Say it With Us: Health Care as a Human Right

The 2018 session of the New  Hampshire legislature convened January 3, and there are several bills aimed at creating universal health care plans in the Granite State and acknowledging that access to health care is a human right.

If you support creating a universal health care system in New Hampshire - this could be the year to have your voice heard!

On Friday, January 12, beginning at 9 AM, the Commerce Committee will be holding hearings on several bills related to single payer and Medicare for All in Room 302 of the Legislative Office Building.   

Please come to the State House to testify or just be present at the hearings. If you are not able to make it to testify please send your testimony to the Commerce Committee here.

These are the key health care bills:

  • HealthCareJustice.pngHouse Bill 1241 establishes a commission to study the benefits and cost of a "health care for all" program for New Hampshire.
  • Senate Bill 383 establishes a commission to assess benefits and costs of a "health care for all" program for New Hampshire.
  • House Bill 1516 establishes a commission to examine the feasibility of the New England states entering into a compact for a single payer health care program.
  • House Bill 1790 This bill establishes a New Hampshire health access corporation and health access fund.

This is also the year New Hampshire’s  Medicaid Expansion will need to be re-authorized.  Representative Cindy Rosenwald has submitted a bill—House Bill 1811—to extend the program which will have a hearing by the Health, Human Services and Elderly Affairs Committee on January 16, at 2:15PM in Room 205 of the Legislative Office Building.

Rights & Democracy NH’s Health Care Justice Team is looking for new members, so if access to health care is an important issue for you, contact Kathy Staub at kathy@radnh.org.


Urge Your Representative to Reject the School Voucher Bill

When the New Hampshire House reconvenes on January 3, one of the first bills they will take up will be a direct assault on our longstanding commitment to public education in the Granite State.

The House will take up SB 193, a bill that would establish “Education Freedom Savings Accounts” otherwise known as school vouchers.

These vouchers will rob tens of millions of dollars from our public schools to pay for tuition to select private and religious schools or given directly to parents who homeschool their children.

There are many problems with this bill:

  • Students leave with our money, but school costs remain on taxpayers. If one or two children leave a school with several hundred students, the  building needs to be heated, and you need a teacher  in every classroom, but now you have between $7-$16,000 less to pay for it. The only solution is to reduce the quality of education or raise local property taxes.
  • S1200px-New_Hampshire_State_House_5.JPGtabilization grants mean taxpayers pay twice.  One provision added to the bill to address this loss of funding was  addition of stabilization grants. The state would reimburse school districts for lost revenue when the impact is more than ¼ of 1% of a district’s budget. Some examples: Manchester would be on the hook for the first $432,000 before  the stabilization grant kicks in; For  Keene that number would be $169,000; and, and for Hillsboro-Deering that figure would be $62,046. For every student beyond that, taxpayers would be required to pay out the voucher to the parents and pay out the stabilization money to the school district. The most likely source of this money is the Statewide Education Property Tax.For a complete list of towns and the fiscal impact of his proposed legislation see this analysis by Reaching Higher New Hampshire Education Fund.
  • The costs are potentially limitless. New Hampshire has a school voucher program funded by voluntary contributions from businesses who receive a tax credit. Under SB 193 anyone making less than $73,800 for a family of four would be eligible. Once applicants get a voucher they will be eligible every year after that, as long as they meet the income threshold and their child has not graduated. If the state issues 1000 vouchers the first year, the second year taxpayers will be on the hook for those plus any new ones that are issued — into infinity. That will add up quickly.
  • It is unconstitutional. New Hampshire has an explicit clause in its constitution that forbids the use of public money to support religious schools. People may argue that because the money is being laundered by a foundation through these “Education Freedom Savings Accounts” that makes it OK. But let’s be real. When you pay your tax bill to your town it is very likely it will be used to pay tuition to a Catholic School. In fact, the Children’s Scholarship Fund, which is a national organization founded by a Wal-Mart heir and a hedge fund manager, partners heavily with Catholic school districts around the country.

The bottom line? This is a terrible bill. It harms and undermines New Hampshire’s highly regarded public education system and it is fiscally irresponsible.

Please contact your state representatives and tell them to kill this awful bill. You can find their contact information here.


We Stand in Opposition to this Immoral Tax Bill

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Our Statement

Rights & Democracy stands in opposition to the immoral tax bill passed today by the US Congress which gives huge tax breaks to corporations and the wealthiest Americans, while leaving low- and middle-income folks out in the cold.

Today, Republicans in Congress implemented an historic transfer of wealth and power for the sole purpose of enriching their donors, corporations, and Wall Street elite while widening an already massive income gap. This bill moves our country closer to an oligarchy, where only the wealthy will be able to profit from our economy, access health care, education, retirement savings, and have a voice in our democracy.

This bill’s passage means more money in the pockets of wealthy Americans—like President Donald Trump and many of his donors—which will be paid for by an impending assault on this country’s social safety net, with billions in cuts to Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security.

We will continue to fight back against this disastrous policy, and thwart attacks on the public programs that enable millions of people to meet their most basic needs—needs that cannot be met on the wages that corporations have suppressed for decades.

As a grassroots organization committed to economic, social, racial, health care, and environmental justice, we believe this tax package is a direct threat to the sustainable, equitable, and healthy communities we are helping to build in Vermont and New Hampshire.

We are committed to fighting the fallout from this bill at the local, state, and national level and, in 2018, we will show Republicans that robbing from working people to give to their wealthy donors will cost them at the ballot box.

Join us in this fight!

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The People of New Hampshire & Vermont Can Change the World

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I’m please to report that our vision of how a movement for Rights & Democracy (RAD) in Vermont and New Hampshire can change the world is becoming reality.

 

I wanted to let you know that together we are creating change that not only impacts the lives of people in our community, but increasingly our country and the world.

 

We are only able to do this work if we are supported by the people who believe in the need for this change. We were given an extraordinary opportunity where some of our major supporters said they would match dollar for dollar all the small gifts (up to a total of $25,000) that we received from now until the end of the year.

 

Thanks to everyone who has risen to meet this challenge, we only have $3000 more to raise hit our mark!

 

Can you give $27, $50, or $100 to help us meet our goal?

 

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The People of Vermont & New Hampshire Can Change the World


Calls Needed to Executive Council in Support of Commuter Rail

Commuter_Rail_CK4049.JPGThanks to everyone who turned out earlier this fall for a hearing on bringing passenger rail to Manchester.

There is more to be done as we need to make sure that the Executive Council approves restoring the $4 million rail study grant to the 10-year NH Transportation Plan.

At a time when we know that burning more fossil fuels is killing our planet, it’s time for the Granite State to expand commuter rail so that we can provide better transportation options that benefit the planet and workers.

A final, binding vote will take place at one of the Council’s next two meetings: December 6th or December 20th.  A preliminary vote in favor of including rail funding was 3-2. Executive Councilors Andru Volinsky and Chris Pappas are solidly in favor, and were joined by Russ Prescott. Executive Councilors Wheeler and Joseph Kenney voted in opposition.

We need Rights & Democracy NH members to call Executive Councilor Prescott to ensure that he remains in support of the proposal and to ask Councilors Wheeler and Kenney to join the majority - especially Councilor Wheeler who represents Nashua, where rail is extremely popular!

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Double Your Power: Help RAD Raise $50,000!

“It is not one person or group of people on the top who are going to make change. It is grassroots activism, and that is what Rights & Democracy is doing.”

– US Sen. Bernie Sanders

Today, we are announcing a $25,000 matching gift challenge!

Several major supporters of Rights & Democracy—including Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield—are matching dollar for dollar up to $25,000 to support RAD’s movement-building work leading up to the 2018 election cycle and beyond.

 

Your contribution of $100, $250, or $500 will be doubled between now and the end of the year and will help to build our grassroots movement for political and social change.

 

In just two years, Rights & Democracy has gone from being a scrappy startup grassroots organization with a handful of key New Hampshire leaders and staff to a bi-state organization with 12,000 members and a vision to change the world.

 

Here are a few of our key New Hampshire success stories from our first two years:

  • Developed a robust canvassing operation to knock on 60,000 doors in the 2016 elections in support of  Sen. Maggie Hassan in a tight race for US Senate, and brought thousands of our members who came in the door supporting Bernie Sanders to stay involved by defeating Donald Trump and Kelly Ayotte in incredibly tight races.

  • Launched the Transgender Organizing Leadership Development (TOLD) project that has been a leading voice for transgender nondiscrimination in New Hampshire. Nearly 500 people turned out in Manchester's Victory Park in the Summer of 2017 to stand in unity for LGBTQ+ protections in the coming legislature.

  • Mobilized thousands of Granite State residents to take direct actions - like our "die-in" when US Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price (who has since resigned!) visited the state. Other actions included calling on Republican Gov. Chris Sununu to push back against the Trump administration's most horrific proposals to kick millions off health care.

  • Defeated yet another misnamed "right to work" legislation push that would undermine worker protections in New Hampshire.

  • Won legislation to allow acupuncture to treat addiction, thanks to a grassroots advocacy effort led by Elizabeth Ropp, RAD NH leader and acupuncturist. The law allows frontline workers to use ear acupuncture to treat addiction to heroin or fentanyl, also known as auricular acupuncture or acu-detox.

  • Worked with the Monadnock Progressive Alliance, which is now an affiliate of RAD, as a way to build a truly progressive movement in the region's communities.  RAD-NH’s long-term goal is to develop and invest in similar local organizing teams throughout the state.

  • Connected with voters in two special elections in New Hampshire, which helped to elect Democrats to the NH legislature in districts that have, in previous elections, supported Republicans and even voted for Trump in 2016.

  • Provided our key allies with support around clean elections, universal health care, immigration rights, reproductive freedom and more.

 

Our growth is thanks to a mix of savvy and dedicated staff organizers who–most importantly–work closely with powerful member leaders, numerous member volunteers, as well as members who take action by making calls, showing up to rallies – and donating money to RAD. Whether it’s a monthly sustaining donation or an annual contribution, RAD is building out its network of member donors to help fuel lasting political change.

 

You are a critical part of the success of our third year as we work to impact local, state, and national decision-making, and to put our own people in the positions as decision makers.

 

Building on these successes will take time, and people, and money. That’s why several donors are matching – up to $25,000 – every contribution of $100, $250, or $500 – between now and the end of the year.  That $50,000 will help us reach more people and build a lasting grassroots movement for political and social change.

 

RURAL ORGANIZING: THE NEW PATH FORWARD

Rights & Democracy was founded as a multi-issue and multi-tactical grassroots organizing and movement-building project in Vermont and New Hampshire. It has since been using as many tools the grassroots organizing toolbox to build a people-powered movement for political and economic transformation.

 

The failure of President Trump to make good on his campaign promises, and the stalling of the GOP’s congressional agenda—to date—is a huge testament to the power of grassroots organizing. More importantly, however, it provides us with a key lesson for how we can move forward to not only defend against Republican attacks on health care as well as the environment, public education, and the rights of workers, immigrants, women, communities of color and LGBTQ individuals but also offer an alternative political, economic, and social vision.

 

In two years, RAD has made remarkable progress in these areas and is developing an extraordinary team of staff and member leadership. We also have learned many lessons from our own efforts, and those of our allies like Indivisible, Our Revolution, People’s Action, and Center For Popular Democracy.  Movements throughout our country have yet to figure out a strategy for the successful transformation of our political and economic system.  Therefore, a primary goal of RAD is to provide the broader movement with a new, transformative organizing model—“whole movement organizing”—that is showing signs of success in small, rural states.

 

A PEOPLE’S PLATFORM

At the local and state levels, we need to tap into the deeply felt concerns and hopes of poor, working, and middle class Americans—of all races, in both urban and rural parts of the country—to organize them around a unifying platform for progressive change.

 

Our Revolution is best articulating this platform at the national level, which includes universal health care and education, supporting worker’s rights and women’s rights and voting rights. As well as calling for environmental, racial, and criminal justice initiatives and taxing Wall Street.

 

In New Hampshire, Rights & Democracy is pioneering this model of state-based campaigns to build grassroots movements around issues of economic, environmental, health care, social, and racial justice.  They include:

  • Raise Up NH To improve living standards for working families by raising the minimum wage, winning paid sick days, winning paid family and medical leave, and increasing access to affordable, quality childcare.

  • Rural Organizing – To​ ​engage​ ​economically challenged,​ ​white​ ​majority​ ​communities​ ​with​ ​a​ ​powerfully​ ​populist​ ​economic program​ ​that​ ​directly​ ​confronts​ ​the​ ​right-wing​ ​strategy​ ​of​ ​racial​ ​resentment.

  • Jobs, Justice & Climate To demand clean energy policy solutions that support job growth and an economy that meets the needs of our communities.

  • NH Health Care Justice - To work toward a universal health care system in New Hampshire that is equitably funded and treats everyone equally, while also addressing immediate community crises such as our growing opioid epidemic.

  • Transgender Organizing & Leadership DevelopmentTo demand basic nondiscrimination and protective legislation for trans family and friends, as well as elect LGBTQ+ folks and allies to local and state office.

  • LEAD NH –  We’re excited to help launch LEAD New Hampshire, which will counter the growth of extreme conservative organizations like American for Prosperity in New Hampshire. LEAD NH knows that it is critical for RAD and our partners to likewise build local, sustained organizing plans that support next waves groups that have risen up after the Trump election.

 

Developing a people’s platform is our way of unifying these different grassroots movements and building a truly transformative political revolution right here in New Hampshire. This is a tall order with major capacity needs and cannot be built overnight, which is why we need your continued support today.

 

So have your contribution of $100, $250, or $500 doubled and help us raise a total of $50,000 before the end of the year. You’ll be supporting our formative grassroots organizing model that is poised to bring about lasting, forceful change in our communities.

 

Together We Win!  

 

The staff and leaders of Rights & Democracy NH

 

PS: SAVE THE DATE!

2nd Annual RAD Membership Assembly, “Power to the People: Organizing in 2018 & Beyond”

WHEN: 1–6PM, Sunday December 10

WHERE: Lebanon High School, Lebanon, NH.

RSVP: www.radnh.org/assembly2017


Granite Staters Say "No Thanks!" to GOP Tax Bill

IMG_20171121_110208901_HDR.jpgJust two days before Thanksgiving, Rights & Democracy NH and the Granite State Organizing Project delivered pies to top New Hampshire officials in protest of the recently passed House bill that will give wealthy donors huge tax breaks while raising the taxes and health care premiums of the middle class.

Corporate tax giveaways will give high-income households and CEOs a lot to celebrate this Thanksgiving, but not average taxpayers in New Hampshire.

The Tax Policy Center estimates that by 2027 these corporate tax cuts would provide a $14,890 tax break for households with incomes over $1 million and $94,540 for households in the top 0.1 percent (those with incomes over $3.1 million in 2017).

In New Hampshire, nearly 80 percent of Granite Staters will pay MORE in taxes by the year 2027 under the current proposal.

These edible pies were accompanied by pie charts that show how 75 percent of the tax cuts will benefit the wealthy and corporations, while only 25 percent will go to the rest of us.

Fresh-baked pies were delivered to the Congressional Offices of Reps. Annie Kuster and Carol Shea-Porter, as well as the Senate offices of Sen. Jeanne Shaheen and Sen. Maggie Hassan to thank them for the previous votes to preserve health care coverage and to encourage them to vote against the Senate tax reform bill.

An additional pie was dropped off at Gov. Chris Sununu's office to point out how this latest bill will disproportionately give more of the pie to the wealthy while causing cuts to Medicaid and Medicare that will hurt the people of New Hampshire.

"Congress will stop at nothing to deliver huge tax giveaways to big corporations and the very wealthy – including making massive cuts to critical health care programs like Medicaid and Medicare. After spending months failing to repeal the Affordable Care Act and take health care away from millions, recently passed tax cuts will force similarly devastating cuts to health care for seniors, children, working families and people with disabilities," said Viola Katusiime of Granite State Organizing Project.

"We want to thank our Congressional delegation for leading the resistance to this massive transfer of wealth of the 1% while at the same time putting the costs on the backs of poor and working Granite Staters by raising their taxes or stripping them from health care," added Kathy Staub of RAD-NH. "We urge Gov. Chris Sununu to join our delegation in opposing these cuts to health care and protecting Granite Staters from having their taxes raised only so that the wealthy can further gorge themselves financially."

Read the letter we delivered to each of the New Hampshire delegations' offices.

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RAD Member Spotlight: Nikki Casey

Rights & Democracy (RAD) is only as strong as the volunteer members and leaders who comprise a wide array of policy teams as well as our board of directors.

Who are these amazing volunteer leaders? Starting this month, we’re going to start profiling these folks and let them tell you a bit more about themselves, such as how they got involved with RAD, why they continue to support RAD, and the first question they'd ask if after waking up from being cryogenically frozen for 100 years.

This month we’re profiling Nikki Casey, who has quickly become an important voice in our progressive movement. She is currently the co-chair of the Rights & Democracy Education Fund, our 501(c)3 affiliate. Nikki delivered an incredibly powerful introductory speech for Sen. Bernie Sanders at our Labor Day Celebration in Concord — before a crowd of more than 1200 people!

NikkiCasey_3976.jpgRAD: How did you first get involved with RAD - when and why? How has your involvement grown since you first began? What aspect of this work do you most appreciate?

NIKKI: I first became involved with RAD on Labor Day of 2016. After Bernie had lost the election it made me realize how much work needed to be done. I realized that if the Revolution that we all talked about was going to happen, it had to happen as a group and a collective. That's the vision that RAD has and it aligns with my core belief system.

I started by selling raffle tickets, attending meetings, speaking out at rallies put on by RAD, to eventually introducing Bernie Sanders at the Labor Day event this year. And, now I'm the co-chair of RAD's 501(c)3 board.

What I appreciate most is the platform RAD has created. Their whole concept is centered on empowering people in their communities, and I've seen that create a ripple effect. For example, I've attended a day-long training through RAD, and the skills and tools I took away from that training I now use at my own job working with volunteers.

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School Voucher Bill Could Annually Rob NH Public Schools of $32 Million

A bill that could drain up to $32 million from Granite State’s public schools will be voted on next week in the House Education Committee and we are urging folks to call some key State Representatives to help defeat it!

The bill was supposed to be taken up on Nov. 8th, but calls from citizens helped to stall its approval as some committee members remain undecided, or are having second thoughts about supporting the legislation. They are now expected to take this up at their Wednesday, Nov. 15th meeting.

The committee's undecided members include the following:

1200px-New_Hampshire_State_House_5.JPGRepublicans on the House Education Committee did not have the necessary votes to move the bill forward. It's likely that one more amendments will be proposed to address concerns of some committee members. One proposal could be to limit the cap on the number of students in each school district that can access the vouchers.

Regardless of these amendments the fundamental purpose of the bill has not changed. This egregious bill would drain money from our public schools by enabling parents to receive 95 percent of the per-pupil state grant, or about $3,600, that would otherwise go to the student’s designated public school district. This money could be used by parents to cover tuition or other costs associated with educating their child in a private school, or in a home-school setting. The loss of funding to this state’s public schools is estimated to range from $6.3 million to $32 million to start, and only gets worse over time.

Take a stand in support of our public schools and please email or these representatives and urge them to oppose SB 193 and support funding for our public schools.

Click here to see all members of the House Education Committee, and spread the word to your friends and family throughout the state.

Thank you for standing up for public education in New Hampshire, a bedrock of our democracy and civil society.

If you have questions, contact RAD-NH Lobbyist Kerry Coock at
kclock1@gmail.com, or call him at (603) 724-4000.



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