GSP Statement on House Vote in Opposition to Campus Carry, and Senate Public Hearing on Gun Free Schools

Campus carry fails in NH House 231-110, State Senate amendment means schools will get public hearing on gun free school zones

Concord, NH – Today the NH House soundly voted down HB 1542, which would have forced universities and community colleges in New Hampshire to allow firearms on campus, by a margin of 231-110. The bill was opposed by university administration, law enforcement, students, and parents. At the same time this morning, Senator Martha Hennessey (D-Hanover) introduced an amendment on the Senate floor to clarify that local school districts can establish and enforce gun free school zones. While federal law allows schools to do so, state politicians like Governor Chris Sununu have vocally opposed local school districts protecting our children and a recent statement from the Attorney General’s office has left school boards in murky water on state law.

Statement from Granite State Progress Executive Director Zandra Rice Hawkins:

“Guns have no place on college campuses and we applaud the House vote. We are pleased to see the Senate taking up an amendment to keep guns out of our elementary and high schools as well. Federal law clearly allows school districts to protect our children, but too many gun lobby backed politicians in Concord have stood in the way. In fact, the very first bill Governor Sununu ever signed into law allows dangerous individuals to bring guns into our elementary schools, and time and again he has opposed allowing schools to enforce gun free zones. It is time for all politicians, from Governor Sununu to our state senators and representatives, to safeguard our children from gun violence. This includes closing the background checks loophole, limiting the use of assault weapons and high capacity magazines, and creating safe spaces for our children to learn and grow.”

Since 2009, Granite State Progress has tracked and weighed in on firearms policy at the state and federal level, and convenes the NH Gun Violence Prevention Coalition.

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Granite State Progress is a progressive advocacy organization that addresses issues of immediate state and local concern. Granite State Progress works as a communications hub for the progressive community to provide a strong, credible voice in advancing progressive solutions to critical community problems.

 

Positives and Major Flaws with SB 313, NH’s Medicaid Expansion Reauthorization Bill

The following is a copy of Granite State Progress & Education Fund testimony to the State Senate Finance Committee on SB 313, the Medicaid expansion reauthorization bill.

Chairman Gary Daniels
Senate Finance Committee
New Hampshire Senate
Concord, New Hampshire, 03301

February 20, 2018

RE:       SB 313, Reforming New Hampshire’s Medicaid and Premium Assistance Program

Dear Chairman Daniels, Vice Chairman Reagan, and Committee Members,

Thank you for the opportunity to provide testimony regarding SB 313, Reforming New Hampshire’s Medicaid and Premium Assistance Program.  Granite State Progress & Education Fund supports Medicaid expansion reauthorization and the underlying goals of this legislation.

Granite State Progress & Education Fund is a multi-issue advocacy organization working on issues of immediate state and local concern. For the last decade, our organization has engaged in activities to increase access to quality, affordable health care in New Hampshire, and to ensure consumers know about the programs and protections available to them.

Medicaid expansion reauthorization is critical to ensure 50,000 lower income Granite Staters have access to quality, affordable health care.

New Hampshire has come together time and again to craft an innovative, bipartisan solution to draw down federal dollars and expand access to health care coverage in New Hampshire. As Governor Chris Sununu said in his State of the State, we all agree Medicaid expansion should be reauthorized – it’s just a matter of how we do it. As the legislature works to craft a uniquely New Hampshire solution, we call on you to focus on reducing barriers to coverage in order to improve the lives of Granite Staters and keep our state healthy and strong.

Positive aspects of the current version of SB 313, which we support, include:

Reauthorization for 5 years, which is a positive step toward providing stability for Medicaid expansion enrollees;

Establishing behavioral health rates sufficient to ensure access to, and provider capacity for, all behavioral health services including substance use disorder services;

Establishing the Granite Workforce Pilot Program to promote job and work preparation in high labor need areas, such as health care, advanced manufacturing, construction and building trades, information technology, and hospitality; and to create a network of assistance to eliminate barriers to work such as transportation and child care issues;

While the bill establishes a work requirement, which is not ideal, we do appreciate that it provides exceptions for those who participate in community engagement activities such as job training, job search assistance, educational training (GED, college, or vocational), community service, caregiver responsibilities, and substance abuse disorder treatment.

We are similarly pleased to see the current bill includes having MCO’s (Managed Care Organizations) help people enroll in private health insurance when they are ready to transition out of the program. Over the last several months our organization conducted a statewide public education and publicity campaign to inform Granite Staters how to enroll in the private health insurance marketplace before the annual deadline, an effort which involved direct mail, digital content, neighbor to neighbor outreach, and enrollment fairs throughout the state. Medicaid expansion enrollees will not have the benefit of a massive public education drive to educate and inform them about how to get enrolled, and that is why it is critical that we create a system that helps them sign up and reduces potential gaps in coverage.

These are all provisions that will help ensure our program remains strong and stable while taking into consideration the very real situations facing Granite State families, and which we encourage you to keep in place as legislative debate continues.

We also have major concerns with parts of the bill that the committee will need to address:

Continuity of Care – We are pleased to see that the current bill includes prior authorization for treatment and medications when a consumer transitions from the premium assistance program to MCO’s. This is a critical provision to ensure no one loses care during transitions from one program to another. We would further encourage the legislature to consider expanding prior authorization from 90 days to 120 or 180 days. If the MCO’s are doing their job, an individual should not need prior authorization for that long but this is a safeguard we can build in for Medicaid expansion enrollees, and one that will incentivize MCO’s to ensure the new care plan is quickly put into place.

Incentives – The bill mentions incentives and it makes sense to include them to lower health care costs, as long as they are pro-active measures to encourage positive behavior, rather than policies that penalize or increase barriers to coverage. We urge the legislature to make it clear that the legislative intent is to provide incentives like wellness classes or gas cards for individuals who take pro-active steps to lower health care costs, rather than harmful measures like increased cost-sharing that only hurts Granite State families trying to utilize the health care we want to make sure they have available.

For example, if I am a parent working two jobs and have a child with a high fever, I may not have the time to wait and take my child to a primary care physician in the morning. If I work at a job without earned sick leave, I might be risking my employment or my income to stay home multiple days. A family should not be penalized for having to make tough decisions, but they could receive incentives for making less costly choices when possible.

Medicaid Expansion Work Requirement & Barriers to Coverage – Creating and enforcing work requirements has been found to be cost-ineffective and burdensome, and we have included a recent article from Governing that speaks to this reality. As it appears the New Hampshire legislature is committed to this idea, we call on you to craft a program that reduces the barriers that create the need for a program like Medicaid expansion in the first place. The current bill seeks to do this in two ways: it creates work requirement exceptions for those in education or job education, or those with caregiving responsibilities or undergoing substance use disorder treatment; and it establishes the Granite Workforce Pilot Program to eliminate barriers to work such as transportation and child care issues. We urge the legislature to strengthen these provisions by:

Including exemptions for parents of young children. While parents or caretakers for children under 6 years of age are excluded from the work requirement, this exemption should be adjusted up to age 16 – or at least an age at which a young child could be left home alone unsupervised after-school unless child care is provided by the State of New Hampshire.

Expanding Granite Workforce Pilot Program and establishing a two-year pilot program to ensure adequate data. While SB 313 establishes the Granite Workforce Pilot Program to eliminate barriers to work such as transportation and child care issues, the pilot program is only slated for 6 months which is barely enough time to set up a program with an individual let alone implement and evaluate it, and only includes referrals. A pilot program of at least two years and which addresses those barriers directly would provide more data. But more to the point – the work requirement will continue even after the pilot program ends, jeopardizing health care for people who experience those barriers, so as long as the work requirement is in place, New Hampshire should have a wrap-around network. Work requirements without serious barrier reduction efforts only set people up to fail. Lastly, TANF funds can only be directed to childless adults 18 through 24 years of age, so SB 313 currently leaves a huge barrier gap for those older than 24 years of age.

Funding – SB 313 funds the state portion of Medicaid expansion, in part, by adding more funding to the alcohol abuse prevention and treatment fund and then allocating that to the Medicaid expansion program. We cannot expand Medicaid by cutting other key public health programs. The legislature needs to amend the bill to assert that the alcohol fund will not dip below funding levels as of January 1, 2018 for any program or service that would have been funded from the fund originally.

It is the responsibility of Governor Sununu and the legislature to craft a New Hampshire solution that continues access to health care coverage in our state.

We encourage you to listen to the testimony provided here today and to take into consideration these points as you finalize the New Hampshire Granite Advantage Health Care Program. If our organization can be of any assistance, please do not hesitate to contact us.

State of the State: Governor Sununu’s Track Record on Guns in Schools

The first bill Governor Sununu ever signed into law allows dangerous individuals to bring guns into our schools; as recently as last week he refused to support protections for our children

Concord, NH – During Governor Chris Sununu’s State of the State address today, the Governor addressed the latest school shooting and spoke about making improvements to school security in New Hampshire. Granite State Progress issues the following statement on Governor Sununu’s track record on guns:

“The first bill Governor Sununu ever signed into law allows dangerous individuals to bring guns into our elementary schools, and as recently as last week he opposed allowing schools to establish gun free zones. Governor Sununu has done nothing to safeguard against gun violence and protect our children, instead he has worked to weaken our public safety laws,” said Zandra Rice Hawkins, executive director of Granite State Progress which monitors firearms related public policy in the state.

Governor Sununu signed SB 12 into law in February of 2017, making concealed carry licenses voluntary in New Hampshire and removing “suitable person” criteria for licensing even though the NH Chiefs of Police Association testified it was critical for keeping concealed firearms out of the hands of those with a track record of violence. In signing the bill, Governor Sununu also lowered the standard for who can legally carry a firearm into schools, as adults are allowed to carry guns into grade schools in New Hampshire as long as they are not a prohibited person and have the voluntary concealed carry license issued by the state.

Meanwhile, a state law prevents local school districts from establishing gun free zones. The Valley News reported last week: “New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu on Thursday reiterated his support of a state law that prohibits towns and schools from banning adults with guns from public property, though local officials have raised concerns about student safety.” The article also quoted the Governor saying, “Look, I think the laws we have on firearms in the state are pretty darn good and I’m not looking for any additional restrictions at this time.”

Governor Sununu refused to help pass a ban on bump stocks, like the one used in the Las Vegas shooting. New Hampshire currently has major gaps in our background checks system as well; on the campaign trail Governor Sununu supported closing them before flip-flopping once elected.

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Granite State Progress is a progressive advocacy organization that addresses issues of immediate state and local concern. Granite State Progress works as a communications hub for the progressive community to provide a strong, credible voice in advancing progressive solutions to critical community problems.

Take Action to Prohibit Dangerous Gun Bump Stocks in New Hampshire

The New Hampshire Senate is taking up an important bill to prohibit bump stocks in New Hampshire, like the one used in the horrific shooting in Las Vegas that allowed the shooter to make a semi-automatic rifle shoot like a machine gun and fire more bullets, in less time. Advocates are needed to attend the public hearing and contact State Senators in advance of the committee and floor votes (vote dates are not yet scheduled).

Public Hearing on SB 492, Prohibiting Bump Stocks in New Hampshire
Thursday, January 25 at 1:20 PM
Senate Judiciary Committee
State House Room 100, 107 N. Main Street, Concord

Click here for bill text

This bill establishes a misdemeanor offense for the manufacture, sale, possession, or use of a multiburst trigger activator, known as a “bump stock.” Please join us to provide public testimony, in person or in writing, or to sign in support of the bill. If you cannot attend the hearing, you can send written testimony to zandra@granitestateprogress.org by 12 noon on Thursday, January 25th for submission. We also need emails and phone calls to committee members encouraging them to pass this bill, and letters to the editor in support of it. We have included a few talking points below, and are happy to help review draft testimony or letters to the editor.

Here’s how to submit a public comment to Senate Judiciary Committee:

  • Review Granite State Progress & Education’s Funds “How to Draft Testimony” toolkit and see sample talking points below
  • Join us in person on Thursday, January 25th at 1:00 pm at State House Room 100, or email us your written testimony by 12 noon, including your name and contact info
  • Call and email Senate Judiciary committee members and your State Senator and ask them to protect our communities and support SB 492

Here’s how to contact the Senate Judiciary Committee and your State Senator:

Senator Sharon Carson
603-271-1403
Sharon.Carson@leg.state.nh.us
District 14: Hudson, Auburn, Londonderry

Senator Bette Lasky
603-271-3093
Bette.Lasky@leg.state.nh.us
District 13: Nashua Wards 3, 4, 6, 7, 8 and 9

Senator Harold French
603-271-4063
Harold.French@leg.state.nh.us
District 07: Andover, Belmont, Boscawen, Canterbury, Franklin, Gilford, Northfield, Salisbury, Webster and Laconia

Senator William Gannon
603-271-7803
Katherine.lehmann@leg.state.nh.us (email legislative aide)
District 23: Sandown, Chester, Exeter, Kingston, Epping, Danville, Fremont, Brentwood, East Kingston

Senator Martha Hennessey
603-271-3067
Martha.Hennessey@leg.state.nh.us
District 5: Canaan, Charlestown, Claremont, Cornish, Enfield, Hanover, Lebanon, Lyme, and Plainfield

Please note that everyone should contact the committee members. We have only included their districts for reference. This action will remain open until the committee vote, which is currently not scheduled. You should also call your own Senator to advocate on your behalf with the committee. If you do not know who your Senator is or need contact information you can use this link to look it up: http://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/Senate/members/wml.aspx


New Hampshire isn’t the only place bump stocks are being reviewed. Learning about this deadly device led to public outrage and calls to ban this accessory, but still Congress did nothing. Now the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) is deciding if these dangerous devices that make firearms imitate machine guns should be banned. Before they do, they want to hear what the American public thinks. It is important for us to generate as many comments as possible before the comment period ends Thursday, January 25 at 11:59 pm EST. We have included a sample comment below.

Here’s how to submit a public comment to ATF:

  • Click here to visit the Federal Register website.
  • Write your comment. (To make this quick and easy we drafted a sample public comment for you – see below.)
  • Hit Submit. Be sure to press the green “submit comment” button — and you’re done!

It’s important to act now on these two important gun violence prevention advocacy opportunities. Lives depend on it. Thank you in advance for all you do.

SB 492 TALKING POINTS

Feel free to use this as a basic email or phone call to State Senators, or pair it with our how to draft testimony or how to write letters to the editor guides to create your own testimony or letter. Many thanks to Newtown Action Alliance for some of the sample language.

  • Banning bump stocks should be a no brainer. There is absolutely no justification for anyone to own these dangerous rapid-fire accessories.
  • Bump stocks are a dangerous accessory used to convert a semi-automatic assault rifle into a fully automatic rifle. These devices are intended to circumvent the restrictions on possession of fully automatic firearms in the Gun Control Act of 1968 and the National Firearms Act of 1934.
  • While often marketed as a novelty item for recreational shooters, bump stocks and similar devices that accelerate the rate of fire of a semiautomatic firearm are extremely dangerous and pose a substantial risk to public safety.
  • The Sandy Hook shooter used an AR-15 and 30-round magazines to fire 154 rounds in five minutes to kill 20 children and six educators. The Las Vegas shooter used a semi-automatic assault rifle with high capacity magazines and bump stocks to fire 1,100 rounds in 11 minutes to kill 58 people and injure 500 others. Imagine if the Sandy Hook shooter used bump stocks with his AR-15 and 30-round magazines on that tragic day five years ago.
  • To guard against a mass shooting on the devastating scale of Las Vegas, New Hampshire must act to ban bump stocks.
  • In doing so, we will be joining states across the country and politicians from both parties who are actively working to pass similar state legislation amid Congressional inaction.
  • I urge the NH State Senate to protect our communities and pass SB 492.

 

ATF SAMPLE PUBLIC COMMENT

Feel free to directly copy and paste this sample comment into the form on the Federal Register page. Many thanks to the Giffords Coalition for sample language.

On the night of October 1st, 2017, a gunman opened fire from a hotel room on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay hotel into the 22,000 person crowd at the Route 91 Harvest country music festival in Las Vegas, Nevada, killing 58 people and injuring more than 500. The gunman fired more than 1,100 rounds of ammunition in 11 minutes, using semi-automatic rifles modified with a dangerous firearm accessory designed to dramatically accelerate the rate of gunfire, commonly known as “bump fire stocks.”

These devices are intended to circumvent the restrictions on possession of fully automatic firearms in the Gun Control Act of 1968 and the National Firearms Act of 1934 by allowing an individual to modify a semi-automatic rifle in such a manner that it operates with a similar rate of fire as a fully automatic rifle. While often marketed as a novelty item for recreational shooters, bump stocks and similar devices that accelerate the rate of fire of a semiautomatic firearm are extremely dangerous and pose a substantial risk to public safety.

To fully protect American communities from another mass shooting on the devastating scale of Las Vegas, Congress must act to ban bump stocks and other similar firearm devices or accessories. In the absence of action by Congress, ATF should issue a new rule clarifying that the definition of “machine gun” in the National Firearms Act of 1934 includes conversion devices like bump fire stocks that convert a semi-automatic rifle into the functional equivalent of a fully automatic rifle.

In creating this rule, ATF must take into account the toll of gun violence on communities like Las Vegas, in terms of injuries, loss of life, and the financial loss to businesses in the communities that are affected. The continued presence of these dangerous devices poses a continuing threat to all of our communities and both Congress and ATF must take action quickly to address this threat to public safety.

Breaking: Trump’s ACA Sabotage, Executive Order Will Gut Protections, Force Sickest to Pay Skyrocketing Prices, Destabilize Health Care for New Hampshire Families

Following an Executive Order that will increase junk insurance plans, news follows that President Trump will immediately end cost-sharing payments and destabilize health insurance markets

Concord, NH Yesterday, President Trump issued a new executive order that will expand the availability of junk insurance plans in a direct attempt to trigger the collapse of the entire private health insurance market and destroy the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Last night, the Trump administration signaled that it would also immediately end cost-sharing reduction payments to insurance companies, which analysts and advocates agree will destabilize health insurance markets in New Hampshire and across the nation.

Statement from Granite State Progress Executive Director Zandra Rice Hawkins:

“These partisan, political acts are part of Trump’s relentless campaign to sabotage the ACA by forcing premium increases, creating instability in the market, actively interfering with the ability of consumers to sign up for coverage, and rolling back the contraceptive coverage mandate. These actions threaten the collapse of the entire individual health insurance market and leave our sick and most vulnerable to pay the price.”

“For years, Trump and Congressional Republicans have called for the repeal of the health care law without offering any viable replacement. Trump is now bent on destroying the one health care law that allowed millions of Americans to gain health insurance and improved coverage for essential health care benefits like maternity, mental health, and prescription drugs. Trump is stripping these important consumer protections and ending critical payments that help millions of lower-income Americans afford coverage. Any problems in our health care system from here on out rest solely at the feet of President Trump and other politicians who have created instability and skyrocketing premiums, and allowed the sale of junk plans without the essential health coverage people need when they are sick.”

In a letter to President Trump in August, Governor Chris Sununu called for Trump to continue the cost sharing reduction payments. One of the main requests in the letter:

“Commit to funding CSR reimbursements for 2017 and 2018: Carriers calculate their rates far in advance, so continued uncertainty about the reimbursements fuel dramatic increases and could lead them to exit the market. This hurts consumers – most of all, those who cannot get coverage through work and do not qualify for federal subsidies. While I am sympathetic to the argument that these payments are a subsidy, to withhold them at this late date as carriers are trying to calculate rates is resulting in significant instability and further rate increases and fewer options.”

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Granite State Progress is a progressive advocacy organization that addresses issues of immediate state and local concern. Granite State Progress works as a communications hub for the progressive community to provide a strong, credible voice in advancing progressive solutions to critical community problems.