AFT-NH Legislative Bulletin, 2017-21

Bow, NH – June 2, 2017 

Thursday, June 1, was a gorgeous day, easily the best weather we have had here in NH for some time.  Clear skies by afternoon, warming temperatures, and no rain!  In Representatives Hall in the NH State House, however, it proved to be a much drearier and depressing day, although not terribly surprising.  On the final day to act on Senate bills, the Republican majority flexed their muscle and demonstrated anew that elections matter.  Remember this, when your friends and co-workers tell you next year they are not bothering to vote because “it just doesn’t matter.”  It does, and yesterday’s votes in the House prove it.

AFT-NH Legislative Bulletin, 2017-20

This will be a very brief bulletin since neither the Senate or House were in session this past week.  Having said that, there was activity.

The Senate has now crafted and released its proposed State budget for the 2017-19 biennium.  In an effort to win over some of the extreme right-wing Republicans whose votes scuttled the House version of the budget, Senate Republicans on the Finance Committee adopted very conservative revenue estimates as a means of justifying leaving many programs and initiatives unfunded or underfunded.  Full funding of all-day kindergarten has been removed from the budget, and funding for battling the opioid crisis remains inadequate.  Yet despite the supposed financial stringencies, the majority in the Senate have found monies to pay for a spokesperson for the Dept. of Education at an annual $83,500 salary (to speak at the behest of Commissioner Edelblut) and also to increase the funding for charter schools (as opposed to the traditional public schools which the vast majority of NH students attend). 

AFT-NH Legislative Bulletin, 2017-19

Bow, NH - May 18, 2017 

The NH House met briefly yesterday, primarily to pass an emergency bridge appropriation to keep the Dept. of Health and Human Services functioning until the end of the budget year on June 30.  While there was the usual vocal opposition from those who oppose virtually any governmental spending, the bill passed easily. 

Action Needed     So, many important votes lie ahead.  Please contact your House Representative and ask her/him to oppose SB 3 (voter suppression), SB 8 (the Edelblut/Croydon bill) and to fully fund full-day kindergarten.  And, while doing so, keep your eyes and ears open, as we await the Senate’s version of the 2017-2019 NH State budget.  

AFT-NH Legislative Bulletin, 2017-18

Bow, NH- May 11, 2017 

The wheels turn slowly in Concord, as we grind towards the inevitable mid-June end of the 2017 legislative session The House did not meet in session this week due to a lack of bills coming to the floor for action, so everything will be condensed into sessions at the end of May.  The House meets in session on May 18th to vote on an emergency supplemental appropriation to fund the Department of Health and Human Services until the end of the fiscal year. There will be no consideration of committee reports at this session.


AFT-NH Legislative Bulletin, 2017-17

Bow, NH- May 5, 2017 

The House met in session yesterday, but what many expected to be a short session lasted until nearly late afternoon.  The primary controversies centered around the continuing saga of Representative Robert Fisher, (R-Laconia), the outed creator and frequent contributor to the anti-feminist and misogynistic discussion forum “The Red Pill.” The Governor, Speaker, and Minority Leader, among others have called for Fisher’s resignation but there he was today, voting in the House.  There were protesters outside the State House and the halls surrounding Reps Hall, while in the chamber, Minority Leader Steve Shurtleff introduced a resolution calling for a House investigation into the alleged activities of Fisher and whether he should be censured or even expelled.  This touched off a long debate, with claims of free speech countered by the reality that the House maintains the right to regulate the conduct of its members.  In the end, the resolution passed, but only after Republicans added on an investigation of a Democratic representative who used foul language in tweets some five months ago and who had since apologized.  Hardly an equivalent to someone who allegedly wrote about rape as not entirely bad, since one must always consider the pleasure taken by the rapist.  

AFT-NH Legislative Bulletin, 2017-16

On the surface, there was not much activity in the State House this past week, as the House did not meet in session, while the Senate met briefly and considered only a small number of bills.  One quiet action taken by the Senate was to return back to the Committee on Education the so-called Croydon bill, HB 557.  This bill would permit local school boards to use public funds to send students to private, non-sectarian schools, rather than funding a public school or agreeing to send students to a neighboring public school.  For example, if a town lacks a public middle school, it can currently arrange to send students to a neighboring public middle school, but by the terms of HB557, the district could now use public funds to send students to private schools instead.  Keep in mind, private schools do not wish to come under the regulatory burdens already imposed upon public schools, so there is no certainty that with this proposed legislation, that all students would be eligible or accepted, nor that the private school would meet all the same standards as public schools.  In other words, it is another attempt to use public education funds for private benefit.  Remember also that it was discovered that Education Commissioner Edelblut had donated to the town’s legal fund to fight the NH Department of Education. Read more about Edelblut donation to Croydon at Edelblut Contribution to Croydon. This was not discovered until after Edelblut was confirmed.  The fate of the bill is not certain, as it may return to the Senate for a vote at some point during the month of May.  We shall keep a watchful eye upon it.