February 4, 2023
By Brian Hawkins, NEA-NH Government Relations Director
First School Voucher Expansion Bill Headed to House Floor
This week the House Education voted on the first of 2 bills they have heard proposing to greatly expand the school voucher program. NEA-NH opposes both bills. You can see our written testimony against both bills by going to our legislative tracker and search for HB 464 or 367. 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 2023 is $150,000.
The committee vote was split 10 – 10 on party lines. This means that the bill goes to the floor with no recommendation from the committee but the first motion taken up will be whether to pass the bill, or “ought to pass”. We expect this vote to come up on Tuesday, February 14th Session date. See our action center to contact your Representatives now to oppose this bill.
Student Teaching Stipend Bill Heard
NEA-NH worked with the Senate Majority Leader to help support rising educators who are in preparation programs. SB 140 would provide stipends or grants to students to reduce the financial barriers to entering the educator workforce during their residency programs. The goal of proposals like this is to help strengthen the pipeline of new educators into the profession so we can address the educator workforce shortage in New Hampshire. The hearing saw a great deal of support from others as well. We hope to see this bill moved out of Senate Education soon and hopefully funded by Senate Finance.
IMPORTANT COMMITTEE VOTES NEXT WEEK – TAKE ACTION!
Tell House Judiciary Committee to Vote NO on Department of Education Complaint Bill
NEA-NH gave testimony opposing HB 533 before the House Judiciary Committee. This bill would allow the Department of Education itself to file a complaint “on behalf of any person aggrieved by a discriminatory practice by a school or school district.” This means that this would allow the Commissioner to directly take “banned concept” type complaints received by the Department and file official complaints to the Human Rights Commission. With Commissioner Edelblut’s track record of standing with organizations and individuals that have put bounties out on teachers over this law, and his statements about how he interprets this vague statute, this proposed new authority would be extremely troubling to give to the Department.
ACTION REQUESTED: The House Judiciary is supposed to vote on the bill this coming Wednesday or Thursday so make sure you contact members of the House Judiciary Committee by going here.
Please let them know that this bill makes no sense to pass because a federal judge has deemed the law this seeks to expand the enforcement mechanism for, impermissibly vague and the lawsuit over the banned concepts law continues. Adding yet another entities’ interpretation to this mix, along with additional enforcement and intimidation capabilities exacerbates the consequences of vague nature of the existing law.
Tell Senate Finance to Support their Educators’ Retirements!
Before the Senate Finance committee right now is SB 57, a bill that would delay the 10% reduction you see in your pension when you turn 65 until your full social security age. This would mean thousands of additional dollars over that period of time when you will need to begin covering other costs in your retirement like medical premiums and prescription drug costs.
FOLLOW UP ACTION REQUESTED: Please contact the members of the Senate Finance Committee and urge them to pass this common sense change that was endorsed by the Decennial Retirement Commission Report. You can do so by going here.
Key Hearings Next Week on Collective Bargaining and More
Support More Time to Bargain a Good Contract, Support SB 193
SB 193 would require the employer and employee bargaining teams to meet within 10 days, unless agreed to otherwise, once one party has served notice to the other to bargain. With tight timelines to meet for school district budget submission it is important that one side does not drag out the start of the process.
ACTION REQUESTED: Please write or sign in support of SB 193 for more efficient bargaining and so that our local unions can have time to negotiate good agreements with their employers. The hearing is Tuesday, February 7th at 9:15 am. You can sign in SUPPORT of this bill by going here.
Oppose Bill Micromanaging Negotiation Sessions
Unfortunately, over in the House HB 241 would require school district bargaining teams to meet before 9am or after 6pm if on a school day. Let the parties agree what time of day works best for them, not have the legislature tell them. This bill is a solution in search of a problem and should be voted down.
ACTION REQUESTED: Please write or sign in OPPOSITION to HB 241 which is having a hearing on Tuesday, February 7th at 10am in the House Labor Committee. You can visit the House sign in page here.
Looking for More Legislation
You can see all the bills we are following this week and going forward and which ones we are 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 email@example.com.