AFT-NH Legislative Bulletin, 2022-16

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April 29, 2022 ~ Bow, NH

We can start with some celebration!  For the second week in a row, we saw HB 1393 get defeated, this time by the entire Senate on a voice vote. HB 1393 would have established rigid, per-pupil school budget tax caps that could have only been adjusted to inflation and would have been extremely harmful to school budgets. However, the celebration is dampened by the fact that the House has taken the language from 1393 and attached it to a bill currently in the House (more on this below).

HB 1431 (Parental Bill of Rights) advances. The Senate this week also passed  HB 1431, the so-called Parental Bill of Rights. AFT-NH champions genuine collaboration between teachers and school staff and parents because we know that it helps students succeed. HB 1431 does not do that. The bill needlessly puts vulnerable children at risk of harm and even death by limiting the rights of kids and the State to protect them. It also prevents vulnerable children who do not feel safe at home from reaching out to trusted adults in the schools because they know it would have to be reported to their parents. This could have devastating effects on the health, safety, and mental well-being of those vulnerable children. We wish this were hyperbole, but it is not.

Senate passage of HB 1431 on the policy vote this week continues the trend of Republican legislators attacking public education and teachers. These attacks are purportedly to answer the complaints of a vocal but loud minority of parents who feel that they don’t have enough say in their children’s classrooms. We have fresh data showing that the vast majority of parents trust their teachers and their children’s public schools.  Today, NHPR released a story with a poll that showed that 88% of all parents agree “my child’s teachers have done the best they could given the circumstances around the pandemic”, and that 76% of all parents agree that “my child’s school does a good job keeping me informed about the curriculum including potentially controversial topics.”  In addition, “just 18% of parents say their child's school taught about gender and sexuality in a way that clashed with their family's values; just 19% say the same about race and racism, and just 14% feel that way about U.S. history.”

We know that bills like HB 1431 are being pushed by a vocal minority, encouraged by NH Commissioner of Education Frank Edelblut, and this poll is just further evidence of that.  HB 1431 is headed to Senate Finance and then back to the full Senate next week for one final vote. Please take action and SEND A QUICK EMAIL TO YOUR SENATOR AND ASK THEM TO VOTE NO ON HB 1431 to protect our children and because schools are already working with parents and this bill’s broad, and sweeping language will cause confusion and problems for teachers, parents, and students in the classroom.

Back to HB1393. Though it was killed on the Senate floor, the House attached it to SB 400. SB400 is an affordable housing bill that had bipartisan support in the Senate. While AFT-NH does not take positions on affordable housing bills, it is clear that it is a very real issue that New Hampshire needs to address.  However, attaching 1393 to this bill is reckless and could cause an important bill to be killed later by the Senate.  Tell your Representative to vote against the amendment that attached HB1393 to SB400. Use this quick, one-click action to SAY NO TO HB 1393.  

We are almost at the finish line—thank you for all your continued work during this legislative session.

And let us all remember that next week is National Teacher Appreciation Week. May 3rd is National Teacher Appreciation Day. We honor and thank all of our members who have given themselves selflessly to the noblest of professions-teaching. You can read the resolution by President Biden on National Teacher Appreciation Week HERE.

Please continue to check our website at  http://nh.aft.org/ for updates on how we can protect public education, public services, the NH Retirement System, and advance initiatives as we work to continually improve it.

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 http://nh.aft.org/.

You can also read written testimony submitted to the legislature at STATE HOUSE NEWS.

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).