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February 12, 2018 - Bow, NH

The House failed this past week to finish its scheduled business, due to the snow-day granted by the Speaker on Wednesday.  That left one day for work, which simply was not enough, so the backlog of House legislative work will be made up on this Thursday, February 15.

Death Benefit for School Employees   Last week featured both victories and defeats.  HB 1415, providing a death benefit to families of school personnel killed in the line of duty, passed the House and now goes to the Finance Committee for a final review.  We hope there is never any necessity for payment


Given the length and detail of the past couple of bulletins, I will keep this one short.  It was another busy week up in Concord, with committees holding hearings on numerous bills of interest to AFT-NH.  The Education Committee held a public hearing on HB 1277, to reduce from five to three years the time in which a teacher is an ‘at will’ employee with no right to a hearing or explanation for a termination.  I testified in favor of the bill, but it is unlikely the bill will get a positive recommendation from the committee, largely because the current system (in place since 2011) gives districts two additional years in which budgetary issues can be easily addressed by terminating teachers.  Uncertainty on the job is not the best way to treat education professionals, and the current five-year ‘at will” period only makes recruitment and retention of teachers that much more difficult.  Nevertheless, I do not hold out much hope for a positive outcome this session.


We are asking you to reach out to your New Hampshire State Representatives in advance of February 7th when the NH House reconvenes. Please take this ACTION to contact your state representative(s) directly and ask them to support passage of HB 413. 

HB 413, defeated by the House back in early January by a narrow margin of 6 votes, will come back for another vote on February 7 or 8.  Remember this bill passed by a huge majority, 265-83, on February 15, 2017. We are asking you to help persuade your legislators that it is time to honor the State’s promised commitment, stop the downshifting of costs onto local taxpayers, and provide localities with the property tax relief needed to permit funding of existing programs and facilities, never mind improvements or even expansions! Please tell your representatives that it is time the NH House provided relief to local property taxpayers and fulfilled prior promises.


In sum, neither I nor AFT-NH see any logical or sound pedagogical reason for a five year “trial” period for teachers.  They are professionals charged with carrying out the sacred duty of educating tomorrow’s citizenry.  Bearing that heavy responsibility, they deserve respect and the right to answer and to challenge when not recommended for rehire.  Three years is certainly enough time to identify, work with, and perhaps even non-renew those not deemed adequate to bear these heavy responsibilities.  It is on that basis, then, that AFT-NH and I support HB 1277.


January 29, 2018 - Bow, NH

Legislative activity, particularly committee hearings, are in full swing now in Concord, NH, meaning this past week was quite busy and the upcoming looks to be more of the same.  Here is a quick review of what happened and what lies ahead, from the perspective of AFT-NH.

SB 193   The “elephant in the room” remains SB 193, what many label the “voucher bill.”  SB 193 proposes taking  public money from public schools and transferring it to a private agency which will then set up “education savings accounts” to defray the costs of home-schooling or sending children to private (including religious) schools.  The purpose of this convoluted approach is to “launder” the money in an effort to wash it of its public character, thereby avoiding constitutional prohibitions on public funding of religious schools.  The bill had more hearings this week in the Finance Committee, which is trying to ascertain the cost to the State and to local taxpayers, who would need to replace the lost funds.  Since the bill’s provisions are so broad a large percentage of NH students might be eligible, and efforts by the Finance Committee to obtain estimates of costs going beyond the first year have been stymied by bill supporters and the State’s own Department of Education, led by education privatization advocate, Commissioner Frank Edelblut.  The key hearings will likely occur this coming week when the Office of Legislative Budget Assistant is likely to bring forth its estimates of costs running thirteen years out (to full implementation of SB 193).  In case you missed it, please be sure to read AFT-NH’s report on SB 193 entitled Following the Wrong Path: What Can Education Savings Account Programs In Other States Tell New Hampshire About SB 193? 1-16-18


January 19, 2018- Bow, NH

From our perspective, the central event of the week was the hearing before the House Finance Committee regarding SB 193, the bill remove funds from public schools in order to fund home-schoolers and those sending children to private and religious schools.  The focus of the hearing was on the financial implications of the bill, not the policy itself, and after four hours of testimony it was rather clear the proposal will force the State and local taxpayers to foot the bill through new or increased taxes. 

The hearing featured a leading advocate of the bill understating