000 male        3000 female

Sticking with DES data just a little further, if we look at those earning below $10.00/hour in 2015 (approx. 20% of the hourly wage earners):    Male: 26,000             Female: 50,000

Age: According to BusinessNH Magazine (6/2016): 72% of minimum wage earners are over age 20 (meaning approximately 4500 are age 19 or less); more than 1/3 are over age 30; 14% have children; approximately 33% are working full-time at minimum or sub-minimum.

Finally, the same issue of BusinessNH Magazine referenced a study of my county (Cheshire) using 2014 data which indicated some 15% of the county workforce were at or below $12.00 per hour, the wage proposed in this legislation for 1/1/2018.

Meaning: It is clear that adhering to the $7.25 minimum wage provides no competitive advantage to NH. To begin, some 2/3s of those at or below minimum are working in hospitality/restaurant industries, which are heavily locally-owned. We will not and have not seen a massive influx of restaurants and hotels into NH to take advantage of our low minimum wage; conversely, we will not see restaurants and hotels fleeing the State to avoid higher wages.  Claims that such enterprises cannot afford wage increases is simply belied by the ability of comparable businesses to survive and thrive in our neighboring states, all of which feature higher minimums.

It is also quite obvious that very few employers are even able to hire any longer at the minimum wage rate. Wal-Mart and Whole Foods, two examples cited in the aforementioned BuinessNH Magazine article, have average hourly wages now averaging between $13.38 and $15.81. My own son got his first job at MarketBasket a few years ago and started above the minimum wage. In other words, the minimum is increasingly confined to certain industries and certain regions of the State, likely where there are few alternatives, especially for those who lack transportation or the time and wherewithal to travel to better-paying jobs.

With the wage gap widening between NH and neighboring states, it is not unlikely that we are seeing some NH workers seeking employment out-of-state. For someone living in Nashua or Salem, the difference between $7.25/hour and $11.00/hour is substantial, and their choice to pursue employment beyond NH only exacerbates the difficulties NH employers face in trying to hire workers.

Finally, there are those who contend that raising the minimum will result in a loss of jobs. As reported in NH Business Review (11/10/16), when NH raised the minimum from $5.15 to $7.25 (increase of 41%) the Federal Reserve estimated a job loss to the State of less than 1500 jobs—quite minimal. Other studies have concluded that job losses when one state raises its minimum wage are not very significant and soon matched by job growth. We all know, however, that a rising tide lifts all boats, so an increase in the minimum wage will push up the wages of those in the bottom 15-20% among hourly wage-earners, with most of those earnings being spent quickly and locally, thereby fueling local economic growth within the State.

Conclusion: I believe there are many powerful and ethical arguments for raising the minimum wage and improving the economic and social situations of thousands of our citizens and the thousands more depending upon them. I am sure others can/will make those arguments and I agree with them. My focus, however, is on the economic benefits. It involves simply keeping up—the 1968 minimum wage had a buying power of $11.00 in today’s dollars, so clearly the minimum has slipped over the years. Even since 2009, changes in the Northeast CPI measure an erosion of 10.7% in buying power, meaning the minimum of $7.25 in 2009 is now worth $6.47 in 2009 dollars. Thus, those working at minimum have suffered wage decreases over the past seven years.

NH faces many economic challenges in the years ahead. Energy costs, a declining infrastructure, the exodus of 1000s of young people, all of this makes for difficult economic times ahead. Maintaining a low minimum wage provides no competitive advantage to NH in our regional economy, whereas increasing the minimum will infuse more spending into our State economy while bettering the lives of those who toil at the low-end of the wage spectrum. I know this Committee will keep all these points in mind as you consider this legislation, and I thank you for your kindness and patience today.

Chris Sununu Is Sworn-In As NH’s 82nd Governor, Pushes For Right To Work, Democrats Respond

Concord, N.H. – Earlier today Governor Chris Sununu was officially inaugurated as New Hampshire’s 82 Governor.  In his inaugural address, Sununu laid out his very generic agenda and priorities for the coming legislative session.

Sununu talked about public education and creating a “work-ready” labor force.  No mention of expanding Kindergarten to Full Day throughout the state.  He also wants to woo more businesses to move to New Hampshire to create more jobs.  Many of the manufactures have openly said they have jobs available but do not have qualified workers to fill those jobs, for the pay they are offering.

Though he did not specifically say he is going to repeal the Medicaid Expansion, though he has said that throughout the campaign, he said we need more competition in the healthcare market. If he plans to repeal Medicaid Expansion he will meet fierce opposition from his fellow Republicans and Democrats who understand that the program is actually saving the state money while ensuring 50,000 Granite Staters have access to healthcare. 

Sununu has also been an outspoken advocate for passing the so-called Right to Work legislation despite never being proven to create jobs or help workers in any way.

“WE ARE GOING TO GIVE EMPLOYEES ONCE AND FOR ALL THE FLEXIBILITY THEY DESERVE IN THE WORKFORCE BY PASSING RIGHT TO WORK,” said Sununu (transcribed by WMUR). “LET’S TELL THESE COMPANIES NEWHAMPSHIRE IS OPEN FOR BUSINESS.”

In fact after Wisconsin passed their own Right to Work legislation, they lost over 10,000 jobs the next year.

Democrats offered their congratulations to the new Governor but also offed some sage advice about dismantling key programs within the state.

NHDP Chairman Ray Buckley released the following statement:

“The challenges New Hampshire families are facing need to be addressed over the next two years, from ensuring that 50,000 Granite Staters retain the healthcare they are receiving through our successful bipartisan Medicaid expansion to how we reduce the cost of college for middle class families.

“Unfortunately, Governor Sununu made it clear he wants to make it harder for NH employees to earn a fair wage by tilting the playing field in favor of big corporations, harder for our kids to get a great education by diverting money away from public schools toward private schools, and harder to advance renewable energy by slowing down investments in solar energy in favor of fossil fuels.

“I hope our newly-elected governor will focus on the issues that matter to New Hampshire families and not get distracted by partisan pet issues.”

Senate Democratic Leader Jeff Woodburn released the following statement: 

“Later today, I am meeting with Governor Sununu to congratulate him on his inauguration and get to work making New Hampshire a better place by preserving the bipartisan progress we’ve made over the past several years, expanding opportunity for all people, and building a strong economy from the bottom up.” 

“Senate Democrats are ready to work with the new governor, as we have with our Republican legislative colleagues, to craft compromises. But I’m concerned that, so far, Governor Sununu has focused on a divisive template of policies that make it harder for people to make ends meet and harder for people to get ahead.”

“To meet our constitutional oaths to ‘faithfully and impartially’ serve, I will urge the governor to hold regular, bi-weekly meetings with legislative leadership of both parties so that we can identify the seeds of agreement that can grow into fruits of our labor — things like renewing our successful NH Health Protection Program and bipartisan infrastructure investment plan—as well as priorities that strengthen families that Governor Sununu promised to support during the campaign–  like full-day kindergarten, paid family leave, and reducing the cost of a college education.”

“Granite State working families deserve meaningful policies like these and I’m disappointed we didn’t hear more about these issues today.”

House Democratic Leader Steve Shurtleff released the following statement:

“I congratulate Governor Sununu for his success in the November election and his inauguration as Governor of our state.”

“I look forward to working with Governor Sununu and our Republican colleagues on bipartisan initiatives. The House Democratic Caucus stands ready to find common ground on any policies that benefit the working families of New Hampshire.”

“I was encouraged by the Governor’s statements during the campaign in which he expressed support for full-day kindergarten, paid family and medical leave and other initiatives that align with the priorities of Granite Staters. It was disappointing that those issues, on which the Governor campaigned, were not mentioned today in his Inaugural speech which provides a roadmap for the Governor’s policy agenda for the next two years.”

“Equally disappointing was that soon after speaking of not being divisive, Governor Sununu indicated a top priority would be the enactment of “Right to Work,” which is among the most politically divisive issues among both Democrats and Republicans the legislature.”

“It is my hope that when Governor Sununu provides more detail on the policies he wishes to advance, that those policies are aligned with Granite State families and the values of our great state.”

 

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