Wednesday, May 05, 2021

My letter to the NH House Labor Committee on SB 137, the bill to freeze the tipped minimum wage


May 5, 2021




To the Members of the House Labor, Industrial and Rehabilitative Committee:

I’m writing in opposition to SB 137, the bill that would freeze the tipped minimum wage at $3.27, in the event of an increase in the federal minimum wage. 

I worked in the food service industry for 20 years. I’ve been a server, a bartender, and a line cook. I suspect that most of the members of the committee have little experience in working for tips. 

You will hear testimony from restaurant owners who are crying poverty. You will hear testimony from the lobbyists who represent the restaurant industry. You’ll get a picture of posh, candlelit dining rooms, with tuxedo clad servers, deftly presenting gorgeously arranged plates, and serving expensive bottles of wine. 

You won’t be reminded that there are breakfast servers who work harder than anyone, for tiny tips. You won’t be encouraged to think about the servers in diners – not the trendy diners – but the old school, greasy spoons, where the tips are not at all the same as those given in the posh candlelit dining rooms. 

You also won’t hear about wait staff being overscheduled on nights that are supposed to be busy, so that one can hang around for a few hours without ever waiting on a table, “just in case it gets busy.” 

Just imagine for a moment, what your job might be like  if you had to rely on tips. The restaurant business is the only industry where owners get to subcontract the wages of a big portion of their staff to the whims of the public. 

New Hampshire’s tipped minimum wage is already lower than the tipped minimum in our neighboring states. In Maine the tipped minimum wage is $6.00 per hour. In Vermont it is $5.88. In Massachusetts, it is $5.55. 

This bid to freeze an already terrible wage is coming at a time when restaurants are having a hard time getting help. It’s not because, as some would have us believe, that people are scoring big by collecting unemployment. It’s because a lot workers aren’t willing to risk their lives during a pandemic for substandard wages. 

I would be remiss if I didn’t point out that the fact that this bill is sponsored by multimillionaire State Senator Jeb Bradley who has never worked for tips in his life. Senator Bradley earned his money in the old fashioned way – he inherited it. I don’t begrudge him his status in the lucky sperm club. I do, however, bitterly resent a wealthy man trying to curry favor with the restaurant lobby by shafting the workers. 

Please vote to ITL SB 137. 


Susan Bruce 

SB 137


Tuesday, May 04, 2021

NH, Clinging to the Past

On May 3, 2003, the rock face known as The Old Man of the Mountain succumbed to time, erosion, and gravity - and fell off Cannon Mountain. (Or maybe he jumped, because he was so ashamed of the Benson administration.) His image is still on our license plates, and he's still the symbol of NH - even though he no longer exists.

It's appropriate. This is a state where we cling to so many things that either don't exist or don't work any more. The New Hampshire Advantage. Live Free or Die. The First in the Nation Primary. No State Income Tax. Funding our State Parks With User Fees. The 400 Seat House of Representatives. The way we cling to the past ensures we won't move into the present, never mind the future.

Tuesday, April 06, 2021

The Dignity of the NH House


The NH House Calendar is published weekly on the NH General Court website. It's a weekly update on what is coming up for the House: voting on legislation, committee meetings, fiscal notes, amendments, and notices. It's a serious publication about the business being conducted in the People's House. 

When a voting session is coming up, the Calendar will list the bills that will be voted on, in the order in which they will be dealt with. In the listing of each bill is a report from the committee that the bill was assigned to, and their recommendation on whether the House should pass the bill or vote it "ITL" which means inexpedient to legislate. The report is a short summary from the majority viewpoint of the committee. There may also be a minority report written by those who disagreed with the majority. These reports are traditionally businesslike summaries of why the majority finds the bill to be worth supporting or worth rejecting. They are not, traditionally, a place for ideological hand wringing and hysteria. This year is not  traditional.

I confess - I'm a nerd. I'm a geek that reads the House calendar. (The Senate, too). I'm a nerd that's been reading the calendar for about a decade, which is how I know that this year is different. 

HB 441, requiring The Universal Declaration of Human Rights to be placed in all public schools. INEXPEDIENT TO LEGISLATE

Rep. Ralph Boehm for Education. This bill requires the school board or board of trustees of a charter school to place a copy of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in all public schools and in every classroom where civics is taught. This is not needed, as the USA has our own Bill of Rights. If anything, the US Bill of Rights should be in our classrooms and not a declaration made by another governmental agency that includes non-democratic believing countries. In addition, NH public schools currently have the right and authority to make local policy regarding issues such as the United Declaration of Human Rights without the need for another statutory directive from Concord. Lastly the bill is yet another unfunded Part I, Article 28-a constitutional issue. Vote 17-3.

This is pretty straightforward. You can see what the intent of the bill is. The majority of the committee doesn't support the bill. In a normal year, the summary would consist of what the bill would require, and a sentence or two about why the majority doesn't support it. It would not, in a normal year, consist of a rant about the Bill of Rights and the UN. This is partisan bleating, and has no place in the House Calendar. And as you'll see, this is by no means the worst from the April 2 Calendar. 

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

NH State Budget - Conflicts of Interest?


There is all manner of jiggery pokery going on with  the current state-budget-in-progress. Governor Sununu inserted the Hyde Amendment into his governor's budget, despite his attempts to convince us all that he's "pro-choice." 

That's why this piece caught my eye. Garry Rayno for

 "Subcommittees of the House Finance Committee have decided to end or drastically reduce two education programs Gov. Chris Sununu touted in his budget address.

One is a student loan forgiveness program for those in high demand professions like health-care that would use revenues generated by the state’s scholarship program, and the other the governor’s School Infrastructure Fund intended to help schools improve internet connectivity and building safety.

Meeting Monday, the committee’s Division II approved an amendment that removed the loan forgiveness program from House Bill 2, instead allowing New Hampshire College Tuition Savings Plan Advisory Commission to decide how to allocate the funds between the UNIQUE program and the Governor’s Scholarship program."

NH has the highest percentage of college students that graduate with debt.  NH has the second highest student debt out of 50 states . Only Connecticut is higher. Some student loan forgiveness would be a welcome relief for NH students - the kind that might allow them to stay in NH, rather than taking their talents and moving to states where higher paying jobs are. These student loan forgiveness programs that are being removed were regarded favorably by Governor Sununu. Whoever is wielding the scalpel doesn't care about that, which is interesting in itself. (What faction of the NH GOP doesn't care much for the governor?) 

This is the membership of the House Finance Committee:

Rep. Jess Edwards (R-Free State) is  on the Finance Committee. He's also the Chair of Finance Division III. 

Like many state representatives, Jess Edwards has a job. The state representative salary of $100 a year isn't exactly a living wage. This is from his Linkedin page

He works for Credit Adjudstments, Inc.  What do they do?

Who else works there? Check out their executive team:

  Representative Jason Osborne (R-Free State) is also the House Majority Leader. 

In a 400 member House, where there are no real ethics rules, there are bound to be all sorts of conflicts of interest. I don't mean to imply that these Reps are up to anything unseemly -  I just believe in transparency - especially in a legislature that has no real ethics rules. 

A budgetary provision that eliminates student loan forgiveness means that debt recovery agencies will still be profiting. If one works for a debt recovery agency - does this create a conflict of interest? 

As for NH House ethics: 

When legislators are about to vote on a bill that has a conflict of interest, they have to fill out a form. 

This sounds good so, far, right? Then comes part two:

Legislators fill out a form that essentially does nothing. If they choose, they can describe their conflict of interest and vote in their own interest anyhow. 

I'm sure we can count on these honorable state representatives to do the right thing, fill out their forms, check off not participate, and recuse themselves from voting on the budget. 

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

NH Free State Project: From Cop Block to Speed Dial


See the guy on the far right, with the big badge on his pocket? That's NH State Representative Max Abramson (R-Free State Project), who ran for president on the Libertarian ticket. Needless to say, he was not elected. 

Today, when NH House Democrats got up and walked out of the House session, Libertarian Standard Bearer Max Abramson went to the Speaker and urged him to call the state police to bring the Democrats back. He gave the House clerk the phone number. 

Gone are those halcyon days of yesteryear when the Free Staters started Cop Block. Now they have cops on speed dial. 

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

From Libertarianism to Authoritarianism - Free Staters in the NH House

Remember this meme? Back in the olden days, when the Free State Project first started colonizing NH, they used to tell us this all the time. They don't bother any more. It wasn't true then, and it sure as hell isn't true now. They claim to be opposed to authoritarianism, but that's only because they want to BE  the authoritarians. 

Over the years the Free Staters  have become increasingly allied with the NH Republican Party. Over the last 4 years, they were happy to join the Trump wing of the NH GOP. There's little difference between the alleged libertarians and the Trumpers at this point, and nowhere has that been more apparent than with this bill, HB 544. It's titled: An Act Relative to the Propagation of Divisive Concepts. 

The sponsors are Representatives Keith Ammon, of New Boston, Glenn Cordelli of Tuftonboro, and Jason Osborne, of Auburn.

What are these divisive concepts that these men are so worried about? It seems these three fellows are offended by any talk of oppression on the base of race, ethnicity, or gender. There is no more racism, no bias, no more sexism in the workplace - or anywhere else, because we've fixed all that!  It's time to move on.  They want to make sure that these topics won't be brought up in NH schools, state agencies, or any aspect of government in the state, including cities and towns,  and labor unions. Any diversity training would have to be pre-approved by the Department of Administrative Services. No contractors could be used by schools or state agencies that did not agree to these terms. 

They are especially concerned about being held accountable for actions committed in the past. The Three Wise White Men don't want to be tied to the past. We've fixed all that now. There is no more slavery. Heck, we gave you girls the vote - stop yer whining!  We are all equal now. Who would know that better than three white guys living in NH? 

It's amusing to see this band of libertarians not only cracking down on free speech, but dictating to every aspect of government in our state what is permissible and what is not. 

The bill had a hearing last week that had to be recessed because of time constraints. I've watched the video, and Rep. Ammon claims he filed the bill at the urging of an unnamed NH college professor, who is afraid of a backlash if he were to be identified. I think Ammon created a fictional character to distract us from the fact that HB 544 is cribbed, nearly word for word from former president Trump's Executive Order 13950 which was issued in September 2020. President Biden revoked the order on his first day in office. 

Last week's hearing was on Thursday, February 11, in the NH House Executive Departments and Administration Committee. They take up HB 544 at about an hour and 31 minutes in.

The hearing will begin again on Thursday, the 18th, at 1:30 PM. 

Free State Project mover and Representative Jason Osborne, who wants to dictate speech in government, is the House Majority Leader. His Twitter account is locked. So much for freedom. Keith Ammon has me blocked, because my free speech annoys him. One could almost get to thinking that these doughty fighters for freedom are really very tender blossoms. 

THIS is what authoritarianism looks like. 

*Be sure to read the bill and compare it to Trump's Executive Order

Saturday, January 16, 2021

Speaker Stegosaurus

Sherman Packard in the Hall of Flags at the NH State House. Photo by Oliver Laughland for The Guardian 

State Rep. Sherman Packard was elected Speaker of the NH House on January 6. The previous speaker was killed by his political party in December, about a week after being sworn in. The Covid denying, freedumb loving, anti-maskers prided themselves on their big, mask free gatherings. Hinch took stupid risks, contracted Covid, and died. 

That meant a new Speaker had to be chosen. Packard was Hinch's second in command, so he served as Acting Speaker after Hinch's death. (A death he initially denied was caused by Covid.) He's been promising to honor Hinch's legacy ever since - and so far he's succeeding. 

Hinch had a long history of coddling and protecting the very worst in his caucus. He tried to protect Robert "Red Pill" Fisher from the consequences of founding an online forum for rape aficionados and other incels. 

Hinch tried to cover for Rep. Robert Forsythe, after he was arrested for assaulting a pregnant woman. 

He covered endlessly for the problem that is known as Rep. James Spillane.

That is the Hinch legacy that Packard is honoring, right out of the starting gate, as we learned in this story by Paula Tracy for

This week, Packard stripped Democratic State Rep. Rosemary Rung of her committee assignment, because of a tweet she made about David Ellis, the police chief of Troy, NH who attended the insurrectionist activities in Washington, DC that led to the sacking of the Capitol. He claims he didn't participate in the violence, BUT, he was there, protesting the results of a legitimate election. This would appear to be in violation of his oath to uphold the Constitution. We know that Chief Ellis was in DC, because he did an interview there with a national publication, New York Magazine. Representative Rung's tweet called on NH police to denounce Ellis and call for his resignation. 

Packard is attempting to blame Rep. Rung for the fallout in Troy, where the town hall shut down after threats of violence. Ellis outed himself to a national magazine, but Packard is blaming Rung. From the InDepthNH story:

 "In a letter to House Minority Leader Renny Cushing, D-Hampton, Packard accused Rung of acting “beneath the dignity of the House” and committing a “dangerous violation” of the tenet for how things get done in the House of Representatives..."

The Speaker didn't contact Rep. Rung. He chose to speak with House Minority Leader Renny Cushing. Packard wanted to solve this woman problem by going man to man. 

As for the "dignity of the House" the man who has protected Rep. Dawn Johnson from the consequences of her anti-Semitic and seditious social media posts - and done the same to protect James Spillane from HIS anti-Semitic posts has a lot of nerve talking about dignity. Packard turns himself into a pretzel to defend Spillane, and shows himself to be either a liar or a fool when it comes to Johnson. She posted racist/anti-Semitic memes from the Daily Stormer on social media. She has apologized endlessly for the source of her content. She has NEVER apologized for the content. 

Spillane literally tried to incite violence last fall with a Facebook post:

“Public Service Announcement,” Spillane wrote in the post from earlier this week. “If you see a BLM sign on a lawn, it’s the same as having a porch light on at Halloween. You are free to burn and loot that house.” 

Rep. Rung called for NH police to denounce Chief Ellis for violating his oath of office.  Calling for a resignation is miles away from "you are free to burn and loot." 

But this - this is the real cherry atop the shit sundae served up by Speaker Packard:

Packard has told Rung he would consider her request to resume her committee duties, “If you can demonstrate to me in a sincere manner that you regret the tone and the subject of your social media post, and that you realize how it could have contributed to the very serious situation the town of Troy and its public officials are experiencing…”

If Rep. Rung acknowledges that she's a naughty girl, Big Poppa Patriarch will CONSIDER her request to resume her committee duties. Perhaps he'd like her to write on the blackboard 500 times or give her a spanking, because isn't that what we do with naughty girls?  He's treating her like a wayward child, not an adult human. 

Packard would never, ever, in ten million years say this to a male representative from either party.

This is old-school, deeply ingrained sexism at work. 

It's no wonder he insisted on that ridiculous drive-in House session. We know he's a dinosaur when it comes to technology. Now we know he's a dinosaur when it comes to women, too. 

You'd best be careful, women of the House minority party! Speaker Stegosaurus is ready to apply his misogynistic double standards if you don't behave.