Legislative Session Begins – Updated Lay of the Land in the House
The legislature has begun their work as they held their convening day this past week, each chamber adopted their rules and the remaining House Committee assignments were announced. In the House, all the policy committees will be tied in their partisan makeup, 10 Republicans and 10 Democrats. This means that there will be many votes that will come out of committee to the House floor tied and without a recommendation or many may be retained and studied over the summer. Under the rules of the House this means that a bill receiving a “no recommendation” coming out of committee, the House would first have to take up a motion of “ought to pass” on the floor. Ultimately though, regardless of the committee recommendation, passage or failure of a bill in a House chamber divided only by 3 votes will come down to the attendance and so you will probably see many asks coming from NEA-NH to make sure your pro-public education state representative(s) are in attendance.
The one exception for a tied committee is in House Finance, which will have one more Republican than the Democrats, making the partisan split 11 – 10. While it remains to be seen what this makeup will mean, we will collectively have to watch the budget bill as it goes to House Finance, and what policies or initiatives that Republicans may try to insert into the budget as they did last year with school voucher program and “divisive concepts” law.
First key Hearing next week in House Education – Repeal of “Divisive Concepts” Law
HB 61 bill is identical to a bill heard last year. It would: 1) Repeal the banned concepts law passed through the state budget process that has chilled critical discourse in classrooms through its vagueness and high stakes consequences for educators. This law led NEA-NH and others to file a lawsuit in federal court against this law which is still in process, but the legislature should act now by repealing it and replacing it with language that encourages important conversations in classrooms that will help prepare our students to succeed in the future. 2) The bill replaces the current law with language that protects educators from liabilities for “engaging in any form of instruction concerning the historical or current experiences of any group that is protected from discrimination.”
Hearing: HB 61 Thursday, January 12 at 9:30am in House Education
Action Requested: Sign in favor or submit written testimony: http://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/house/committees/remotetestimony/default.aspx
If you have questions on any of these bills or ones not mentioned here, please feel free to contact Brian Hawkins, NEA-NH Director of Government Relations at email@example.com.