Legislative Bulletins

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AFT-NH Legislative Bulletin, 2019-05

The NH Legislature is in a momentary lull, having just survived “crossover,” the deadline date by which bills must be acted on in order to move across to the other branch of the legislature.  On Tuesday and Wednesday of last week, the House considered over 150 bills.  Approximately one-half were on the Consent Calendar with unanimous or almost unanimous bipartisan committee recommendations to pass or defeat.  Unless a bill is removed from the Consent Calendar, the House then takes one vote to “approve the Consent Calendar,” after which all the bills still on it are passed or defeated as recommended.  So, it is a short-cut, avoiding unnecessary delay in considering what are often minor or duplicative bills.

AFT-NH Legislative Bulletin, 2019-03

February 25, 2019 ~ Bow, NH

How many times have you heard the comment “Elections have consequences.”?  That comment was often made in NH over the past four years as part of a warning about harmful legislation or other hostile actions taken by our State government.  It might be another attempt to pass so-called right to work legislation, it might be an attempt to fund private schools with public education dollars, but whatever the reason, “elections have consequences” was always a warning and a call to action. 

Our situation is a little different this year.  “Elections have consequences”-yes.  But this time, the consequences are much more positive for AFT-NH members and for all the citizens of NH.  With friendly majorities in the NH House and Senate, the outlook for positive legislation is much brighter than in previous years. Of course, one consequence from 2018 was the re-election of Governor Sununu, meaning not all obstacles to progress have been removed.  But at least this year we anticipate fewer emergency calls asking you to contact legislators, and when we do ask, it will be to help stiffen their backbone and make clear to them that we have a positive agenda and we aim to see steps taken to enact it.  It won’t all happen this year or next but it is now time to begin moving NH in the right direction, to restore support for public education, to care for our retirees, and to establish programs to help working families across the Granite State.

AFT-NH Legislative Bulletin, 2019-02

February 11, 2019 ~ Bow, NH

Guns, guns, guns.  Do you think guns ought to be permitted in schools?  Do you believe school districts should be permitted to set policies on the carrying of firearms on school properties?  Or do you believe the State should simply bar firearms from school properties in NH?  These are questions that matter, and the House Education Committee will be holding hearings on two bills concerning firearms in school this coming Wednesday morning, February 13, starting at 9am.  If you would like to testify regarding this issue, you can simply come to the Legislative Office Building in Concord, Rooms 210-211, for hearings at 9am (HB 101) and/or 10am (HB 564).  You can also email the committee members and express your views regarding regulation of firearms in NH schools—simply write them at HouseEducationCommittee@leg.state.nh.us.  Let your voice be heard!

AFT-NH Legislative Bulletin, 2019-01

2019 Legislative Session Underway

Bow, NH - February 4, 2019

The NH General Court (the Legislature) began its substantive work early in January, but it is only in the past two weeks that activity has really picked up.  You may recall that the 2019-20 Legislature is quite different from the 2017-18 version.  Voters erased Republican majorities in both the Senate and the House in the November 2018 elections, so Democrats now control the Senate 14-10 and the House by a nearly 60-vote margin. With a Republican governor still holding office, there will be a fair amount of friction and a need for some degree of cooperation between the Legislative and Executive branches if anything is to be accomplished.  It is a new situation for both Democrats and Republicans, and it will be interesting to watch as the session unfolds over the next five months.

 

AFT-NH Legislative Bulletin, 2018-19

Legislative Session Wrap-Up

June 1, 2018 - Bow, NH

 

In just over three hours it was over.  Some legislative sessions end in high drama.  The 2018 legislative session ended on Wednesday, May 23 with barely a whimper or ripple, at least in regards to legislation of direct concern to AFT-NH.  Of course, after all the drama surrounding SB 193, the “whack a mole” so-called voucher bill that had seemingly refused to die, we welcomed the quiet end to the session.

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.