AFT-NH Legislative Bulletin, 2017-20

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Bow, NH - May 28, 2017 

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). 

House committees were also wrapping up business this past week.  The Finance Committee voted to partially fund full-day kindergarten, so while the House and Senate are not in entire agreement, it appears New Hampshire will again need to wait at least two more years before possibly joining the vast majority of states that do support all-day kindergarten.  Why rush?

Elsewhere the Election Law Committee narrowly recommended passage of SB3, the bill designed to eliminate non-existent voter fraud while striving to deter and suppress voter registration.  In particular, the amended bill still retains lengthy and onerous voter registration forms as well as threats to check up on claimed domiciles of new registrants.  Tactics like these have virtually nothing to do with preventing unproven voter fraud, but will serve to deter same-day registrants, who tend to be young, less wealthy, and are often college students.  The vote may be close in the House, Please contact your House Representative and ask her/him to oppose SB 3 (voter suppression) before next Thursday to ask that they vote against SB3.

Finally, the Education Committee voted largely along party lines to recommend passage of the amended SB 8, known as the Croydon or Edelblut bill.  This proposed legislation authorizes using public funds to send students to private schools, and is so poorly written, that one informed observer speculated a district could convert all its schools to charter schools and then collect both all State aid for public schooling AND State monies for charter schools.  This legislation will assuredly face constitutional challenges, centering on use of public monies for private schools and also on the abdication by the State of any responsibility for ensuring an adequate education for all students.  This is a bad piece of legislation, and AFT-NH again asks that you contact your State Representative and urge them to reject the Croydon/Edelblut bill.

As promised, this is a short bulletin this week.  Enjoy the Memorial Day weekend, be safe, and remember to pause, reflect and honor those who have fallen while in service to our nation. 

In Solidarity,

Douglas Ley

AFT-NH, President

dley@aft-nh.org

603 831 3661 (cell)

603 223 0747 

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