NEA-NH Legislative Update 01.13.23

Week in Review – Repeal and Replace of Banned Concepts Leads off the Year!

This week hearings began on proposed legislation in House and Senate committees. While there were a number of bills heard this week the biggest bill was HB 61, legislation that would repeal the “banned concepts” law passed in 2021. The bill was sponsored by Rep. Peter Petrigno, a retired NEA-NH member and former NH Teacher of the Year.

As a reminder, the legislation would:

  • 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.
  • Replace 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.”

Turnout was strong from educators, students and the public in support of this bill. We heard powerful testimony in support from current and retired teachers, DEIJ coordinators, students and parents. The next step will be a vote from the committee to make a recommendation on this legislation before it heads to the full House for a vote.

That afternoon we received strong validation of our claims that the law is vague from the Federal District Court who denied the state’s motion to dismiss our lawsuit that asks the court to find the “banned concepts” law unconstitutional. The court’s decision also underscores why the legislature should pass HB 61.

In allowing that case to move forward the judge stated in his decision that “Teachers can be sanctioned for speech that they do not intend to advocate a banned concept. They can be sanctioned even for speech that is later deemed to violate the amendments only by implication. Because teachers can lose their jobs and teaching credentials if they cross the line into prohibited speech, they should not be left to guess about where that line will be drawn.”

Important Hearing Highlights for Next Week

2 Bills Seek to Expand the NH School Voucher Program

Both HB 464 and HB 367 would expand the unaccountable school voucher program in different ways and NEA-NH is opposed to both proposals. Currently the qualifications are that you must be a K-12 eligible student and your family must be at or below 300% of the Federal Poverty Level. Both proposals expand the program eligibility significantly in their own ways:

HB 464 would expand the eligibility by adding new categories of students regardless of their family income. The expanded categories would include children who: are in foster care, whose status is as a migratory child, who are homeless, whose parents are a member of the armed forces on full time duty, who are an English language learner, who are considered a “persistently bullied student” who have a disability, who has an approved manifest educational hardship, who lives in a school district served by a CSI school (low performing), who lives in the jurisdiction of a school  designated as being “persistently dangerous”, or any student eligible for a free and reduced price meal. You can see how some of these terms are defined in the bill.

HB 367 would simply expand the income eligibility of the program to 500% of the Federal Poverty Level, which for a family of 4 in 2022 is $138,750. In other words, this would be expanding the eligibility by 60%.

Both pieces of legislation greatly expand a program that has siphoned money away from public education and the current proposals propose no new funding stream other than a blank check from the education trust fund whose purpose is to fund public education in New Hampshire. Most vouchers have also been awarded to those who were already in a private or homeschool setting, not those who left their public school. The program has had little oversight and there is no availability of information with regard to how this has benefited students, including some of the categories of students they seek to expand it to without an income limit.

REQUESTED ACTION: Please submit testimony, testify in-person or sign in online AGAINST HB 464 and HB 367. They are both being heard on Thursday, January 19. HB 464 is at 9:30 am and HB 367 is scheduled for 11am, both in House Education, room 205 – 207. You can register your opposition on the House website here.

Support your upcoming Retirement by Supporting SB 57!

Sponsored by Sen. Lou D’Allesandro, SB 57 would finally implement a recommended change from the 2017 Decennial Retirement Commission, which is to change the age at which your pension is reduced. Teachers and some school employees are in both the state pension system and a part of Social Security. Currently, if you retire at age 63 for example, your pension amount will go down by approximately 10% when you reach age 65 and then remain at that amount. This age was set when 65 years old was the full social security age for most teacher and employee retirees. Now, for most it is age 67 but the law has not been updated. This bill would make that change and mean real money for those who will be retiring. Should Congress ever raise the full retirement aga again, the language in the bill would accommodate this.

REQUESTED ACTION: Please submit testimony, testify in-person or sign in online in FAVOR of SB 57 legislation. The hearing is Wednesday, January 18 at 10am in the Senate Executive Departments and Administration Committee, Room 103 of the State House. You can register your position or submit testimony on the Senate website here.

Looking for More Legislation

You can see all the bills we are following and asking for action from members on by going to our Legislative Dashboard here. You can now also sign up to receive weekly or even daily updates on the status of these bills as well by going to the Bill Tracker on our Dashboard.


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