Yesterday, NEA-NH President Megan Tuttle sent Governor Sununu a letter seeking his public support for HB1415, the School Employee Death Benefit Bill. Here is the full text of her letter.
Dear Governor Sununu,
As you know, the New Hampshire House of Representatives has passed House Bill 1415, an act establishing a death benefit for a school employee killed in the line of duty. The House Finance Committee is now charged with examining the financial impact of the bill and then reporting it to the full House. I am enclosing a copy of the legislation with this letter for your review.
I am writing to ask you to publicly announce your support for this legislation and for your commitment to work for its passage, not only in the House, but also in the senate once it reaches that body.
This legislation is not precedent setting as a very similar law currently exists for our dedicated police and firefighters. This bill does not extend any additional benefits beyond those already promised to the surviving families of our brave police and firefighters. This bill was not filed in response to the most recent Florida school murders, as it has been introduced in prior sessions of the legislature.
Our members do believe, however, that the most recent slaughter of 17 students and teachers in Parkland, Florida is further evidence of the need for this bill for the surviving families of school employees who die from violence while doing their jobs. So long as school employees think of their students’ safety first, and they will in every instance, they are entitled to know that their families will have some degree of financial security should they die. The payment provided for in this bill is not automatic. The attorney general’s office must certify the death was caused by violence and that the school employee was killed in the line of duty. This process makes sure the appropriate family members receive the payment in the full spirit and intent of the law.
Your voice Governor, needs to be heard in full support of this bill. School employees need to hear it and the public needs to hear it. That is why I am writing to you today.
There are those who oppose this bill saying it doesn’t go far enough. Others oppose it saying it goes too far. Opponents cannot have it both ways. The bottom line, however, is that this is the legislation before the House and Senate and it needs to pass. NEA-NH and its 17,000 members certainly have no objection to including all school employees, public and private, if the legislature deems this more fair. We will not accept this as an excuse not to support the bill.
The fiscal impact of the bill is zero if no school employee dies because of violence caused by another, as stated in the bill. We will not accept this as an excuse not to support the bill.
Your full-throated support for, and work to pass, this bill will guarantee its success. The public understands what school employees face, as do their families. This debate is too important for you not to join in as an avid supporter of the bill’s policy.
I look forward to your public support for House Bill 1415 and to working closely with you in the House and in the Senate for its passage.
President, NEA-New Hampshire