Guest Blogs

Wednesday
May142014

Ellen Read - Our State Senators are not listening to us

For the jaded among us this isn’t a surprise.  We’re cynical because we know our government is bought and paid for by the highest bidders.  Our legislators no longer have constituents, they have investors—groups not even from legislators’ districts with whom legislators spend 70% of their time fundraising, and who donate in order to obtain favorable policy.  A recent Princeton study showed definitively we no longer have a democracy, but an oligarchy—rule by the wealthy few.  It showed that public policy is dictated by the 0.000042% of Americans who give substantial contributions, not by the People, as we all believe.  But we don’t have to resign to apathy.

 

New Hampshirites, true to our independent spirit, are trying to restore government to the People.  Building on work of years past, this March resolutions were on 61 Town Warrants calling for a constitutional amendment that would:  1) guarantee the right of the people to regulate political spending, and 2) clarify that artificial entities such as labor unions, SuperPACs, and corporations are not entitled to the same constitutional rights as actual human beings.  Out of the 61 towns, 48 passed the resolution —and most by an overwhelming majority. The people of New Hampshire have spoken.

 

Yet when this same resolution, SB307, came before our State Senate, twelve Senators rejected the original language, gutting it—although 32 of the 48 towns that passed warrant articles were in these Senators’ districts.  For example, Senator Forrester voted against the purpose of the bill, but seven of the nine towns in her district passed similar resolutions.  And although all five towns in Senator Bragdon’s district and all four in Senator Bradley’s district also passed these resolutions, both of them also voted no.  Why aren’t they listening to us? 

 

A UNH Poll revealed 75% of New Hampshirites, across all political lines, want a constitutional amendment to return control of government to the People.  New Hampshire cares about this.  A lot.  There is a movement building in response to government corruption, and it stems from our collective innate sense of what democracy is--from the wisdom of leaders from James Madison and Teddy Roosevelt to Warren Rudman and John McCain.

 

It’s tempting to be apathetic, thinking the system is rigged.  It is rigged; that is why we have to fix it.  SB307 is now passing the State House, so it will go back to conference with the Senate, where our senators may try to weaken it again.  We have to make our State Senators hear us, on this more than anything else, because this is the one issue that decides whether we have a say in any other.  No matter your politics or cause, if you want to have a say in it then we have to get big money out of politics.  No one should have to have money to have a voice--not in a democracy.

 

Ellen Read, Newmarket

Bob Martens, Bridgewater

George Blaisdell, Bridgewater

Max Stamp, Bristol

Nancy Dowey, Bristol

Maria Weick, Dorchester

Herb Moyer, Groton and Exeter

Pam Martin, Plymouth

Kenneth McKenzie, Eaton

Richard Devens, Sandwich

Penny Voyles, Wakefield

Michelle Russell, Hancock

Gerald Debonis, Sharon

Lucy Edwards, Northwood

Peter White, Nottingham

Scott Abercrombie, Salem

George Manos, Danville

Carol Croteau, Kingston

Evert Lamm, Stratham

Joseph Bagshaw, Conway (passed previously)

State Senator Martha Fuller Clark, District 21, Sponsor of SB307

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.