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NH House Kills Planned Parenthood Investigation And Defunding Bill

Planned_Parenthood_logo.svgBipartisan majority rejects HJR 3, which called for an investigation into Planned Parenthood and defunding for all health centers providing abortion services

87 Republican Representatives join Democratic Colleagues in Rejecting Attacks on Reproductive Health Provider

Today, a bipartisan majority in the New Hampshire House rejected HJR 3, a bill that called for a state investigation into a variety of inflammatory and disputed allegations directed at Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers.  The bill also would have blocked funding for women to get basic preventive services at Planned Parenthood health centers across the state — including affordable birth control, cancer screenings, HIV testing and other essential care. The measure was soundly defeated on a vote of 227 – 100.

“Planned Parenthood has been a trusted source of high-quality, compassionate and affordable health care in New Hampshire for 50 years — and that’s not going to change, no matter what our opponents throw at us,” said Jennifer Frizzell, vice president of the Planned Parenthood New Hampshire Action Fund.

“Today we saw our elected leaders from both parties stand up for New Hampshire women and families and reject the false and fraudulent attacks that are coming from a group of extreme legislators. That’s because despite what some politicians and pundits might say — access to reproductive health care is not a partisan issue in the Granite State,” continued Frizzell.  

“New Hampshire is a solidly pro-choice state and we applaud the House for standing up for their constituents to reject HJR 3. HJR 3 relied on the edited videos and claims of extreme, ideologically driven organizations that seek to interfere in a woman’s access to the full range of reproductive health options. We continue to stand with our allies at Planned Parenthood and other community health centers as they face a barrage of attacks from extreme politicians and organizations. Instead of protecting outdated workplace policies that discriminate against women and limiting reproductive rights, our priority in New Hampshire should be to guarantee fair opportunities for women to succeed and to take care of their families, and this vote is a step in the right direction,” said Kary Jencks, executive director of NH Citizens Alliance.

“Having children has huge personal, health, and economic impacts on women and their families, so guaranteed access to reproductive health care, including birth control, abortion, pre-natal and maternity care, is tied inextricably to a woman’s economic security,” said Zandra Rice Hawkins, executive director of Granite State Progress & Education Fund. “We thank Planned Parenthood and other community health centers for their dedication to ensuring women and their families, particularly those in medically underserved areas, have access to quality health care. Today’s vote against a nationally orchestrated smear campaign was the right one.”

Today’s vote comes just days after a 3-month investigation wrapped up in Texas, where the grand jury cleared Planned Parenthood of breaking any law. Of note, that same grand jury did hand down indictments for two individuals who were involved in making the allegations against Planned Parenthood public via covert recordings and illegal tactics. These findings and the similar exoneration of Planned Parenthood affiliates in more than 10 other state investigations in recent months has led to a national call for the GOP to give up its crusade against Planned Parenthood and the reproductive health care services it provides.

“The citizens of our state want their elected officials to keep us moving forward – not backward – on women’s health. Today’s vote demonstrates that legislators from both parties reject these coordinated attacks that seek to end access to safe, legal abortion, ” concluded Frizzell.

More than 14,000 women, men and young people rely on Planned Parenthood health centers in New Hampshire for high-quality, affordable health care. With 33 percent of Planned Parenthood health centers providing care in rural or medically underserved areas statewide, Planned Parenthood serves as an essential source of primary and preventive health care in New Hampshire.

Seventy-Eight New Hampshire State House Reps Endorse Hillary

Seventy-Eight New Hampshire Democratic State Representatives Endorse Hillary Clinton for President in Open Letter, Less than Sixty Days Ahead of the Primary

Manchester – Seventy-eight New Hampshire state representatives endorsed Hillary Clinton for president, in an open letter to the House Democratic caucus, citing her comprehensive plans to tackle student debt, lower prescription drug costs, encourage profit-sharing, and combat substance abuse. The group of respected legislators represent diverse communities across the Granite State.  

“We are coming together to support Hillary Clinton – and hope more of our colleagues will join us – because her tenacity, passion, and depth of knowledge are unmatched,” said Concord State Representative and former House majority leader Mary Jane Wallner. “Representing towns and families across the state, we know about the challenges that keep them up at night.  All through the summer and fall, Hillary Clinton has been laying out bold, detailed proposals to tackle those concerns and make a difference for Granite State families as President.”

The joint endorsement is the latest evidence that support for Hillary Clinton in New Hampshire continues to grow.  The seventy-eight legislators represent nearly half of the Democratic caucus in the State House and are close to double the percentage of total Democratic state representatives that endorsed her candidacy in New Hampshire in 2008.

“I am supporting Hillary Clinton because she has a real plan to address gun violence in this country–and she has been working hard on this issue for most of her career,” said Rep. Katherine Rogers of Concord. “As a country, we need to take a hard look at this issue and tackle it head on. Hillary Clinton is the only candidate who I trust to do just that.”

“Hillary Clinton is committed to supporting small businesses and growing local economies, which is exactly what families in New Hampshire need: the opportunity to get ahead and stay ahead,” said Rep. Ed Butler of Hart’s Location. “Through her visits and relationships with many Granite Staters, Hillary has come to know New Hampshire well – and we have gotten to know Hillary. I am certain she’s the candidate we need.”

“I’ve been impressed with Hillary Clinton’s commitment to solving the issues that impact Granite Staters,” said Rep. Mary Heath of Manchester. “Whether its her plan to tackle student debt and college affordability–which New Hampshire families struggle with–or her commitment to addressing the gender pay gap, Hillary knows our state and will be our champion.”

“What has impressed me so much about Hillary Clinton is the way that she took what she heard in Keene and crafted an in depth policy that would really help our communities,” said Rep. Will Pearson of Keene. “Hillary has engaged with Keene voters in an unprecedented way–and her comprehensive plan to tackle substance abuse is proof that she hears us and will fight to help.”

“I’ve gotten a chance to meet Hillary Clinton several times, and she is the hardest working, most committed candidate I’ve seen in a long time,” said Rep. Sharon Nordgren of Hanover. “She does not over-promise. She is realistic, and doesn’t back down from a fight. Her plans are smart and won’t result in a massive tax increase on working and middle class families. I endorse her as the Democratic candidate for president, and I hope others will join me.”

“In the southern part of the state, families cannot afford a president who is singularly focused on one issue,” said Rep. Latha Mangipudi of Nashua. “Our country continues to face huge obstacles and confront serious issues. We need a tried and tested leader with the type of experience and determination that is part of the fabric of who Hillary Clinton is.”

“Whether it’s her plan to tackle prescription drug costs or her determination to protect and improve on the Affordable Care Act, Hillary will not turn her back on seniors and families struggling to make ends meet,” said Rep. Thomas Sherman of Rye. “She knows that we cannot afford a tax increase, but we need a champion in the White House. I believe she’s the leader we need.”

“The fact that Hillary Clinton came to New Hampshire, heard about substance abuse, and immediately got to work on putting together a plan to combat this issue has convinced me that she is the best candidate in this race,” said Rep. Bill Hatch of Gorham. “Hillary will make a real difference for the north country.”

 

Letter to the House Democratic Caucus:

To our fellow members of the New Hampshire House Democratic Caucus:

The New Hampshire primary is an ongoing conversation, from the day each candidate announces to the day Granite Staters cast their votes. We have the opportunity to shape the national discussion – and the responsibility to shine a light on the issues that affect our communities.

Though the primary is still months away, Hillary Clinton has already proven that she is listening to us – and responding with real solutions.  It demonstrates her real concern for the issues facing us in New Hampshire, and for the people who live here.

Here are just a few of the new initiatives she has proposed so far:

Tackling student debt: By now we should all be aware that New Hampshire students carry some of the highest average student debt in the nation. Our state colleges and universities are excellent and we should be proud of them – but we need to make sure our students can afford to attend them. Clinton’s New College Compact could save families thousands per year.  It would allow every public college student to graduate without borrowing for tuition, allow anyone who has debt to refinance it at a lower rate and make community college free.

Lowering prescription costs: New Hampshire is one of the oldest states in the nation. Seniors here also pay more than the national average for prescription drugs.  Combined we have a costly problem.  As a solution, Hillary Clinton is proposing bold initiatives: demand a stop to excessive profiteering and marketing costs by encouraging innovation, lower costs by limiting out-of-pocket spending, leverage America’s negotiating power, and with careful protections for safety and quality, allow Americans to import prescription medication.   We can also count on her to defend Obamacare from repeal and strengthen it by making it more affordable for more people.

Encouraging profit-sharing to raise wages: Nationally corporate profits are close to record levels, but Americans’ paychecks have not kept pace. The vision for the economy Clinton has presented prioritizes raising hard-working Americans’ incomes with a tax credit for businesses that implement profit-sharing.  One local example is Market Basket, which gives employees a stake in the company’s success through a generous profit-sharing program. In short, Clinton believes workers should share in the profits they help produce.  We do too.

Combating substance abuse: We all know the grave toll that addiction and substance abuse has taken in New Hampshire. We hear stories from our neighbors every day, perhaps the epidemic has even touched our own families. Hillary Clinton has taken this issue seriously from the moment a New Hampshire voter raised it with her on the first day of her campaign – and she has released by far the most comprehensive policy plan to combat substance abuse in our communities.  She would help communities implement evidence-based educational prevention programs, expand access to treatment and recovery, equip first responders with the potentially life-saving antidote, prevent dangerous overprescribing of prescription drugs, and prioritize rehabilitation and treatment over incarceration.

Our next president must protect our recent successes and find common ground to build on them with future achievements. Hillary Clinton has a clear vision for our country and the tenacity to get us there. We are proud to support her candidacy for president– and we encourage you to join us. 

Sincerely, 

Rep. Mary Jane Wallner of Concord

Rep. Laura Pantelakos of Portsmouth

Rep. David Borden of New Castle

Rep. Mike Cahill of Newmarket

Rep. Will Pearson of Keene

Rep. David Karrick of Warner

Rep. Karen Ebel of New London

Rep. Pam Gordon of Portsmouth

Rep. David Woodbury of New Boston

Rep. Ken Gidge of Nashua

Rep. Patricia Lovejoy of Stratham

Rep. Caroletta Alicea of Boscawen

Rep. Mel Myler of Hopkinton

Rep. Sharon Nordgren of Hanover

Rep. James Mackay of Concord

Rep. Lucy Weber of Walpole

Rep. Skip Berrien of Exeter

Rep. Bill Hatch of Gorham

Rep. Mary Stuart Gile of Concord

Rep. Yvonne Thomas of Berlin

Rep. Ben Baroody of Manchester

Rep. Wendy Piper of Enfield

Rep. Andrew O’Hearne of Claremont

Rep. Mary Heath of Manchester

Rep. Tom Southworth of Dover

Rep. Ed Butler of Hart’s Location

Rep. Latha Mangipudi of Nashua

Rep. Rebecca Brown of Sugar Hill

Rep. Alexis Simpson of Exeter

Rep. Mary Freitas of Manchester

Rep. Tom Buco of Conway

Rep. Martha Hennessey of Hanover

Rep. Thomas Sherman of Rye

Rep. Alan Turcotte of Allenstown

Rep. Marjorie Porter of Hillsborough

Rep. Suzanne Gottling of Sunapee

Rep. David Cote of Nashua

Rep. Jim Verschueren of Dover

Rep. Naidia Kaen of Lee

Rep. David Doherty of Pembroke

Rep. June Frazer of Concord

Rep. Pam Brown of Nashua

Rep. Douglas Ley of Jaffrey

Rep. Larry Converse of Claremont

Rep. Ray Gagnon of Claremont

Rep. Deborah DiFranco of Portsmouth

Rep. Kris Roberts of Keene

Rep. Paula Francese of Exeter

Rep. Jean Jeudy of Manchester

Rep. Mario Ratzki of East Andover

Rep. Susan Treleaven of Dover

Rep. Jacqueline Cali-Pitts of Portsmouth

Rep. Linda Kenison of Concord

Rep. Robert Walsh of Manchester

Rep. Christy Dolat Bartlett of Concord

Rep. Michael Abbott of Hinsdale

Rep. Suzanne Smith of Hebron

Rep. Harold Rice of Concord

Rep. Linda DiSilvestro of Manchester

Rep. Robert Backus of Manchester

Rep. Gerry Ward of Portsmouth

Rep. Rebecca McBeath of Portmouth

Rep. David Luneau of Hopkinton

Rep. Katherine Rogers of Concord

Rep. Patricia Cornell of Manchester

Rep. Janet Wall of Durham

Rep. Marge Shepardson of Marlborough

Rep. Susan Almy of Lebanon

Rep. Deanna Rollo of Rollinsford

Rep. Ken Ward of Rollinsford

Rep. Paul Berch of Wesmoreland

Rep. Gladys Johnsen of Keene

Rep. Lee Guerette of Nashua

Rep. Richard Ames of Jaffrey

Rep. Deb Wheeler of Northfield

Rep. Kermit Williams of Wilton

Rep. Paula Bradley of Concord

Rep. Kevin Maes of Thornton

 

NH Democrats Stand United As Gov. Hassan Intends To Veto The GOP’s Reckless Budget

Governor Says Republican Budget is “Unbalanced, Dishonest about what it Funds, and Includes Unpaid-For Corporate Tax Cuts that Create a More Than $90 Million Budget Hole”

CONCORD – Calling the nearly finalized Republican budget fiscally irresponsible and unbalanced, Governor Maggie Hassan today reiterated her intention to veto it if it comes to her desk as it is.

“Their budget is unbalanced, dishonest about what it funds, and includes unpaid-for corporate tax cuts that create a more than $90 million budget hole at the expense of critical economic priorities,” Governor Hassan said. “It is also left unbalanced by relying on misleading budget gimmicks. It double counts fiscal year 2015 dollars, it does not adequately fund basic services and it does not honestly fund the services we all agree are critical to our people, families and businesses.”

In February, the Governor presented a fiscally responsible, balanced budget – without a sales or an income tax – that was transparent and honest about how it supported critical economic priorities such as making higher education more affordable, strengthening public safety, ensuring access to affordable health care, and repairing roads and bridges. Unpaid-for tax cuts and budget gimmicks that leave the near-final Republican budget unbalanced threaten the state’s ability to support those priorities and keep New Hampshire’s economy forward.

“Their unfunded corporate tax cuts will create a significant hole in this budget and budgets well into the future – making college tuition more expensive; hurting our ability to ensure workers can access health-care without financial ruin; leading to unplowed, unsafe roads for commuters and businesses; and failing to adequately address substance misuse in the midst of a heroin crisis,” Governor Hassan said. “This fiscally irresponsible approach undermines our economic future, putting out-of-state corporate special interests ahead of New Hampshire’s families, small businesses and economy.”

Governor Hassan has been at the table with Republican leadership, and she has been clear throughout the process about her priorities and that she believes there is room for compromise to find common ground and achieve a bipartisan budget that addresses the shared priorities that legislators from both parties agree on.

“Our families deserve better. Our businesses deserve better. And the hard-working people of the Granite State deserve better. Republicans need to join me in putting New Hampshire’s families, businesses and economic interests first, and to get back to work immediately, prepare a continuing resolution and negotiate in good faith to develop a fiscally responsible, balanced and bipartisan budget that builds on our progress of the last two years to keep our economy moving forward.”

House and Senate Democrats Stand Strongly with Governor Hassan Against Republicans’ Fiscally Irresponsible, Unbalanced Budget

House Democratic Leader Steve Shurtleff and Senate Democratic Leader Jeff Woodburn released the following statement in support of Governor Hassan’s fiscally responsible budget leadership:

“Governor Hassan proposed a fiscally responsible, balanced budget that makes smart investments in critical economic priorities like higher education, health care, roads and bridges, and public safety, without an income or sales tax.”

“But Republicans chose instead to put forward an irresponsible plan that blows a $90 million hole in the state’s budget to benefit big, out-of-state corporations at the expense of New Hampshire middle class families and small businesses.”

“We’re proud to stand with Governor Hassan as she continues to fight for the priorities that will move New Hampshire’s people, businesses, and economy forward, including affordable college tuition, safe roads and bridges, access to quality and affordable health coverage, and protecting our communities.”

“We look forward to working with our Republicans colleagues when they decide to put partisanship aside and actually negotiate in good faith to pass a responsible, bipartisan budget that meets the needs of our state.”

Community Leaders Urge Lawmakers To Reverse Cuts To NH Budget In Committee Of Conference

Community Leaders Call for Further Progress toward a State Budget that Builds a More Healthy, Secure, and Prosperous Granite State         

NHFPI Photo

Jeff McLynch, executive director of the New Hampshire Fiscal Policy Institute, Image by NHFPI

Concord, NH – Prior to the start of the Committee of Conference on the FY 2016-2017 state budget, community leaders and concerned citizens gathered today in the lobby of the Legislative Office Building to outline critical issues that the committee should address in order to build a more healthy, secure, and prosperous Granite State.

“Some progress has certainly been made in responding to the concerns voiced by hundreds of citizens at public hearings on the budget, but further advances in the coming days are both possible and essential,” said Jeff McLynch, executive director of the New Hampshire Fiscal Policy Institute, in opening remarks.

Speakers highlighted five issues that are among those conference committee members should address and urged members of the House and Senate to work together to craft a state budget that best meets the needs of New Hampshire’s citizens.

The reauthorization of the New Hampshire Health Protection Program, also known as Medicaid Expansion, was included in the Governor’s budget, but removed from both the House and Senate versions. The program is set to expire on December 31, 2016, and without reauthorization, more than 40,000 individuals will lose access to affordable health care.

“Physicians see the Health Protection Program working for our patients and we encourage the legislature to include the necessary funding for reauthorization in the state budget,” said Dr. Travis Harker, family physician and past president of the New Hampshire Medical Society. “New Hampshire cannot afford to walk away from its low-income citizens. For our patients and for the health care system in New Hampshire, it is critically important to reauthorize and fully fund the New Hampshire Health Protection Program now.”

In 2014, advocates secured a landmark legal settlement regarding the provision of mental health services in New Hampshire, including supported employment and housing, mobile crisis response, and assertive community treatment teams. Yet neither the House nor the Senate versions of the budget provide the level of funding for mental health services recommended by Governor Hassan.

“Today New Hampshire’s mental health system sits at a cross roads. This biennial budget will determine whether the system can move ahead or whether it will continue to flounder,” said Ken Norton, executive director for the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) New Hampshire. “As the Committee of Conference begins deliberations, we urge that the health and well-being of all of our citizens should be our number one priority and, toward that end, we as a state commit to providing funding and supports to rebuild our community mental health system.”

New Hampshire currently faces a substance misuse epidemic. In 2014, more than 300 Granite Staters died from drug overdoses, while close to 100,000 are in need of treatment for substance use disorders. Beyond the tragic loss of life, this epidemic imposes very real costs on the state’s economy, its health care system, and its courts and correctional systems.

“As we have seen the death toll from our state’s opiate epidemic rise, communities and leaders from across New Hampshire have been calling for action,” said Timothy Rourke, chairman of the Governor’s Commission on Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Prevention, Treatment, and Recovery. “Now is the time for the conference committee to demonstrate the leadership required to tackle this epidemic, which is killing citizens, threatening public safety, and damaging our economy. The Governor’s Commission looks forward to a state budget that reflects the evidence-based fiscal policy required to address this immediate and real threat to our quality of life.”

Neither the House nor the Senate included funding for the state employee contract in their versions of the budget, although the necessary funds were included in the budget put forth by the Governor. Funding cuts enacted in prior budgets have resulted in the loss of numerous positions with associated responsibilities shifted to remaining employees.

“New Hampshire state employees go to work every day prepared and motivated to provide high quality public services whenever and wherever needed. We get the job done if it snows on Sunday night or Wednesday morning to ensure every motorist arrives safely to their destination,” said Ken Roos, first vice president for the State Employees Association/SEIU Local 1084. “Public workers across our state are asking our legislators to build a budget that provides the resources New Hampshire needs for a safe and prosperous future.”

Business tax cuts contained in the version of the budget approved by the Senate would severely constrain New Hampshire’s ability to make critical investments. Based on the latest information available from the Department of Revenue Administration, business tax cuts would drain away much as $23 million in state revenue during the FY 2016-2017 budget cycle; once fully implemented, the tax cuts would reduce revenue by more than $90 million each biennium.

“As both the experience of other states and academic studies demonstrate, cutting taxes in this manner would not produce jobs or bolster economic growth,” said Jeff McLynch, executive director of the New Hampshire Fiscal Policy Institute. “Instead, cutting taxes would leave New Hampshire unable to meet the needs of residents, visitors, and businesses alike. They would leave New Hampshire unable to support the well-trained labor force and robust physical infrastructure that bring employers to New Hampshire and keep them here. They would leave New Hampshire unable to provide the good schools, vibrant communities, clean parks, and other amenities that make the Granite State a place people are eager to visit and proud to call home.”

In conclusion, McLynch added: “Consequently, I am hopeful that as conferees go about the difficult task of completing the FY 2016-2017 budget and as they strive toward a goal that we all share — a thriving and expanding economy – they will set aside plans to reduce business taxes and instead give priority to the public services that can serve as the foundation for a more healthy, secure, and prosperous Granite State.”

Election Bill Creating Poll Tax, Residency Requirements Passes House Election Law Committee

SB179 would penalize New Hampshire voters
rather than improve elections

Concord, NH – Today the House Election Law Committee passed an elections bill along party lines (11-8) that creates unnecessary hurdles for New Hampshire voters by instituting an arbitrary vehicle registration “poll tax” and a 30-day residency requirement. The key features of SB 179, which also passed along party lines in the state Senate earlier this month (14-10), are likely unconstitutional at both the state and federal level.

The House Election Law Committee amended SB 179 to require voters to obtain a driver’s license and register their car in New Hampshire – a change that has no clear connection to maintaining the integrity of elections. New Hampshire’s constitution clearly states that “all elections are to be free,” and this amendment acts as a poll tax by charging engaged Granite Staters vehicle registration fees in order to vote.

Furthermore, SB 179 falls short of meeting the standards set in the United States Supreme Court case Dunn vs. Blumstein, which permitted up to a 30-day registration requirement in states that need it for administrative purposes. Given that New Hampshire is a same-day registration state, there is no compelling argument that the state’s election administration officials need the additional time.

“The sponsors of this legislation claim these restrictions will somehow stop voter fraud, but the proposed changes would penalize New Hampshire voters rather than help our elections,” explained League of Women Voters New Hampshire Election Law Specialist Joan Flood Ashwell. “There are many ways for voters to confirm their identity without forcing them to pay vehicle registration fees, and there are many ways to ensure they live in our state without a 30-day residency requirement. We can’t deny eligible voters the right to vote here in New Hampshire.”

Despite all evidence to the contrary, politicians continue to push restrictive election laws based on a false narrative of ‘phantom’ voters. New Hampshire attorney general investigations and a national Washington Post investigation** found that in-person voter impersonation and registration fraud is virtually non-existent.

America Votes-New Hampshire State Director Paula Hodges said, “SB 179 is one of more than a dozen dangerous bills proposed by radical lawmakers that would deter voters and undermine New Hampshire’s long-held tradition of streamlining voting. The various proposed bills range from eliminating same-day registration, to creating new inter-state cross-check programs that could purge thousands of eligible voters from the rolls. It’s clear these politicians are trying to influence elections by discouraging voters, and that’s wrong.”

“We urge the governor to veto SB 179 should it pass both chambers this year,” Hodges added.

4-21-15 AFT-NH Legislative Update: Common Core Standards And Pension Reform

Things moved slowly this week at the State House. The full House met on Wednesday and passed the following bill:

SB 101: prohibiting the State from requiring implementation of Common Core standards. This bill prohibits the Department of Education and the State Board of Education from implementing the Common Core standards in any school or school district in this state. This bill clarifies that districts don’t have to adopt the Common Core Standards but a district still needs to have high quality standards. AFT-NH believes that if any standards are to work we need to ensure that in each district the following are in place when implementing them:

  • There needs to be planning time for understanding the Standards and time to put them into practice,
  • We need opportunities to observe colleagues implementing Standards in class,
  • Provide teachers with model lesson plans aligned to Standards,
  • Ensure textbooks/other curricula materials align with Standards,
  • Communicate with parents on the Standards and the expectations of students,
  • Develop best practices and strategies along with coaching to help teachers teach content more deeply,
  • We need to ensure all districts have the equipment and bandwidth to administer computer-based assessments,
  • Make sure we have fully developed curricula aligned to Standards and available to teachers,
  • Assessments need to be aligned to Standards indicating mastery of concepts,
  • Professional development and training in the Standards need to be offered,
  • We need to develop tools to track individual student progress on key Standards

This coming Thursday, April 23, 2015 the Special Committee On Employee Pensions will be meeting at 10 am in LOB 104. They have two bills that they will be discussing

  • HB 369: establishing a defined contribution retirement plan for public employees and
  • HB 556: establishing a cash balance plan for public employees in the retirement system.

We need to keep in mind the following about our pension system:

  • New Hampshire’s retirement system benefit for public workers should set a standard, and be something for larger employers to mirror in the state.
  • Public service should be viewed as a respectable vocation; a commitment by workers of service and dedication to their home state.  Public service is an investment in New Hampshire and retirement security creates a financial cornerstone of the NH economy.
  • The current annual pension benefit is just over $19,000.  Nearly 70% of the state’s 28,000 pensioners receive less than $25,000 per year.
  • Each dollar “invested” by New Hampshire taxpayers in the pension system supports $7.55 in total economic activity in the state
  • Studies have found that public sector workers’ compensation – including benefits – is slightly lower than that of their peers in the private sector with the same education and experience.
  • Police officers and fire fighters are not eligible for Social Security.
  • All of our public employees contribute their own money into pension funds.
  • Defined-benefit pensions held by public employees are much more cost effective than 401(k)-style retirement plans, costing roughly half as much to provide the same level of retirement benefit to workers such as police officers and firefighters, librarians and teachers, and other public-sector workers.
  • Pensions help reduce employee turnover and thus boost worker productivity.

AFT-NH will continue to advocate for:

Security in retirement is something every worker deserves after a long, successful career in public service.  Our workers, after dedicating their working life to educating children, enforcing the law, fighting fires and helping our communities function every day, have earned a benefit that must allow them to retire with dignity.

The benefit should ensure a predictable cost for the employers and employees, who pay into it throughout their careers. It should create, and sustain, a high-quality workforce. It should attract talented younger workers to invest a lifetime in public service, in turn adding value to the state’s economy.

In exchange for a lifetime of service, our workers need to rely on defined and predictable retirement security that is protected against inflationary pressures. Their benefit should ensure sound, long-term investment options and strategies that will result in post-retirement stability, despite the economic concerns of today.

Instead of encouraging the idea that working for the public sector is less valuable than working for the private sector, New Hampshire’s retirement system benefit for public workers should set a standard, and be something for larger employers to mirror in the state.

Public service should be viewed as a respectable vocation; a commitment by workers of service and dedication to their home state. It is service that adds value to the quality of life for NH citizens and visitors. Public service is an investment in New Hampshire and retirement security creates a financial cornerstone for the NH economy.

In Solidarity,
Laura Hainey
AFT-NH President

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Upcoming Hearings

Monday, April 20

Senate FINANCE, Room 103, SH
Sen. Forrester (C), Sen. Little (VC), Sen. Morse, Sen. Reagan, Sen. D’Allesandro, Sen. Hosmer
AGENCY PRESENTATIONS ON THE BUDGET AS PASSED BY THE HOUSE
Department of Health and Human Services:
9:00 a.m. Budget Overview
10:00 a.m. Public Health
11:00 a.m. Medicaid Business & Policy (including Medicaid Managed Care)
12:00 p.m. Break
1:00 p.m. Continuation of Medicaid Business & Policy
2:00 p.m. Commissioner’s Office
3:00 p.m. Office of Human Services
EXECUTIVE SESSION MAY FOLLOW

Tuesday, April 21

Senate EDUCATION, Room 103, LOB
Sen. Reagan (C), Sen. Stiles (VC), Sen. Avard, Sen. Kelly, Sen. Watters
9:00 a.m. HB 347, relative to payment of wages of certain hourly school district employees.
9:20 a.m. HB 604, relative to the use of mixed use school busses by special education pupils.
9:40 a.m. HB 610, relative to a school board vote on the reassignment of a pupil.
10:00 a.m. Hearing on proposed amendment #2015-1333s – establishing a children’s savings account program, and relative to the bonding authority of the city of Dover to HB
577-FN-A-L, establishing a children’s savings account program.
EXECUTIVE SESSION MAY FOLLOW

Senate FINANCE, Room 103, SH
Sen. Forrester (C), Sen. Little (VC), Sen. Morse, Sen. Reagan, Sen. D’Allesandro, Sen. Hosmer
2:00 p.m. EXECUTIVE SESSION ON PENDING LEGISLATION

House CRIMINAL JUSTICE AND PUBLIC SAFETY, Room 204, LOB
10:00 a.m. Executive session on
SB 72, relative to confidentiality of police personnel files and establishing a commission to study the use of police personnel files as they relate to the Laurie List,

House LABOR, INDUSTRIAL AND REHABILITATIVE SERVICES, Room 307, LOB
1:00 p.m. Executive session on SB 186, reestablishing the commission to study soft tissue injuries under workers’ compensation and to study the feasibility of developing a first responder’s critical injury fund.

House MUNICIPAL AND COUNTY GOVERNMENT, Room 301, LOB
10:15 a.m. SB 242-L, relative to amending the budget in towns that have adopted official ballot voting. The public hearing will include consideration of a non-germane amendment which ratifies the result of a warrant article in the town of Franconia. Copies of the amendment are available in the Sergeant-at-Arms’ office and online.

House TRANSPORTATION, Room 203, LOB
11:00 a.m. SB 234, establishing a committee to study the use of law enforcement details and flaggers for traffic control on municipally maintained roads.

House WAYS AND MEANS, Room 202, LOB
10:00 a.m. Full committee work session on SB 113-FN-A-L, relative to video lottery and table gaming.
2:00 p.m. Executive session on SB 113-FN-A-L, relative to video lottery and table gaming.

Wednesday, April 22

Senate FINANCE, Room 103, SH
Sen. Forrester (C), Sen. Little (VC), Sen. Morse, Sen. Reagan, Sen. D’Allesandro, Sen. Hosmer
AGENCY PRESENTATIONS ON THE BUDGET AS PASSED BY THE HOUSE
9:00 a.m. Department of Transportation
EXECUTIVE SESSION MAY FOLLOW

House FINANCE – (DIVISION II), Room 209, LOB
1:00 p.m. Work session on SB 151-FN, requiring inclusion of home educated pupils in the definition of average daily membership in attendance.

Thursday, April 23

House MUNICIPAL AND COUNTY GOVERNMENT, Room 301, LOB
10:00 a.m. Executive session on
SB 242-L, relative to amending the budget in towns that have adopted official ballot voting,

House SPECIAL COMMITTEE ON EMPLOYEE PENSION PLANS, Room 104, LOB
10:00 a.m. Full committee work session.

Tuesday, April 28

House WAYS AND MEANS, Room 202, LOB
10:00 a.m. Continued public hearing on SB 213-FN-A-L, establishing a committee to study the formula for distribution of meals and rooms tax revenues.

Wednesday, April 29

10 am House in Session

Thursday, April 30

10 am Senate in Session

Tuesday, May 5

Senate FINANCE, Representatives’ Hall, SH
Sen. Forrester (C), Sen. Little (VC), Sen. Morse, Sen. Reagan, Sen. D’Allesandro, Sen. Hosmer
3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. HB 1-A making appropriations for the expenses of certain departments of the state for fiscal years ending June 30, 2016 and June 30, 2017.
HB 2-FN-A-L relative to state fees, funds, revenues, and expenditures.
6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. HB 1-A making appropriations for the expenses of certain departments of the state for fiscal years ending June 30, 2016 and June 30, 2017.
HB 2-FN-A-L relative to state fees, funds, revenues, and expenditures.
Please note: These hearings will be streamed live via the Internet at the following web address:
http://nhgencourt.granicus.com/ViewPublisher.php?view_id=1

House HEALTH, HUMAN SERVICES AND ELDERLY AFFAIRS, Rooms 205-207, LOB
10:00 a.m. Kids Count presentation.

Friday, May 15

Every Child Matters in NH and Child and Family Services of NH are pleased to extend an invitation to all members for “Walk a Month in My Shoes” Poverty Simulation on Friday, May 15th at the Grappone Conference Center in Concord. Breakfast and registration will open at 8:00 a.m. The simulation will begin at 8:30 a.m. and end by noon. Please stay for lunch and an afternoon discussion about poverty in our state with NH experts on this topic. Our goal is to simulate the challenges faced by low-income children and their families as they try to survive from month to month on limited resources. We guarantee that this event will have you talking and thinking about poverty in new ways. There is no cost to attend this event. Breakfast and lunch will be provided to our guests. Space is limited so please RSVP by April 24th by calling (603) 856-7517 or emailing mlbeaver@everychildmatters.org

Friday, May 22

In recognition of your support, the New Hampshire Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Association cordially invites you to the 23rd Annual New Hampshire Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Ceremony. The ceremony will be held on Friday, May 22, 2015, beginning promptly at 10:00 a.m., on the Memorial Site in front of the Legislative Office Building. The ceremony will proceed rain or shine. Refreshments will be served immediately following the ceremony. Please do not hesitate to contact Major Kevin Jordan of the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department at 602-271-3128 if you have any questions.

NH House Considers Bill on Amending the US Constitution to Limit Political Spending

2015-04-07 Steve Rand

The NH House Committee on Legislative Administration today held its public hearing on a bill calling for a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United.  The legislation, SB 136, was passed unanimously by the state Senate last month.

The House has already passed a resolution, HCR 2, calling for an Article V Constitutional Convention to address Citizens United.

Steve Rand of Plymouth (pictured above) was one of those who testified.  “Everybody knows that we have a corrupt system, a legally corrupt system.  The question really is: if everybody knows this, why do 95% of us Americans think there isn’t anything we can do about it?” he asked.  “What we are trying to do is change people’s minds about the possibilities; and what you can do — as our elected representatives– is to help that process along.”

Corrine Dodge, one of the Stamp Stampede’s “Rebel Grammies” from Derry, also testified. “I feel so passionately that I could no longer sit by and watch what has been happening to our elections, as they became more corrupt, and as I watched Congress become more dysfunctional.”  Corrine worked with her Town Council to pass a resolution calling for a constitutional amendment.  She also testified in favor of an earlier bill, and met with her state Senator about the bill now pending in the House.

“Now it’s your turn,” she told the Committee.  “What will you, the House Committee on Legislative Administration, decide?  Will you vote against your constituents’ will?  Or will you stand this time with We The People?”

Dan Weeks, of Open Democracy and the NH Rebellion, noted “There is specific language ensuring that the First Amendment is protected, in whatever constitutional proposals are supported by New Hampshire’s Congressional delegation.”

“We do believe there is a way to address the concerns raised by Citizens United, which are magnified, as you all know, by our election last fall, where $100 million was spent in New Hampshire, the majority of it outside money,” Dan said.  “You have heard so many times from citizens that something has to be done.”

The Committee is expected to make a recommendation on the bill within the next several weeks.

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The Stamp Stampede is tens of thousands of Americans legally stamping messages on our nation’s currency to #GetMoneyOut of Politics. As more and more stamped money spreads, so will the movement to amend the Constitution and overturn Citizens United.

You can get your own stamp online at www.stampstampede.org. Or, if you’re a member of CWA, you can get a stamp from your LPAT coordinator. The average stamped bill is seen by 875 people – which makes stamping a highly-effective way to get the message out about how money in politics is corrupting our government.

It’s time to #GetMoneyOut of politics and take back our government.

“Decisions that Cause Voters to Question the Loyalty of our Elected Officials”

Statement of Paul Brochu, Stamp Stampede.org Lead Organizer – NH regarding today’s passage of the House Budget:

Greed KillsAs expected, the Budget passed by the House today includes cuts in programs for the most-needy, service delays, cost-shifting and a patchwork of other maneuvers to reduce the bottom line rather than investing in New Hampshire’s future.

These are the types of decisions that cause voters to question the loyalty of our elected officials. “Who, exactly, are our politicians serving?”  At the Stamp Stampede, we work with the growing number of people who have realized that government is being driven by Big Money political donors, and who are trying to fix that problem.

People are angry.  They’re taking to the streets in protest marches.  They’re testifying in legislative hearings.  They’re pushing resolutions through their Town Meetings.  Through the Stamp Stampede, tens of thousands of people are rubber-stamping anticorruption messages on US currency, which then circulates through the local economy and helps bring people together around the issue.

Even though corporate influence over politics is a global problem, most Americans think about it in terms of Big Money control of presidential and congressional elections. That’s what gets the headlines: a candidate asking donors to limit their donations to a million dollars; a couple of businessmen pledging to spend almost a billion dollars before the 2016 presidential elections.

But the same dynamics are at work on the state level, too – and this House budget is a microcosm of the struggle for the loyalty of our government officials.

House GalleryThis budget does not include tens of millions of dollars in revenue that could have come from a tobacco tax increase.  Why not? New Hampshire would still have the lowest cigarette tax rate among neighboring states.  We would still lead the nation in cigarette smuggling, with almost one-quarter of cigarette purchases headed out-of-state.  Revenue from a tobacco tax increase could be used to avoid cuts to community health centers.  It could fund continuation of the expanded Medicaid program that provides health insurance to 34,000 Granite Staters.  It could patch a lot of the holes in this Budget.  But it’s not even being considered.

Why not?

The National Institute on Money in State Politics shows that former House Speaker Bill O’Brien received a $5,000 political contribution from tobacco giant Altria Client Services last October.

And now, the House refuses to even consider raising the tobacco tax.

crowd (2)Political donations can be an extremely cost-effective way for corporations to do business.  A Sunlight Foundation study of the 200 most politically active corporations found that for every dollar invested in political donations and lobbying, the corporations received $760 back in tax breaks, contracts and other types of government support.

Which should give all of us pause, as this state Budget heads over to the Senate.

According to the National Institute on Money in State Politics, “non-individual” political donors including business associations, corporations and PACs donated more than $700,000 to New Hampshire State Senate candidates in the 2014 elections.

more crowd (2)The Senate has already given preliminary approval to cuts in the business profits tax and the business enterprise tax.

Those tax cuts, if finalized, would undoubtedly trigger even more cuts to state services.

Do we really need those business tax cuts? New Hampshire already has the seventh-best business tax climate in the nation.

Budgets are, above all else, choices about priorities.  Spend tens of millions of dollars on tax cuts for corporations?  Or invest it in higher education for the next generation of workers?  Turn down tobacco tax revenues?  Or take the money and use it to improve the health of lower-income residents?

In a more-perfect world, our elected officials would make these sort of decisions based on the best interests of their constituents.  But we live in a world where political donations speak louder than votes.

Lobby (2)It doesn’t matter what party people belong to – Republicans and Democrats are outraged about this in almost-equal numbers.  Ask about federal campaign donations: 80% of New Hampshire Republicans and 77% of our Democrats say that Congress is more interested in special interests than its constituents.  Ask about the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens Unitedmore than two-thirds of New Hampshire voters think the US Constitution should be amended to limit money in politics.

People are feeling disenfranchised.  At StampStampede.org, we hear voters’ anger at having their government stolen by Big Money donors.  We work with small business owners who echo their customers’ disillusionment.  People are sick and tired of elected officials choosing to take care of political donors, rather than the people who elected them.

That anger is growing.  Every time that the New Hampshire Rebellion organizes a protest walk, they have hundreds more people participating than the year before.  More and more Town Meetings are voting to endorse a constitutional amendment to limit money in politics; so far, 67 Granite State municipalities have voted to defend democracy.

Billboard (2)In the past few months, several hundred New Hampshire residents have joined the Stamp Stampede. We’re seeing more and more currency with messages like “Not to Be Used for Buying Elections” and “Stamp Money Out of Politics.”  Each stamped dollar bill is seen by an estimated 875 people as it circulates through the local economy – literally making money into the message, and getting the message out to millions of people.

We’re recruiting 6,500 New Hampshire Stampers help us make this into an issue in the presidential primary.  We already have 60 small business partners who are hosting “Stamping Stations” where customers can stamp their money and learn more about how high-dollar donations have hijacked our elections.

It’s a grassroots movement to reclaim our government from the special interests, because we’re tired of being forgotten in the race to please special-interest political donors.

The decisions being made in this State Budget process – business tax cuts? or services for people? – show the problem in a nutshell.

Who does our government belong to?  Who do our elected officials take care of?

And what, exactly, is it going to take to get our government back?

————————

The Stamp Stampede is tens of thousands of Americans legally stamping messages on our nation’s currency to #GetMoneyOut of Politics. As more and more stamped money spreads, so will the movement to amend the Constitution and overturn Citizens United.

You can get your own stamp online at www.stampstampede.org. Or, if you’re a member of CWA, you can get a stamp from your LPAT coordinator. The average stamped bill is seen by 875 people – which makes stamping a highly-effective way to get the message out about how money in politics is corrupting our government.

It’s time to #GetMoneyOut of politics and take back our government.

The Americans For Prosperity – NH (AKA Koch Brothers NH Mouthpiece) Approve Of House Budget. One More Reason To Oppose It

Today the New Hampshire chapter of the Americans For Prosperity, a Koch funded advocacy group, came out to show their support for the massive cuts proposed in the budget.

From NHPR:

The state’s chapter of Americans for Prosperity, a conservative political advocacy group backed by the Koch brothers,  are behind the House Finance version of the state’s spending plan, which passed committee along party lines Thursday.

The $11 billion budget trimmed hundreds of millions from Governor Maggie Hassan’s proposal including reducing spending for the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Transportation and University funding.

AFP State Director Greg Moore said the budget isn’t perfect but it is fiscally responsible.

“The House did a fantastic job of making New Hampshire more free market and more competitive, and forth and for most it takes out all the tax increases,” Moore said.

The plan removes tax increases including two tax increases on businesses, a cigarette tax as well as increasing the registration fee.

Governor Hassan warns that these cuts will hurt our economy.

“Earlier this week, the House Finance Committee recommended a budget with harmful, unnecessary reductions that will hurt families, undermine business growth and take our economy backward. Today, instead of fixing the problems with that budget, they are making things worse.

“Instead of responsibly addressing the issues facing our Highway Fund with a modest revenue solution, they are proposing further reductions to the priorities that are critical to the success of our people, families and businesses. These irresponsible cuts threaten to shut down local road and bridge projects, increase the cost of higher education, raid the dedicated Renewable Energy Fund and further downshift the burden on local property tax rate-payers.

“Combined with cuts already proposed to critical services for seniors like Meals on Wheals, to substance misuse, to mental health, to developmental disabilities, to travel and tourism promotion, to municipalities and more, this irresponsible plan will hurt our economic competitiveness and have a significant impact on our ability to continue building the foundation of a more innovative economy. I continue to urge legislators from both parties to do the responsible thing and invest in the success of our people, our businesses and our economy.” 

“The Koch Brothers’ endorsement of the O’Brien – Jasper budget proves just how bad this budget truly is for New Hampshire’s people, businesses and economy,” said New Hampshire Democratic Chair Ray Buckley. “Combined with Senate Republicans’ push for more tax giveaways for big out-of-state businesses, it’s as clear as ever that the legislature is fully under the control of the Koch Brothers.”

“Shawn Jasper has finally accomplished his goal: cut enough of New Hampshire’s priorities to satisfy Bill O’Brien and the Koch Brothers. It makes perfect sense that out-of-state oil tycoons would support a budget that raids $50 million in dedicated funds for renewable energy, slashes critical economic priorities for small businesses and middle class families, and downshifts costs onto local property taxpayers,” concluded Buckley.

We here at the NH Labor News are vehemently opposed to these cuts proposed by the NH House.  They will strip healthcare from tens of thousands of people, and force hundreds of hard working DOT workers on the streets.  Then I ask, “who will ploy the roads“?

Please take a minute to sign out petition urging legislators to stop these reckless cuts.

Petition Text:

We call on members of the state House & Senate to pass a responsible, balanced budget that protects taxpayers without sacrificing the essential programs and services New Hampshire families and communities depend on for our health, safety, and quality of life.

Click here to sign the Petition

Join activists from across the state as we stand in opposition to these devastating draconian cuts to NH Families.

NH House GOP Jeopardize Voter Privacy And Force Towns To Pay For Equipment In Voter ID Mandate

NH House Finance Republicans Vote to Pass Costly
Unfunded Voter ID Mandate on to Cities and Towns;
Jeopardize Voter Privacy

CONCORD, NH – In a party line vote yesterday afternoon, Republicans on the House Finance Committee voted to pass a costly and unfunded mandate on to cities and towns to implement the camera provision of the voter ID law. Amendment 2015-1103h eliminates the requirement that the Secretary of State provide each city and town the photography and printing supplies to implement the voter ID law. Each municipality will now be responsible for purchasing a camera, color printer, photo paper, and any other supplies necessary to comply with the provision of the law set to go into effect in September 2015.

“The House Republicans are passing a costly and unfunded mandate on to local towns and cities to implement an unnecessary camera provision of an already unnecessary voter ID law,” said Zandra Rice Hawkins, executive director of Granite State Progress. “It is clear from the hasty introduction of this amendment that sponsor Rep. Dan McGuire and the other Republicans who voted for it did not even take the time to read the current statute. McGuire told the committee that the state does not need to provide the equipment because cameras and electronic communication are already so common, implying that election moderators should just take a photo with a smart phone and email it to the SOS. However, the voter ID law specifically says the photo must be printed out in color and then the electronic copy immediately deleted.”

“If House Republicans want to change the voter ID law to an electronic record-keeping version, this raises real concerns over privacy. Under that scenario, moderators could use private phones and email accounts to transfer or store images of the electorate with no data protections whatsoever,” Rice Hawkins said.

Granite State Progress and other election protection advocates are calling for the New Hampshire legislature to eliminate the costly camera provision of the voter ID law, saving taxpayer dollars and preventing long delays at the polls.

Transcript of Rep. Dan McGuire (R-Epsom) remarks available here.

Video link 

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