The Rights & Democracy Project is excited to announce the recipients of our annual Movement Builder Award winners for Vermont and New Hampshire.
This year, we are honoring individuals in three separate leadership categories for each state—Youth, Organizing, and State House.
The winners will be honored during a midday awards ceremony this Saturday, September 22 at RAD's Annual Members' Assembly in Keene NH (click the link to RSVP and attend).
The awards ceremony will feature a keynote by one of the nation's leading progressive voices, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii.
The winners were selected from a group of nominees from RAD members, and staff, from both states. And the winners are ... drumroll please ...
2018 MOVEMENT BUILDER AWARDS
ETHAN SONNEBORN - VERMONT
Ethan Sonneborn is an activist and former Vermont gubernatorial candidate as well as the youngest gubernatorial candidate in American history. He ran a progressive campaign focused on bringing new people, especially young people, into the political process. He lives in Bristol, Vermont and now is a youth advocate, trying to make change from outside the beltway. Ethan plans to remain engaged and to keep fighting for policies that affect him as a young person.
ONI SALEH, ADAM MINIHAN, CONOR T. HILL, HANNAH LANDRY - NEW HAMPSHIRE
Conor T. Hill, Oni Saleh, Adam Minihan and Hannah Landry are students at Keene High School together and are strong youth leaders in their school and wider community. Their organizing has led to a school walkout to end school shootings, gun sense and ending school violence events, the Youth Climate Rally, net neutrality rally, and student voter registration. They are passionate about many other important issues including ending college debt, uniting immigrant families and wider immigration policy and we look forward to watching and supporting their efforts as they grow.
ANNA MCGUINESS, EVIE IWANOWICZ, DAISY YOUNG, LILY DENEHY - NEW HAMPSHIRE
These young women organized a school walk out at Conval Regional High School in Peterborough, NH as part of the National School Walkout movement, on March 14th, the one month anniversary of the Parkland Florida shootings, that left 17 students dead. When they first walked out of their school for 17 minutes, read the names and held a moment of silence to honor those killed. After that some of the students went back to their classes, but many continued on a three-mile walk to the town hall where they hosted a rally as well as gathering afterwards to reach out to their representatives to voice their concerns about gun policy in NH and our nation. They also did so knowing that they would face unspecified disciplinary action by their school administration.
BRENDA SIEGEL - VERMONT
Brenda Siegel has been a strong voice in the effort to raise the minimum wage, enact paid family leave, and stand up to the policies of Gov. Phil Scott - so much so that she ran for governor. She has also been a leading voice in calling for reforms to deal with opiate addiction, stemming from her experience with losing family members to addiction. Her leadership has inspired us as we work to build a better Vermont for everyone.
PAT MARTIN - NEW HAMPSHIRE
Pat Martin is a powerhouse organizer in the Monadnock region, but known to all in the Granite State when it comes to energy and the climate. She organized the Rise for Climate, Jobs, and Justice Rally and Social this year, while also testifying at the state level against gas pipelines, writing op-eds, and rallying her fellow MPAers and partnering like-minded groups to fight against fracked gas and fossil fuels.
STATE HOUSE LEADERS
KIAH MORRIS - VERMONT
Rep. Kiah Morris of Bennington has been a RAD champion in the Vermont Legislature - a leading voice for women, people of color, and low-income and impacted communities. Kiah has worked with RAD to train and support first-time candidates seeking public office. Her too short time in the Legislature - and the visible way in which she confronted the racism that led to her withdrawal for reelection - has re-ignited a statewide call to action to make our institutions equitable, inclusive, and to confront systemic racism.
ANDRU VOLINSKY - NEW HAMPSHIRE
Andru Volinsky was elected to Executive Councilor in NH from District 2 in 2016. He was endorsed by Rights & Democracy in his bid and has become one of the strongest, most consistent progressive voices in Concord. He hit the ground running and has been a strong critic of Gov. Chris Sununu’s leadership, while working to promote public schools, addressing climate change, providing universal access to health care and reducing income inequality.
New Hampshire's primary is TODAY and Rights & Democracy (RAD) is encouraging everyone to get out and vote in their local elections for these RAD-endorsed candidates!
We need these champions elected to help us flip the House in November so they can champion policies to defend public education, access to health care, paid family and medical leave benefits, protect voting rights, and ensure basic human rights for all Granite Staters.
Below is the list of RAD-endorsed candidates who we've endorsed in the primary. We will issue another round of endorsements for the general election after the primary results.
We've added links, where available, to the candidate's election page so you can get more information about how to help them win!
Other questions? Email Kathy Staub at firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks and vote early (but not often)!
Primary Candidates Endorsed by Rights & Democracy
Erik Corbett: Carroll 1 (Bartlett, Jackson)
Sallie Fellows: Grafton 8 (Plymouth, Hebron, Holderness)
Stephen Rand: Grafton 8 (Plymouth, Hebron, Holderness)
Barbara Blue: Hillsborough 37 (Hudson)
Jordan Thompson: Hills 29 (Nashua, Ward 2)
Connie Van Houten: Hills 45 (Manchester, Ward 10,11,12)
Bonnie Wright: Rockingham 8 (Salem)
Sean Lewis: Rockingham 8 (Salem)
Ellen Read: Rockingham 17 (Newmarket)
Gerri Cannon: Strafford 18 (Somersworth)
Gov. Chris Sununu’s administration is seeking to impose the harshest Medicaid work requirement in the country—resulting in hundreds, if not thousands, of Granite Staters losing their health care.
We can help stop this from happening, but we need to act now & speak out.
The Trump Administration is currently collecting comments on New Hampshire's request to force a 100-hour-per-month work requirement to maintain eligibility for Medicaid. We must flood them with comments about why work requirements are harmful to some of our most vulnerable friends and neighbors.
See the bottom of this email for key talking points.
New Hampshire’s waiver also asks for permission to include assets tests and proof of citizenship—taking a page out of the Trump administration playbook to target rural farmers (who may be property rich and cash poor) and immigrants.
Most New Hampshire Medicaid Expansion recipients are already working, but some may have irregular hours because they are at the mercy of their employers or they work seasonal jobs. Others return to the workforce as soon as their health improves or a job becomes available.
Here’s what we can expect if this waiver is approved with these forced labor requirements: Arkansas recently implemented an 80 hour-a-month work requirement this year and after only two months, more than 5000 people were at risk of losing coverage—either because they did not work enough hours or did not have internet access and couldn’t report their hours.
New Hampshire’s Medicaid Expansion program is working just fine as is. Granite Staters don’t need more obstacles to health care.
Your comments are critical to protect people’s access to life-saving health care, as they can shape waiver approvals and can be used in court to stop implementation.
Access to health care is under attack around the country, and we can’t let it happen here in New Hampshire.
Facts about New Hampshire's Medicaid program
Here is some information about New Hampshire’s Medicaid program to help craft your comments. If you have personal experience with Medicaid Expansion, irregular hours, seasonal employment, or limited access to the internet please share that experience in your comments.
- The program has provided access to health care to more than 100,000 New Hampshire residents since it began. Most have transitioned to other health plans. Only a small percentage have been enrolled in the program for the whole time.
- Of the 50,000 people who are currently enrolled in the program, most of them (65%) are employed. The rest are between jobs, caring for young children or other family members, or too ill to work.
- New Hampshire has many people who work in low-wage or seasonal jobs. People in the hospitality industry, food service, logging, farming, and construction jobs experience gaps in employment and many have irregular hours that they have no control over.
- Self-employed people may also experience months where they work many hours followed by months where they have no work.
- Monthly reporting means that a minor illness or other crisis spanning two months could result in loss of coverage.
- In some areas of the state employment opportunities, even as volunteers, do not exist and transportation is unavailable.
- Electronic reporting of work hours or conditions of exemption may prove difficult for people who can’t afford internet access or live in rural parts of the state where there is limited internet access.
- New Hampshire’s Medicaid Expansion program has been a great success. It should be allowed to continue without the added burden of work requirements.
Stand up for New Hampshire’s public schools that are increasingly under attack!
This legislative session New Hampshire’s public schools were threatened by SB-193, which was called the most dangerous school voucher bill in the nation. The bill would have siphoned millions of taxpayer dollars from local school districts and given to parents to pay for private and religious schools or to homeschool. A sustained, public outcry defeated this bill and protected public schools ... for now. We know the opponents of strong public schools will be back!
Volunteer with Rights & Democracy and join the statewide campaign to advance our shared values to protect and improve public education.
Republican lawmakers have requested a federal waiver to impose a harsh work requirement on recipients of Medicaid Expansion in the Granite State.
Folks who want to remain on Medicaid Expansion will now be forced to work 25 hours a week (100 hours a month) to receive health insurance.
This is the most severe work requirement in the United States, and could have dire consequences for many of the state’s most vulnerable individuals and their families:
Your help is needed to show strong, widespread opposition to these work requirements.
Here are three things you can do:
- Submit a comment to the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services.They are currently asking the public to weigh in on whether the government should approve the waiver. A big deluge of comments will make it harder for them to justify approval and will strengthen the case against work requirements when this matter goes to courts. Comments must be received by 5 pm on June 29. Use any of the bullet points in this email to help you write a strong paragraph. Send your comment to: email@example.com.
- Write a letter to your local newspaper or your local legislator using the bullet points below. We are happy to take a look at what you’ve written and help you fine-tune it.
- If you or someone you know has a powerful health care story to tell, take a minute to fill out this short form on our website and someone will be in touch.
Please let us know if you take any of these actions!
Personalize it with your own story if at all possible - this does make a difference.
- Work requirements should not be a condition of receiving health care.
- These changes may lead to loss of health insurance for people who don’t have the stamina to work 25 hours a week.
- If work could not be found, unpaid community service would have to be substituted, amounting to a forced labor situation.
- Seasonal and self-employed workers who experience gaps in employment may also lose coverage because they won’t meet the required 100 hours every month.
- Some people live in areas of the state where finding suitable employment and securing reliable transportation to a job may be very difficult.
- Reporting would happen monthly, so if workers missed shifts because of illness, they could be at risk of losing health insurance.
- People who suffer from mental illness may have periods when they are unable to work.
- The number of identification forms required of people to enroll could make it much more difficult, if not cost-prohibitive, for low-income folks to participate.
- There is an exemption on the work requirement for people who are ill or caring for children or family members, but how difficult will it be for someone to find out if they are eligible for the exemption?
- Financial assets and citizenship status do not determine eligibility so we should not collect this information from people as a condition of enrollment.
- If someone with school-aged children needs childcare during work hours, which is very expensive and not available everywhere, what is the plan for providing it?
- Retroactive coverage will be eliminated. This will lead to increased uncompensated care, hurt recovery centers and community health centers, and prevent people from seeking medical care when they need it.
Now that HB 1319 is through the Senate, we’re closer than we’ve ever been to ensuring state law explicitly protects transgender Granite Staters from discrimination in housing, employment and public places like restaurants and hospitals.
That Senate vote was the biggest political hurdle HB 1319 has faced, and we wouldn’t have cleared it without transgender people bravely sharing—and allies lifting up—their stories.
But it also required our senators to show real political courage. Some weren’t initially with us, but they listened to us with open hearts and minds, and made the right choice: To stand on the side of freedom and fairness.
When our lawmakers stand on the right side of history, it’s important to say thanks. Send a short personal message of thanks to the 14 senators who voted to pass HB 1319. Then, follow it up with a quick message to Governor Sununu, thanking him for his promise to sign HB 1319.
Saying thanks is especially crucial right now, because there’s still one thing that has to happen before HB 1319 becomes law: Governor Chris Sununu has to sign it.
After the vote, he made it clear immediately that he plans to, but that hasn’t stopped our opponents from calling, emailing and tweeting at him daily with the hope that their misinformation will scare him away from signing HB 1319.
Showing our lawmakers that we’ll have their backs when they do the right thing sends a signal to Governor Sununu that he can win our thanks too—by signing HB 1319 as soon as it hits his desk.
Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, a champion of such horrendous ideas as cutting funds to public education and opening privatized charter schools, will pay a visit to the Granite State next Monday evening.
DeVos is the guest of honor at a New Hampshire GOP fundraising dinner this Monday:
Her visit comes on the heels of a desperate effort by New Hampshire Republicans to revive SB 193, the School Voucher bill which would have diverted money from public schools to private and religious institutions.
(Thankfully, due to your persistent calling, emailing, and rallying, SB 193 was defeated for the third time in the House yesterday!)
It's no secret that school choice is a policy idea that DeVos has pushed aggressively in her short tenure with the Department of Education, and her visit once again cements the strong ties between the Trump and Sununu administrations.
It's up to us, the people of New Hampshire, to take a visible stand against the harmful education policies championed by Secretary DeVos and Governor Sununu.
Please join us to protest DeVos's visit from 4:30-6:00pm on Monday, May 14th outside the Atkinson Country Club in Atkinson, NH.
It all comes down to this week. There are 4 very important votes happening in Concord in the next three days, and we need you to take action to ensure the health and civil liberties of Granite Staters are protected.
The most important thing you can do is pick up the phone and make your position known.
>>>We are asking you to make just 2 calls:
- one call to your Representatives in SUPPORT of Medicaid Expansion (SB 313) and in OPPOSITION to School Vouchers (SB 193)
- and one call to your Senator in SUPPORT of Transgender Non-Discrimination (HB 1319) and in OPPOSITION to voting restrictions (HB 1264)
Here are some more details about when the votes are happening on specific bills, and events you can attend in Concord to show your support for the outcomes we want:
The full House votes on whether to reauthorize Medicaid Expansion (SB 313) on Wednesday, May 2nd
>Call your representatives and urge them to vote YES on Medicaid Expansion.
>Attend the Rally to Reauthorize Medicaid Expansion on May 2 at 8 am at the State House in Concord.
The full Senate votes on whether to pass HB 1319, updating NH law to protect transgender people from discrimination, on Wednesday, May 2nd.
>Call your Senator and urge them to vote YES on HB 1319
>Attend visibility rallies on May 2nd and May 3rd. Supporters are hoping this final gathering will be a victory rally.
PROTECTING PUBLIC EDUCATION
The full House votes on whether to allow school vouchers to fund private education (SB 193) Thursday, May 3rd.
>Call your representatives and urge them to vote NO on the School Voucher bill (SB 193).
>Email the whole House: HouseFinanceCommittee@leg.state.nh.us
Subject line: The Reps are getting TONS of emails, so be sure to say something in the subject line that lets them know you oppose SB193 and why (just a quick "Don't raise my taxes with SB193" or something - but make up your own so it doesn't look canned.) And then the body of your email can be 1 or 2 sentences - no more is needed. Talking points are below.
Talking Points: (Choose one; put it in your own words! One or two sentences is all you need)
- SB 193 downshifts $100 million in costs to towns/cities in the first 11 years, in ways they can’t make up with cost savings. Property taxes will rise.
- This bill takes public money and uses it for purposes beyond what the public agreed to, which was to fund public education accessible to all.
PROTECTING VOTING RIGHTS
The full Senate votes on HB 1264 on Wednesday, May 2. This is effectively a poll tax on voters because it requires them to establish residency and pay related licensing fees.
>Call your Senator and urge them to OPPOSE HB 1264.
>Attend a visibility event on Wednesday, May 2 from 12:30-3:30 pm
Thanks so much for your help!!
Thank you for your past support — it is because of you that we were able to accomplish so much last year.
And it is because of you that we have been able to unite folks during the legislative session around issues that improve the lives of our neighbors and our communities.
These wins are important because, if the past sixteen months have taught us anything, it’s that Democracy is fragile, and Rights can’t be taken for granted.
The priorities of far too many elected officials – and the policies they attempt to enact – favor the wealthy few over the benefit of communities they have been entrusted to serve.
We need your voice to let our elected officials know we expect them to deliver on behalf of the people of New Hampshire.
Building on the success of the past two years, Rights & Democracy has fortified its coalitions to defend health care and education, and fight for economic and civil justice in the New Hampshire Legislature.
- We have mobilized with partners to fight a school voucher bill that would rob Granite State public schools of millions of dollars and give them to private and religious schools with no oversight.
- We have played a key role in the struggle for Medicaid expansion, challenging the onerous work requirements proposed.
- We are leading the fight for livable wages, affordable housing, and policies to address the opioid crisis.
- We are fighting to ensure non-discrimination protections are provided to our transgender community in New Hampshire.
- And we are fostering the next generation of community and elected leaders through recruitment, education, and electoral support by canvassing in heavily contested special elections in which our backed candidates flipped 9 of 11 seats - including in districts heavily won by President Trump in 2016!
Throughout rural and urban communities in our state, we see working and middle class neighbors fighting to survive in today’s economy. That’s why this spring we are launching a series of community forums, going into our rural communities, meeting people with diverse backgrounds and political viewpoints in order to better understand their priorities for the future, and develop a platform we can use to hold elected officials accountable to our community’s true needs.
You can help with a one-time, annual donation of $25, $50. $100, or more.
Or, join our growing list of monthly, sustaining donors who give $5, $10, $20 (and more) each month to help make our shared work possible.
We need your help in so many other ways, too. Get involved – forward our emails and Facebook pages to your friends, attend a meeting or a rally, join a working group, attend a legislative committee hearing or testify. We want our elected officials to hear your concerns.
One way to get involved is the upcoming Medicaid Expansion Rally on Wednesday, May 2nd at 8:00 am on the State House Lawn in Concord. We’d love for you to join us!
Without the support of our members, our shared goals will be difficult to realize. So, it’s imperative that you unite to promote grassroots progressive policies our country so desperately needs.
By becoming a sustaining member of Rights & Democracy you are helping to build that movement — online, in local communities in New Hampshire and Vermont, and beyond. We need your help now to make it a reality.
Thank you for your contribution and continued support,
Jaime Contois, Director of Strategic Development
Rights & Democracy
Today, HB 1319 advanced to the full Senate, though without an endorsement from the Senate Judiciary Committee. Instead, the Committee recommended HB 1319 by a 3-2 vote for interim study—essentially a polite way to try and kill the bill. An interim study committee takes no clear action on a bill, and its recommendations are not required to be acted on.
The bill still gets a vote on the Senate floor, and momentum is high. That vote could come either this Thursday, or next Wednesday or Thursday (May 2nd or 3rd) during the final days of the Senate session.
Contact your senator and urge them to vote in favor of HB 1319. We don’t need more time to know discrimination is a problem and this non-discrimination bill is the right solution.