Legislative Bulletins

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AFT-NH Legislative Bulletin, 2018-13

March 26, 2018 - Bow, NH

The dust is now settling from the mayhem that is “crossover” in the NH Legislature, the date (March 22) by which bills from either the Senate or the House must be acted upon and if passed, sent on to the other chamber.  Both the House and Senate were in long sessions on both Wednesday and Thursday last week, but with the rush of business concluded, take a breather this week.  Instead, the focus is on upon committee hearings and then the slow grind towards May 3, the date by which each chamber must act on bills having originated on “the other side of the wall.” 

AFT-NH Legislative Bulletin, 2018-12

March 16, 2018 - Bow, NH

What a crazy week!  The snowstorm on Tuesday really tossed a monkey-wrench into our established schedule for town meetings and voting, illustrating like last year the need for greater flexibility in adjusting voting/meeting dates when there is seriously inclement weather.  One might also make a valid case that having had this problem two years in a row offers pretty good reason why NH should consider advance voting or opening up the use of absentee ballots.  But so long as our current Secretary of State, Bill Gardiner, remains in office, no such changes will be forthcoming.  

AFT-NH Legislative Bulletin, 2018-11

March 9, 2018 - Bow, NH

The House made significant progress on its backlog of legislation this week but with snow forcing cancellation of Thursday’s session, a good number of legislative proposals now won’t come up until March 15.  With the deadline of March 22 for bills to go to the Senate, the House has its work cut out for it. 

In a Nutshell   As always there is a mix of the good and the not-so-good in reviewing House actions.  Highlights from the Consent Calendar include legislative deaths for HB 1803 (banning payroll deductions for union dues or any non-governmental entities) and HB 1608 (banning compensation for public employees on leave).  The former would have caused great harm for United Way, AFLAC, etc. along with labor unions, while the latter would violate provisions in many collective bargaining agreements and remove the issue from local control.  HB 1603, authorizing an employee representative on the investment committee of the NHRS did pass, thereby offering at least a small opportunity for voicing the concerns of those who pay into the retirement system and for whom the system exists.  Lastly, a series of bills passed that adding to existing reporting requirements and accountability on the part of public schools.  In and of itself, that may be fine, but it must be paired with the simultaneous rejection of even a modest increase in accountability for home-schoolers or increasing the required percentage of certified or experienced teachers in charter schools.  Then there is also SB 193, which still contains virtually no accountability for home-schoolers or private schools benefitting from public funds.  Just a smidge of inconsistency there!

AFT-NH Legislative Bulletin, 2018-10

March 5, 2018 - Bow, NH

Welcome back to everyone who has been on winter vacation this past week.  Hopefully, you found the break restful and relaxing.  The Legislature has also been on break for the past week, though some committees continued meeting and pushing legislation forward.  This coming week, however, will be a busy one in Concord, especially for the NH House, which will meet three days and confronts a calendar with nearly 400 potential pieces of legislation to be considered.  Nearly two-thirds of these proposals are on the Consent Calendar, where legislation goes that has a unanimous or near unanimous committee recommendation (inexpedient to legislate, ought to pass, etc.).  One vote at the start of Tuesday’s session will dispose of all legislation on the Consent Calendar by approving the Calendar and all the recommendations contained therein.  The only exceptions will be pieces of legislation that individual legislators remove from the Consent calendar for later debate.  Thus, it is likely the House will vote on and discuss/debate over 150 pieces of legislation over the course of three days this week.  So fasten your seat-belts. 

AFT-NH Legislative Bulletin, 2018-09

February 23, 2018 - Bow, NH

This week was a relatively slow week in Concord, and neither the Senate nor the House will convene again until March 6, 2018 (everyone is off for Winter vacation week).  What this means, however, especially for the House, is that there is an oncoming avalanche of legislation heading to the floor.  Between March 6 and March 22, hundreds of pieces of legislation will need to be considered and dispensed with by the House, so there are some long session days impending. 

School Nurse Certification  Yesterday, the House passed HB 1217, which reduces the certification requirements for school nurses.  Proponents of the bill emphasized cost savings to school districts of fewer certification standards to be met by school nurses, while opponents of the bill pointed to the complexities facing school nurses.  Dealing with injuries, chronic illnesses, serving as a resource for psychological issues, all these involve school nurses.  But in NH, we reduce standards to prior levels, rather than render pay more commensurate with more rigorous standards.  And all of our school employees know we do not employ enough school nurses in our schools. The bill now moves to the Senate, which is likely to pass the bill and send it to the governor.

AFT-NH Legislative Bulletin, 2018-08

February 20, 2018 - Bow, NH

A busy week in the State House, though a relatively quiet one when it comes to legislation of direct concern to AFT-NH.  In terms of actual legislation, the Senate passed SB 441, which requires school districts to create policies upholding the finality of grades assigned by teachers.  Except in limited cases (technical or clerical error), this would make teacher-assigned grades the final word, preventing administrators from altering grades of athletes or certain vociferous parents.  Consider it a rare recognition of the professionalism of our public school teachers! 

AFT-NH Legislative Bulletin, 2018-07

February 12, 2018 - Bow, NH

The House failed this past week to finish its scheduled business, due to the snow-day granted by the Speaker on Wednesday.  That left one day for work, which simply was not enough, so the backlog of House legislative work will be made up on this Thursday, February 15.

AFT-NH Legislative Bulletin, 2018-06

Given the length and detail of the past couple of bulletins, I will keep this one short.  It was another busy week up in Concord, with committees holding hearings on numerous bills of interest to AFT-NH.  The Education Committee held a public hearing on HB 1277, to reduce from five to three years the time in which a teacher is an ‘at will’ employee with no right to a hearing or explanation for a termination.  I testified in favor of the bill, but it is unlikely the bill will get a positive recommendation from the committee, largely because the current system (in place since 2011) gives districts two additional years in which budgetary issues can be easily addressed by terminating teachers.  Uncertainty on the job is not the best way to treat education professionals, and the current five-year ‘at will” period only makes recruitment and retention of teachers that much more difficult.  Nevertheless, I do not hold out much hope for a positive outcome this session.

AFT-NH Legislative Bulletin, 2018-05

January 29, 2018 - Bow, NH

Legislative activity, particularly committee hearings, are in full swing now in Concord, NH, meaning this past week was quite busy and the upcoming looks to be more of the same.  Here is a quick review of what happened and what lies ahead, from the perspective of AFT-NH.

SB 193   The “elephant in the room” remains SB 193, what many label the “voucher bill.”  SB 193 proposes taking  public money from public schools and transferring it to a private agency which will then set up “education savings accounts” to defray the costs of home-schooling or sending children to private (including religious) schools.  The purpose of this convoluted approach is to “launder” the money in an effort to wash it of its public character, thereby avoiding constitutional prohibitions on public funding of religious schools.  The bill had more hearings this week in the Finance Committee, which is trying to ascertain the cost to the State and to local taxpayers, who would need to replace the lost funds.  Since the bill’s provisions are so broad a large percentage of NH students might be eligible, and efforts by the Finance Committee to obtain estimates of costs going beyond the first year have been stymied by bill supporters and the State’s own Department of Education, led by education privatization advocate, Commissioner Frank Edelblut.  The key hearings will likely occur this coming week when the Office of Legislative Budget Assistant is likely to bring forth its estimates of costs running thirteen years out (to full implementation of SB 193).  In case you missed it, please be sure to read AFT-NH’s report on SB 193 entitled Following the Wrong Path: What Can Education Savings Account Programs In Other States Tell New Hampshire About SB 193? 1-16-18

AFT-NH Legislative Bulletin, 2018-04

January 19, 2018- Bow, NH

From our perspective, the central event of the week was the hearing before the House Finance Committee regarding SB 193, the bill remove funds from public schools in order to fund home-schoolers and those sending children to private and religious schools.  The focus of the hearing was on the financial implications of the bill, not the policy itself, and after four hours of testimony it was rather clear the proposal will force the State and local taxpayers to foot the bill through new or increased taxes.