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Republicans Brings Shame On New Hampshire By Voting To Take ‘No Action’ On Rep Fisher Before He Resigns

How many Granite Staters feel right now

Once again the NH Republican Party has brought shame to our great state.  

Today, the NH Legislative Administrative Committee met to vote on whether any action would be taken against Rep Robert Fisher for his comments promoting rape and Rep Sherry Frost for her personal tweets that were deemed inappropriate due to her use of “foul” language.

“The actions by House Republicans on the Legislative Administration Committee today were an embarrassing abdication of our duties as Representatives,” said House Democratic Leader Steve Shurtleff.

Republican Dick Hinch (Merrimack), chair of the committee, wanted to have one vote covering both Representatives implying that the tweets made by Rep Frost were somehow equal to the years of rape promotion by Rep Fisher.

“Decisions made by the majority today were clearly designed to provide cover for Representative Fisher and deny the ability to take any action against him. Dictating that the committee consider the actions of both Representatives Fisher and Frost in a single motion violates both legislative process and common sense, and violates the legislature’s right to discipline its members as it sees fit,” Shurtleff added.

“The NH GOP is sending a loud message that it will work to provide political cover for individuals like Rep. Fisher who promote rape culture and misogyny. There should have been no hesitation in calling out Fisher’s action and no hiding behind false equivalences.  The NH GOP didn’t want to hold Fisher accountable, so they chose instead to target a female legislator who speaks her mind. This is the same playbook that encourages rape culture in the first place – blame the woman,” said Zandra Rice-Hawkins, Executive Director of Granite State Progress in a May 4th statement.

Just prior to the committee vote, Rep Tim Smith (D- Manchester) highlighted how Rep Fisher is still moderates the Red Pill Reddit under another alias.  Rep Fisher, under oath, denied having any continued involvement with the Red Pill Reddit, however the evidence provided indicates that he was lying under oath, a fact the Republican leadership did not seem to care about.

In his statement today, Rep Shurtleff announced the he personally would “ask the Attorney General to investigate the allegations that he still runs the Red Pill forum.”

Rep Smith also noted that the committee had received over 40,000 petitions to have Rep Fisher removed from office.

“Robert Fisher is a rape promoter who has no place serving in government,” explained Shaunna Thomas, co-founder of UltraViolet one of the advocacy groups behind the petition drive.“Comments like Fisher’s contribute directly to America’s rape epidemic by normalizing and excusing violence against women. Fisher’s promotion of this repulsive ideology puts women’s lives at risk and undermines trust in the New Hampshire state legislature to protect all citizens.”

The vote came out as expected, straight down party lines 8-6 to take no action on Rep Fisher or Rep Frosts.  The crowd was outraged, yelling “Shame, Shame.”

Democrats on the committee wanted to submit a minority report to all members of the House before the entire House votes as early as next week. Rep Hinch, rejected their request and ruled that no minority report would be accepted.

“The most egregious action by the Republican majority today was the denial of the minority to submit a report. How ironic that the majority recommendation of ‘no action’ was made under the guise of supporting free speech, while simultaneously denying the minority the long established tradition to formally oppose majority action by including a minority report,” Shurtleff added.

After the vote today, Rice-Hawkins said, “The NH GOP sent a loud message that it will work to provide political cover for individuals like Fisher who promote rape culture and misogyny. House Speaker Shawn Jasper, Republican Majority Leader Dick Hinch, and the entire Republican caucus of the Legislative Administration committee undermined the trust placed in them by constituents by putting party politics ahead of the women and children of our state and voting for no action to be taken on then-Rep. Fisher. There is absolutely no question this was about politics, since the Republicans required the motion on Fisher to be combined with a motion regarding actions of another elected official, leaving the committee with only the option to approve or condemn them both. It is hard to imagine a jury being ordered to issue a joint ruling on two different individuals charged with two very different offenses, but that is exactly the partisan game the NH House GOP played today. Furthermore, they refused to even allow a minority report.”

After the despicable action by the GOP voting to take no action, effectively justifying his rape comments, Rep Fisher officially resigned his position effective at noon today.

Prior to the committee session, members of UltraViolet, Granite State Progress and Action Together spoke out against Rep Fisher’s rape comments and once again called for his resignation.

“Action Together New Hampshire is pleased to learn Robert Fisher tendered his resignation following the executive session on his actions. While seeing Fisher out of a position of power was the outcome we were seeking, we are deeply disturbed by the extreme partisanship and blatant misogyny that this process exposed in the House,” said Action Together New Hampshire Executive Director Emily Morgan.  “Action Together New Hampshire remains committed to holding elected officials accountable regardless of party affiliation, and we expect honorable public servants to also hold their colleagues to a higher standard of behavior than Mr. Fisher demonstrated.”

“We are pleased that Rep. Fisher finally resigned, though we note his resignation only came after House Democrats threatened to take his statements under oath to the Attorney General for investigation. From start to finish, Robert Fisher has not been honest and transparent regarding his viewpoints that women are of a lesser class than their male counterparts,” Rice-Hawkins added.

“We welcome Robert Fisher’s resignation from the New Hampshire state legislature. Fisher’s repulsive ideology and cultivation of a pro-rape forum put women’s lives at risk–he directly contributed to America’s rape epidemic by normalizing and excusing violence against women.  It is deeply concerning that New Hampshire’s Legislative Administration Committee did not recognize what the rest of us did – that brand of dangerous misogyny simply has no place our government,” said Karin Roland, Chief Campaigns Officer of UltraViolet.

Ultimately the goal of removing Rep Fisher from the House was accomplished but not until after the committee brought shame our state by justifying his comments and actions by voting to take “no action.”

NH Senate Republicans Block Minimum Wage Increase (Statement by Granite State Progress)

Politician making $185,000 a year first to object to raising the wage for state’s lowest income earners

CONCORD, NH – The NH Senate voted 13-11 on party lines today to kill HB 1403, raising the state minimum wage. Statement from Granite State Progress:

“A Senate Republican making $185,000 a year called the minimum wage bill ‘feel good legislation’ but refused to spend even one day living in the shoes of his constituents who makes less than ten percent of his salary, even when they are working full-time,” said Zandra Rice Hawkins, executive director of Granite State Progress, in reference to Senator Peter Bragdon’s opening remarks. “Senator Bradley chose to use industry talking points instead of rely on economic data, and Senator Sanborn voted against the bill without disclosing the conflict of interest that he pays some of his workers minimum wage.”

“In contrast, several Senate Democrats took the Minimum Wage Challenge to live on minimum wage before voting on this bill. That experience illustrated for them the lack of affordable housing options, the slim budgets, and the constant anxiety that a minimum wage earner lives with every day. Questions about how to put gas in your tank and food on the table become very real when you don’t have a $185,000 golden salary to live on. Minimum wage earners work hard and play by the rules, but Senate Republicans sent a message loud and clear that they don’t care,” Rice Hawkins said.

In an online poll yesterday Granite State Progress asked whether Senate Republicans would table the bill, vote it down immediately, or vote it down after making misleading arguments. Option C won online and in reality. Below is a round-up of key political statements from today’s floor debate:

Sen. Peter Bragdon, R-Milford called the bill “feel good legislation”. Bragdon signed a contract this week for an $185,000 per year job.

Sen. Jeb Bradley, R-Wolfeboro said that raising the wage would harm teenagers and entry level workers. In New Hampshire, 72 percent of minimum wage workers are over the age of 20 years old and have real breadwinner responsibilities. Bradley has previously refused to answer whether he believes in a minimum wage at all.

Sen. Andy Sanborn, R-Bedford claimed that raising the minimum wage would harm small businesses, particularly restaurants. Sanborn did not mention that he pays minimum wage to some of his workers at The Draft – nor did he declare a conflict of interest before voting against the bill.

Previously … Sen. John Reagan, R-Deerfield told the Laconia Citizen he “thinks it’s ‘silly’ to say that someone couldn’t be supported on minimum wage as they can take on multiple jobs.”

In contrast, Senate Democrats spent an hour urging their colleagues to support the bill: 

Sen. Sylvia Larsen, D-Concord called the legislation “one of the most important issues this session.”

Sen. David Pierce, D-Hanover took the Minimum Wage Challenge this week to try to live on a minimum wage budget.  He told fellow legislators you must “walk a mile in another man’s shoes before you make you decision.” Of the experience he said: “The minimum wage challenge produced such anxiety for me … I was shaken by the experience.”

Sen. David Watters, D-Dover also took the Minimum Wage Challenge this week to try to live on a minimum wage budget.  He told fellow legislators:

“Taking the Minimum Wage Challenge this week, it quickly became obvious to me that I couldn’t live and work in Dover without public support for food and housing.  The usual amount provided for food is $37.75 a week, so I went to Janetos, a local downtown market where people without transportation can shop at good prices, and, given the kind of community Dover is, everyone feels welcome and accepted.  $5.45 a day meant careful meal planning. A loaf of bread, peanut butter, eggs, lots of potatoes and pasta, a can of tomatoes, some cheese, two pieces of chicken, a head of broccoli, carrots, milk, and toiletries.  As the funds dwindled, I felt that anxiety of not having enough, putting things back on the shelf, buying by lowest price for a smaller quantity, and seeing that any staple, such as flour, oil, coffee, would mean not enough food for meals.  In planning for one peanut butter sandwich a day for lunch, I recalled when I was working in a factory or in construction filling my lunch box with four to six sandwiches, fruit, cookies, milk, and eating every crumb to keep up strength for hard work.  There’s just not enough to keep body and soul together …

Everyday experiences become a crisis on minimum wage.  I had some surgery this week—would Medicaid have covered the procedure and the $25.00 copay, or would I have had to put it off, try to ignore the problem, and hope for the best?  Or when to fill the tank, looking for a gas station with prices a few pennies less, and seeing the $40.13 it cost just to get to work for a week meant 5-1/2 hours of pay. My old car’s due for an oil change, too. Every day becomes an emergency when the tank runs low.

Video of Sen. Watters participating in the Minimum Wage Challenge grocery shopping trip is below.

Granite State Progress Asks ‘Who Is Really Funding The Josiah Bartlett Center and The NH Watchdog?’

New Report Reveals the Koch-Fueled, ALEC-Allied Corporate Agenda Josiah Bartlett Center and NH Watchdog Don’t Want Public to Know About

New Hampshire report part of multi-state expose on ALEC’s use of front groups to push national corporate agenda at the expense of middle class families 

Report highlights examples of Josiah Bartlett Center and NH Watchdog misleading policymakers, press, and public about role as paid lobbyists for corporate interests  

CONCORD, NH – This morning Granite State Progress and the Center for Media and Democracy formerly released the new report “Bad Bartlett: The Josiah Bartlett Center and NH Watchdog Answer the Call of the Koch Brothers” detailing how state-based Josiah Bartlett Center and the New Hampshire Watchdog are not independent and unbiased as they claim, and instead work hand in hand with the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and other corporate-funded special interest groups to advocate for public policies designed to benefit their corporate funders.

“Our research shows how the Josiah Bartlett Center and the New Hampshire Watchdog work hand in hand with ALEC to act as paid lobbyists for controversial, corporate-driven policies, without disclosing those ties to the public and instead actually working to deflect increased public scrutiny of the corporate corruption of our legislative process,” said Zandra Rice Hawkins, executive director of Granite State Progress. “Josiah Bartlett Center and the NH Watchdog are just a different face for the same Koch-fueled, ALEC-allied corporate agenda that is attacking New Hampshire middle class families and hurting our communities.”

The new report details how the Josiah Bartlett Center and NH Watchdog falsely claim to be independent, local operators when in fact they are part of the State Policy Network, a national Koch-funded, ALEC-allied network of organizations. The Josiah Bartlett Center, NH Watchdog, and other State Policy Network member groups advocate for a national agenda driven by out-of-state corporate actors. Be it the economy, environment, education, workers’ rights or access to health care, State Policy Network member groups promote policies that are not only designed to fatten the bottom line of their corporate funders, but are consistently harmful to New Hampshire.

“Granite Staters need to know how these groups misrepresent themselves and their agenda, and how much influence they maintain over lawmakers,” said Rice Hawkins. “We will continue to shine a bright light on ALEC, front groups like the Josiah Bartlett Center and NH Watchdog, and the lawmakers who are doing their dirty work rather than acting in the best interests of our state.”

Key findings of the report include:

  • The Josiah Bartlett Center is a member of the State Policy Network and the NH Watchdog – embedded at the Josiah Bartlett Center – is run by the far-right Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity. Both networks have close ties to the American Legislative Exchange Council, the Koch brothers, and the Heritage Foundation among others.
  • The legislative agenda of the Josiah Bartlett Center and NH Watchdog align closely with other Koch-funded groups such as Americans for Prosperity and ALEC, and the organizations play a specific role in the overall strategy for advancing these objectives.
  • Staff of both organizations lobby on legislation at the state level – spending time producing reports, creating statistics, talking points, “expert” testimony, videos, and a raft of other materials – yet refuse to file as lobbyists or disclose their ties. Former NH Watchdog staffer Grant Bosse even testified on legislation before a committee as a ‘reporter’ speaking on his own behalf without disclosing that he had been paid with corporate donations to issue reports attacking the policy in question.  (pages 20-21 of report)
  • Josiah Bartlett Center and NH Watchdog have received direct funding from the Koch family fortune despite their claims otherwise. The staff members for both the Josiah Bartlett Center and the NH Watchdog wrote opinion columns in the past two years in which they denied receiving Koch funding and attempted to deflect criticism of other corporate-funded entities such as the American Legislative Exchange Council. The Bad Bartlett report provides irrefutable evidence that the Bartlett Center and NH Watchdog intentionally mislead policymakers, press, and the public about the funding they receive to advocate for corporate-written legislation. (pages 8, 13-14, 32-35)

Lisa Graves, Executive Director, Center for Media and Democracy (CMD): “While State Policy Network members go on television and represent themselves as nonpartisan, objective scholars on issues of public policy, in actuality SPN is a front for corporate interests with an extreme national policy agenda tied to some of the most retrograde groups in the country, including the billionaire Koch brothers, the Waltons, the Bradley Foundation, the Roe Foundation, and the Coors family.”

“The bottom line is these organizations of the rich, by the rich and for the rich are representing themselves as groups that are looking out for the best interests of everyday, working class Americans and it’s just a blatant lie.  What we’re doing is trying to bring some transparency to the damaging work they’re doing on a daily basis.  From policies that promote polluting the air and water to the destruction of our public education system and a tax system that benefits their rich donors, what these organizations are doing is shameful and it’s time that someone brought this to light.”

Bill Duncan, Founder, NH Advancing Public Education: “New Hampshire residents have a right to know who is writing their laws and who is advocating for them. The Josiah Bartlett Center has a nice-sounding, local name, but the fact that they go to such great lengths to hide their connections to groups like ALEC or funders like the Koch brothers while advocating for the very policy agenda supplied by those groups and funders should raise the eyebrows of anyone.”

Today’s report was released as a follow-up to previous reports by Granite State Progress and the Center for Media and Democracy exposing how corporate-funded ALEC’s agenda is not based upon ideology, but rather upon financial rewards for its corporate funders. ALEC “model bills” that have been introduced in New Hampshire by ALEC representatives benefit corporations at the expense of everyday Granite Staters.

The report can be found online at www.GraniteStateProgress.org.

 

Senate Republicans Put Ideology Over The Health Of 50,000 Granite Staters

“Today, members of the Senate Republican caucus let down the people of New Hampshire by refusing to compromise to develop a health care expansion plan that would actually work,” Governor Hassan stated. “Their refusal to discuss workable plans to allow New Hampshire to accept $2.4 billion in federal funds to provide critical health coverage to more than 50,000 hard-working people undermines the health and economic well-being of our families and businesses.”

As you are already aware the NH Senate could not reach an agreement to expand the state’s Medicaid program, leaving thousands of low-income families to suffer without healthcare.

Governor Hassan continued:

“We offered Senate Republican leadership nearly everything they asked for; all we wanted was a plan that would actually work from day one and for the long term. But Senate Republicans refused to budge, putting ideology first and the people of New Hampshire second.

Our providers are ready for expanded health coverage, our businesses are ready, our people are ready, and I am ready. We will keep working and there will be more votes. I hope that at some point, a few Senate Republicans will set ideology aside and step forward to do what is right. Until then, it is the people who are hurt, and it is the people whom Senators must answer to.”

Governor Hassan was not the only one who was outraged by the Republicans in the Senate who chose to stand with the Americans For Prosperity, and other special interest groups, rather than stand up for their own constituents.

Zandra Rice-Hawkins the Executive Director of Granite State Progress released the following statement:

Nancy Stiles GSP

Image from Granite State Progress. You can share this image from Facebook and Twitter.

We condemn the ‘do nothing’ GOP Senate for turning its back on 58,000 lower income Granite Staters who would benefit from health care coverage. Republican State Senators like Nancy Stiles are leaving money on the table that could have covered New Hampshire families because they kowtowed to special interests instead of representing their constituents.”

“Policymakers heard loud and clear from constituents, health policy experts, and consumer advocates that expanding Medicaid was a win-win for New Hampshire families, hospitals, community health centers, and our overall budget and economy. But when wealthy special interests opposed to health care came knocking, too many politicians caved. Senate Republicans refused to acknowledge the incredible compromises offered by the Democrats for a bi-partisan plan, and instead stonewalled back to the position they’ve always held: that we should do nothing.”

State Senator Chuck Morse. Image from Granite State Progress.  You can share this image on Facebook and Twitter.

State Senator Chuck Morse. Image from Granite State Progress. You can share this image on Facebook and Twitter.

“Senate President Chuck Morse’s flowery speech imploring legislators to continue to work together on this issue and then the subsequent vote by Senate Republicans to close the special session without any plan for action demonstrates that this has all just been a show for them. Meanwhile, New Hampshire families are going without health care coverage when they most need it.”

Granite State Progress also released a short video of a people talking about their real life problems in accessing healthcare and Greg Moore the State Director of the Americans For Prosperity calling them a ‘problem’.

The fight to provide healthcare to over 50,000 low-income families in New Hampshire is not over.  The Senate Democrats and the Governor vowed to continue their efforts.  “Senate Democrats will continue to fight for accepting Federal funds and expanding health coverage for thousands of the hard-working Granite Staters from Hampton to Hanover and Salem to Stewartstown,” said Senate Democratic Leader Sylvia Larsen.

Why do the Senate Republicans want to continue to be a donor state with our federal tax dollars while low-income families are suffering?  We could use the tax money we are already paying to help these working families acquire healthcare, making them happier and healthier members of our community.

New Hampshire Overwhelmingly Supports Gun Reforms

If you listen to the right wing pundits on ‘gun control’ they paint this image of President Obama himself walking into your home and ripping your guns right out of your hands.   I cannot tell you how many meme’s (images with words) I have seen, from both sides, on this issue.

The far far left is calling for a ban on all guns. I disagree with that. While the far far right wants to make teachers carry guns at school.  I am totally against that too!

So what should we do?  This issue is not going away.  People are not going to forget about the children who died at Sandy Hook.  Or the brave teachers who gave their lives to protect their students.

President Obama proposed new regulations on guns. His proposal includes a ban on all assault weapons and bullet magazines of 10 or more, and universal background checks.  This sparked outrage from the GOP fundamentalists.  They are screaming; ‘I have a right to bear arms’.  That is very true, you have a Constitutional right to own a gun and protect yourself.  The fact is that our forefathers were talking about muskets and muzzle loaders not AK-47s.

Times have changed and we need to change as well.  The fact is that even here in New Hampshire there is overwhelming support for gun reforms.  By a nearly 3-to-1 margin, Granite Staters support a ban on assault weapons in New Hampshire (72%-24%) and by a nearly 8-to-1 margin support a national proposal to require a criminal background check for every gun sale (88%-10%).

“The horrific tragedy that we saw in Connecticut has increased the public call for urgent action to prevent more gun violence,” said Granite State Progress executive director Zandra Rice Hawkins. “This poll demonstrates that the people of New Hampshire share the same sense of outrage that communities across the country have expressed in recent weeks. This should serve as notice to both the State House in Concord and our elected representatives in Washington that Granite Staters are serious about preventing gun violence. The consensus that the poll shows cuts across party, region, and gender.”

This is only the first step to creating a strong public policy for gun reform.  This is a fact that many people, including AFT President Randi Weingarten, agree with a ban on assault rifles.

“The gun used to murder 26 innocent children and educators at Sandy Hook Elementary School fired six bullets every second. That weapon, its high-capacity magazine, and weapons like them are designed for maximum carnage, not for hunting and sport.”

“The commonsense legislation introduced today by Sen. Feinstein will help keep our communities safe from gun violence, and we urge its immediate passage. A majority of Americans agree that these weapons and their large-capacity magazines have no place in a civilized society. More than 900 people have been murdered by guns since the tragic events in Newtown, Conn. We must act immediately to reduce gun violence and make our schools and communities safe.”

– AFT President Randi Weingarten

I am sure that I will get plenty of hate mail and derogatory comments about this post, I don’t care.  If you are a true fan of democracy then you have to understand that the ‘will of the people’ should determine these types of actions.  Overwhelmingly in NH and throughout the United State ‘the people’ want this type of gun reform.  This is not a partisan issue, it is a matter of safety and security.  Our children should not be forced to attend schools that are armed like military bases (ie Fort Hood) which still do not stop violent actions.   Hopefully with background checks, and limitations on gun sales events like Sandy Hook will become farther and farther apart until they no longer exist.

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