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NH Senate Passes Bill To Expand Renewable Energy In NH

Rooftop Solar Panels (Elliott Brown FLIKR)

Rooftop Solar Panels (Elliott Brown FLIKR)

Bill will allow New Hampshire to continue to expand renewable energy by raising the cap on net metering

Senate Democrats praised the passage of legislation to ensure the growth of renewable energy in New Hampshire during today’s Senate session. SB 333 raises the cap on group net metering and SB 378 ensures that space under the group net metering cap is being taken up only by those who are participating in the program, not speculators trying to game the system. 

“Passage of this critical legislation is great not only for our growing renewable energy market, but also for our economy and all electric ratepayers,” said Sen. Molly Kelly, author of the original group net metering law enacted in 2013. “Even though we have only had group net metering for a few years, renewable energy, particularly the solar market, has exploded across New Hampshire thanks to this program. It is critical for us to raise the cap to ensure the sustained growth of solar and other renewable energy sources here in New Hampshire that not only save Granite Staters money, but sustains thousands of good-paying jobs.”

“In the rapidly-growing renewable energy market, making changes to a vital program like group net metering is no easy task. But SB 333 and SB 378 offer meaningful progress to allow our renewable energy market to grow,” said Sen. Dan Feltes, member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. “I urge our colleagues in the House to move quickly to pass SB 333 and SB 378 to continue the growth of renewable energy and our green job sector.”

“It was only a year ago that utilities testified that they were nowhere near the metering cap,” said Sen. Donna Soucy, prime sponsor of SB 378. “But the market has grown so rapidly that we needed to address the group net metering cap as soon as possible, as we did with SB 333. Part of the reason why we reached the cap so quickly was due to speculative developers taking up space under the cap while not yet providing service to customers. SB 378 addresses these concerns and ensures that families and businesses that the program was designed to benefit can take advantage of this rapidly-growing market.”

Governor Maggie Hassan also praised the passage of SB 333.

“Solar is one of many clean energy resources in New Hampshire that contributes to a diverse and reliable energy supply, and businesses and families across the state are utilizing solar to lower their energy bills and to increase their energy independence. The success of New Hampshire’s clean energy economy is creating good-paying, high-quality jobs, spurring economic development and helping combat climate change, and New Hampshire recently ranked as one of the top-five renewable energy states,” stated Hassan. 

“We must continue to build on this progress, and lifting the cap on net metering is essential to those efforts. I commend the Senate for its bipartisan vote to pass this critical measure, and I encourage the House to take similar action as quickly as possible so that we can continue our efforts to build a more innovative and more affordable energy future,” added Hassan. 

Once Again, Republicans In The NH Senate Kill An Increase To The Minimum Wage

Image from @OFA_NH pic.twitter.com/ZG7B0GfERQ

Image from @OFA_NH pic.twitter.com/ZG7B0GfERQ

Republicans Kill Minimum Wage Increase That Would Benefit More than 141,000 Granite Staters    

CONCORD- Senator Donna Soucy (D-Manchester), Deputy Democratic Leader and sponsor of SB 412, issued the following statement after Senate Republicans defeated a minimum wage increase along a party line vote:

“While 17 other states have increased their minimum wages in the last 4 years, I am disappointed that NH Senate Republicans have killed an increase in the minimum wage for the third time. Today, the Senate again failed the people of the New Hampshire and turned their backs on our workers,” said Senator Soucy.

“People working full-time in New Hampshire should be able to earn enough to support their families and they must be confident in their own financial circumstances in order to expand our economy. SB 412 would have strengthened the financial security of more than 141,000 Granite Staters and benefitted many more higher up the pay scale.” 

SB 412 would have increased New Hampshire’s minimum wage to $12 per hour. According to a recent report by the Economic Policy Institute, raising New Hampshire’s minimum wage to $12 would have benefitted 141,000 New Hampshire workers, 60% of which are women and 84% of which are above the age of 20. 

“Paying decent wages is a good investment for our economy. Well-paid workers are better employees and better customers; their spending helps sustain our businesses and our economy. Increasing the minimum wage was a common sense step forward we could have taken to support our working families and grow our economy. While I’m disappointed our Republican colleagues continue to fail our workers, Senate Democrats will continue to push for an increase in our minimum wage and will continue fighting to expand opportunity for all.”

Senator Bette Lasky Introduces Bill To Authorize Online Voter Registration

CONCORD- Senator Bette Lasky (D-Nashua) introduced SB 507, which would establish online voter registration for New Hampshire voters. Following the Senate Public and Municipal Affairs Committee public hearing on SB 507, Sen. Lasky released the following comments:

“Allowing our citizens to register to vote online would help create a more accessible system and increase the number of citizens exercising one of their most important rights,” said Senator Lasky. “As the First-In-The-Nation Presidential Primary state, New Hampshire needs to continually move forward as technology advances and be an example to the rest of the country.” 

Twenty-three states currently use online voter registration. Five more states will implement it this year, bringing that number to 28 by 2017.

“New Hampshire has built a strong reputation for voter participation, but we can always do more to help busy Granite Staters take part in our elections. Its 2016– we can pay our taxes, utility bills, and bank online. Why shouldn’t we be able to register to vote or update our voter registration online? I urge my fellow committee members to support this common sense legislation to move our voter registration system into the 21st century.”

NH Senate Democrats Blast Republicans For Passing Bill To Restrict Voting Rights

Senate Democrats’ Statement on Passage of Unconstitutional Legislation to Restrict Voter Rights 

CONCORD — Senator Bette Lasky, Senator David Pierce and Senator Molly Kelly condemned the passage of Senate Bill 4, which imposes an unconstitutional burden on the right to vote. Senate Bill 4 as amended by the Senate is identical to Senate Bill 179, which was vetoed by Governor Hassan in 2015.

“As we have been stating since last year, this legislation will only serve to further complicate the voting process for New Hampshire citizens. SB 4 proposes a new standard for what constitutes a domicile that is more confusing and less concise than the current law,” said Sen. Bette Lasky. “Voters need consistency and clarity in their voting laws and this bill fails that test. It is unfortunate that our Republican colleagues continue to push legislation that discourages and disenfranchises our citizens from exercising their fundamental right to vote.”

In 1972, the Supreme Court clearly ruled in Dunn v. Blumstein that durational residency requirements for voting in state and local elections were unconstitutional.  

“I am disappointed to see my Republican colleagues support such legislation even though the Supreme Court has been clear on this issue,” said Sen. David Pierce. “These unconstitutional assaults on our constituents’ right to vote in free and fair elections have got to stop. Unfortunately, the Republican majority continues to push these attacks to disenfranchise Constitutionally-eligible voters in order to produce election results that are more to their liking.”

“Unlike other states, New Hampshire’s Constitution explicitly guarantees the equal right of every citizen to vote,” said Sen. Molly Kelly. “As we approach the 100th anniversary of our cherished First-In-The-Nation Presidential Primary, we should be encouraging all eligible citizens to vote instead of making the process more confusing and disenfranchising Constitutionally-eligible voters.”

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.”

Full Senate Rejects Amendment to Include Employees’ Contract in Budget

Rich Gulla (SEA/ SEIU 1984 President) A statement from Richard Gulla, President
of the State Employees’ Association (SEIU 1984) 

On behalf of the thousands of state employees throughout New Hampshire, I wish to extend my gratitude to Senator Lou D’Allesandro for opening a dialogue about the employment contract between the state and its employees at today’s Senate Session.  He not only broke the silence about this obviously missing budget item, but advocated for the hard-working employees who keep the state running.

We also thank the other Senators who spoke in favor of and voted in support of funding the modest cost of living raise that is contained in the new contract.  With the exception of one Republican Senator, the vote was according to party line and regrettably the amendment was not accepted.

To be clear, state employees don’t come to work each day or shift with political party loyalties on their minds – they come to work to serve every NH citizen and visitor 365 days a year regardless of political party affiliation. State employees work diligently and deserve to be compensated accordingly. There has been a constant bombardment of efforts to decrease their benefits including their health insurance and certainly their pensions. This is yet another reminder that certain legislators do not value their efforts.

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.

Organizations and Small Businesses Call on Governor to Reject Business Tax Cuts, Voice Concern for State Budget

More than 40 organizations, including 18 small businesses, sign letter urging Governor to reject business tax cuts   

Concord, NH – Representatives from New Hampshire’s small business, nonprofit, education and faith communities gathered in Concord today to speak against proposed business tax cuts. More than 40 organizations, including 18 small businesses, have signed a letter urging Governor Hassan to reject business tax cuts in upcoming or future budgets; the letter was delivered to the Governor’s office on Tuesday morning.

 

“The business tax cuts passed by the Senate earlier this year would drain nearly $28 million out of the upcoming state budget and reduce revenue by more $80 million each biennium once fully implemented, making it all but impossible to restore funding for local aid, services for the developmentally disabled, the state’s public colleges and universities, or a variety of other areas vital to New Hampshire’s high quality of life,” said Jeff McLynch, executive director of the New Hampshire Fiscal Policy Institute. 

 

At a press conference held at the Legislative Office Building, McLynch and representatives of several organizations and businesses who signed the letter to the Governor outlined concerns regarding the FY 2016-2017 state budget and proposals to cut business taxes at a time when the state cannot afford to fund critical needs. 

 

“Forty-one thousand school-age children in our state come from homes where there is an uncertainty of having enough food for all household members because of insufficient income or other resources,” said Scott McGilvray, president of NEA-New Hampshire. “Business tax cuts would endanger the public services on which these students and their families rely, and shift the burden for paying for such services directly onto the backs of those who need them most but can least afford them.”

 

As the version of the budget passed by the New Hampshire House illustrates, the state lacks adequate resources to meet the needs of its citizens, maintain vital infrastructure, and build an economy that works for everyone. The tax cuts proposed by the Senate will drain millions of dollars out of this and future budgets and leave the state further behind. More details pertaining to the fiscal impact of the SB 1 and SB 2 tax cuts are attached

 

“We know that substance misuse costs businesses more than $1 billion per year in lost worker productivity,” said Kate Frey, advocacy director for New Futures. “Can New Hampshire really afford costly business tax cuts at a time when revenues are already insufficient to meet critical needs such as substance abuse prevention treatment and recovery?” 

 

Promoted as means to create jobs and spur economic growth in the state, proposed business tax cuts would benefit primarily large corporations, offering little benefit to most small businesses.

 

“I calculated how much these proposals would save my company when they are fully implemented and it came to less than $150 per year,” said Tom Strickland, president and co-founder of Sequoya Technologies Group, a small IT company with eight employees based in Peterborough, NH. “$150 out of a million dollar budget isn’t going to influence my business decisions. I won’t be hiring new employees or buying new equipment as a result of this tax cut.”

 

Strickland moved his family to New Hampshire 18 years ago to start a business and raise a family, attracted by the state’s high quality of life. Strickland encouraged lawmakers to invest in things that businesses need but cannot do for themselves, such as high-quality schools, well-maintained roads, and high-speed broadband internet. 

 

Participants stressed that businesses and the state would be better served by investing business tax revenue in areas that benefit the state overall – a well-trained workforce, good schools and affordable higher education, safe infrastructure, and health and support services that increase employee productivity and reduce employer costs.

 

New Hampshire has enacted numerous business tax cuts since 2010. In its 2014 report, the New Hampshire Business Tax Study Commission concluded that business tax cuts were impractical at this time and ranked low on the list of business priorities. 

 

The Reverend Jonathan Hopkins of Concordia Lutheran Church, president of the board of directors for the New Hampshire Council of Churches, closed the press conference with the following remarks: “It is good business to care about our entire community, and it is the right thing to do. To give tax breaks to businesses while cutting services desperately needed by the most vulnerable in our state would be morally wrong, and fiscally foolish. I hope all people of conscience will stand with us and say that we need a budget that makes sense for all of the citizens of this great state.”

 

The full text of the letter to Governor Hassan and complete list of signatories is attached

 

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

 

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.

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