Guest Blogs

Tuesday
Apr012014

CACR 17 - Pushing Constitutional Protection For Sexual Preference 

by Bryan McCormack, Executive Director Cornerstone Action

Freedom and equality under the law for all.  In New Hampshire, we sometimes take this for granted. But our state constitution says that equality of rights under the law shall not be denied to anyone on account of race, creed, color, sex, or national origin. 

Yet twenty-three New Hampshire senators seemingly want to pick and choose who gets freedom and equal treatment, and who doesn’t.  Two weeks ago, they voted to add the novel legal concept of “sexual orientation” to the state constitution via CACR 17.) The proposed constitutional amendment will soon go to the New Hampshire House and—if it receives the necessary three-fifths majority--will go on the ballot statewide this November.

This intrusive restructuring of our state constitution would be a first-in-the-nation. No other state has attempted to place in a document that is supposed to protect everyone special protections for some, and coercion for others.  No other state has attempted to create victims of discrimination in such a fashion, nor attempted to compromise and unjustifiably burden First Amendment freedoms that should rightly be enjoyed by every citizen.  

New Hampshire legislators should recall that freedom is for all Americans.  Indeed, their first responsibility as lawmakers is to protect and uphold our constitutionally-protected freedoms, not pass and enact laws that guarantee specials safeguards for some, but bully and punish others. 

We are all currently protected under the New Hampshire constitution. So why the change? Why aren’t our lawmakers preserving freedom for everyone—something that is good for our economy, the business community, and our state.  No one should have to beg the state to exercise their constitutionally-protected freedoms.  Yet, that is exactly what this proposed constitutional amendment would do.  

Notably, only the prime sponsor, Sen. David Pierce (D-Lebanon) testified in support of this change.  But no senator questioned the detrimental impact of such a bill.  No senator questioned how adding such a malleable legal construct into the law would impact the economy and businesses.  Not a single senator asked about the religious liberty implications of such a constitutional amendment, or how it would impact those individuals and businesses that adhere to traditional views on sexuality and marriage. What will it mean for an adoption agency, for example, that seeks to place children in homes with both a mom and a dad? 

The day the CACR passed the full Senate, Sen. Pierce stated: "It’s a momentous day for me, personally, but it’s not about me. It’s a momentous day, I think, for the state that we’re committed to equality . . .” 

But this proposed constitutional amendment would enact the opposite of equality.  If would enact inequality under the law, allowing the selective selection of who gets freedom and who doesn’t—even punishing some New Hampshire citizens for simply exercising their freedoms. Such divisive treatment runs afoul of the nobility and diversity of our state.  Freedom is not negotiable and our lawmakers shouldn’t compromise our freedom.  

Everyone in New Hampshire, regardless of sexual orientation, deserves protection under the state constitution and enjoys such protection with its current language. New Hampshire lawmakers should be safeguarding these freedoms and not promoting unjust and coercive constitutional amendments under the façade of “equality.”  

Passage of CACR 17, however, would suppress these freedoms, and citizens of this great state will likely face lawsuits for simply trying to exercise their freedoms.  

Our state motto is “Live Free or Die.”  Let’s not enact a measure that would change that motto to “Live free and be sued.”  Legislators should oppose CACR 17 because freedom is not negotiable and sexual preference and behavior should never trump our fundamental freedoms.


Saturday
Dec072013

ALG - Destroying entry level jobs and teen opportunity 

Destroying entry level jobs and teen opportunity

By Rick Manning

Fast food restaurants will get the joy of having labor unions stage protests demanding an increase in their worker's wages and more than doubling the overall federal minimum wage this week. 

Everyone wants to make more money, so what could go wrong?

Perhaps it would be wise to ask Food and Commercial Worker Union members in the Washington, D.C. area.  These union members have priced themselves out of jobs as the consuming public is being trained to scan their own food items, cutting out the middle man.  The union workers are so concerned about their dwindling numbers that they are threatening to strike on December 20th with a major complaint being that the implementation of self-scanning technology is eliminating their jobs.

Now the same Big Labor economic geniuses whose demands for ever increasing benefits and wages threaten the grocery clerks very existence are being equally helpful to entry level fast food workers.  Workers who perform low skill functions for a minimum wage or just slightly higher.

At a time when Amazon has built a drone to deliver packages, and hopes to have them operational with full Federal Aeronautics Administration approval within four to five years, it takes little imagination in our current culture to see a fast food restaurant operating with very few personnel.

You punch your order in at a display screen, or in drive thru, Siri's younger, more advanced sister, takes your order showing you the results on the screen.  You put your credit card or cash into the ATM like payment system and drive to the pick-up window where you get your food that comes out when sensors tell the machine you are in place to receive it.  The food gets cooked by a series of machines that put the right patty on the grill, drop just the right amount of fries and automatically puts the appropriate soft drink cup under the right beverage.  A lid is attached and your meal is delivered to you when you drive up.

The restaurant has next to perfect food cost controls, and a labor force that doesn't sleep in on Saturday or shut the restaurant fifteen minutes early because it is slow and they are bored.

Automakers build cars using very exact automation, is it so unreasonable to believe that a burger could be made similarly?

Yet, protestors are going to blithely march around fast food restaurants demanding wages that virtually guarantee mechanized product delivery, a result that has disastrous consequences.

Fast food restaurants are gateway jobs, and are not intended for the vast majority of people to be anything but that – entry level.  This is a great thing. 

Teens learn that they have to get to work on time both from getting pinged by their bosses, and by having to stay late due to the tardiness of a coworker.  Teens learn about this FICA fellow who takes a bunch of their paycheck without their ever seeing a dime, and wonder how their $183.75 check for five, five hour days dwindled down to a mere $135.  And most importantly, teens learn that money to go to the movies, pay car insurance and put gasoline in the car has to be earned by trading time, energy and effort in a value creating way.

The demand that these entry level wage jobs be transformed into "living wage" jobs changes this fundamental dynamic. 

Those positions that do remain will be highly sought after by older, more experience people who never would consider a burger joint job, driving the stereotypically unreliable teen from taking their first step into the American economic workplace.

Already, our nation is seeing a destruction of opportunities for young Americans to enter the workforce which may be why almost two out of three teens aren't even trying to get a job in today's America.

Contrast this with teen expectations forty years ago.  In 1973, the economy was terrible.  Gas lines, oil embargoes, the economy reeling from the impacts of Nixon's wage and price controls, 1973 was a mess for those trying to get a job.  Yet, more than half the teens were in the workforce and the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that 46.9 percent of the teens aged 16-19 in October, 1973 were employed compared to 26.6 percent today. 

When three quarters of your teens are not working either by choice or due to the lack of employment opportunities, something is dramatically wrong.

It would be foolhardy in the face of a youth unemployment crisis to destroy the very entry level jobs that young people depend upon to gain the work experience and basic workplace skills to survive and thrive moving forward.

While doubling the minimum wage sounds like a swell idea on its face, the impact on our nation's youth will be devastating. 

It is time to just say no to those who would destroy our nation's entry level jobs under the mantle of doubling wages at fast food and other retailers.  After all, those jobs are for our teen children.

Rick Manning (@rmanning957) is vice president of public policy and communications for Americans for Limited Government.

Monday
Dec022013

Citizens For A Strong NH - NH's Obamacare Trio is Hiding 

"New Hampshire's Obamacare Trio is Hiding"
By: Derek Dufresne

 

 


Zero. Zilch. Nada. No matter how you say it, that's the number of public Town Hall meetings Rep. Carol Shea-Porter (NH-01) and Rep. Anne McLane-Kuster (NH-02) have hosted on ObamaCare since being sworn into office in January. It has even been longer than that since Senator Jeanne Shaheen hosted a public forum for Granite Staters to discuss the most important topic of the day. New Hampshire's "ObamaCare Trio" have made it their mission to avoid us, their constituents.

Despite thousands of New Hampshire residents being affected by the failing law that all three of the aforementioned politicians supported, they have taken to the Washington DC strategy of hiding in order to protect their careers. Instead of actively engaging with those most affected by their votes, Sen. Shaheen, Rep. Shea-Porter and Rep. Kuster, all who have voted to exempt themselves from ObamaCare, have effectively screened themselves from those who are forced to live with it.

For months, Citizens for a Strong New Hampshire has been calling on Sen. Shaheen, Rep. Shea-Porter and Rep. Kuster to host public Town Hall meetings where those who have lost their health insurance or seen their premiums increase can come together to tell their elected officials how detrimental ObamaCare has been to their families. We have been asking them to provide a venue where they can listen to the small business owners who have been forced to cut back employees' hours and are timid about expanding and growing their companies out of fear from mandates within the law. However, Sen. Shaheen, Rep. Shea-Porter and Rep. Kuster have refused to do so. At this point, the message is clear - New Hampshire's "ObamaCare Trio" have no interest in hearing from Granite Staters about the failing law they continue to support.

While it is likely they are avoiding New Hampshire residents because they know they will not like what their constituents will have to say about it, that is no excuse. New Hampshire has a long tradition of its elected officials, regardless of political affiliation, returning home from Washington to discuss their votes and positions on the issues with their constituents. In fact, before she was a congresswoman, one member of New Hampshire's "ObamaCare Trio," Rep. Shea-Porter, used to attend several of former Rep. Jeb Bradley's many Town Hall meetings herself. Now that she holds the office, does she believe she is immune from the kinds of criticism she used to give the former congressman?

On behalf of the tens of thousands of Granite Staters who have already been negatively affected by ObamaCare and the countless more who will be as more of the law is implemented, we once again call on New Hampshire's "ObamaCare Trio" to stop hiding. Stop putting your political careers and your paycheck ahead of real New Hampshire residents who are feeling the pain from your continued support for the failing law. Sen. Shaheen,Rep. Shea-Porter, and Rep. Kuster, perhaps if you stopped hiding from your constituents and actually listened to what they had to say about the disaster known as ObamaCare, you might realize why so many of us are imploring you to stop supporting it.  
 
Derek Dufresne is the spokesman for Citizens for a Strong New Hampshire, which is a diverse, nonpartisan coalition of concerned citizens, community leaders and other stakeholders concerned with promoting and preserving strong families and a strong economy for New Hampshire.

 

Monday
Nov252013

Zack Deutsch-Gross - Close PSNH Coal Plants

New Hampshire has so much potential for greatness. We live in a democracy where our voices matter. We have 400 state representatives because the people of New Hampshire believe in citizen participation. Our political system is designed to help us build the clean, healthy and prosperous world we all envision. A world where we can open our doors every morning, step outside and breathe clean, crisp air. A world where our friends and family work in a local economy where everyone has jobs that support the natural beauty and uniqueness of New Hampshire. A world where we don’t have to choose between keeping the heat on in the winter and polluting our air and water with toxic chemicals. And right here in New Hampshire we can make that world a reality.

Citizens for Clean and Fair Power works to do just that. Over the past three months, we’ve been talking with elected officials, telling them our stories and enlisting their support to responsibly retire Merrimack Station in Bow, and work for a clean air and a sustainable energy future in New Hampshire. We’ve collected over 1,300 signatures from New Hampshire residents calling on our state legislators to take action. We’ve built a coalition of over 25 state-wide groups to join our call, and had 101 local business sign on their support. Just last week, we held public forums in Concord and Portsmouth where over 100 people, including U.S. Senate Candidate Jim Rubens and State Senator Martha Fuller-Clark, joined us to discuss New Hampshire’s future beyond coal. By having these conversations and enlisting the support of politicians, experts, small business owners and everyday people, we can create a clean, healthy and prosperous New Hampshire we all want and believe in.

New Hampshire yearns for a return to politics of togetherness and the realization of our mutual goals. It’s going to take more than what we’ve done over the past three months to achieve this vision, but with every new person that signs one of our petitions, with every elected official who becomes a champion for the people, with every person who stands up and says ‘I want to live in a healthy, clean and prosperous world,’ we bring that future closer. And that is what Citizens for Clean and Fair Power is all about. 

Zack Deutsch-Gross is an organizer for Toxics Action Center, a New England non-profit that supports local community groups such as Citizens for Clean and Fair Power to clean up pollution in their communities.

Saturday
Nov092013

Todd I. Selig - Planning for the "New Normal" - NH Local Governments Undertake Climate Adaptation Planning 

On October 28, 2013, the Town of Durham and the Strafford Regional Planning Commission (SRPC) organized a well-attended meeting at Durham’s new public library to engage the broader community in local climate adaptation planning.  The forum, which coincided with Hurricane Sandy’s anniversary, was designed for volunteer boards, business owners, neighboring communities, and residents interested in understanding the potential impacts of climate change and hearing more about the recently completed Climate Adaptation Chapter of Durham’s Hazard Mitigation Plan.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reports at www.epa.gov/climatechange that over the last several decades, the Northeast has experienced noticeable changes in its climate: “Since 1970, the average annual temperature rose by 2°F and the average winter temperature increased by 4°F.  Heavy precipitation events increased in magnitude and frequency.. . .Climate scientists project that these trends will continue.”   The EPA website notes that by the end of this century New Hampshire's summers could be as warm as North Carolina's summers are today, and “the combination of a projected increase in heavy precipitation and likely sea level rise may lead to more frequent, damaging floods in the Northeast in the future.”

Durham therefore joins other seacoast communities Hampton, Seabrook, Newfields, Hampton Falls, Exeter, Dover, and Portsmouth wrestling in their own distinct ways with adaptation, which is planning for the climate changes that are expected to occur, and mitigation efforts to limit future impacts of that change.  But the need for climate adaptation planning is not exclusive to the Seacoast.  The potential negative impacts of climate change will likely affect all NH communities over time.

Because the oldest parts of Durham were settled almost four hundred years ago along low-lying tidal waters on the shore of the Oyster River and Great Bay, adaptation and resiliency planning related to sea level rise are key priorities here. The purpose of the Town’s Climate Adaptation Chapter is to develop strategies that protect areas at risk from flooding due to climate change and to identify various regulatory and non-regulatory options that can be considered by the Town. With collaboration from municipal officials, Durham residents, scientists at the University of New Hampshire, and several state and local agencies, the goal of this work is to increase the Town’s resiliency. 

Recommendations in Durham’s Climate Adaptation Chapter include:

  • Developing strategies to address energy efficiency in building design and the promotion of Smart Growth to minimize energy requirements of Town residents and businesses;
  • Encouraging increased use of bicycles and walking as well as the use of more energy efficient vehicles;
  • Developing alternative renewable energy resources such as solar, wind power, and hydroelectric where practical;
  • Discouraging redevelopment in areas damaged by recurrent storms or chronic erosion to prevent future losses;
  • Establishing setbacks in areas at risk for potential sea level rise;
  • Promoting conservation and proper management of open space lands to maintain biodiversity and reduce flooding risk;
  • Educating local residents and land use boards concerning climate change and ways to mitigate adverse effects.

The White House Climate Action Plan, announced in June, suggests that adapting to a changing climate is necessary and requires the attention of all levels of society. It states:  “As we act to curb the greenhouse gas pollution that is driving climate change, we must also prepare for the impacts that are too late to avoid. Across America, states, cities, and communities are taking steps to protect themselves by updating building codes, adjusting the way they manage natural resources, investing in more resilient infrastructure, and planning for rapid recovery from damages that nonetheless occur.”

Municipal planning and decision-making are accomplished locally. The role of the state and federal government is to ensure communities have the information and tools at their disposal to make the best decisions possible and to remove barriers that may prevent sound, community-specific local decisions from being acted upon.

Across New Hampshire municipalities are celebrating their 250-, 300- and 375-year anniversaries. Our political subdivisions were designed to last, as were the city halls and town structures built to support our communities. Incorporated 281 years ago, Durham and its recent efforts serve as a reminder that severe impacts of a changing climate might very well represent the “new normal” within New Hampshire’s future.  Locally, residents in the Seacoast are beginning to take steps to protect their communities from a changing climate. To do so represents good common sense and needs to be done utilizing the best available science.  To do nothing represents an approach that fails to appreciate our carbon dependent past, misses opportunities to improve, and ignores the welfare of future generations.

To view the Durham Climate Adaptation Chapter on the Town’s web site, go to https://www.ci.durham.nh.us/administration/climate-adaptation-chapter.

About the Author:  Todd I. Selig has been Administrator for the Town of Durham since 2001.