AFT-NH Legislative Bulletin, 2021-10

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March 7, 2021 ~ Bow, NH

Educator Vaccines   The most consequential news this week started in Washington DC, when President Biden ordered the prioritization of educators (teachers, staff, child care workers) for COVID vaccinations.  The goal?  Speed up the vaccinations and thereby speed up the reopening of schools and a further return to at least a semblance of normality.  Here in NH, Governor Sununu initially declared that President Biden’s pronouncement would make no difference here in the Granite State, but only a day or so later, amidst mounting public criticism, Governor Sununu reversed course.  Not that he admitted any such thing.  Instead, suddenly the pace of vaccinations here in NH permitted moving up the vaccination of educators starting around the middle of March.  Of course, this had nothing to do with President Biden’s order; Governor Sununu just had a sudden insight that this could be done.  Typical political move by the governor, but at least it was the right move this time.  After bashing AFT-NH, teachers, and their unions for over a month, the governor reversed course and announced NH would do what educators, through their unions, have sought since January—vaccinations!  We’ll take it, and even if Governor Sununu refuses to acknowledge us, we can take quiet pride in helping to move NH forward towards a restoration of some sort of normality in this COVID-pandemic world.

School Vouchers   In the Legislature, the primary focus remains on SB 130, the Senate’s version of HB 20 (the voucher bill).  This past Tuesday, the Senate Education Committee held its public hearing on SB130, with 3,285 citizens registering opposition (only 498 registered support).  Commissioner of Education Frank Edelblut aggressively advocated for SB 130, continuing his fanciful claims that the fiscal impact would be minimal (since when did people turn down free money with virtually no strings attached?)  The prime sponsor, Senator Bradley, invited amendments to the bill and it is expected that amendments will be offered this week when the Education Committee votes on whether or not to recommend SB 130 to the entire Senate.  The amendments will most likely echo those offered earlier to HB 20, such as imposing a temporary income cap for eligibility (near $100,000 per family of 4) and temporary grants to school districts to temporarily ameliorate losses in State education funding as public funds flow to private schools and home-schoolers.  To even consider such grants to school districts is a tacit admission that the siphoning of public taxpayer funds to private schools will have a major impact on public schools serving over 90% of NH’s students, Commissioner Edelblut’s claims to the contrary. And the result?  Higher property taxes for already stressed taxpayers and increased inequality within what is today one of the strongest and most accomplished public school systems in the entire United States. 

New Action Requested on Vouchers   The Senate Education Committee will meet this Tuesday to vote on SB 130, including amendments.  To register your opposition to SB 130, please consider contacting your NH Senator today through using this handy link:  CONTACT YOUR SENATOR It is up to you, the public, to halt this campaign to undermine your public schools in NH.  Rather than shovel public funds to those choosing to utilize private schools or home-schooling, let’s keep public funds for public schools and halt the Sununu/Edelblut plan to shower benefits upon a select few at the expense of all property taxpayers in NH. 

The other noteworthy bill to make it out of a NH House committee this past week was HB 544, prohibiting the dissemination of “divisive concepts,” including racism, gender issues, and who knows what else.  HB 544 is truly an astounding and sinister piece of legislation, an attempt to muzzle discussions of critical contemporary issues in our schools, including higher education.  Any entity receiving State funds of any sort would be bound by these restrictions, rendering education and public discourse a hollow and narrow enterprise.  This is a severe restriction of speech, academic freedoms, and the capacity to truly teach civics by grappling with real-world and contemporary problems.  Consequently, it is a bill that requires a full-throated public outcry prior to the House voting on it in late March, so be prepared to join us in bringing this ugly piece of legislation fully into the glare of public scrutiny. 

We are approaching mud season here in NH, a time when hints of Spring are counterbalanced by recurrent icy blasts of Winter.  This time of year always tests one’s patience, but in the end, warmth and sunshine will prevail.  Keep this in mind as we wind our way through the legislative session—we must work towards and hope for positive results.  So-called right to work, vouchers, restrictions on speech, are just some of the dangerous and truly damaging legislation being proposed in Concord this year.  It is up to us, the people, to make our voices heard, to bring the light of reason to bear and thereby defeat these measures harmful to the reputation and interests of the citizenry of New Hampshire.  So rest up, the battles will soon be joined, and let us match the return of Spring with a return to logic, sense, and rationality in the halls of power in Concord.

#PublicDollarsForPublicSchools

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NH Retirement Security Coalition   The NHRSC will be tracking all bills related to the NH Retirement System and continuing advocacy for our members.  You can find the legislation tracker following retirement bills by clicking on the following link NHRSC UPDATES.

AFT-NH is a member of the NH Retirement Security Coalition (NHRSC).

 

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The Week Ahead. Here is a schedule of hearings and executive sessions for bills being tracked by AFT-NH.

 

Time

Bill

Description

Sponsors

Location

Mon 3/8 8:30 AM

HB 484

Relative to Budget Committee Recommendations On Warrant Articles.

Rep. Diane Pauer

Public Hearing

Mon 3/8 10:00 AM

HB 374

Relative to The Official Ballot Referendum Form Of Town Meetings.

Rep. Diane Pauer

Public Hearing

Tue 3/9 9:30 AM

HB 182

Relative to Approval Of Coursework Completed At Other Approved Schools

Rep. Rick Ladd

Public Hearing

Tue 3/9 10:00 AM

HB 276

Relative to Availability Of Menstrual Hygiene Products In Schools.

Rep. Jess Edwards

Public Hearing

Tue 3/9 11:00 AM

HB 152

Relative to The Apportionment Of Costs In Cooperative School Districts.

Rep. Kat McGhee

Public Hearing

Tue 3/9 1:00 PM

HB 464

Relative to The Commission to Study School Funding.

Rep. Glenn Cordelli

Public Hearing

Tue 3/9 1:30 PM

HB 198

Relative to An Exception to The Opportunity For Public Education Without Discrimination.

Rep. Rick Ladd

Public Hearing

Wed 3/10 9:00 AM

HB 630

Relative to Remote Board Meetings Under The Right-to-know Law and Authorizing Certain Procedures For Rulemaking.

Rep. Carol McGuire

Executive Session

Wed 3/10 9:00 AM

HB 566

Relative to Sealing Records In Nonpublic Session Under The Right-to-know Law.

Rep. Josh Yokela

Executive Session

Wed 3/10 9:00 AM

HB 232

Relative to Nonpublic Sessions Under The Right to Know Law.

Rep. Gregg Hough

Executive Session

Wed 3/10 9:45 AM

HB 612

Relative to The Penalty For Overtaking A School Bus.

Rep. Laura Telerski

Public Hearing

Thu 3/11 9:00 AM

HB 255

Relative to Limited Liability For Institutions Of Higher Education and Businesses.

Rep. Rick Ladd

Executive Session

Thu 3/11 9:00 AM

HB 69

Relative to The Display Of The National Motto In Schools.

Rep. Chris True

Executive Session

Thu 3/11 9:00 AM

HB 323

Relative to A Statewide Student Assessment Report.

Rep. Rick Ladd

Executive Session

Thu 3/11 9:00 AM

HB 319

Requiring Students In The University and Community College Systems Of New Hampshire to Pass The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services Civics Naturalization Test.

Rep. Michael Moffett

Executive Session

Thu 3/11 9:00 AM

HB 278

Relative to The Use Of Unused District Facilities By Chartered Public Schools.

Rep. Gregory Hill

Executive Session

Thu 3/11 9:00 AM

HB 441

Requiring The Universal Declaration Of Human Rights to Be Placed In All Public Schools.

Rep. Ellen Read

Executive Session

Thu 3/11 9:00 AM

HB 282

Relative to A Private School That Is Approved As A Tuition Program.

Rep. Rick Ladd

Executive Session

Thu 3/11 9:00 AM

HB 581

Relative to The Burden Of Proof In Special Education Hearings.

Rep. Glenn Cordelli

Executive Session

Thu 3/11 9:00 AM

HB 267

Relative to Construction Standards For Schools.

Rep. Mark Pearson

Executive Session

Thu 3/11 9:00 AM

CACR 3

Use Of Money Raised By Taxation For Education.  Providing That Money Raised By Taxation May Be Applied For The Use Of Religious Educational Institutions.

Rep. Glenn Cordelli

Executive Session

Thu 3/11 9:00 AM

HB 388

Relative to Changing A Pupil's School or Assignment Because Of A Manifest Educational Hardship.

Rep. Rick Ladd

Executive Session

Thu 3/11 9:00 AM

HB 455

Relative to The Ability Of A Parent to Enroll A Child In The Public School Of Their Choice.

Rep. Glenn Cordelli

Executive Session

Thu 3/11 9:00 AM

HB 422

Relative to The One-half Credit Required Course In United States and New Hampshire Government and Civics.

Rep. John Janigian

Executive Session