Legislative Bulletins

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AFT-NH Legislative Bulletin, 2018-03

January 12, 2018

Bow, NH

The New Hampshire legislature is beginning to return to its accustomed rhythms and routines as both the House and the Senate met in session.  More important, committees began holding hearings on this year’s avalanche of proposed bills and these hearings will continue unabated for the next six or seven weeks.  It is in committees where the majority of the work of the Legislature is done, through listening to testimony, considering bills and amendments, and shaping recommendations for action on the floor of the House or the Senate.  If you have never done so and if you have the time, look at the House or Senate calendars, find a hearing that might be of interest, and consider attending to observe or even testify.  Testimony from members of the public is always welcomed, especially as it brings a perspective different from that of the usual lobbyists and fellow legislators.  You might even conclude that you too can be a citizen legislator—believe me, there are no prerequisites other than a willingness to put in a lot of time for virtually no pay.  But it can be satisfying and is certainly interesting.  

AFT-NH Legislative Bulletin, 2018-02

The NH Legislature managed to meet one day this past week, but Thursday’s snowstorm and the bitter cold led to the cancellation of Thursday’s scheduled House session.  Instead, the House will convene this Tuesday, January 9, to continue working through the remaining retained bills from 2017.  Although an additional session day on Thursday, January 11 is possible, most expect the House to finish retained bills on the 9th and then commence committee hearings on 2018 bills.

SB 193  The big news this past week was House passage of Senate Bill 193 as amended , the bill establishing so-called “education freedom savings accounts.”  In simple terms, the bill takes funds normally distributed by the State to local school districts and places the money into accounts that can be used by parents who home-school or choose to send their children to private (including religious) schools.  The NH Constitution explicitly prohibits expending public funds in support of religious schools, so the “education freedom savings accounts” are an attempt to bypass that prohibition.  As one House member noted in debate, these accounts will act as a pass-through system, or in more direct language, as a “money-laundering” system to render public revenues into non-public money and thereby circumvent the state’s Constitution.  

AFT-NH Legislative Bulletin, 2018-01

Bow, NH - December 13, 2017

Launch of the 2018 Legislative Session   In the natural world, many creatures around us are hunkering down for the winter season and going into hibernation.  The Legislature, however, is not governed by ‘Mother Nature’ and since October, the pace of activity in the State House has picked up, with hearings and the election of a new Speaker.  Now, as we enter into the Holiday season, the Legislature stands of the cusp of the 2018 session, with our first session scheduled to convene on January 3, 2018.  It promises to be a busy session, with hundreds of bills proposed in the House and the Senate, each one assured of a public hearing and a vote in either or both the House and Senate.  So it is time to muster your energies and your patience—the 2018 Legislative session is nearly upon us!  

AFT-NH Legislative Bulletin, 2017-24

Bow, NH – June 24, 2017 

Yesterday, the both the Senate and the House cast their final votes, and the long slog of the 2017 legislative session came to a merciful end.  It seemed over the past two months that whatever day the House met in session, it was a beautiful day, often the only one in the entire week (remember all the chilly weather?), thereby condemning members to sit and sweat in Reps Hall.  Keep in mind, there is no air conditioning there, and on a warm day with over 400 people crammed in the room, the ceiling fans just cannot keep up.  Yesterday was no exception.

The work of the House and Senate yesterday was confined to voting on Committee of Conference reports where Senate and House conferees had come to agreement upon how to reconcile each chamber’s different version of a piece of legislation.  In this process, no further amendments are permitted, and the vote is to simply concur or non-concur with each piece of remaining legislation as designed by the conferees.  There was still debate, but business moved along briskly, enough so that we all were able to leave and enjoy much of the sunny afternoon.

AFT-NH Legislative Bulletin, 2017-23

The 2017 legislative session is nearly completed, with one more scheduled meeting this coming Thursday, June 22, when the House and Senate will each vote on Committee of Conference reports.  These reports concern bills where the House and Senate differed over amendments, appointed a committee to try to iron out the disagreements, and the Committee came to a resolution.  The resulting bills can now only be voted up or down, no further amendments.  

AFT-NH Legislative Bulletin, 2017-22

Bow, NH – June 9, 2017 

Slowly, ever slowly, the 2017 legislative session crawls towards its June 22 conclusion.  Yesterday, the House and Senate both met in session, though for the House, it was certainly the shortest meeting of 2017, not even lasting one hour.  The primary, in fact the only order of business, was to consider reports from the Senate.  These are when the Senate has amended a bill that originated in and passed the House, and now it gets sent back to the House for further consideration.  The choices are simple.  First, the House can concur/accept the Senate’s amendment, meaning the bill is now passed and sent to the governor.  The second choice is to simply non-concur/reject the Senate’s amendment and thereby kill the bill.  The third option is to request a Committee of Conference, wherein the House and Senate each appoint conferees who meet and try to reach agreement on the bill.  All Committees of Conference must finish their work by June 15, and then the House and Senate will vote on June 22 to accept or reject those Conference reports where agreement was reached.  And that, folks, should be the end of the session, until the legislative process starts to wind up again in September.  

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.