GSP Progress Report On 2014 State Legislative Agenda


 From GSP:

The New Hampshire House and Senate wrapped up the first part of the legislative calendar last week, and we thought it would be a great time to share a progress report on our 2014 state legislative agenda. Here are some of the successes and setbacks to date – and what you can do to help bring us to the next level.

Raise the Wage: Increasing the State Minimum Wage
New Hampshire’s minimum wage has not kept up with the cost of living for more than 30 years, and is currently stalled at $7.25 an hour – or the equivalent of less than $300 a week for a full-time worker. Raising the minimum wage would help lift Granite State workers out of poverty, stimulate the economy, and help families across the state. Granite State Progress supports increasing New Hampshire’s minimum wage to $8.25 in 2015 and $9 in 2016 – and indexing it to the cost of living going forward.

The NH House voted to pass HB 1403 by a bi-partisan margin of 173-118. The next stop is the State Senate. You can read coverage of the vote and a statement from Granite State Progress in the Eagle Tribune.

Equal Pay for Equal Work: Paycheck Fairness Act
Equal pay for equal work is more than a motto – it’s the law. The Paycheck Fairness Act will define the conditions in which employers may legitimately pay differential wages to men and women who perform equal work; prohibit employers from barring an employee from disclosing information about his or her wages, salary and paid benefits as a condition of employment; and prohibit retaliation against an employee who discloses the amount of his or her wages.

The NH State Senate unanimously adopted SB 207, the New Hampshire Paycheck Fairness Act. Join us for a press conference ahead of the House public hearing on Tuesday, April 8th – Equal Pay Day. For more information contact Caitlin Rollo at (603) 225-2471 or caitlin@granitestateprogress.org.

Public Safety: Gun Violence Prevention
In the absence of Congressional action, it is important that states explore other options for preventing or reducing gun violence in our communities. Foremost among these is requiring universal background checks, which will keep guns out of the hands of felons, domestic abusers and the seriously mentally ill by requiring background checks for all gun transfers. An overwhelming 89% of Granite Staters support expanding background checks to cover all firearm sales – it’s time to have this conversation in New Hampshire.

The NH House initially signaled support for a background checks bill that would expand criminal background checks to all commercial gun sales—including online sales. Ultimately, however, the House did not pass the bill and also tabled a study commission on firearms violence, safety, and background checks. A full recount can be found here.

Granite State Progress is still closely watching SB 244, which passed the Senate late last week. SB 244’s original goal was to report the names of those who are prohibited purchasers of firearms due to mental health to be reported to the NICS background check system, and to establish a relief from disabilities (RFD) program to restore gun rights for people whose mental health treatment has ended—the appropriate formula. Granite State Progress supported these original goals, but the gun lobby amended version of SB 244 removed the portion reporting records to the background checks system and replaced the RFD program with a dangerous and untested “annulment” process that doesn’t take into account mental health history before gun rights are restored. As such, SB 244 gravely jeopardizes public safety. We will keep you posted on next steps for this bill – letters to the editor are most helpful at this point, and we can provide more information for your use, contact Zandra at (603) 225-2471 or zandra@granitestateprogress.org.

Good Government: Transparency & Accountability
Corporate special interests have been influencing our elections for years, but the corporate corruption of our legislative process is just as dangerous – and it’s growing. Granite State Progress teamed up with a bi-partisan group of legislators to introduce two bills that will increase disclosure and transparency for special interests who are working behind closed doors to do the most fundamental act of lobbying: writing our state laws.

HB 1440, which stands up to special interests by making them follow the same lobbying rules as everyone else, was recommended for interim study. We will continue to work towards a strong final report at the end of the year. HB 1207, which requires the source of model bills to be disclosed, was voted inexpedient to legislate -- the committee recommendation supported the concept but stated that it should be in House Rules instead of in statute. We disagreed heavily: bills originating in the Senate will not have the same disclosure, and House Rules change with administrations. However, we will work to submit language during the next adoption of House rules to stop corporate special interests from writing our state laws behind closed doors, and consider options for reintroducing this legislation next year.

Everyday: Exposing the Radical Right Agenda
Granite State Progress will continue to lead the charge of shining a light on the extreme agenda of the fringe right, which includes everything from rolling back the FDA’s oversight to claims of Benghazi cover-ups and the fear of United Nations take-overs. In addition, allies can count on us to help thwart the attacks on women’s rights, voting access, and middle class families, and to promote equal protections under the law and other common-sense public policies that represent true Granite State values.

In the first three months of the year, Granite State Progress hosted a press conference to announce another out-of-state candidate for U.S. Senate, shined a bright light on Koch-funded Americans for Prosperity supplying NH college students with free alcohol to try to lure them away from signing up for health care coverage, ran an active online ad campaign to engage Granite Staters in the push to expand health care coverage to 50,000 lower income Granite Staters, and debunked conservative claims about the Affordable Care Act.

It’s been a busy couple of months, and we are so thankful to each of you for the work you’ve done to advance progressive solutions to critical community problems, from writing letters and attending rallies, to speaking in front of the legislature and at press conferences. There’s still work to be done before the legislative session wraps up in June, and we look forward to continuing to build on this momentum.