AFT-NH Legislative Bulletin, 2018-18

May 10, 2018 - Bow, NH

Today marked the end of the long 2017-18 saga of SB 193, the proposal to establish Education Savings Accounts as a means of funneling public education money to those choosing to attend private schools or home-schooling.  After eighteen months and innumerable twists and turns, the end came quickly in the NH House.  Having consigned SB 193 to interim study by the Finance Committee for the remainder of the 2018 session, the House now faced the early Senate version of SB 193, attached as an amendment to another House bill on an unrelated subject. 

Very quickly, the bill containing the Senate’s early version of SB 193 came before the House this morning.  By an extremely narrow margin, 170-165, the House rejected the Republican majority motion to join with the Senate in a Committee of Conference to try to salvage something from the saga of SB 193.  Immediately after, the House then voted 180-163 to “non concur” with the Senate on the amended bill (HB 1636) effectively killing it and its amendment (the original SB 193) for the session.  And so it has ended.  SB 193 will be studied by Finance this summer in an attempt to somehow come up with a version that shovels public funds to private schools but which somehow does not add costs the State or local property taxpayers.  It will be a difficult task.  In the meantime, the issue is dead, at least until 2019.

AFT-NH Legislative Bulletin, 2018-17

Action Needed

 

May 7, 2018 - Bow, NH

If you have seen the film Monty Python and the Holy Grail, you must recall the early scene in the squalid, plague-stricken village.  As the cartman walks through calling on villagers to “Bring out your dead,” we see an elderly and ill man trying to get away.  “I’m not dead,” but “He will be soon, he’s very ill.”  It ends of course with the poor man knocked over the head, tossed into the cart and everyone else walking away satisfied.

SB 193 is sort of like the ill, plague-stricken man in the Holy Grail.  Twice last week, the House voted narrowly to refer the bill to interim study, essentially killing the bill but giving the Finance Committee an opportunity to study the finances of the system of education savings accounts (the end-around for trying to avoid constitutional issues tied up with vouchers).  Yet late on Thursday night, when the Senate took up its final bill for the session, Republicans attached the original version of SB 193 to another bill and sent it back to the House for consideration.  So, it lives on.

AFT-NH Legislative Bulletin, 2018-16

Urgent-Action Necessary

April 29, 2018 - Bow, NH

It is time to act on SB 193!  Please contact your state representative(s) by clicking this link Contact Your Representatives.  

So, the moment has arrived.  This past Wednesday, the Finance Committee took its fateful vote on SB 193, the so-called voucher bill to use education savings accounts to funnel public monies to private schools, religious schools, and home-schoolers.  The previous week, the Finance sub-committee charged with SB 193 voted 7-1 in favor of “interim study,” and on this past Wednesday, the Finance Committee as a whole followed suit.  By a 14-12 margin, with three Republicans (including long-time Finance Chair Neal Kurk) joining Democrats, the committee voted to recommend “interim study” on SB193 as its recommendation to the entire House.  Simply put, the Committee was not able to resolve the financing issues in this bill, with costs conservatively estimated at $100 million to local districts over the next ten years.  This would be downshifting on a massive scale, not unheard of in New Hampshire, but a tactic disavowed by Republicans in general and certainly by Finance Chair, Neal Kurk.  Further, the repeated attempts to amend the policy of SB 193 made clear that even its advocates could not quite solve the policy & financing link.  Further complicating matters is passage by the House and Senate of HB 1496 requiring public schools to meet both input-based and performance-based accountability standards to be considered as providing an adequate education (currently schools need only meet one of these standards).  The result would be more schools suddenly deemed “inadequate,” thereby swelling the number of students eligible under SB 193 for public funds to attend private, religious, and home-schools.

AFT-NH Legislative Bulletin, 2018-15

April 23, 2018 - Bow, NH

The legislative session is drawing to its inexorable conclusion, with May 3 the final date for either the House or Senate to act on bills and either pass, kill, or amend legislation.  If a bill is amended, the other chamber must either accept the amendment, reject it and kill the bill, or ask for a committee of conference to resolve differences.  All action, including committees of conference, must be concluded by May 24, so there is not much time remaining.  Enough time, though, to still do significant damage.

HB 1415- Line of Duty Death Benefit for School Employees  This past week, we were very disappointed to see the Senate Finance Committee vote 4-2, along party lines (Republican majority) to recommend that the entire Senate defeat HB 1415, providing for a death benefit to the survivors of education personnel killed in the line of duty.  On Friday, there was another school shooting in Ocala, FL, but here in New Hampshire, there are senators who still see no reason to provide any sort of benefit to the grieving survivors of school-related violence.  We have been fortunate in not having such incidents so far in New Hampshire, but provision of a $100,000 death benefit would be, in the words of one House member, “a means by which the State could express sympathy and support” for the devastated family.  We hope the Senate as a whole will reverse this recommendation, pass the bill and administer the rebuke the four senators justly deserve.  If Governor Sununu then vetoes the bill, let him take ownership and bear any consequences.  Truly sad.

Take Action on HB 1415. To find out who is your senator, click this link Who's My Senator?

Once you determine who your Senator is, click here Senate Roster to find out how to contact them via email. Please ask them to overturn the Senate Finance Committee recommendation and pass HB 1415.

AFT-NH Legislative Bulletin, 2018-14

April 9, 2018 - Bow, NH

The Senate and the House did not meet in session the week of March 25, following the long sessions of the preceding crossover week, when all bills going forward had to pass one chamber and move to the other.  There were committee hearings however, as the legislative merry-go-round never quite comes to a complete halt, and this past week there were more hearings and some votes on pending legislation.  Particularly for the House, however, the pace slows a bit, with only a small number of Senate bills to consider, compared to the hundreds of House bills subject to hearings and votes from January through March.  Nevertheless, much of importance remains to be resolved.

Graduate employees make history at Georgetown

For two years, graduate employees at Georgetown University have been organizing, persistently working toward official recognition as the Georgetown Alliance of Graduate Employees. On April 2, the university finally agreed to allow them to vote on whether they want a union and promised that, if they win the vote, they’ll have dispute resolution, collective bargaining and other measures that will give them more of a voice on campus.