The 2015 Legislative Session is now officially underway, and it looks to be one of the most interesting sessions in decades.
NEA-NH will keep you informed about legislative activity through our website and through Legislative Updates and Legislative Alerts such as this one.
It appears that we will be following about 129 bills. This week you will receive a copy of The Educator which contains more details about these bills. While we wait for final language on these bills, I wanted to bring two bills to your attention. First is HB 116, relative to the renomination of teachers. Three years ago the O’Brien Legislature increased teacher probation from three to five years. HB 116 would undo this change and return to a three-year probationary period. Last year this bill was introduced and defeated in the Senate. This year, with a Republican as prime sponsor the bill will be introduced in the House.
The second bill has not yet been assigned a bill number, but also aims to restore a previous policy that did not need to be changed. Many locals around the state have negotiated for ESP to be paid in equal paychecks either year round or across the school year. A recent decision by the Department of Labor ruled that these employees may not be paid like this, but rather must be paid biweekly for the hours they actually worked. This means that these employees would fluctuate from pay period to pay period depending on holidays, vacations, and weather emergencies. Over the summer they would not receive a paycheck at all.
In districts where this benefit has not been negotiated, during some pay periods employees have difficulty paying for benefits, and in fact often end up having to pay a district to cover then benefits. This bill would explicitly allow current practice, provided it is not mandatory, and is negotiated and agreed to by both employee and employer. Many of our ESPs prefer the stability of a regular, consistent paycheck to the wildly variable paycheck that this Labor Department decision requires. Former NEA-NH Executive Director Representative Mel Myler has kindly agreed to sponsor this legislation.
Throughout the session we will be calling on members to contact their legislators to inform them of the need to pass or defeat legislation that benefits the children we educate and which affect how we do our jobs as education professionals. It is crucial that you participate in this process.