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6-16-14 AFT-NH Legislative Update: The Session Comes To A Close, A Look Back At What We Have Done

AFT NH Legislative Update

We succeeded in defeating, once again, the so called “’right to work—for less” bill. Over the past two years hundreds of NH citizens voiced opposition to this bill with only a handful of people speaking in support. This attack on working people like you is led by out of state interests such as the National Right to Work Committee and ALEC.

We succeeded in defeating a bill that would have permitted audio and video recording of a public official while in the course of performing his or her official duties. All employees, both public and private, should have a reasonable understanding that when they are performing their jobs that they are not intimidated or harassed and should have a safe working environment.

We succeeded in passing a bill relative to the filing with a registry of deeds of a fraudulent document purporting to create a lien or claim against real property. As public employees just wanting to do our jobs we should not have to worry that someone unhappy with us could go the county’s Register of Deeds and file a million dollar false claim against your property.

We succeeded in defeating retirement legislation that would hurt public employees even more that the bad legislation passed by the Republicans in the 2010-2011 sessions. AFT-NH believes that:

  • Security in retirement is something every worker deserves after a long, successful career in public service. These workers, after dedicating their working life to educating children, enforcing the law, fighting fires and helping our communities run every day, have earned a benefit that must allow them to retire with dignity.
  • The benefit should ensure a predictable cost for the employers and employees, and it should create, and sustain, a high-quality workforce that is attractive to younger workers to invest a lifetime in public service, in turn adding value to the state’s economy.
  • In exchange for a lifetime of service, workers need to rely on defined and predictable retirement security that is protected against inflationary pressures. Their benefit should ensure sound investment options and strategies that will result in post-retirement stability, even against the economic concerns of today.
  • Public sector workers need to be able to look forward to long productive service. Retirement security should be defined through investments and contributions made over a long-term investment horizon.
  • Instead of encouraging the idea that working for the public sector is less valuable than working for the private sector, New Hampshire’s retirement system benefit for public workers should set a standard, and be something larger employers in New Hampshire should emulate.
  • Public service should be viewed as a respectful vocation; a commitment by workers of service and dedication to their home state. It is service that adds value to the quality of life for NH citizens and visitors. Public service is an investment in New Hampshire and retirement security creates a financial cornerstone of the NH economy.

We were not totally successful with the following but will be advocating for comparable bills to pass in the upcoming session.

AFT-NH supported bills that would have increased transparency within charter schools. We need laws and regulations requiring full transparency in how charter schools operate and making them directly and openly accountable to the public for student performance and their admissions and enrollment policies.  We need stronger policies mandating respect and support for teacher and staff voices in school policies and programs, identification of potential conflicts of interest via disclosure requirements, and the use of public funds by charter schools in the same rigorous manner required in our public schools.

AFT-NH supported a bill that would make sure we have the necessary resources, staff development and support in moving forward with Common Core and Smarter Balance. If these Standards are to succeed, we need to ensure that in each district the following are in place when implementing the Standards:

  • There needs to be planning time for understanding the Standards and time to put them into practice,
  • We need opportunities to observe colleagues implementing Standards in class.
  • We need to provide teachers with model lesson plans aligned to Standards.
  • We must ensure textbooks/other curricula materials align with Standards.
  • We must communicate with parents on the Standards and the expectations of students.
  • We need to develop best practices and strategies along with providing coaching to help teachers teach content more deeply.
  • We need to ensure all districts have the equipment and bandwidth to administer computer-based assessments.
  • We must make sure we have fully developed curricula aligned to Standards and available to teachers.
  • We must be work to align Assessments to Standards indicating mastery of concepts.
  • We must insist that professional development and training in the Standards be offered.
  • We need to develop tools to track individual student progress on key Standards.

To read AFT-NH full statement click here.

AFT-NH supported the passage of SB 322: relative to the renomination of teachers. It is time we move back to supporting our teachers in New Hampshire. Three years is long enough to deny teachers their due process when non-renewed. When decisions with such high stakes are being made, all staff should be given reasons why, and should be given time to improve through an improvement plan.

AFT-NH supported bills that would have increased School Building Aid from the state for local districts. Keep in mind that 50% of our school buildings are over 60 years old and many need infrastructure upgrades necessary for a 21st century learning environment. We also supported a bill that would lift the current cap of 72% on catastrophic special education funds and fully fund it.

We were not successful in passing our real pension reform bill, SB 364: relative to group II service retirement allowances and relative to establishing a supplemental savings plan in the retirement system. If nothing is done, New Hampshire will be in a situation where 30 years down the road, we are going to have public employees – at the end of a career – eligible to apply for food stamps, and other social services. This puts a strain on working families by forcing our public employees into social services. This is financially irresponsible for New Hampshire and undignified for our public employees.

If you have any questions or concerns please email me at lhainey@aft-nh.org.

Thank you!

In Solidarity,
Laura Hainey

Please visit AFT-NH.org and AFT-NH Facebook page and clicked “Like Us”?
Late breaking news appears on our web site and on Facebook!

To read the full listing of EDUCATION BILLS click here

To read the full listing of LABOR BILLS click here

To read the full listing of RETIREMENT BILLS click here

To read the full listing of MISCELLANY BILLS click here

5-12-14 AFT-NH Legislative Update: Legislative Session Is Finishing Up, Still A Few Bills To Watch

Both legislative chambers are finishing up on their work for this session. They have till May 15th to act on all remaining bills. Any bill amended by the Senate or House will need a recommendation of concur, non-concur, or non-concur with a request for a Committee of Conference from the committee the bill originated in. As of right now the only bill that AFT-NH has been monitoring that might go to a Committee of Conference is SB 343: relative to the areas of assessment in the statewide education improvement and assessment program. To see where AFT-NH stands on SB 343 click here. If there are any more bills that will be sent to a Committee of Conference an update will be sent out.

The full senate will be voting on HB 1449, relative to the requirements for filing a charter school application. The committee recommended that this bill be defeated. AFT-NH is asking that this recommendation not be accepted and a recommendation of passage be voted on. We believe that this bill enhances both transparency and accountability to charter schools

What we need are laws and regulations requiring full transparency in how charter schools operate and making them directly and openly accountable to the public for student performance and their admissions and enrollment policies.  We need stronger policies mandating respect and support for teacher and staff voice in school policy and program, identification of potential conflicts of interest via disclosure requirements, and the use of public funds in the same rigorous manner required in our public schools.

If you have any questions or concerns please email me at lhainey@aft-nh.org.

Thank you!

In Solidarity,
Laura Hainey

Please visit www.aft-nh.org and AFT-NH Facebook page and clicked “Like Us”?
Late breaking news appears on our web site and on Facebook!

UPCOMING COMMITTEE HEARINGS

WEDNESDAY, MAY 14

10:00a.m. House in session

THURSDAY, MAY 15

10:00a.m. possible House session

10:00a.m. Senate in session

Massachusetts Nurses Association Highlight MA Hospitals That Are Offshoring Profits From Taxpayer Money

EXPOSED!  Hospitals Stash Millions in Offshore Accounts!

“Fat Cat” CEO Mascot Delivers Beach Towels to Legislators to Highlight Money Hidden in Cayman Islands

Advocates Urge Legislators to pass
“Hospital Profit Transparency and Fairness Act”

Mass Nurses Association
BOSTON, MA — At a State House press conference today, advocates presented lists of over 40 Massachusetts hospitals with money stored in offshore accounts (see list below) and urged legislators to demand greater transparency in hospital finances by passing The Hospital Profit Transparency & Fairness Act (H3844). The initiative petition will require hospitals to report all investments, including the unreported millions stashed in the Cayman Islands.

Hospital Profit Transparency and Fairness ActFollowing the press conference, a Hospital CEO mascot dressed in a ‘Fat Cat’ costume delivered Cayman Island beach towels to legislators to highlight the millions hospitals are hiding in the Cayman Islands.

Karen Higgins, critical care nurse at Boston Medical Center, past president of the Massachusetts Nurses Association and Co-President of National Nurses United explained: “Hospitals in Massachusetts receive half their revenues from tax dollars including Medicare, Medicaid, public employee and retiree health insurance, taxpayer funded grants, loans, subsidies and waivers on local, state and federal taxes. This week legislators debate the state budget and decide how many of our tax dollars they will provide to hospital administrators. Yet legislators have NO idea how much money hospitals store in offshore accounts or why hospitals don’t keep their excess reserves in Massachusetts’ banks.”

Higgins continued, “Hospital CEOs in Massachusetts are paid excessive compensation packages that bear no relationship to the quality of care or to patient outcomes like readmission rates, where Massachusetts ranks among the worst in the nation. Legislators and the public have the right to know how their tax dollars are being spent, especially when profitable hospitals are cutting needed services.”

Rep. Jay Kaufman (D-Lexington) Chair of the Committee on Revenue stated: “The data we’re hearing today is new and also disturbing. We’ve been struggling mightily – and investing millions of taxpayer dollars – to keep healthcare costs in check. Why are our hospitals keeping accounts in the Caymans where they’re hidden from our oversight? Why are these funds not in Massachusetts banks? How much is there? We – taxpayers and legislators – have a right to know about what our hospitals are doing with our tax dollars. More than that, we have a responsibility to know, and the hospitals have a responsibility to tell.”

Rep. Josh Cutler (D – Duxbury) said: “I am deeply troubled to learn that some Massachusetts hospitals are storing funds offshore in the Cayman Islands and not disclosing it. Before we provide these hospitals with public money for reimbursements we should be demanding greater transparency and accountability.”

Alan Sager, Professor of Health Policy and Management and Director of the Health Reform Program at Boston University’s School of Public Health commented on this issue: “Some of the people running hospitals have lost touch with the financial circumstances of ordinary citizens of our state – and with the struggle many people face in affording both high health insurance premiums and soaring co-insurance and deductibles. High CEO salaries are one reason they have lost touch. Another reason is that Massachusetts’ hospital costs are the highest in the world. “The accounts held in the Cayman Islands and other places raise questions. How much money is involved? Why do hospitals park money overseas?  What do they hope to gain? Is it freedom from regulatory oversight or greater flexibility in spending?  If so, why do hospitals want those things?

Joe DiMauro from the Coalition for Social Justice said “This is an outrage! Everyone assumes that non-profit hospitals exist to care for their patients, not to enrich themselves at the expense of taxpayers via hidden accounts stored in foreign countries where no one can monitor how they are used! Why are hospitals storing money in offshore accounts where neither regulators nor policymakers can evaluate how much excess revenue they have or if they are spending that excess revenue on CEO perks or patient care?”

Nathan Proctor, State Director of Massachusetts Fair Share said: “While it’s unclear why hospitals move money overseas to offshore accounts, the effects are simple enough: We don’t really know how much money they have. Given that taxpayers provide a huge portion of the revenue streams of these hospitals, I think we have a right to know. Given that costs keep going up and up and up, we have a right to know where that money ends up. It’s fair, it’s common-sense. We can’t address rising costs if our biggest medical centers are hiding behind offshore accounts in places like the Cayman Islands.”

The Hospital Profit Transparency & Fairness Act (H3844) will guarantee taxpayers the right to know exactly how their health care dollars are spent by hospital administrators. The transparency act requires that hospitals receiving tax subsidies, disclose in a timely and fully transparent manner how large their profit margins are, how much money they hold in offshore accounts, and how much compensation they pay their CEOs. To ensure access to needed services by all patients, the act also provides for enhanced funding options for hospitals serving poorer populations.

For more information visit:  www.HospitalTransparencyAct.com.


A complete list of Massachusetts hospitals with offshore accounts follows.

Hospitals with Offshore Holdings

MA Hospitals Offshore Tax Haven
Addison Gilbert Hospital (Lahey/Northeast) Cayman Islands
Baystate Medical Center Cayman Islands, Luxembourg, United Kingdom, Ireland
Baystate Franklin Medical Center Cayman Islands, Luxembourg, United Kingdom, Ireland
Baystate Mary Lane Hospital Cayman Islands, Luxembourg, United Kingdom, Ireland
Berkshire Medical Center Cayman Islands
Beth Israel Medical Center – Boston Cayman Islands
Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital- Milton Cayman Islands
Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital- Needham Cayman Islands
Beverly Hospital (Lahey/Northeast) Cayman Islands
Boston Children’s Hospital Cayman Islands
Boston Medical Center Cayman Islands, Bermuda, Canada, Lesotho
Brigham & Women’s Faulkner Hospital Cayman Islands
Brigham & Women’s Hospital Cayman Islands
Cambridge Health Alliance Cayman Islands
Clinton Hospital Cayman Islands
Charlton Memorial Hospital (Southcoast Health) Cayman Islands
Cooley Dickinson Hospital Cayman Islands
Dana Farber Cancer Institute Cayman Islands
Fairview Hospital Cayman Islands
Hallmark Health Cayman Islands
HealthAlliance Hospital Cayman Islands
Jordan Hospital (BID-Plymouth) Cayman Islands
Lahey Clinic Bermuda
Marlborough Hospital Cayman Islands
Martha’s Vineyard Hospital Cayman Islands
Massachusetts Eye & Ear Infirmary Cayman Islands
Massachusetts General Hospital Cayman Islands
Mount Auburn Hospital Cayman Islands
Nantucket Cottage Hospital Cayman Islands
New England Baptist Hospital Cayman Islands
Newton Wellesley Hospital Cayman Islands
North Shore Medical Center Cayman Islands
Northeast Hospital Cayman Islands, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands
Southcoast Health Cayman Islands
St. Luke’s Hospital (Southcoast Health) Cayman Islands
Tobey Hospital (Southcoast Health) Cayman Islands
Tufts Medical Center Cayman Islands
UMass Memorial Medical Center Cayman Islands
Winchester Hospital Cayman Islands
Wing Memorial Hospital Cayman Islands

HospitalTransparencyAct.com

4-28-14 AFT-NH Legislative Update: NH Retirement System, Charter Schools, and More

The following bill passed the full House last week and now returns to the Senate, who will decide whether to accept the House’s changes or send it to a Committee of Conference.

SB193: Expanding Access to Oral Health Care in NH. This bill forms a Study Commission that would examine barriers to oral health care for under-served NH residents. We believe this study will help build the case that addressing the dental workforce must be part of any long-term strategy to bridge the gaps in our system of oral care access.

The following bills passed the full Senate last week and have been referred to the Senate Finance Committee.  

HB 1494:  relative to administration of the New Hampshire retirement system and authority of the board of trustees. See more at: http://nh.aft.org/legislation/aft-nh-legislative-update-april-21-2014#sthash.NWMn0ODH.dpuf

HB 1624-FN: modernizing the juvenile justice system to ensure rehabilitation of juveniles and preservation of juvenile rights.  AFT-NH is in support of this bill. This bill updates our current juvenile justice system by:

  • Raising the age at which youth are treated as adults in the justice system from 17 years to 18 years,
  • Improving procedures to determine competency of youth,
  • Clarifying a youth’s right to and waiver of legal counsel,
  • Determining the qualifications for legal counsel to defend youth,
  • Defining data to assess the effectiveness of current interventions and proposed changes.

The following bills passed both Chambers and now move to the Governor’s desk.

HB 1398-FN, allowing the retirement system to make payments in lieu of payments to estates in certain circumstances.AFT-NH has no position on this bill but is monitoring.

HB 1392-FN-L, removing the restriction on the number of pupils eligible to transfer to a chartered public school.AFT-NH is not in support of this bill and asks that the Governor veto it. There has been no past problem for any student wishing to attend a charter school. Furthermore, the unintended consequence could negatively impact the public school by depleting a grade level of attendance or curriculum options.

HB 1587-FN-L, relative to the collection and disclosure of student data. We believe that this bill will help protect the privacy of students in New Hampshire.

If you have any questions or concerns please email me at lhainey@aft-nh.org.

Thank you!

In Solidarity,
Laura Hainey

Please visit www.aft-nh.org and AFT-NH Facebook page and clicked “Like Us”?
Late breaking news appears on our web site and on Facebook!

UPCOMING COMMITTEE HEARINGS

TUESDAY, APRIL 29

Senate FINANCE, Room 103, SH
1:00 p.m. HB 1624-FN, modernizing the juvenile justice system to ensure rehabilitation of juveniles and preservation of juvenile rights.

Senate JUDICIARY, Room 100, SH
9:30 a.m. HB 1198, relative to the procedure for filing a child in need of services (CHINS) petition and relative to the definition of sexual abuse under the child protection act.

House CRIMINAL JUSTICE AND PUBLIC SAFETY, Room 204, LOB
10:30 a.m. SB 207-FN, relative to paycheck equity.

House EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENTS AND ADMINISTRATION, Room 306, LOB
10:30 a.m. SB 396, relative to child restraint practices.

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 30

10:00 a.m. House in Session

THURSDAY, MAY 1

10:00 a.m. Senate in Session

House ELECTION LAW, Room 308, LOB
11:00 a.m. Continued executive session on SB 120-FN, relative to political contributions and expenditures and relative to reporting by political committees.

House FINANCE, Rooms 210-211, LOB
10:30 a.m. Executive session on SB 339-FN, (New Title) relative to instituting a credit card affinity program in which fees received are directed to offset the retirement system’s unfunded liability.

House FINANCE – (DIVISION I), Room 212, LOB
2:00 p.m. Work session on SB 395-FN, relative to the retirement classification of the director of the division of forests and lands.

House STATE FEDERAL RELATIONS AND VETERANS AFFAIRS, Room 203, LOB
11:00 a.m. Executive session on SB 307, establishing a committee to review Citizens United amendments to the United States Constitution.

THURSDAY, MAY 8

House EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENTS AND ADMINISTRATION, Room 306, LOB
10:00 a.m. Ad Hoc subcommittee on retirement.

House FINANCE, Rooms 210-211, LOB
10:00 a.m. Executive session on SB 395- FN, relative to the retirement classification of the director of the division of forests and lands.

Governor Hassan Statement on Bipartisan House Vote to Pass Paycheck Fairness Act

CONCORD – Governor Maggie Hassan released the following statement today on the House’s bipartisan vote to pass the New Hampshire Paycheck Fairness Act:

“Today, the House of Representatives has passed the most significant piece of legislation for women in New Hampshire’s workforce in over a decade. I commend Republican and Democratic members for supporting this common-sense measure to help all of our workers earn a fair and equal paycheck.

“Eliminating the pay gap between women and men will strengthen the financial security of working families and help them make ends meet while boosting our state’s economy. I thank Senator Larsen, Speaker Norelli and legislators from both parties for making this legislation a priority. I look forward to signing the New Hampshire Paycheck Fairness Act into law and reaffirming the basic principle that an equal day’s work deserves an equal day’s pay.”

(Click here to read the statement by Rep. Linda Tanner (D­Georges Mills), member of the House Labor Committee)

4-14-14 AFT-NH Legislative Update: NH Supreme Court On School Vouchers, NHRS, and more

EDUCATION TAX CREDITS –VOUCHER PROGRAM

The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on April 16th in the voucher tax credit case. AFT-New Hampshire is asking the New Hampshire Supreme Court to uphold a lower-court decision overturning the Education Tax Credit Program that provides money to students attending religious schools:

“The New Hampshire Constitution prohibits public funds to religious institutions. The tax-credit law was really a subterfuge, a voucher-like effort in which public dollars eventually would find their way to private schools, most of which,in New Hampshire,are religious schools. Further, there is evidence from all over the country that these voucher-like programs don’t actually help children. If the Legislature genuinely is interested in helping, it should work with teachers on ensuring that public schools have the programs and services needed to help all students succeed, not just some.”

Click here to read brief: http://nh.aft.org/files/voucherbrief.pdf

THE FOLLOWING BILLS WILL BE VOTED ON BY THE FULL SENATE THIS COMING WEEK

HB 1398-FN, allowing the retirement system to make payments in lieu of payments to estates in certain circumstances.  AFT-NH has no position on this bill but is monitoring. Senator Watters states:

“This legislation allows the retirement system to make payments of $15,000 or less to the next of kin of deceased member of a beneficiary when no probate proceedings are pending. This legislation was requested by the NH Retirement System.”

HB 1392-FN-L, removing the restriction on the number of pupils eligible to transfer to a chartered public school. The committee recommended Ought to Pass, Vote 5-0.  AFT-NH is asking that Senators not support the Senate Health, Education & Human Services committee recommended Ought To Pass but instead, support a recommendation of Inexpedient To Legislate. There has been no past problem for any student wishing to attend a charter school. Furthermore, the unintended consequence could negatively impact the public school by depleting a grade level of attendance or curriculum options.

HB 1587-FN-L, relative to the collection and disclosure of student data.The committee made the recommendation of Ought to Pass. AFT-NH supports the committee’s recommendation. We believe that this bill will help protect the privacy of students in New Hampshire.

THE SENATE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE HELD A HEARING ON THE FOLLOWING

HB 1624-FN, modernizing the juvenile justice system to ensure rehabilitation of juveniles and preservation of juvenile rights. AFT-NH is in support of this bill. This bill updates our current juvenile justice system by:

  • Raising the age at which youth are treated as adults in the justice system from 17 years to 18 years,
  • Improving procedures to determine competency of youth,
  • Clarifying a youth’s right to and waiver of legal counsel,
  • Determining the qualifications for legal counsel to defend youth,
  • Defining data to assess the effectiveness of current interventions and proposed changes.

To read more on this bill click here.

If you have any questions or concerns please email me at lhainey@aft-nh.org.

Thank you!

In Solidarity,
Laura Hainey

Please visit www.aft-nh.org and AFT-NH Facebook page and clicked “Like Us”?
Late breaking news appears on our web site and on Facebook

UPCOMING COMMITTEE HEARINGS

TUESDAY, APRIL 15

9:30 a.m. NH Supreme Court Oral Argument –voucher case

CHILDREN AND FAMILY LAW, Room 206, LOB
10:00 a.m. SB 396, relative to child restraint practices.

EDUCATION, Room 207, LOB
10:00 a.m. SB 355, relative to access to social media by educational institutions.

10:30 a.m. Rescheduled SB 414-FN, relative to Medicaid-funded services provided as a part of a
child’s individualized education program.
1:15 p.m. Presentation by the Department of Education: Perspectives on Accountability and
Assessment.

EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENTS AND ADMINISTRATION, Room 306, LOB
10:00 a.m.  Regular meeting of Ad Hoc Subcommittee on Retirement.

HEALTH, HUMAN SERVICES AND ELDERLY AFFAIRS, Room 205, LOB
10:00 a.m. SB 193-FN, (New Title) establishing a commission to study pathways to oral health
care in New Hampshire.

MUNICIPAL AND COUNTY GOVERNMENT, Room 301, LOB
10:00 a.m. Executive session on SB 236, relative to delivery of the final budget and
recommendation of the municipal budget committee to the governing body.

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 16

10:00 a.m. House in session

EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENTS AND ADMINISTRATION, Room 306, LOB
1:00 p.m. or 1 hour following House session:  Executive session on SB 395-FN, relative to the
retirement classification of the director of the division of forests and lands.

HEALTH, HUMAN SERVICES AND ELDERLY AFFAIRS, Room 205, LOB
1:00 p.m. Executive session on SB 193-FN, (New Title) establishing a commission to study
pathways to oral health care in New Hampshire.

LABOR, INDUSTRIAL AND REHABILITATIVE SERVICES, Room 307, LOB
1:30 p.m. Executive session on SB 207-FN, relative to paycheck equity.

WAYS AND MEANS, Room 202, LOB
1:15 p.m. Full committee work session on SB 366-FN-A-L, relative to video lottery and table
gaming.

12:30 p.m. Big Money and Politics – New Hampshire is the highest per-capita recipient of outside special-interest money. Learn about the efforts to address this issue at the state level, understand the federal landscape and what you can do about it. This presentation, including a panel discussion led by the Coalition for Open Democracy and Americans for Campaign Reform, is part of New England College’s education series to take place at the college’s new Concord facility, 62 North Main Street. Walk south on North Main. Located on the clock tower side, near the Norway Bank, three minutes from the steps of the State House.

THURSDAY, APRIL 17

10:00 a.m. Senate in Session

ELECTION LAW, Room 308, LOB
10:00 a.m. Subcommittee work session on SB 120-FN, relative to political contributions and
expenditures and relative to reporting by political committees.

WAYS AND MEANS, Room 202, LOB
9:30 a.m. Executive session on SB 366-FN-A-L, relative to video lottery and table gaming.

MONDAY, APRIL 21

CHARTER SCHOOLS AND OPEN ENROLLMENT LEGISLATIVE OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE (RSA 194-B:21), Room 100, State House:
11:30 a.m. Regular meeting. Presentation by Paul Leather, Deputy Commission Department of
Education on HB 435

THURSDAY, APRIL 24

STATE FEDERAL RELATIONS AND VETERANS AFFAIRS, Rooms 201-203, LOB
1:00 p.m. SB 307, establishing a committee to review Citizens United amendments to the United
States Constitution.

THURSDAY , MAY 1

STATE FEDERAL RELATIONS AND VETERANS AFFAIRS, Room 203, LOB
11:00 a.m. Executive session on SB 307, establishing a committee to review Citizens United
amendments to the United States Constitution.

Expanded Gambling Is About Creating Jobs (Testimony by NH AFL-CIO President Mark MacKenzie)

NH AFL-CIO LogoAs president of the New Hampshire AFL-CIO, the largest labor organization in the state, I speak to workers and community leaders every day about the difficulties facing our state’s working families as we continue to struggle in the aftermath of the biggest economic downturn since the Great Depression. Now is the time for our elected leaders to step up to the plate and take real, immediate and concrete steps to create good new jobs for thousands of workers in our state.

This Committee and the entire New Hampshire House now have the opportunity to do just that. In fact, legislators have been presented with a bill, SB 366, that will guarantee the creation of a half-billion-dollar construction project, every penny of which would come from private investment.

SB 366 would create more than 2,000 jobs for New Hampshire construction workers and more than 1,000 good, permanent jobs. Furthermore, this bill will generate hundreds of millions of dollars in non-tax revenue for the state and our municipalities, allowing us to keep critical programs like education, public safety and infrastructure off the budgetary chopping block. Plus, polls show that a big majority – nearly 60 percent – of Granite Staters favor the approach SB 366 takes.

SB 366 would bring expanded casino gaming to New Hampshire. Now, I know some members of this committee personally don’t approve of gambling, and that’s certainly your prerogative. But we must come to terms with the fact that we are stuck in a situation where job growth continues to be sluggish and the state budget continually presents our elected officials with extremely difficult choices between cutting programs and finding needed revenue.

The fact is, New Hampshire will be experiencing the downside of casino gaming whether or not we build a new casino within our borders. Our state already has a $75 million-per-year casino industry under the guise of “charitable gaming,” and there will soon be several casinos just over the border in Massachusetts. Without SB 366, we’ll leave thousands of jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars on the table.

SB 366 was amended in the Senate to include provisions drafted by the bipartisan, multi-agency Gaming Regulatory Oversight Authority as part of last year’s state budget process. In consultation with independent experts, the authority reviewed best practices in the gaming industry across the country to develop a true New Hampshire solution for expanded gaming.

This bill was crafted specifically to address concerns lawmakers had with previous gaming proposals, concerns we shared in many cases. We believe that SB 366 includes a comprehensive regulatory structure and robust provisions to ensure that the jobs will go to New Hampshire workers.

Although we have always supported creating good jobs for Granite State workers, the New Hampshire AFL-CIO has never officially endorsed a casino proposal before. Our executive committee recently voted unanimously to fully endorse gaming legislation this year because we are convinced the current proposal represents what’s best for New Hampshire’s working families and for our state

Creating jobs shouldn’t just be a talking point or a political slogan. Growing our economy and putting people to work should be real, tangible goals for our elected leaders. SB 366 is legislation that would accomplish these goals, and I urge the committee to support it. Together we can help rebuild New Hampshire’s middle class by focusing on creating good jobs for workers in our state. Passing this bill will contribute to that cause.

Thank you for your consideration.

Mark MacKenzie
President of the NH AFL-CIO

Expanded Gaming Helps All Of NH Cities And Towns (SB 366 Testimony by Laura Hainey, President of AFT-NH)

aft sqaureI am here today in support of SB 366. AFT-NH is affiliated with NH AFL-CIO and we stand in support of our union brothers and sisters for whom this bill will create thousands of badly needed New Hampshire jobs.

We know that expanded gaming will:

  • create thousands of construction jobs,
  • create even more good jobs to  operate the facilities,
  • bring in hundreds of millions of dollars in non-tax state revenue,
  • boost economic development by hundreds of millions of dollars as well.

We also know that this bill:

  • Is a responsible NH solution for expanded gaming, and includes robust regulations crafted by the bipartisan Gaming Regulatory Oversight Authority..
  • Protects the New Hampshire charities who depend on charitable gaming.
  • Provides that the gaming commission may not delegate its rulemaking authority to any other person.
  • Prohibits the use of credit, debit or ATM cards at a slot machine or table game.
  • The gaming commission must enforce the prohibition on the use of EBT cards for gambling.

But the same could be said about previous casino bills that failed to pass the House. SB 366 is different because it includes a new provision to guarantee revenue, and to make sure every community in New Hampshire sees the benefits. SB366 uses casino revenue to reinstate revenue sharing for cities and towns, to the tune of $50 million per biennium.  Revenue sharing means much needed funding for cities and towns across the state. City and town officials who struggle to adequately fund schools, roads, public safety, and other basic services will be pleased to know this bill will directly help their communities.

For example, in my hometown of Rochester, the Rochester School Department has to cut $2.8 million from their budget, with significant cuts will be made to personnel. With SB 366 revenue sharing the city of Rochester would receive $530,950 to help stop layoffs.

In the city of Nashua over the past several years the school department has eliminated 83 positions and has only been able to restore a few of these positions. They are planning to cut another 12 positions in the coming year. These cuts in services will be very difficult decisions, but there is no doubt they will directly impact students in the Nashua school system.. With SB 366 revenue sharing the city of Nashua would receive a little over $2.4 million. Just imagine the benefit the citizens of Nashua would realize with that revenue.

In fact, every single city and town in our state would receive substantial revenue sharing under SB 366. Just imagine the cuts in services and layoffs your community could avoid if we pass this bill..

In Closing, I ask that you support SB 366 and recommend Ought To Pass.

Laura Hainey,
President of AFT-NH

4-7-14 AFT-NH Legislative Update: NH Retirement System Bills, Charter Schools, and Special Education

The following bills were acted upon in the Senate Executive Departments and Administration Committee this past week:

The committee recommended Ought to Pass on HB 1152: This amended bill repeals the optional benefit program available to eligible call, substitute, or volunteer firefighters through the retirement system, and provides for the refund of remaining funds after the completion of payments to the two remaining beneficiaries. AFT-NH has no position on this bill but is monitoring. This bill transfers to a subtrust the assets required to fund this benefit. All individuals who are entitled to benefits will continue to receive them in full.

The committee recommended Ought to Pass on HB 1398: This bill allows the retirement system to make a payment of $15,000 or less to the next of kin of a deceased member when no probate proceedings are pending. Like the bill above AFT-NH has no position on this bill but is monitoring.

The committee recommended Ought to Pass on HB 1617: This amended bill grants NHRS electronic access to a limited data set of death, marriage, and divorce information of members and beneficiaries held by the Division of Vital Records Administration for purposes of administering RSA 100-A.  Again, AFT-NH has no position on this bill but is monitoring.

The House Finance Committee is still working on SB 339: This amended bill authorizes the NH  Department of Administrative Services to contract for a credit card affinity program in which fees received are directed to offset the retirement system’s unfunded liability. The committee will be meeting again April 10th at 1:40 p.m. in room.

This bill allows the Department of Administrative Services to contract with a credit card issuer to establish a credit card affinity program in which the fees received by the state are dedicated to reducing the retirement system’s unfunded liability. This is a “feel good” bill, that will have little impact on the unfunded liability.

The Senate Executive Departments and Administration Committee will be hearing testimony on:HB 1494-FN, relative to administration of the New Hampshire retirement system and authority of the board of trustees.  AFT-NH was originally opposed to this bill as it was a policy overreach by the NHRS, but Rep. Goley’s amended version ensures this is just a housekeeping bill that establishes a procedure for the determination of the costs of purchase of service credits, clarifies the ability to earn service credit while on a salary continuance plan, changes the date for the approval of the comprehensive annual financial report (CAFR), adds a penalty for employers who fail to timely remit data on compensation paid to retired members, and repeals obsolete provisions.

The Senate Health, Education and Human Services committee will be hearing testimony on the following:

HB 1449, relative to the requirements for filing a charter school application.  What we need are laws and regulations requiring full transparency in how charter schools operate and making them directly and openly accountable to the public for student performance and their admissions and enrollment policies.  We need stronger policies mandating respect and support for teacher and staff voice in school policy and program, identification of potential conflicts of interest via disclosure requirements, and the use of public funds in the same rigorous manner required in our public schools. AFT-NH believes that this bill is a small step in increasing transparency in Charter Schools.

HB 1128, establishing a committee to study issues related to students receiving special education services while attending a chartered public school.  The duties of this committee include studying issues related to students receiving special education services while attending 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 supports this bill.  We need to have a clear picture on what it is costing districts to educate special education students 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.

If you have any questions or concerns please email me at lhainey@aft-nh.org.

Thank you!

In Solidarity,
Laura Hainey

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Late breaking news appears on our web site and on Facebook!

UPCOMING HEARINGS

TUESDAY, APRIL 8

ELECTION LAW, Room 308, LOB
11:00 a.m. SB 378, relative to identification information contained in political advertising.

EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENTS AND ADMINISTRATION, Room 306, LOB
1:30 p.m. Executive session on:
SB 376, requiring pooled risk management governing board members to comply with financial disclosure requirements,
SB 418, relative to the proclamation of firefighters memorial day.

LABOR, INDUSTRIAL AND REHABILITATIVE SERVICES, Room 307, LOB
10:15 a.m. SB 207-FN, relative to paycheck equity.  Please note Rooms 305-307, LOB.
3:00 p.m. Executive session on SB 295, prohibiting an employer from using credit history in employment decisions.

12:30 p.m. LOB 305-307:  Showing of the acclaimed documentary “Inequality for All” which features Robert Reich, economics professor, best-selling author, and former U.S. Secretary of Labor, as he demonstrates how the widening income gap is having a devastating impact on the American economy. The film is described as “a passionate argument on behalf of the middle class.” The showing is open to all. This event is part of the film’s “50 State Capitals Tour” this winter and spring, designed especially for Legislators and policy-makers.

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 9

Senate Executive Departments And Administration, Room 100, SH
9:00 a.m. HB 1494-FN, relative to administration of the New Hampshire retirement system and authority of the board of trustees.

THURSDAY, APRIL 10

Senate HEALTH, EDUCATION AND HUMAN SERVICES, Room 103, LOB
9:00 a.m. HB 1447, prohibiting discrimination in educational standards for certain students.
9:20 a.m. HB 533, relative to the mathematics requirement for high school graduation.
9:40 a.m. HB 1141, requiring chartered public schools to share enrollment information with school districts.

10:00 a.m. HB 1449, relative to the requirements for filing a charter school application.
10:20 a.m. HB 1128, establishing a committee to study issues related to students receiving special education services while attending a chartered public school.

House EDUCATION, Room 207, LOB
10:00 a.m. SB 343, relative to the duties of the statewide education improvement and assessment program legislative oversight committee and repealing the school administrative unit legislative oversight committee.
11:00 a.m. SB 350, relative to the transfer of adequacy aid calculation data from the Department of Education to the Department of Revenue Administration.
1:15 p.m. SB 348, establishing a commission to study sexual abuse prevention education in elementary and secondary schools.

WAYS AND MEANS, Rooms 202-204, LOB
9:00 a.m. SB 366-FN-A-L, relative to video lottery and table gaming.

TUESDAY, APRIL 15

9:30 a.m. NH Supreme Court Oral Argument –voucher case

Senate FINANCE, Room 103, SH
1:00 p.m. HB 1415-FN, establishing a robotics education fund in the Department of Education.

House EDUCATION, Room 207, LOB
10:00 a.m. SB 355, relative to access to social media by educational institutions.
11:00 a.m. SB 414-FN, relative to Medicaid-funded services provided as part of a child’s individualized education program.
1:15 p.m. Presentation by the Department of Education: Perspectives on Accounting and Assessment

House MUNICIPAL AND COUNTY GOVERNMENT, Room 301, LOB
10:00 a.m. Executives session on
SB 236, relative to delivery of the final budget and recommendation of the municipal budget committee to the governing body,

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 16

10:00 a.m. House in session

12:30 p.m. Big Money and Politics – New Hampshire is the highest per-capita recipient of outside special-interest money. Learn about the efforts to address this issue at the state level, understand the federal landscape and what you can do about it. This presentation, including a panel discussion led by the Coalition for Open Democracy and Americans for Campaign Reform, is part of New England College’s education series to take place at the college’s new Concord facility, 62 North Main Street. Walk south on North Main. Located on the clock tower side, near the Norway Bank, three minutes from the steps of the State House.

THURSDAY, APRIL 17

10:00 a.m. Senate in Session

MONDAY, APRIL 21

CHARTER SCHOOLS AND OPEN ENROLLMENT LEGISLATIVE OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE (RSA 194-B:21), Room 100, State House
11:30 a.m. Regular meeting. Presentation by Paul Leather, Deputy Commission Department of Education on HB 435.

Granite Staters Call For An End To Deportations That Are Literally Tearing Families Apart

What has happened to our great country, a country that welcomed millions of immigrants from around the world, into America with open arms?

We are a nation of immigrants, yet now we evicting people by the thousands who are just trying to become Americans.

“This Administration is deporting more than 1,000 immigrants every day.  It’s time to stop the practice of tearing families apart. President Obama can and should act immediately to halt deportations,” said Eva Castillo of the NH Alliance for Immigrants and Refugees.

Nearly two million people have been deported since Obama has taken office.  These are people with families, some who have children who are legally American citizens.

According to estimates from the Pew Hispanic Center, there are 4 million U.S.-born children in the United States with at least one parent who is an unauthorized immigrant, plus 1.1 million children who are themselves unauthorized immigrants and have unauthorized-immigrant parents. Moreover, Department of Homeland Security estimates that nearly three-fifths of unauthorized immigrants have lived in the United States for more than a decade. In other words, most of these people are not single young men, recently arrived, who have no connection to U.S. society. These are men, women, and children who are already part of U.S. society.”
(Research from the Immigration Policy Center)

However the legal status of the children does not seem to make much of a difference to the government who is deporting them.

“New Hampshire people are raising our voices in support of our immigrant brothers and sisters who simply want to work hard and be with their families.  We say ‘Not one more deportation,’ ” said Maggie Fogarty of the American Friends Service Committee’s NH Program.

Image from AFSC-NH

Image by Arnie Alpert / AFSC-NH

On April 5th, the AFSC, the NH Alliance for Immigrants and Refugees, and the Immigration Working Group of the United Church of Christ NH Conference held a rally in Nashua, NH calling for an “end to deportations.”

Here is just one example from the Nashua rally of how the current deportation policy is literally ripping families apart.

“Octavio, a native of Mexico, said immigration police took him from his home while he was giving his little girl a bath.  When he was deported, his family hoped to reunite in Mexico, but the grave illness of his youngest child forced his wife to return with the girl for medical treatments.  After substantial effort, Octavio was able to overcome what was initially a ten-year ban on re-entry to the USA and win a temporary visa to join his own family, all of whom are US citizens.”   (Dozens Call for End to Deportations at Nashua Rally, AFSC Blog)

“Immigration enforcement greatly increases the chances that families will never see each other again,” said Rinku Sen President of Applied Research Center. “Detaining and deporting parents shatters families and endangers the children left behind. It’s unacceptable, un-American, and a clear sign that we need to revisit our immigration policies.”

A report from the Applied Research Center (2011) conservatively estimates that there are more than 5,000 children currently living in foster care whose parents have been either detained or deported.

“The Obama Administration is deporting the very people who would qualify for the legalization we are fighting for,” said Maggie Fogarty.

Fogarty pointed out that the US Congress has mandated that 34,000 immigrant prison beds be kept full, at a cost to taxpayers of $164 a day.  With many of those cells in privately owned prisons and others in county lock-ups that have grown to depend on the flow of federal dollars, the detention bed mandate serves as a driving factor behind detentions and deportations.

John Sandweg, the acting director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, told the New York Times, “We are fulfilling the mandate.”

We call on Congress to stop funding the detention bed mandate,” stated Fogarty.

Due to policies like the detention bed mandate and others, the Department of Homeland Security (Border Patrol) budget has grown immensely.  “The annual budget of the Border Patrol has increased ten-fold, from $363 million in FY 1993 to $3.5 billion in FY 2013.”

Border Patrol Budget

We must act now to stop the deportations, and pass meaningful immigration reforms.

“The House of Representatives should vote on the bipartisan Senate immigration bill that passed overwhelmingly nine long months ago,” stated AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka.  “Since the U.S. Senate voted 68-32 last June in support of a bipartisan bill to address our long-standing immigration crisis, America has suffered more than 250,000 deportations, and House Republicans have made a partisan decision not to allow that bill a single up or down vote.”

“At the same time as we fight to end House Republican stalling, we will continue to push the Administration to take broad executive action to relieve the ongoing deportation crisis for millions of workers,” continued Trumka.

As a government agency, the Department of Homeland Security must follow any executive orders issued from the President.  This means that with the stroke of his pen, President Obama could say “no more deportations.”

Will President Obama do the right thing to keep families together, while they wait for Congress to take action and pass a real immigration bill?

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