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AFT-NH Legislative Bulletin, 2021-17

April 26, 2021 - Bow, NH

I begin by giving a ‘shout-out’ and expressing sincere thanks to all the public-school educators across New Hampshire.  Teachers, para-educators, support staff, and food-service workers, all of you have been tireless in your efforts to support students and to minimize the disruptions in education caused by the COVID pandemic.  Many of you are on vacation this week and it is a well-deserved chance to decompress, to regather your focus and energies, and to prepare for the final 6-7 weeks to the end of the school year.  And won’t we all breathe a huge sigh of relief when that day finally arrives.

The legislature was relatively quiet this past week, at least when it comes to public hearings.  The House Education Committee did meet on Tuesday to complete the public hearings on bills sent over from the Senate.  Two of the bills heard were Senate “omnibus” bills, combining a variety of disparate topics united only by their connection to education in NH.  As always, there are issues raised in these hearings, but at present, none of this legislation raises any alarms with AFT-NH.  What is most interesting, however, is to compare the complacency of House Republicans in dealing with 2021 omnibus bills as compared to last year’s fire & brimstone attacks on such bills as violating long-established House procedures.  It would appear that once one is in the majority, the outlook is a bit different!

AFT-NH Legislative Bulletin, 2021-16

April 19, 2021 ~ Bow, NH

This will be a short legislative bulletin, because the House and Senate were relatively inactive this past week.  This is especially true of the NH House, where very few committees met this past week and most members seemed to be in recovery mode from the grueling 3-day session at the Bedford Sportsplex.  The relative inactivity continues this coming week as well, with a few more committees meeting but the schedule in no way resembles the heavy workload preceding crossover on April 9.

AFT-NH Legislative Bulletin (2021-15)

April 12, 2021 ~Bow, NH

When the NH House adjourned near 7pm on Friday, April 10, it marked the end of three grueling days of legislative work, each lasting around 10 hours in duration.  Even so, the House failed to act at all on over 60 bills on its calendar, thereby putting to rest the oft-cited claim that “all bills, no matter how inconsequential, are brought to a vote in the NH House.”  In a break with all precedent, Republican leadership divided legislation into the budget (Day 1), bills recommended for passage by a committee (Day 2 & 3) and bills recommended to be voted down (whatever time remained on Day 3).  Since Friday was the deadline for sending bills to the NH Senate, the 60+ bills not acted upon are now dead for the year, unloved and unvoted. 

AFT-NH Legislative Bulletin, 2021-14

April 5, 2021 ~ Bow, NH

We hope you have all had a chance to enjoy the sunshine this weekend.  It truly does seem Spring may be arriving, what with crocuses flowering, willows beginning to get color and even forsythia beginning to bud out.  Springtime-when hope bursts forth!

In the NH Legislature, the upcoming week will prove to be busy, with three full days of session planned at the Bedford Sportsplex.  These will be the first House sessions since late February and there are over 300 bills on the docket, plus the State budget.  Needless to say, these will be long and exhausting days.  You can review the bills to be considered by the House this week by clicking here: NH House Calendar April 2, 2021

AFT-NH Legislative Bulletin, 2021-13

March 28, 2021 ~ Bow, NH

The premier event of this past week was the hearing this past Tuesday in the House Labor Committee on SB 61, the so-called “right to work” bill.  Over the course of six hours of public testimony, committee members heard from out-of-state lobbyists advocating so-called “right to work” as well as scores of members of the public opposed to this flagrant attack on organized labor and the power of working people to have a voice in the workplace.  The goal of “right to work” is simple—weaken labor unions by allowing for freeloaders to benefit from contract provisions but pay nothing towards negotiating or enforcing that very contract.  It does not provide for jobs, and it does not prevent unions from requiring employees to join the union BECAUSE IT IS ALREADY ILLEGAL TO REQUIRE UNION MEMBERSHIP TO OBTAIN A JOB!!!  Instead, the aim is to weaken organized labor and make it easier for employers to reduce wages and benefits, further widening the income and wealth inequality so prevalent here in NH and in the United States. 

 

AFT-NH Legislative Bulletin, 2021-12

Right to Work Action Needed.   The top story this week is the impending hearing in the House Labor Committee on SB 61, the so-called “right to work” bill.  The hearing is scheduled for the morning of March 25, and we urge you to register your opposition to this scheme to reduce the compensation and benefits of all workers in NH by registering at this link no later than 8am on Thursday, March 25 Register your opposition to SB 61 here.   It is a quick and easy form to complete. Go to the date, March 25th, Select House Labor, Industrial and Rehabilitative Services, 10:00 am, SB 61. Drop down menu for “I am a member of the public” and “representing myself”. Then you can click “I oppose this bill”. Click “Continue”. Fill in your first name, last name, phone number, and email address, and click "Continue."  Check the box next to "By clicking this checkbox, you agree that the information you have provided is truthful to the best of your knowledge."  Click "Continue."

AFT-NH Legislative Bulletin, 2021-11

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

AFT-NH Legislative Bulletin, 2021-10

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.

AFT-NH Legislative Bulletin, 2021-09

February 28, 2021 - Bow, NH

 NH House Session   Over two days this week, the NH House met in session for the first time since early January.  The first day, in particular, was ugly, ill-tempered, and ultimately chaotic, one of the worst days in the NH House in recent memory.  Keep in mind that the day began with over thirty Democratic members unable to attend due to health concerns related to the COVID pandemic.  Republican leadership continues to refuse to even consider any means of remote access to accommodate these representatives, even voting down a rules change to allow for remote access (Republicans have rejected rules permitting remote access at least twice already, then claim the lack of a rule permitting remote access prevents implementation of a remote accommodation). At the same time, however, Speaker Packard (R-Londonderry) continues to bend over backwards to accommodate the 60 or 70 Republicans who refuse to wear masks or take even the slightest precautions in the midst of this pandemic.  These “unmasked” Republican members sat on one side of the Bedford Sportsplex, but while they were urged to wear masks when leaving their area, they were not required to do so.  Their lack of collegiality, civility, and respect for the welfare of others set the tone for the Republican majority’s behavior the entire day.

AFT-NH Legislative Bulletin, 2021-08

February 20, 2021 ~ Bow, NH

A rather surprising event occurred this past week, when on Thursday in the Education Committee, chairman Rick Ladd (R-Haverhill) moved to retain HB 20.  The committee quickly voted unanimously to retain the bill, meaning that HB 20, the education “voucher” bill, will not come to the floor of the House in 2021. 

What happened to HB 20 in the House Education Committee?

Why this sudden turn of events?  It began with a wholesale revision of the bill via an amendment presented to the committee on Wednesday, Feb. 17.  This Republican amendment placed an income cap on eligibility (approx. $100,000 for a family of four) and provided some financial assistance to local school districts losing students to private schools and home-schooling.  The joke, however, was that the amendment explicitly repealed these provisions in 2026, thereby returning to giving away public funds to any family regardless of income or need and providing no State assistance to property taxpayers in districts losing State funds to “vouchers.”  In other words, it was a shell-game, aimed at simply delaying the looting of public funds via a massive giveaway accompanied a huge downshifting of costs onto local property taxpayers.