AFT-NH Legislative Bulletin, 2023-02

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AFT-NH Legislative Bulletin

2023-02

Granite Staters Push for Repeal of Divisive Concepts Law   It was a good week for advocates of public education this week. We had our first big hearing of the year with the repeal of divisive concepts being heard. The proponents of repealing this ridiculous and punitive law showed up with enormous strength and told compelling and personal stories of why we should get rid of the law. Of the people who gave testimony over 95% of them were in favor of repealing this terrible law. We thank you all for reaching out, emailing, and sharing your story and support of repeal with the committee.

Ruling from U.S. District Court on Divisive Concepts Lawsuit    Shortly after the public hearing the District Court Judge Paul Barbadoro struck down the state’s attempt to throw out the divisive concept’s lawsuit brought by AFT, AFT-NH, NEA-NH and ACLU of New Hampshire. Not only did the judge allow the lawsuit to continue, but the language in his order was also strong and seemed to be persuaded by our arguments.  

In part, the Court ruled, “In sum, the amendments’ vague terminology, their lack of a scienter requirement, and the possibility that teachers could be found liable for teaching a banned concept by implication, leave both teachers and enforcers to guess at what speech the amendments prohibit. Given the severe consequences that teachers face if they are found to have taught or advocated a banned concept, plaintiffs have pleaded a plausible claim that the amendments are unconstitutionally vague.”

AFT-NH President Deb Howes’ Reaction to the Court Ruling  “As teachers, we must be able to present instruction that is allowed under the U.S. and state constitutions and not be intimidated to teach honestly about history and current events,” said AFT-New Hampshire President Deb Howes. “This law is so vague that teachers don’t have a clue about what they can safely teach; it must be struck down. Teachers are sick and tired of the insults and attacks coming from Education Commissioner Frank Edelblut and his acolytes, who are determined to undermine and politicize our kids’ education.” She called the court’s decision to allow the suit to proceed “a victory for New Hampshire’s students and teachers.”

This is just the beginning but was a big and important step and an important win!  Coming on the same day as the public hearing about repealing this odious law was an added piece of satisfaction. You can read the entire ruling by clicking the following link  US District Court Ruling on Motion to Dismiss.

And vouchers are next on the docket.  There is no rest for the wicked – or the good!  While we take a moment to celebrate a good week, we immediately need to look at bills coming up next week. There will be two bills looking to expand New Hampshire’s school voucher program that will be heard on Thursday, January 19th. The first bill (click the link to see the text of the bill,  HB 464-FN) looks to expand the groups of students eligible for the program as had been outlined by Commissioner of Education Frank Edelblut in November. The NH DOE roughly estimated that it would increase the cost of the program from $14 million per year to $30 million per year, although the program has been notoriously over budget for the 18 months it has been in existence.  The second bill (click the link to see the text of the bill, HB 367-FN-L) looks to increase the family income eligibility from 300% of poverty threshold to 500%.

Here is what we know, public money belongs in public schools. Increasing eligibility for a voucher program that is overbudget and lacks any oversight is just wrong. These bills are dangerous for the majority of students in our public school system and must be defeated. Recent polling data from Hart research backs this up 80% of voters put a high priority for helping ALL students by making sure public schools have the resources they need to do their jobs! Only 20% of voters thought giving parents the choice of where to spend taxpayer money for education was important. This is true nationwide. It is true right here in the Granite State. You can read the complete polling results at the following link: Hart Research Poll-January 13, 2023.

Make sure you let the House Education Committee know that you want to see our tax dollars used to help all the students in public schools thrive instead of benefitting just a few through vouchers!

Action Request   You can sign in OPPOSED to HB 464 and HB 367 and make sure the Education Committee knows that New Hampshire does not support an out-of-control voucher system becoming even larger. It just takes 1 minute to make sure your voice is heard.

Here’s the link to submit your opposition:  Remote Sign-In

You will need to submit your opposition to each bill.

Step 1: Fill in your personal information.

Step 2: Select January 19th

Step 3: Select House Education Committee

Step 4: Select Bill Number (HB 464 and HB 367) [You need to submit the form twice.]

Step 5: Select a member of the public and you are representing yourself.

Step 6:  Select OPPOSE.

Step 7: Click Submit.

We thank you for your continued interest and advocacy.

As we prepare to celebrate Martin Luther King Day on Monday, let’s heed his words,

 "Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter."

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 them.

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.

Week of January 16th - Legislative Hearing Schedule

Date and Time

Bill

Description

Sponsors

Location

Wed 1/18 10:10 AM

HB 420

Relative to The Availability and Funding For The Dual and Concurrent Enrollment Program By The Community College System and Making An Appropriation Therefor.

Rep. Rick Ladd

LOB 205-207 (Education/H)
Public Hearing

Wed 1/18 10:50 AM

HB 364

Relative to Transportation For Students Attending Career and Technical Education Centers.

Rep. Rick Ladd

LOB 205-207 (Education/H)
Public Hearing

Wed 1/18 11:30 AM

HB 267

Relative to Criminal Records Checks In School Employment.

Rep. Joe Alexander

LOB 205-207 (Education/H)
Public Hearing

Wed 1/18 1:00 PM

HB 377

Relative to Screening and Intervention In Public Schools For Dyslexia and Related Disorders.

 

LOB 205-207 (Education/H)
Public Hearing

Wed 1/18 2:00 PM

HB 429

Requiring The Offering Of Breakfast and Lunch In All Public and Chartered Public Schools.

Rep. Arthur Ellison

LOB 205-207 (Education/H)
Public Hearing

Wed 1/18 2:00 PM

HB 295

Relative to Requiring All Selectboard and School Board Meetings to Be Recorded and Broadcast Live Online.

 

LOB 301-303 (Municipal and County Government/H)
Public Hearing

Wed 1/18 3:15 PM

HB 123

Relative to Governing Body Members Of The Budget Committee.

Rep. Terry Roy

LOB 301-303 (Municipal and County Government/H)
Public Hearing

Thu 1/19 9:30 AM

HB 464

Relative to Eligible Students In The Education Freedom Account Program.

Rep. Erica Layon

LOB 205-207 (Education/H)
Public Hearing

Thu 1/19 10:00 AM

HB 57

Relative to The State Minimum Hourly Rate.

Rep. Kristina Schultz

LOB 305-307 (Labor, Industrial and Rehabilitative Services/H)
Public Hearing

Thu 1/19 11:00 AM

HB 367

Relative to Eligibility Of Students In The Education Freedom Account Program.

Rep. Alicia Lekas

LOB 205-207 (Education/H)
Public Hearing

Thu 1/19 11:00 AM

HB 58

Prohibiting Payment Of Subminimum Wages.

Rep. Kristina Schultz

LOB 305-307 (Labor, Industrial and Rehabilitative Services/H)
Public Hearing

Thu 1/19 11:30 AM

HB 365

Relative to A Statewide Facility Condition Assessment For School Buildings.

Rep. Rick Ladd

LOB 205-207 (Education/H)
Public Hearing

Thu 1/19 1:00 PM

HB 380

Relative to Non-academic Surveys Administered By A Public School or A Chartered Public School to Its Students.

Rep. Timothy Horrigan

LOB 205-207 (Education/H)
Public Hearing

Thu 1/19 1:30 PM

HB 74

Relative to An Employee's Unused Earned Time.

Rep. Michael Cahill

LOB 305-307 (Labor, Industrial and Rehabilitative Services/H)
Public Hearing

Thu 1/19 1:45 PM

HB 399

Allowing For A Testing Exception For Graduation From High School.

 

LOB 205-207 (Education/H)
Public Hearing

Thu 1/19 2:30 PM

HB 45

Establishing A Committee to Study Student Loan Forgiveness In New Hampshire.

Rep. Kristina Schultz

LOB 205-207 (Education/H)
Public Hearing

Thu 1/19 3:00 PM

HB 118

Prohibiting Employers From Engaging In Certain Anti-union Activities.

Rep. Joshua Adjutant

LOB 305-307 (Labor, Industrial and Rehabilitative Services/H)
Public Hearing

Thu 1/26 1:00 PM

HB 232

Adopting Section 1910 Osha Standards For Public Sector Employees In New Hampshire.

Rep. Brian Sullivan

LOB 305-307 (Labor, Industrial and Rehabilitative Services/H)
Public Hearing

Thu 1/26 2:00 PM

HB 150

Relative to The Certification Of A Collective Bargaining Unit.

Rep. Mike Bordes

LOB 305-307 (Labor, Industrial and Rehabilitative Services/H)
Public Hearing

 

Bills Scheduled for Hearing regarding the NH Retirement System

Week of January 16th