Week’s Recap – March 25, 2023
In a marathon 2-Day Session HB 10, the first of the so-called “Parental Bill of Rights” went down in the House. We successfully defeated the committee amendment for HB 10 by 4 votes and then the motion to pass the original legislation by 6 votes (189-195). This was accomplished with 191 Democrats and 4 Republicans. The bill was then tabled by just 1 vote before a vote to kill the bill could be executed. So, that meant keeping our Republicans who voted against the bill from wavering and our Democratic attendance up for the full 2 days, which we did. Having these numbers meant the bill could not successfully be removed from the table. The deadline for acting on HB 10 passed with the end of Thursday’s session.
This was a big team effort with several of our partners at our labor and education coalition tables. Next up will be the Senate version of this legislation, SB 272, which will have a hearing on Thursday, March 30th. The action for that is described in the next section. Please visit our action page here to thank the Republicans who broke from their party leadership to not allow politicians to stop parents and educators from working together. You can also find an action there to thank Democrats for their strong attendance during a long 2-day stretch.
Senate Version of Parental Rights Legislation – Hearing on Thursday!
ACTION REQUESTED: Please write-in, sign-in or consider testifying in OPPOSITION to SB 272 to so we don’t allow politicians to stop parents and educators from working together. The hearing is Thursday, March 30th at 1pm in the House Education Committee, Room 205 – 207 of the Legislative Office Building. You can use the online sign in form for the House here.
As mentioned earlier, SB 272, the Senate Version of Parental Rights is being heard in the House Education Committee this week. As a reminder this legislation is slightly different that the bill defeated in the House this past week. SB 272 has some of the same broad language approach to it, that in this version can result in the school or school personnel being personally subject to litigation for any violation of the bill by a parent. With many different interpretations about the terms of what this bill can mean, this could be a litigation nightmare not only for the school but for each employee of the school as well. Fostering a welcoming environment for students and the relationship between parents and educators would be set back tremendously with a law such as this. When some organizations are starting culture wars and are aided by politicians who seek to benefit from those, bills such SB 272 would undoubtedly be weaponized by those politicians and their allies against public education and the hardworking educators who just want to give children a strong education that prepares them for the future. You can read the full text of SB 272 as amended by the Senate here.
2 Voucher Expansion Bills Defeated
We also successfully defeated 2 more school voucher expansion bills:
- HB 331 would have removed any income cap on our current private school voucher program, allowing even millionaires to receive a school voucher to pay for private school.
- HB 538 would create a local voucher program which, if adopted by a community, would require local property tax money to be spent on school vouchers as well, with no income restrictions at all.
These bills were also laid on the table and will not make their deadlines, so they are done for the time being. We are glad to see them go for now, but they could be filed again next year.
Positive Legislation for Labor/Education Move Forward
Finally, we had some accomplishments over the last 2 days. NEA-NH played a major role in crafting or advocating in the House or Senate for these bills:
- HB 150 – lowering the minimum public sector bargaining unit size from 10 to 5 people which would help smaller groups of school employees who want to organize a union passed the House and is headed to the Senate.
- SB 205 – granting a cost-of-living adjustment for retirees (this passed and was tabled so the Senate can place it in the budget bill. Retired teacher pensions have only seen one cost of living adjustment over the last decade.
- SB 140 which would establish a program to fund stipends or grants to students to reduce the financial barriers to entering the educator workforce was given a 7 – 0 recommendation to pass in Senate Finance and heads to the floor next week.
- SB 218 which would establish an early educator professional development grant program was also recommended 7 – 0 to pass out of Senate Finance. This bill would help school districts to fund mentoring programs to better support educators in their first years on the job.