AFT-NH Legislative Bulletin, 2021-11

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March 14, 2021 ~ Bow, NH

Watching the snow fall and listening to the wind howl today, just a few days after we had temps in the 60s with bright sunshine.  Ah, welcome to March in New Hampshire!

Senate Voucher bill. Our biggest story continues to be SB 130, the Senate version of the “voucher” bill shelved in the NH House.  This past week, the Senate Education Committee voted along party lines to send SB 130 to the Senate for a vote on this coming Thursday, March 18.  As explained below, SB 130 has been amended, but the effect is akin to putting lipstick on a pig—it is still a pig.  And so, please contact your NH senator, whether Republican or Democrat, and urge her/him to vote against this giveaway of tax dollars which will result in raising your property taxes. 

Click the link and Tell your State Senator to OPPOSE Senate Bill 30. No to vouchers.

Senators on the Education Committee adopted a set of amendments to SB 130, all aimed at cosmetic changes to the underlying bill.  While Commissioner Edelblut insists vouchers will save money for taxpayers, senators agreed to provide two years of “phase out” grants to local districts losing State funding to vouchers.  The grants would drop from 50% to 25% of lost funding and would entirely disappear in 2026.  By doing so, senators put the lie to Commissioner Edelblut’s claim of no costs to local districts, but these phase-out grants are short-term and not a solution for the millions of dollars to be lost in the “voucher” giveaway.

Another amendment pegs eligibility to 300% of Federal poverty guidelines (currently $79,500 for a family of four), thereby reducing the number of eligible families in a manner similar to the voucher program proposed three years ago (SB193). The remaining amendments add extremely weak and laughable provisions for accountability.  For example, a homeschooled student can demonstrate academic rigor by creating a portfolio and having it reviewed by a teacher—including non-certified teachers who are chosen by the parents.  Nothing there to prevent an aunt, uncle or family friend from doing the favor of carrying out the review and likely being paid to do so.  As for fiscal accountability, it remains virtually non-existent, besides requiring the private scholarship organization running the program to ensure “appropriate use and rigorous oversight of all funds expended.”  No mention of how this is done, no mention of independent and thorough audits. This is a classic case of “the fox guarding the henhouse,” since it is not in the interest of the scholarship organization to be strict on expenditures and perhaps limit or reduce participation (remember, the scholarship organization gets to skim 10% off the money provided by you, the taxpayers).  

As for other problems with HB 20 as well as SB 130, they remain.  Discrimination against students based on race, sexual orientation and religion is permitted.  Students with special educational needs cede all their rights to any provisions for educational accommodations. It even remains unclear whether families can collect the money and still send the student to public school, so long as the student is not enrolled full-time.  This last would be the best of both worlds—collect money and then use public schools for a portion of the student’s education!

Given all the above, we again ask that you CONTACT YOUR SENATOR and make clear that you oppose SB 130—no property tax increases for voucher giveaways, public funds for public schools! 

Right to Work Public Hearing on March 25thThe other major news is that SB 61, the so-called “right to work” bill has been scheduled for a public hearing in the House Labor Committee.  SB 61 does not provide anyone with a right to a job but does seek to cripple private-sector labor unions will be heard in committee on Thursday, March 25.  The bill injects the government into private sector employer-employee relations and aims to weaken labor unions, a key engine to wage growth in NH and across the United States.  As usual, corporate and business interests are drooling in anticipation over SB 61, with the BIA (Business and Industry Association) leading the way.  Remember, back in 2017 BIA president finally admitted under questioning in a hearing on a similar bill that the BIA’s interest boiled down to a dislike of labor unions.  And why dislike unions?  Maybe because they mobilize the collective power of workers, push for higher wages, negotiate better benefits, and put protections in place against the arbitrary and capricious actions of the bosses.

Let’s keep so-called “right to work” out of NH. You can easily register your opposition to SB 61   against the historical import from the Jim Crow South on the following link. 

ACTION  Go to http://gencourt.state.nh.us/house/committees/remotetestimony/default.aspx and follow these instructions.   Click on the calendar for March 25. 2. Select House Labor, Industrial and Rehabilitative Services.  3. Select bill number SB 61 and10:00AM.  4. Select, “I am a member of the Public”.  5. Click “I oppose the Bill”.  Please be sure to do this in advance of the 10:00 am. 

Well, the snow has stopped and the sun is out again, even if it is a cold day in March.  Spring is just around the corner, and “hope springs eternal.” Let’s hope for warmer days and for success in turning back the tide of extremist legislation here in New Hampshire.  Stay well, stay healthy, and keep up the good work!

#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).

For breaking news and other legislative information, please be sure to like us on Facebook at AFT New Hampshire or follow us on Twitter @AFTNewHampshire to receive the latest news.  Please share this with friends so they can sign up for this bulletin at www.aft-nh.org.

 

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

 

Date/Time

Bill

Description

Location

Tue 3/16 9:00 AM

HB 110

Relative to The Distribution Of Adequate Education Grants.

Remote Hearing

Tue 3/16 9:15 AM

HB 242

Relative to The Content Of An Adequate Education.

Remote Hearing

Tue 3/16 9:30 AM

HB 304

Establishing A Committee to Study The Funding Of Tuition and Transportation For Career Technical Education.

Remote Hearing

Tue 3/16 9:30 AM

SB 67

Relative to Paid Sick Leave.

Remote Hearing

Tue 3/16 10:00 AM

HB 609

Relative to Innovation Schools.

Remote Hearing

 

 

 

 

Thu 3/25 10:00 AM

SB 61

Prohibiting Collective Bargaining Agreements That Require Employees to Join A Labor Union.

Public Hearing

Tue 3/30 9:00 AM

SB 61

Prohibiting Collective Bargaining Agreements That Require Employees to Join A Labor Union.

Executive Session