Skip to main content

State House News

I am here today in support of our own members in our private sector local and of my Union Brothers, Sisters, and Family of the Labor Movement and against SB 516.

Right-to-Work continues to be, and will always be, Wrong for New Hampshire! It is no surprise that once again out of state corporate interests are supporting Right-to-Work here in New Hampshire as they are always trying to limit the power workers have in any workplace. What is surprising is that any New Hampshire lawmakers support this! Simply put, Right-to-Work is government interference in the workplace by putting the state in the middle of the relationship between the private employer and the employees of a private business.


Help us Stop the Subpoena and Part-Time Teacher Bills

Town Meeting Results.  This week the growing disconnect between the slim majority controlling the State House in Concord and the wants and needs of Granite State voters in many of our communities was on full display. On town meeting day voters showed they valued and support our public school students, the hard-working professionals who work every day in our schools supporting students, and the valuable town employees who keep our towns running by approving contracts in towns across the state.  Thanks to the hard work of our local leaders and members reaching out to friends and neighbors in their communities, AFT-NH locals in Campton, Fremont, Henniker, Hudson, and Timberlane school districts as well as our town employees in Hillsborough and Pittsfield earned support from voters for fair contracts for the valuable services they provide to their communities.

Attacks continue. Meanwhile, at the State House, the attacks on public schools and the professionals that work in them continued. While we have a good number of legislators who support our public school students, teachers, and school staff and we are truly thankful for their staunch support, they cannot prevail if a handful of legislators are missing when key votes come up.


AFT-NH Testimony on non-germane amendment to HB 1015 relative to requirements for literacy skill development in elementary grades

Thank you, Chair Ladd and Members of the House Education Committee for reading my testimony.

My name is Debrah Howes. I am the president of the American Federation of Teachers-NH, AFT-NH represents 3,700 teachers, paraeducators and school support staff, public service employees and higher education faculty across New Hampshire. My members work with approximately 30,000 of the 165,000 public school students across the Granite State as well as thousands of


Support the Freedom to Read (HB 1311)

More voucher expansion. The legislature was back in the swing of things this week after the winter break.  The House and Senate both met this week. The Senate acted on SB 522 this week passing a yet another voucher expansion bill out of the Senate Education Committee. This voucher expansion bill creates a voucher system for Pre-K even though the State of New Hampshire does not even mandate kindergarten and has no public Pre-K’s available for Granite State families. Families who are most in need and already qualify for the high-quality early child care scholarship could also see less money due to this voucher expansion. As a workforce issue, this could mean less childcare is available if this measure is approved, since the bill would mean less reliable funding for existing high quality childcare programs in favor of parceling out smaller amounts of money to greater number of families through a newly created school voucher program. Childcare programs may have to cut back on overhead and staff, which translates into fewer placements available for actual students, less daycare available for parents who need it and fewer working parents available to work. It will quite likely endanger the current federal funding underpinning of workforce childcare. SB 522 has enormous downsides.    


Urgent Red Alert

Respect the Teaching Profession

On Tuesday, March 6th, the House Education Committee will be taking action on two bills which are blatant attacks on the teaching profession. We are asking you to take these two one-click actions to let the House Education Committee know that you respect New Hampshire educators and these attacks must stop.


Right to Work (for less) Soundly Defeated

SO CALLED RIGHT TO WORK has been beaten back again. Union allies banded together to once again defeat this legislation designed to weaken our collective bargaining rights. The final vote was 212-168, a stunning rebuke of this awful legislation considering the makeup of the NH House. Thank you all for reaching out and making your voices heard in opposing this regressive bill that would have resulted in lower wages and less safe working conditions for Granite Staters.

In addition, this week the House took small steps in better funding education for our public school students by passing two bills (HB 1583 and HB 1686) that would result in an additional $130 million to our local neighborhood public schools. HB 1583 increases base adequacy per pupil funding by $222 to $4,404, establishes grants for districts with low equalized property values, as well as increased grants for districts serving students experiencing poverty. HB 1686 changes differentiated aid for Special Education students from a flat $2,142 per student to a range of $2,642 for Special Education students who receive most of their education in the regular education classroom up to $7,927 for students who need a large number of specialized services, programming, and equipment. These bills will head to the finance committee and then will go to the full House again. We know that $130 million is not enough to fully meet students’ needs and that this same week the superior court upheld their ruling that the state must do much more to adequately fund our schools and support the over 160,000 Granite State students that use them. We consider this a good faith short term effort but continue to urge our legislators to work on a permanent solution and fulfill their constitutional obligation to fund our schools.


Voucher Bills and Book Ban Rejected

Reduced/Free School Lunch Expanded

IT WAS A GREAT DAY under the dome in Concord. The House passed a bill to expand free and reduced lunch, both of the voucher expansion bills that were on the floor were defeated, and we once again stood up against the banning of books in our schools. The House also stopped the raiding of the Education Trust Fund, protecting funds meant for our local neighborhood public schools.

Thank you to all our members and allies who reached out to their representatives on the two voucher expansion bills. Your activism made a


It is vitally important to get these standards correct because they have a huge impact on the way the 160,000 students who rely on our local public schools access their public education. These standards set a floor for what sort of facilities they have, what programs are offered, whether class sizes are kept small, even whether they have a school nurse on site. What you approve in the ED 306 Rules will affect almost every aspect of their educational experience, for good or bad, yet to date there has been no systematic outreach to public school parents and students to find out what they like, value, and even cherish about their public schools and what they want to see improved. How can you know what needs to be kept and what needs to be changed if you haven’t asked this basic question of the most important stakeholders?


AFT-NH Testimony on HB 1353

From Debrah Howes, President AFT-NH

This totally unnecessary bill creates the false and frankly insulting impression that we have rampant problems with educator misconduct in so many of our public schools that it can only be solved by granting unprecedented investigatory power to the head of the Department of Education! Nobody wants the kind of person who would hurt students to stay in a position where they can ever do it again, whether that is as an educator, a volunteer, a sports coach, a clergy person or any other adult a child might encounter. However, when this proposal to give the commissioner subpoena power was introduced last year in an amendment to HB 533, a bill relative to public school human rights complaints we heard that there really isn’t a huge problem with educator misconduct in the Granite State. In discussion of that subpoena amendment in March 2023, the chief investigator for the Department of Education testified that there are very few instances of public school educator misconduct that result in loss of license. And an attorney for the Department of Education testified that when investigating potential violations of the Educator Code of Ethics or Code of Conduct, the department was usually able to get the information it needed, but it might need to wait until a local school district had finished an employment investigation first. She could point to no specific case where students were left in an unsafe situation due to the department having to wait while local districts followed the policies adopted by duly elected school boards.


More Voucher Expansion Bills Up Next

Urgent Action Needed

Good news, bad news.  Two big victories and a very narrow defeat in the attempt to keep public money in public schools this week.  A bi-partisan group of lawmakers defeated both unlimited school voucher bills this week on strong bi-partisan votes. Your voices helped move lawmakers and made sure that the two universal school voucher bills were defeated. However, school vouchers were still expanded to 500 % of the federal poverty level, which in NH is $156,000 for a family of four when HB1665 was passed 190-189. One more single vote could have changed the outcome – it was that close! Then, even though this bill was supposed to go to House Finance due to the obvious financial impact it would have on the state, and come back to the House floor for a second vote, anti-public education extremist politicians decided there was no need to send it there. Instead, the bill will go directly to the Senate. Be ready to take action when it gets scheduled for a hearing on the Senate side. This one will not only hurt our students and our public schools, it will also raise your local property taxes.