Legislative Bulletins

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AFT-NH Legislative Bulletin, 2017-17

Bow, NH- May 5, 2017 

The House met in session yesterday, but what many expected to be a short session lasted until nearly late afternoon.  The primary controversies centered around the continuing saga of Representative Robert Fisher, (R-Laconia), the outed creator and frequent contributor to the anti-feminist and misogynistic discussion forum “The Red Pill.” The Governor, Speaker, and Minority Leader, among others have called for Fisher’s resignation but there he was today, voting in the House.  There were protesters outside the State House and the halls surrounding Reps Hall, while in the chamber, Minority Leader Steve Shurtleff introduced a resolution calling for a House investigation into the alleged activities of Fisher and whether he should be censured or even expelled.  This touched off a long debate, with claims of free speech countered by the reality that the House maintains the right to regulate the conduct of its members.  In the end, the resolution passed, but only after Republicans added on an investigation of a Democratic representative who used foul language in tweets some five months ago and who had since apologized.  Hardly an equivalent to someone who allegedly wrote about rape as not entirely bad, since one must always consider the pleasure taken by the rapist.  

AFT-NH Legislative Bulletin, 2017-16

On the surface, there was not much activity in the State House this past week, as the House did not meet in session, while the Senate met briefly and considered only a small number of bills.  One quiet action taken by the Senate was to return back to the Committee on Education the so-called Croydon bill, HB 557.  This bill would permit local school boards to use public funds to send students to private, non-sectarian schools, rather than funding a public school or agreeing to send students to a neighboring public school.  For example, if a town lacks a public middle school, it can currently arrange to send students to a neighboring public middle school, but by the terms of HB557, the district could now use public funds to send students to private schools instead.  Keep in mind, private schools do not wish to come under the regulatory burdens already imposed upon public schools, so there is no certainty that with this proposed legislation, that all students would be eligible or accepted, nor that the private school would meet all the same standards as public schools.  In other words, it is another attempt to use public education funds for private benefit.  Remember also that it was discovered that Education Commissioner Edelblut had donated to the town’s legal fund to fight the NH Department of Education. Read more about Edelblut donation to Croydon at Edelblut Contribution to Croydon. This was not discovered until after Edelblut was confirmed.  The fate of the bill is not certain, as it may return to the Senate for a vote at some point during the month of May.  We shall keep a watchful eye upon it. 

A Triple Crown Victory for Public Education

As we all know, public education is under assault here in New Hampshire.  Yesterday, though, we won three important victories, and it is time to take a moment to celebrate and to reflect. Days like today don’t come about too often, especially when opponents of public education control seemingly control every branch of NH government.  But, through the hard work of thousands of people testifying in Concord, protesting outside the State House, writing letters and emails and calling their senators and representative, you won some important victories.  So congratulations, rest up for a day, and get ready for the battles yet to come!

AFT-NH Legislative Bulletin, 2017-15

In terms of public activity, this was a relatively quiet week at the State House, but be assured, wheels are turning.  The House met in session yesterday for only two hours, passing a number of smaller or less important bills, while work continues on the big pieces of legislation.  Probably the most noteworthy moment was the brief set of comments offered by Representative Kat Rogers in commemoration of the Columbine school shooting.  Her remarks were brief, pointed, and applauded by many, but not all (you can imagine what ideological element of the House refused to honor her efforts).  In similar fashion, the Senate also met and rendered decisions on a number of pieces of legislation, each important to certain constituencies but none of major, state-wide importance.  The big issues and the controversial legislation is yet to come forth; likewise, work continues on the Senate’s budget proposal. 

 

AFT-NH Legislative Bulletin, 2017-14

In the aftermath of the House’s stunning failure to pass a budget (due to Republican intra-party feuding), the Senate becomes the focal point of attention, as it works to develop a budget proposal.  Using Governor Sununu’s budget proposal as a starting point, the Senate will craft a budget and attach it as an amendment to a House bill.  That amended bill will then be sent back to the House, which will of course reject the bill, forcing a committee of conference to hammer out the final details of the State’s 2017-18 biennial budget.  So, much remains to be done, but much of it will occur behind the scenes, in negotiations between the Senate, the Governor, and the House.  Stay tuned-this will not be finished until June 2017.

AFT-NH Legislative Bulletin 2017-13

House Budget Fails   The deadline for the NH House to pass a state budget was April 6th. Despite having a 53-vote margin majority, the NH House Republicans failed to pass a budget to send to the NH Senate by the deadline for the first time in at least 50 years. The House met over two days and recessed on Thursday, April 6th with no budget. Speaker Shawn Jasper was unable to garner the votes of the republican caucus to approve a budget after the so-called Freedom Caucus in the House balked at the budget citing too much spending. The NH Senate begins the process of dealing with the budget. 

AFT-NH Legislative Bulletin, 2017-12

In a final flurry of action, the NH Senate completed action on its bills this past week, setting the stage for the next round of activity at the State House.  One of the bills passed by the Senate was SB3, which is another in a long line of attempts at voter suppression.  With some newspapers continuing to give front-page coverage to claims of massive voter fraud in NH (even as the stories themselves admit there is no evidence to back such claims), NH Republicans voted to impose new restrictions upon individuals registering to vote.  Under this proposed le

AFT-NH Legislative Bulletin, 2017-11

After concluding business in a rush back on March 10, the NH House reconvened this past Thursday for a short session.  The most notable action of the day concerned HB 647, the so-called voucher bill for children with disabilities.  The bill had previously passed the House on policy grounds, but on Thursday, came to the floor with a strong, bi-partisan recommendation of “Inexpedient to Legislate” from the Finance Committee.  Nevertheless, in what looks to have been a party-line vote (it was not a roll-call but a division vote, meaning only the totals are recorded, not individual votes) the bill was tabled rather than killed.  The motion to table came from Republican leader Dick Hinch, who asked the House to table on grounds that voting to kill the bill would prejudice the fate of SB 193, the broader, full-scale education voucher bill.  With a vote of 193-161 (closely resembling party numbers in the House) HB 647 was tabled.  The bill itself is essentially dead for 2017 but can be revived in 2018, and may also make an appearance in the 2018-19 budget bill still under construction by the House Finance Committee. 

AFT-NH Legislative Bulletin, 2017-10

Once again, the NH House acted like so many of my students do, allowing work to pile up and waiting until the final hour to do the work that needs to be done.  This week, the House met for two long days, and because it had not met the prior week, faced a deadline for acting on over 100 proposed pieces of legislation.  Given how long some debates can take, never mind the time consumed in roll call votes and all kinds of maneuvering, it made for very long days.  Near the end late on Thursday, tempers began to fray and the Republican majority used their power in an increasingly aggressive manner.  When it was done, all legislation had been acted upon, and the House will not meet again for two weeks. 

AFT-NH Legislative Bulletin, 2017-09

This past week the House was once again, not in session, while House committees finished work on a tidal wave of bills, which will hit the House floor for votes beginning Wednesday, March 8.  Still, even without the House in full session, there were some interesting developments, including some good news! March 9th is the last day for the House to act on house bills not referred to a second committee. March 16th is the last day to act on all bills going to a second committee except budget bills. In addition, the last day for budget bills to be acted upon is April 6th.