From Laura Hainey, President AFT-NH
UPCOMING VOTE IN THE SENATE:
On Thursday the Senate Finance Committee held its hearing on SB 217 the “right to work for less bill”. They voted 4 to 2 to pass the bill, but if it had been referred instead to the Senate Executive Departments And Administration Committee, we might have seen it defeated by a 3-2 margin. The next step is for the full Senate to vote on January 30th when they are in full session. As in the many years past AFT-NH is opposed to this bill and asks that it be defeated.
Thank you to all who took action by sending a letter to the committee members. It is very much appreciated.
By a vote of 5 to 0 the Senate Health, Education And Human Services made the recommendation to pass SB 343 as amended: establishing a commission to study the common core standards. This bill authorizes the Statewide Education Improvement and Assessment Legislative Oversight Committee to examine common core standards and New Hampshire’s current educational standards. AFT-NH support this bill and will advocate that this committee reached out to our teachers and have an honest conversation as to what their needs are moving forward. We know we need appropriate and useful staff development opportunities, the tools and materials to do our jobs, and the trust in us as professionals.
The full Senate will also be voting on SB 193 on January 30th. AFT-NH is in support of this bill which would allow a new, specially trained type of dental provider called Dental Hygiene Practitioners to join the dental team.
Oral health affects a child’s overall health — their ability to eat nutritious foods, to learn, to play. Sadly, pain and infection can prevent a child from just being a kid. These practitioners would expand the dental workforce, and improve access to routine dental care for children and others who face difficulty getting such care.
AFT-NH is in support of the committee recommendation to pass this bill for the following reasons:
- Access to basic dental care is a challenge in NH, and expanding the dental workforce is one of several policy solutions recommended in the state’s 10-year Oral Health Plan.
- These practitioners are a proven, safe and efficient way to provide core dental care services;
- SB193 offers a critical path forward for thousands of NH residents who can’t access care right now and turn to hospital ERs when pain and infection set in;
- There is no reason to delay getting vulnerable children and adults in our state the care they need – waiting only adds to the cost and human suffering associated with a known public health crisis.
THIS PAST WEEK AFT-NH TESTIFIED IN SUPPORT OF:
HB 1440: Requiring Lobbyist Reporting and Disclosure. This bill requires that organizations that formally adopt and distribute cookie cutter legislation in more than one state – and do not have a registered lobbyist in the state – must file reports after meetings, conferences, or events attended by New Hampshire legislators in which model act(s) were distributed.
Drafting legislation is the most fundamental act of lobbying, yet New Hampshire’s lobbying requirements leave a huge, gaping hole for reporting and disclosure of this lobbying activity. Reporting and disclosing lobbying exists to ensure legislators, the public, and press knows who is behind how our public policies are being crafted and introduced in New Hampshire. Transparency and accountability in our legislative process are an important part of ensuring the integrity of how are public policies are adopted, and in preventing the corporate corruption of our legislative process.
There is a new class of lobbying that takes place outside of the State House and beyond the public view. This needs to be fixed and HB 1440 does just that.
HB 1207: This bill as written would require disclosure when sponsoring legislation. Too often now, we are seeing national cookie-cutter model legislation coming through the halls of our State House. Legislation that is not drafted in response to any local interest or community concern, it is instead often intended solely to benefit the bottom line of the special [corporate] interests writing the bill. Often, legislators or constituents don’t even know who was originally behind the bill.
Knowing who is writing our state laws is an important part of having an open and transparent government. That’s why it’s important to know who drafted a bill and why.
THE HOUSE EDUCATION COMMITTEE HELD HEARINGS ON THE FOLLOWING BILLS:
HB 1180: This bill increases the minimum number of days of school from 180 to 190 and authorizes up to 10 of those days to be completed online in a manner to be determined by the school board. AFT-NH testified in opposition to this bill. We know that this bill is unnecessary because increasing the school year is something that can be done now if negotiated between the district and the union. If districts and the State want to improve education they can, as I stated above, offer school employees appropriate and useful staff development opportunities, give use the tools and materials to do the jobs and trust us as professionals.
HB 1128: This bill establishes a committee to study issues related to students receiving special education services while attending a chartered public school. The duties of this committee is to study issues related to students receiving special education services who attend a chartered school, including responsibility for funding and provision of special education services, and any other issue deemed relevant by the committee.
Around 2011-2012 the state passed a bill which mandated that local districts must pay for support services for special education students enrolled in Charter schools. This means that a district must send someone to the charter school, contract out the service, or pay the Charter school to provide the services. All of which can add up to tens of thousands of dollars.
AFT-NH support this bill. We need to have a clear picture on what it is costing districts to educate special education students who are enrolled in a Charter school in or out of their home district. Because this is a mandate from the State we also need to have the discussion on who should be paying for these services.