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Entries in Speaker O'Brien (141)

Friday
Aug292014

NH Rep O'Brien - Supreme Court decision on Duncan v. State of New Hampshire 

In 2012 the New Hampshire legislature overrode Democrat Gov. Lynch’s veto and passed the Opportunity Scholarship Act, a law intended to give the children from poor and medium income families the opportunity to get the same educational opportunities that the children of Gov. Lynch and so many of his well-heeled political and union boss friends enjoy.  This pro-educational choice law allows businesses to give a very limited amount of their pretax dollars to private charities set up to give all but a small percentage of the funds they receive to educate children from families earning no more than 300% of the federal poverty line.
 
Ever since this law came into effect, vested educational industry interests, led by those who do not have to send their children to failing schools, have tried to reverse Gov. Lynch’s failed gubernatorial veto with a judicial veto.  They forum-shopped for a favorable judge.  They had that judge issue a decision limiting the law based on premise that would make any liberal smile: he said, in effect, that all your money first belongs to the government, so if government leaves some to you after taxes with the knowledge that you might spend it on a religious-based education, then government is supporting religion.
 
This trial court decision has now been subject to review in the New Hampshire Supreme Court and fortunately, it was reversed.  The decision found the plaintiffs lack standing to be in court challenging this law.  As a consequent, the Supreme Court overturned this clearly erroneous decision. 
 
The Supreme Court today rejected the trial court’s decision that in effect would have told the NH Legislature to be hostile and not neutral toward religions.  Our state constitution does not lay the foundation for such a radical and harmful government.
   
New Hampshire scholarship students will be able to attend the schools of their choice.  They and their parents will decide and if their decisions are for religious schools or secular schools, it will be up to them and not up to vested education industry interests trying to corral all students into failed government schools.
 
Decades of union and liberal tinkering and reforms have tainted the splendor of what was a public education system that was the envy of the world.  We must do better for our children.  We must expand the education choices available to all families, even those not as rich as the present and past New Hampshire governors opposing educational choice and the lead plaintiff in the Duncan case.  The journey to a better education for our children must and will continue.
 

Wednesday
Jul232014

NHDP - New Ranking Shows Drop in New Hampshire's Child Well-Being

New Data from 2012 Shows New Hampshire Fell in Rankings As O'Brien Implemented His Anti-Middle Class Agenda
 
Manchester, NH – New rankings released in the annual Annie E. Casey Foundation Kids Count Data Book, which is based on data from 2012, show that New Hampshire dropped from first to fourth place in child well-being amid Bill O'Brien's disastrous speakership that jeopardized New Hampshire’s job growth, and slashed funding for higher education and services for children.
 
While the rankings show that New Hampshire remains in the top five states for overall child well-being, a comparison of the data shows that in 2012, Granite State children were worse off on a variety of measures of economic well-being than they were in 2011.

“The data released today shows, once again, how much disgraced former Speaker Bill O’Brien hurt New Hampshire children and families with his brand of slash-and-burn-politics, and his relentless push for painful and irresponsible budget cuts,” said New Hampshire Democratic Party Chairman Ray Buckley. “As O’Brien tries to reclaim the speakership, New Hampshire is still reeling from the damage he did to middle-class Granite Staters by repealing the state minimum wage, jeopardizing job growth, cutting millions of dollars from public education and childcare programs, and gutting at-risk youth initiatives like the Children in Need of Services program.”
 
“Governor Hassan has worked tirelessly since taking office to reverse failed Speaker O’Brien’s damage and put the Granite State back on the right track by working across the aisle to solve problems and get real results for New Hampshire's children and families," continued Chairman Buckley.

Since taking office, Governor Hassan has prioritized supporting critical initiatives to help New Hampshire children and families. Governor Hassan signed into law the Paycheck Fairness Act, expanded health care coverage for 50,000 New Hampshire children and families, restored the Children in Need of Services program and is working to increase the minimum wage.
 
BACKGROUND

Comparison of 2011 & 2012 Kids County Data Book Child Economic Well-Being: Based on data, New Hampshire dropped from 7th to 12th in child economic well-being between 2011 and 2012 [Kids Count Data Book, 2013, 2014].
 
Speaker O’Brien Repealed the State Minimum Wage in 2011: “Republicans overrode Democratic Gov. John Lynch's veto in June and stripped New Hampshire's minimum wage law from the books […] House Republicans also killed a Democratically sponsored bill that would have raised the wage. Democrats argued the 75 cent proposed hourly increase would put $30 more each week in the pockets of the state's 4,000 lowest-paid workers, money that would be spent boosting the economy.” [AP, January 28, 2013]
 
O’Brien 2011-2012 Budget Cut Child-Care Services: “The budget would cut $115 million from hospital reimbursements and would reduce funding for dozens of programs including domestic violence prevention, child-care subsidies, ServiceLink resource centers and community health centers.” [Concord Monitor, April 1, 2011]

Major Layoffs, Record Budget Cuts Due to O’Brien 2011-2012 Budget: “Hospitals lost more than $115 million and laid off more than 1,000 staffers. The state university system endured record budget cuts and saw its coffers trimmed by 45 percent. As a result, 200 employees in public higher education lost their jobs. The Department of Transportation faced a 13 percent cut and also cut its workforce. Other agencies facing cuts are New Hampshire Legal Assistance and the state’s Division of Family Assistance.” [NPR State Impact, December 30, 2011]

O’Brien 2011-2012 Budget Cut the Children in Need of Services Program: “ […] many programs were cut in the last budget cycle, including Children in Need of Services and aid to higher education.” (Manchester Union-LeaderFebruary 6, 2013) [The CHINS program helps children with drug and behavioral problems, reduces incarceration, provides job placement assistance, and overall become productive members of society]

Failed Speaker O’Brien’s 2014 Comeback: While voted out in 2012, the former Speaker is staging a comeback to reclaim the speakership and doubling-down on his ultra-conservative agenda. On last week’s WMUR CloseUP when asked about his divisive profile, O’Brien responded unapologetically, “I stood up and said the things that needed to be said.” [WMUR CloseUP, July 20, 2014]
Wednesday
Jul232014

Statement by Rep. William O’Brien on the Court’s Rejection of Illegal Obamacare Subsidies 

Mont Vernon – Rep. William O’Brien, who is running for re-election to the New Hampshire House in Mont Vernon and New Boston as well as for re-election as New Hampshire House Speaker, issued the following statement on the decision of the US Appeals Court in Washington in the case of Halbig v. Burwell.  The decision rejected the Obama Administration’s misreading of its own law, which had allowed Obamacare subsidies through federal exchanges, such as the one covering New Hampshire.

“This court decision requires all New Hampshire’s elected officials to put aside partisan rhetoric and advantage to do what is right for our state and to get affordable health care for all our neighbors. Throughout the time that Obamacare was first considered, then jammed through Congress in a party-line vote, and finally found to be so flawed it has been unilaterally changed by the President 24 times, we have sought to engage elected officials in New Hampshire from both the Democrat and Republican parties in a discussion of free market solutions to the crisis in the cost of health insurance. Now that this latest reckless overreach by the Obama Administration has been ruled illegal, we once again call on NH Democrats in the New Hampshire House to work with us to adopt legislation we have proposed. We should allow health insurance to be purchased across state lines, to eliminate costly and unnecessary policy mandates, to free providers to bid their services and consumers to know the costs of those services, and to remove artificial licensing and healthcare provider restrictions.  New Hampshire needs for politicians from both parties to put aside the rhetoric and do what is best for our constituents.”

Tuesday
Jul222014

NHDP - How Much More Damage Could Bill O’Brien Do With a Rubber Stamp in the Governor’s Office?

As Bill O'Brien Seeks To Reclaim Speakership, Walt Havenstein and Andrew Hemingway Embrace Key Tenets of O’Brien’s Ultra-Conservative Agenda
  

Manchester, NH – As disgraced former House Speaker Bill O’Brien returns to the spotlight and seeks to reclaim the Speakership, failed CEO Walt Havenstein and conservative activist Andrew Hemingway have both made clear that they would be a rubber stamp for O’Brien’s anti-middle class Koch Brothers agenda thatjeopardized New Hampshire's jobs, slashed funding for higher education, services for children and infrastructure, and created a budgetary mess.

In an interview this week on WMUR’s CloseUP, O’Brien doubled-down on his ultra-conservative agenda, including pushing for so-called “Right to Work” legislation and returning to the same draconian cuts to critical priorities that undermined New Hampshire's economy and took our state in the wrong direction during his disastrous speakership. Just as troubling, when asked about his past divisive and offensive rhetoric, O’Brien responded, “I stood up and said the things that needed to be said.”
 
“New Hampshire is still recovering from the unmitigated disaster of Bill O'Brien's tenure as Speaker, from his painful and irresponsible budget cuts that are still being felt by seniors, students and working families, to his slash-and-burn politics that brought disgrace to the Granite State,“ said Bryan Lesswing, Deputy Communications Director for the New Hampshire Democratic Party. “In stark contrast to the O'Brien era, Governor Hassan has worked tirelessly to restore bipartisan cooperation and problem-solving in Concord. New Hampshire can't afford to go backwards, and voters will reject O’Brien and his rubber-stamp running mate for the Governor’s office again in November, just like they did in 2012.”
 
Few can forget the uncivil and nasty politics that defined the recent O’Brien era – where the Speaker compared the Affordable Care Act to the Fugitive Slave Act, threw the public out of the state house, campaigned to repeal same-sex marriage, and faced charges of bullying and intimidation from House colleagues.
 
Here are just a few of O’Brien’s anti-middle class Koch Brothers priorities that Havenstein and Hemingway have already expressed their support for:
 
O'Brien and his allies fought to defund Planned Parenthood and restrict a woman’s right to make her own health care decisions. Havenstein and Hemingway both applauded the Supreme Court's decisions to strike down buffer zones that protect women and allow bosses to come between a woman and her doctor when it comes to contraception. 
 
O’Brien worked to institute the most dramatic and severe cut to higher education in the nation. Havenstein and Hemingway support diverting money from our public schools to private and religious institutions, which is not only misguided but also violates our state's constitution. 
 
O'Brien repealed our state's minimum wage. Havenstein and Hemingway have both opposed any plan to restore and improve our state's minimum wage. 

O’Brien made so-called “Right to Work” legislation a top priority of his Koch Brothers agenda. Havenstein and Hemingway also support implementing so-called "Right to Work" legislation that would undermine worker's rights and cause economic harm to working families throughout the state.

BACKGROUND

Havenstein and Hemingway on Women’s Health

Hemingway Calls Supreme Court’s Decision on Hobby Lobby a win for the Constitution: “In the governor’s race, Republican Andrew Hemingway called the [Hobby Lobby] decision a win for the Constitution.” [Concord MonitorJuly 1, 2014]
 
Havenstein Praises Supreme Court’s Decision on the Massachusetts Buffer Zone Law. “Havenstein praised the court’s decision and condemned the New Hampshire law Gov. Maggie Hassan signed that takes effect on July 10.” [Nashua TelegraphJune 30, 2014]
 
Havenstein Champions Hobby Lobby Decision Limiting Access to Contraception: “Contraceptive services are a fundamental and at times life-saving aspect of women’s health care. By ruling the way it did, the Supreme Court has opened the door for religion and politics to control access to those services. Despite their protestations to the contrary, that is exactly what Brown and Havenstein are championing.” [Concord Monitor Editorial, 7/2/14]
  
Havenstein and Hemingway on Education
 
Hemingway and Havenstein Support the Voucher Program that Would Direct Public School Funds to Private and Religious Schools: “Education voucher opponent William Duncan of New Castle has been nominated by Gov. Maggie Hassan to the state Board of Education […] Republican candidates for governor Walt Havenstein and Andrew Hemingway in statements both expressed outrage at the nomination.” [Seacoast Online, May 5, 2014]

Havenstein Attacked Governor Hassan’s Bipartisan Budget and Implied He Would Have Cut Funding for Higher Education or Critical Services in Favor of Infrastructure Spending: “We had a surplus in our budget this year we chose not to spend it on that priority we chose to spend it on something else.” [YouTube, April 17, 2014]
 
Havenstein and Hemingway on the Minimum Wage

Hemingway Opposes Restoring and Improving Minimum Wag: “Hemingway said after his speech that he does not support legislation that would increase the minimum wage.” [Concord MonitorJanuary 30, 2014]
 
Havenstein Reiterates Opposition to Restoring and Improving Minimum Wage: “Havenstein reiterated that he opposed efforts to raise the state’s $7.25 per hour minimum wage” [Valley NewsMay 22, 2014]
 
Havenstein and Hemingway on so-called"Right-to-Work"

Hemingway Penned Op-Ed “Right to Work means more well-paying jobs for New Hampshire”
“In fact, the truth is that Republicans who do not vote for Right to Work legislation will be at great risk of violating their promise to voters to stimulate jobs and promote economic opportunity.” [NH Journal Op-Ed, May 22, 2011]
 
Havenstein supports Right to Work: “He also supports Right to Work.” [Concord MonitorApril 17, 2014]
Wednesday
Jul162014

NHDP - Mr. O'Brien goes to Washington 

Friends,
 
Disgraced former House Speaker Bill O'Brien was in D.C. last week meeting with Grover Norquist and other Washington Republicans.
 
Bill O’Brien’s message to these donors was simple:  invest in New Hampshire and I’ll fight for you and your special interests.  We all remember what happened last time he was Speaker: 

  • gutting public education
  • working to block access to women’s healthcare
  • fighting to repeal Marriage Equality 
  • trying to pass Right-to-Work-For-Less
There is too much at stake and we can’t let Bill O’Brien and Grover Norquist lead us down that path again. 

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This election cycle we've already seen millions and millions of dollars from the Koch Brothers and other Tea Party groups pour into New Hampshire to try and elect extreme Republicans like Bill O’Brien up and down the ticket. 


Can you help fight back with $25, $50 or even $100 right now? We need your help today to keep our Democratic majority in Concord and ensure that people like Bill O’Brien and Grover Norquist don’t lead us backwards. 
  
Thank you,
Kathy Sullivan