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The New Hampshire House Passes Minimum Wage Increase

NHhouse

The New Hampshire House of Representatives today by a vote of 173 to 118 approved HB 1403, a bill to increase the state minimum wage to $9.00 an hour over two years and apply cost of living adjustments in future years. New Hampshire’s current minimum wage is $7.25 an hour and the wage has remained at this level since 2008.

“New Hampshire’s current minimum wage leaves workers struggling to get by,” said New Hampshire Fiscal Policy Institute Executive Director Jeff McLynch. “Raising the minimum wage and ensuring it is adjusted for the cost of living in future years would help families make ends meet, boost sales at local businesses, and put New Hampshire on a path towards an economy that works for everyone.”

HB 1403 would increase the minimum wage to $8.25 per hour on January 1, 2015, and to $9.00 per hour on January 1, 2016. Beginning January 1, 2017, it would automatically increase New Hampshire’s minimum wage to account for inflation (based on the Consumer Price Index).

An analysis conducted by the Economic Policy Institute indicates that HB 1403 would either directly or indirectly increase the wages of 76,000 Granite Staters. Of those who would be affected, 72 percent are adults age 20 and older; 32 percent work full-time; 59 percent are women; and 14 percent are parents.

On average, those who would be affected by a $9.00 minimum wage would see their pay go up by $870 per year. As minimum wage workers spend every dollar they earn, this spending will boost the bottom lines of stores, shops, and businesses in communities across the state while adding $64 million to the New Hampshire economy over the next two years.

The WMUR Granite State Poll released on February 6 found that 76% of state residents support increasing the minimum wage to $9.00. The poll question asked respondents if they supported an increase to $8.25 in 2015 and to $9 an hour in 2016. Across the political spectrum, the majority of Democrats (91%), Republicans (64%), and Independents (70%) favored this proposed increase to the minimum wage.

“I applaud members of the House of Representatives for their recognition of the need to restore and increase New Hampshire’s minimum wage,” said Governor Hassan. “In order for economic growth to truly accelerate, working families and individuals must be confident in their own financial circumstances and able to afford critical goods and services.”

Governor Hassan continued, “This measure will help improve the financial security of working families and people of all ages and will support businesses by putting more money in the pockets of their consumers. I look forward to working with members of the Senate, as well as workers, businesses and all stakeholders, to strengthen our state’s economic future by restoring and increasing New Hampshire’s minimum wage.”

“The legislators were not swayed by false testimony or attempts to weaken the bill,” said Zandra Rice-Hawkins, Executive Director of Granite State Progress. “We all know that a strong minimum wage means more money in the pockets of families and more money in the cash registers of local businesses. Raising the wage is a win-win situation for our whole economy and we strongly encourage the Senate to support it.”

“The vote in the House today signals a strong desire to help working people and we are proud of the legislators who voted with us,” continued Rice-Hawkins.  “Three-quarters of Granite Staters, including majorities of Republicans, Independents, and Democrats, also support increasing the minimum wage to $9 per hour.”

Now everything lies in the Senate.  Will they do what is right for Granite Staters or hold fast to the anti-worker ideology of the current Republican Party?

ANHPE Asks Why Do Even Need A Voucher Law, It Is A Proven Failure

ANHPE Small Icon

Why do you keep after the New Hampshire voucher program? Won’t it just die on the vine? (Answer: It’s a bad seed.)

We have a lower court decision saying that New Hampshire’s voucher tax credit program can’t fund religious schools, where most of the money would have gone, and the Supreme Court may well agree.

Business and public school parents have shown little interest in the program, though it’s hard to know how much of that is a result of the controversy.

There’s only one active scholarship organization to collect donations and hand out the money and, without the capacity to run a publicly funded program, it probably won’t be able to do much with the program.

So why keep after it? Why not let it just die on the vine or trundle along getting a little money to some families who could use it?

It’s true, the voucher program is not worth all the air time it takes up.  Education funding, the role of charter schools in the State, support for early childhood development, the State’s role in the current education reform debates – these are all much more important topics.

And doing a better job educating our low income students, as the voucher program purports to do, is an important topic.  But the voucher program has proved a random and unsystematic way to do that.  Giving money to a group that helped write the law (“We want as many students as possible out of the ‘system’”) to select a small number of children to go to unaccredited religious schools is not a solution to that problem.  There are many more purposeful and direct ways to help low income families get better educations for their children.

However, the voucher law will not go away by itself.  It may continue to function even if the Supreme Court agrees that it cannot fund religious schools.  Supporters assert that the kind of slow start we are seeing here has been the normal experience in other states and that the program will grow large over time.  Any future legislature could expand the program overnight but even with no attention at all it will grow automatically if it gets enough use.

There is no legitimate public purpose for this law, no public support, no state oversight for the money and now we’ve had an opportunity to see the result of this kind of ill-conceived legislation.  There is no reason to leave this kind of failed program in place.

Cross-posted from ANHPE

6-10-13 AFT-NH Legislative Update By President Laura Hainey. Included SB100, HB1 and HB2, and More

aft sqaureLET THE GAMES BEGIN

This past Thursday the State Senate attached SB 100: AN ACT authorizing electronic payment of payroll to HB 357: AN ACT prohibiting an employer from using credit history in employment decisions and authorizing electronic payment of payroll. HB 357 has strong support from labor, working families and the unemployed.

It seems that SB 100 is a priority of Senator Bradley and it is a shame he would jeopardize a much needed and supported bill.

Keep in mind that SB 100 will affect all public employees in New Hampshire. This bill will do the following:

  • Deletes the requirement that an employer who pays wages by electronic fund transfer offer employees the option of being paid by check.
  • Permits an employer to pay wages with a payroll card after offering employees the option of being paid by direct deposit.

We understand that many employees do receive their paycheck by direct deposit but there are many who prefer the paper check and they should still have this option. What is most shameful is that if this passes it can be imposed on employees, thus taking away their voice at the work place.

Now that the bill has been amended and the House is not in session until June 26th this will be sent to a committee of conference.  We ask the committee make the recommendation to pass HB 357 without the amendment of SB 100.

BUDGET UPDATE

There will be a presentation on June 11th at 1 p.m. in LOB 210, by the LBA regarding Senate changes to HB 1 and HB 2, followed by a presentation by the House Ways and Means Committee, on revised revenue estimates.

As I stated last week there is good and bad in this budget and AFT-NH will monitor this presentation and the Committee of Conference. To review all the documents on the proposed budget click here.

HB 142 RELATIVE TO TEACHER EVALUATION SYSTEMS.

The first Committee of Conference on HB 142 has been scheduled for June 11th at 10 a.m. in LOB 207. The house appointed Representatives Anne Grassie, Mary Gile, Mary Gorman, and Rick Ladd, while the senate appointed Senators Nancy Stiles, John Reagan, and Molly Kelly.

AFT-NH is opposed to this bill as amended. It does include the involvement of teachers but it left out “Nothing in this paragraph shall supersede collective bargaining rights under RSA 273-A”.  We ask that the committee reinstate this language back into the bill.

2013 HOUSE COMMITTEE OF CONFERENCE PROCEDURES
(This section was taken from House Calendar Volume 5, Number 44, date June 7, 2013).

The Chairmen of the policy committees will receive bills amended by the Senate and should check with their committees to determine whether to recommend that the House concur, non-concur, or non-concur and request a Committee of Conference.

When a committee requests that the bill be sent to a Committee of Conference, the Chairman will recommend members for appointment. If the bill has gone to more than one committee, the members may come from the different committees as determined by the Speaker. Chairmen should recommend only those members from their policy committees. The Speaker shall make the final decision of Conference committee members, and the committee choices are generally limited to those who support the House position.

The first named House member shall serve as Chairman of the House Conferees. For House bills in Committee of Conference, the House Conferee Chairman shall set the time and place of the first meeting with the Clerk’s Office and shall chair each meeting of the Committee of Conference. Each meeting shall be posted in the Clerk’s Office and outside the committee room at least 24 hours in advance. [House Rule 43 (c)]. If a Committee of Conference meeting recesses, the reconvening time shall be posted in the Clerk’s office and outside the committee room.

The House and Senate Conferees on a bill shall meet jointly but vote separately while in conference.

The Committee of Conference may not change the title of the bill. The Committee also may not add amendments that are not germane to the subject matter of the bill or contain subject matter that has been indefinitely postponed. A non-germane amendment is one in which the subject matter is not contained in either the House or Senate version of the bill. [House Rule 49 (g)]

The sponsor of a bill that is in Committee of Conference shall, upon request, be provided an opportunity to be heard.

A unanimous vote of both the House and Senate Conferees, voting separately, is necessary for an agreed upon report to be sent to the House and Senate.

Reports of all Committees of Conference must be filed with the Office of Legislative Services by the June 20, 2013 deadline adopted by the House. All Committee of Conference members must sign their reports in the Office of Legislative Services by June 20, 2013 by 4:00 p.m.

The first-named House member on all bills in Committee of Conference must prepare an analysis of the report. This “blurb” should contain a complete explanation of all changes made to the bill since it was passed by the House and must be submitted to the House Clerk for printing in the calendar.

All Committee of Conference reports shall be distributed in seat pockets to be acted on some subsequent day. [House Rule 49 (f)].

See House Rule 49 for more information.

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

In Solidarity,
Laura Hainey
AFT-NH President

At Legislator Luncheon, NH Labor Pushes For ‘Job Creating’ Casino Bill

Credit Joe Casey
Credit Joe Casey

Credit Joe Casey

Organized labor united in support of “job creating” bill, makes case for expanded gaming at legislative luncheon

Nearly 300 State Representatives packed the State House Cafeteria today for a legislative luncheon in support of SB152, the bill to create jobs and state revenue by licensing a casino in New Hampshire. The luncheon was sponsored by the New Hampshire labor community, and included presentations from Senator Donna Soucy, NEA President Scott McGilvray, SEA representative Jay Ward, Building Trades President and IBEW 490 Business Manager Joe Casey, Representative Ed Butler, and Matthew Landry of Strategic Market Advisors.

NH Building and Construction Trades Council President Joe Casey issued the following statement:

“The turnout today was incredible, even though we were forced to change the venue at the last minute. It’s clear that support for SB152 is building in the House. The Representatives who attended today understand that SB152 will create thousands of jobs and create a critical revenue stream to fund our state’s priorities.

The New Hampshire labor community is united in support of this bill, and the luncheon today was a great opportunity to showcase that. I was proud to stand alongside Scott McGilvray and Jay Ward, and to speak to the importance of this bill to our memberships. For our part, the construction industry needs our legislators to support SB152 in order to create more than $425 million in private investment that will create thousands of jobs. Estimates show SB152 will create 3,165 on-site construction jobs, 567 indirect construction jobs, another 1,087 jobs through increased economic activity due to construction, and 1,949 full time ongoing jobs in operating the casino. Our legislators have an opportunity to stand with New Hampshire’s working men and women by passing SB152, and the great showing we had at the luncheon today shows that many of them are ready to do that.

The anti-gaming lobby tried every dirty trick in the book to try and stop this luncheon from happening – even stooping to bullying St. Paul’s church into canceling it. Their support is slipping every day, and they’re desperate to stop us from being heard. But we will not be intimidated, and we will make sure there is a full, open, and honest debate on this issue in spite of their dirty tactics. We expect to see more of their big money misinformation campaign in the coming weeks, but the people of New Hampshire support this proposal, and momentum is clearly building among our legislators. No amount of dirty tricks and robo calls from the anti-casino lobby can stop that. ”

Sponsors of today’s event include:

NH Building and Construction Trades Council
IBEW 104
IBEW 490
IBEW 2320
Granite State Teamsters
Ironworkers Local 7
NEA NH
NH Troopers Association
Plumbers and Steamfitters Local 131
Professional Fire Fighters of NH
State Employees Association

New Hampshire’s pull-back is part of the national rethink on private school vouchers (@ANHPE)

Bill Duncan

As we move toward repealing the ill-conceived New Hampshire voucher program, a pseudonymous commenter toward the bottom of this Patch thread encapsulated the debate this way:

 All this focus on having “choices” makes me ask: why do taxpayers who are already providing a structure to educate every child in a given community need to also pay for additional choices based on nothing but the desire of the parent? I distinctly recall those who put this law in place two years ago telling us that churches and charities were the proper way to fund programs for “the poor.” Why is this different?

New Hampshire is one piece, but an important piece, of the national debate on privatization of public schools.  Here is today’s New York Times on the occasion of the Indiana Supreme Court decision upholding the state’s voucher program, reviewing the national state of play in the push for vouchers in Republican dominated states:

“This movement is doing more than threaten the core of our traditional public school system,” said Timothy Ogle, executive director of the Arizona School Boards Association. “It’s pushing a national policy agenda embraced by conservatives across states that are receptive to conservative ideas.”via States Redefining Public Schooling – NYTimes.com

But public school privatization is trench warfare on a state-by-state basis.  Here is Kansas, turning back a voucher program, with each side making the familiar arguments:

 The Kansas House defeated legislation on Monday that would create a school choice scholarship program funded by corporate donations.

….
“We are sacrificing their future because we are protecting a system,” said Kelley, an Arkansas City Republican.

“What we’re really talking about is diverting public funds to private or parochial schools,” said Rep. Nile Dillmore, a Wichita Democrat opposed to the measure.

And, under the headline, “Idaho lawmakers dump private school tax credits:”

A Senate panel ended hopes of private and religious schools that were pushing for Idaho to extend a tax break to people who donate to scholarships meant to defray the cost of tuition.

“The donor is going to profit off making this donation at the cost of the public,” Hill said. “That’s just not fair.”

Private, religious school officials who flew to Boise from northern Idaho for Tuesday’s hearing argued these scholarships would boost school choice for more students who wanted an alternative to the traditional public school classroom, but didn’t hail from families with the financial means to foot the bill.

Vouchers advance in lopsided Republican legislatures and are defeated in more balanced legislatures.  We need to correct the errors our last Legislature.

Reposted from ANHPE Blog

NH House Passes Gas Tax Increase To Fund Infrastructure Repairs (And Create New Jobs)

NH House

NH House

The NH House has done their part, now it is up to the NH Senate.  

Today the NH House passed HB 617 a bill to increase the gas tax by 12 cents with all of the increase in funding to be used to fix New Hampshire’s roads and bridges.  The tax will be phased in starting with a four cent increase in July 2014.  Then continues with a four cent increase for the next three years.

The House Ways and Means Vice Chair Rep. Patty Lovejoy spoke in support of the bill:

“New Hampshire’s highway system is our economic lifeblood; supporting commerce, tourism and our everyday lives. A good infrastructure is imperative for NH to compete with other states for new business and new jobs.”

This is huge step for the NH Legislature who have spent much of the last two years attacking workers and taking away the rights of women and minorities.  This increase is an example that the House really cares about the people of New Hampshire.

Currently New Hampshire has 140 State Red Listed Bridges and several hundred red listed municipal bridges. More than 1600 miles of state roads are rated in Poor condition, roughly one­-third of our state roads. The increase in construction would lead to hundreds of additional construction jobs over the next several years.

The bill’s primary  sponsor Rep. David Campbell of Nashua also spoke on this bill:

“The people want and expect us to solve problems facing our state…We were elected to make our state a better place by having the wisdom to identify the problems, the tenacity to work together to find the solutions and the political will to enact them.”

For many states these much needed repairs have sat dormant while austerity was being pushed through legislatures.  This is a good jobs bill, and one of the first that I have seen in NH in a while.

This is a problem and a solution that has been staring us in the face for years.  The gas tax (road tax) has not been increased since 1991.  I urge the Senate to pass this bill immediately so we can begin working on repair our broken roads and bridges as soon as possible.

March 24th Legislative Update From AFT-NH President Laura Hainey

aft sqaure

On Friday the Senate Health, Education & Human Services committee heard testimony for four hours on HB 370: repealing the education tax credit program. There was similarity when people spoke in favor or opposition of this bill. Those favoring HB 370 attacked the program as vouchers for private and religious schools.  Those opposing HB 370 said it was about choice and called it a tax credit, not a voucher.

AFT-NH joins those in favor of passing HB 370 in believing that this program is unconstitutional.  New Hampshire’s Constitution is clear—state money shall not be used to fund religious instruction (“no person shall ever be compelled to pay towards the support of the schools of any sect or denomination.”– Article 6, NH Constitution).  The New Hampshire Civil Liberties Union, American Civil Liberties Union, and Americans United for Separation of Church and State have filed suit in Strafford County Superior Court. The lawsuit asks the court to declare the tax-credit program unlawful and block the state from further implementation. To read the press release click here. To read the complaint click here.  The court hearing has been scheduled for April 26th. We hope for a decision by the summer.

There is also much to be concerned about regarding the group that will be overseeing this program. This California based group is called “Alliance for Separation of School and State,” and here in New Hampshire they are called the “NH Network For Educational Opportunity.”  Make no mistake they are one in the same, animated by the goal of “ending government involvement in education,” In other words…privatizing public education. To read more on this group click here to read Bill Duncan’s research on it.

There is no oversight and the only accountability is a parent survey. There is no oversight board and the donors are not going to be public. The only oversight is a summary on statistics that will be produced.

New Hampshire cannot afford to divert scarce resources to private and religious schools as well as home-schoolers.

This is just bad policy. This tax credit program initiated in 2012 is an ill-disguised attempt to begin dismantling and privatizing our public education in NH while weakening our good schools. We are justly proud of our schools in NH and these “vouchers” disguised as tax-credits will only harm public education.

For the above reasons we ask that the Senate Health, Education & Human Services committee make the recommendation of ought to pass.

If you have not taken action and sent a letter to the committee members it is not too late. By clicking here you can take action and ask that they pass this bill.

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

In Solidarity,
Laura Hainey
AFT-NH President

OTHER HAPPENINGS AT THE STATE HOUSE AND WHAT WE KNOW!

The Senate Health, Education & Human Services committee will be holding a hearing on HB 142 relative to teacher evaluation systems on March 26th at 9:40 a.m. As I read this bill, any teacher evaluation and support system will be developed with teacher involvement and must be adopted by both the local school board and the teachers. The State teacher evaluation model may serve as a guide and reference only, meaning that it is not mandated that the State model be adopted at the local level. To protect current negotiated provisions in contracts, language was added to the bill, reading “Nothing in this paragraph shall supersede collective bargaining rights under RSA 273-A.” This bill has come a long way from when it was introduced.

We know that the NH School Board Association was not happy with the amended language and I believe they will be coming back with language that is more like the original bill. Keep in mind the original language gave local school boards the entire responsibility for the development, adoption, implementation, and monitoring of a teacher evaluation system. The school board might consult with school administrators and teachers in the development of a teacher evaluation system, but it would not be required to do so.

The House Finance committee is still working their way through the budget bill HB 1 and 2. The full house will have to vote by April 4th.  To read the full text of the budget bill click here. Once the full house has voted on HB 1 and HB 2 they will move over to the Senate. The Senate has until June 6th to take a full vote. We know that each chamber will have different budgets and HB 1 and 2 will move to a committee of conference, where both chambers will have till June 27th to take action.

UPCOMING HEARINGS FOR NEXT WEEK
Note the ones in red are priority bills for AFT-NH

MONDAY, MARCH 25

FINANCE, Rooms 210-211, LOB
Division Budget Presentations to Full Committee:
10:00 a.m. Division I and Division II.
1:00 p.m. Division III.

FINANCE – (DIVISION I), Room 212, LOB
9:30 a.m. Work session on HB 1-A, making appropriations for the expenses of certain departments of the state for fiscal years ending June 30, 2014 and June 30, 2015, HB 2-FN-A-L, relative to state fees, funds, revenues, and expenditures.

FINANCE – (DIVISION II), Room 209, LOB
9:30 a.m. Work session on HB 1-A, making appropriations for the expenses of certain departments of the state for fiscal years ending June 30, 2014 and June 30, 2015, HB 2-FN-A-L, relative to state fees, funds, revenues, and expenditures.

FINANCE – (DIVISION III), Rooms 210-211, LOB
9:30 a.m. Work session on HB 1-A, making appropriations for the expenses of certain departments of the state for fiscal years ending June 30, 2014 and June 30, 2015, HB 2-FN-A-L, relative to state fees, funds, revenues, and expenditures.

TUESDAY, MARCH 26

HEALTH, EDUCATION AND HUMAN SERVICES, Room 103, LOB

9:00 a.m. HB 161, relative to school district policies on health and sex education.
9:40 a.m. HB 142, relative to teacher evaluation systems.
10:00 a.m. HB 629-FN, relative to the criteria for approving and calculating school building aid grants.

FINANCE, Rooms 210-211, LOB
10:00 a.m. Executive session on HB 1-A, making appropriations for the expenses of certain departments of the state for fiscal years ending June 30, 2014 and June 30, 2015, HB 2-FN-A-L, relative to state fees, funds, revenues, and expenditures.

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 27

10 a.m. House in session

THURSDAY, MARCH 28

10a.m.  Possible House session

1 p.m. Senate in session

MONDAY, APRIL 1

TASK FORCE ON WORK AND FAMILY (RSA 276-B:1), Room 207, LOB
1:15 p.m. Organizational meeting.

TUESDAY, APRIL 2

EDUCATION, Room 207, LOB
10:00 a.m. Department of Education – Presentation Common Core.
11:00 a.m. Department of Education – Smarter Balance Assessment.
1:15 p.m. NH school safety and security.

FRIDAY, APRIL 19

FISCAL COMMITTEE (RSA 14:30-a), Rooms 210-211, LOB
10:00 a.m. Regular business.

Raising The Gas Tax To Fund Our Failing Infrastructure And Help Our Economy

ASCE Report NH

ASCE Report NH

There has been much debate over the last few weeks over the proposed 12-15 cent gasoline (road toll) increase.

HB 617 has been debated in every public forum and in nearly every media outlet in the state.  Many of the “No Tax” pledgelings say ‘no’ to any increase in the gasoline (road ) tax.  This is the completely wrong approach.

There is no denying that New Hampshire is failing to maintain our 16,000 miles of roads and bridges.  In fact the American Society of Civil Engineers just released their latest report on the state of New Hampshire’s infrastructure.  Surprise, it is not good.  Overall the report says as a whole the U.S. infrastructure rates at a D+.  For New Hampshire we came in a little better than average a ‘C’.  Below are a few of the items that the ASCE report found.

BRIDGES

  • 362 of the 2,429 bridges in New Hampshire (14.9%) are considered structurally deficient.
  • 445 of the 2,429 bridges in New Hampshire (18.3%) are considered functionally obsolete.

ROADS

  • Driving on roads in need of repair costs New Hampshire motorists $267 million a year in extra vehicle repairs and operating costs – $259 per motorist.
  • 54% of New Hampshire’s roads are in poor or mediocre condition.
  • New Hampshire has 16,006 public road miles.
  • New Hampshire’s highway vehicle-miles traveled in 2009 was approximately 9,922 per capita, ranking it 30thin the nation.
  • New Hampshire’s gas tax of 19.6 cents per gallon has not been increased in 21 years.

This additional money from the increase to the gas tax is specifically designed to combat this issue.  The increase will go directly to the roads and bridges.  This is a very important part of this bill that is being overlooked by many others.  Even on The Exchange with Laura Knoy, Senator Andy Sanborn tried to tell people that this money would not being going to roads but to State Police and others.  This was directly contrary to what Rep Campbell had stated on the show only moments before.

This increase will help New Hampshire in many ways.  It will help to fix our crumbling roads and bridges, and it will help our state economy.  By spending millions on road repair will help put more worker back to work.  Workers who earn a paycheck are not drawing unemployment and are spending money in the local economy.  This is a complete win-win.

Isn’t that our real goal, to create good paying jobs?  Then why have we not passed this already?

3/18/12 A Legislative Update Laura Hainey and AFT-NH

aft sqaure

Both the House and Senate are finishing up on their respective legislation.  March 28th is ‘crossover day’ so all hearings and votes must be completed by that date (the House has until April 4 to finish budget bills).  Both sides will then start working on bills that have passed the other Chamber.  It’s like starting all over again but with new faces.

As for the budget bills there have been several public hearings on the budget, with two more coming up up on Monday, March 18th:

  • Sugar River Valley Regional Technical Center, 111 South Street Claremont.5:00 p.m. Public hearing on HB 1-A, making appropriations for the expenses of certain departments of the state for fiscal years ending June 30, 2014 and June 30, 2015 and HB 2-FN-A-LOCAL, relative to state fees, funds, revenues, and expenditures.
  • Rochester Community Center, 150 Wakefield Street, Rochester.5:00 p.m. Public hearing on HB 1-A, making appropriations for the expenses of certain departments of the state for fiscal years ending June 30, 2014 and June 30, 2015 and HB 2-FN-A-LOCAL, relative to state fees, funds, revenues, and expenditures.

If you live in either of these communities it is a good time to attend and express your support or concerns with the proposed budget. The House is working from the Governor’s budget and they will be making changes as they move through the process. NEW HAMPSHIRE FISCAL POLICY INSTITUTE has written up a complete analysis of the Governor’s budget proposal, which I found to be very helpful in understanding the proposed budget.  To read this full report click here.

Below is  a summary of the status of bills being monitored by AFT-NH.

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

In Solidarity,
Laura Hainey
AFT-NH President

HOUSE BILLS THAT ARE MOVING OVER TO THE SENATE

HB 178:
relative to public employer collective bargaining agreements. This bill was amended and replaced with the following:

This bill requires the PELRB (Public Employee Labor Relations Board) to:

  • Post online training for collective bargaining.
  • Maintain a record how political subdivisions vote on collective bargaining agreements and provide the legislature with an annual report.

AFT-NH supports this amended bill and hopes that the Senate will pass it as well.

HB 342: relative to part-time employment of retired members of the retirement system.

This bill has been amended in its entirety into a reporting requirement,

  • It will provide valuable information regarding NHRS retirees. Employers will report the number of hours worked and the compensation earned to the NHRS on a quarterly basis, so NHRS can collect and maintain data that is unavailable now.
  • The bill does not take effect until 120 days after passage to allow time to prepare, and includes a sunset provision in 2018, which allows time for sufficient data to be developed.
  • The New Hampshire Retirement Security Coalition (NHRSC) hired, Thomas Lowman from Bolton Partners and he provided us his actuarial opinion stating that the practice of replacing full time position with part time positions is setting the state up for greater costs down the road. He included numerous reasons why employers who either hire more part-time positions than full-time, or encourage full-time employees to retire and then hire them back part-time, are negatively impacting the overall state retirement system and the Unfunded Actuarial Accrued Liability. To read the full letter click here.

AFT-NH supports this amended bill and hopes that the Senate will pass it as well.

HB 142 as amended: As I read this bill, any teacher evaluation and support system will be developed with teacher involvement and must be adopted by both the local school board and the teachers. The State teacher evaluation model may serve as a guide and reference only, meaning that it is not mandated that you adopt this State model at the local level. To protect current negotiated provisions in contracts, language was added to the bill, reading “Nothing in this paragraph shall supersede collective bargaining rights under RSA 273-A.” This bill has come a long way from when it was introduced, and AFT-NH will continue to monitor this as it works its way through the Senate.

HB 370: would repeal the education tax credits. Keep in mind that two bills passed last year diverted scarce resources to private and religious schools as well as home schoolers. In fact, these laws do not even contain any accountability provisions to ensure the money is put to good use!

AFT-NH also believes that it is unconstitutional to divert state money to religious schools. Our Constitution is clear—state money will not be used to fund religious instruction (“no person shall ever be compelled to pay towards the support of the schools of any sect or denomination.”– Article 6, NH Constitution). AFT-NH support the passage of this bill and hopes the Senate will pass it as well.

HB 187: relative to deliberative sessions in towns that have adopted official ballot voting. This bill was submitted by retired AFT-NH member Marjorie Porter. This bill provides that the dollar amount agreed to in a collective bargaining agreement between a public employer and an employee organization shall not be modified by the legislative body of the public employer and that amount is what the voters should vote on.

AFT-NH is in support of this bill; we believe that what is negotiated in good faith should go before the voters for a vote and not be sidelined by a few. We hope that the Senate will pass it as well.

SENATE BILLS NOW MOVING OVER TO THE HOUSE

SB 132: relative to part-time employment in the retirement system and establishing a committee to study police special details.

  • This bill was amended by the Senate Executive Departments and Administration Committee to establish a committee to study police special details and will move to the full Senate with the recommendation of passage.
  • The committee is tasked with studying the use and efficacy of police special details, and alternatives which may be available to towns, cities, and the state.

AFT-NH does not support forming another committee to study the New Hampshire retirement system or parts of it.

SB 82:
This bill establishes a commission for the purpose of identifying strategies for developing and implementing a competency-based public education. AFT-NH is staying neutral on this bill. We understand that moving to a competency-based system will take much time and consideration when developing this system. AFT-NH hopes that the final report will include recommendations for adequate time and staff development for the educators charged with implementing this new system.

If you are currently moving forward in implementing a competency-based system and you have concerns, suggestions and recommendations please send them to LHainey@aft-nh.org. This way we can makes sure they are passed along.

DEFEATED BILLS

HB 609: relative to possession of a firearm on school property. AFT-NH was in opposition to this bill, as it created far too many unanswered questions.  Where and how are these guns to be stored? Who would have access to the guns? Would it really prevent a shooting at a school or increase the risk of one? Would there be any training for those who have guns at the schools? What about the liability if something goes wrong? This bill was defeated in the house. AFT-NH thanks all who supported us on this.

HB 620: relative to the adjustment of member and employer contribution rates in the retirement system.

  • This bill provides that contribution rates for members in the retirement system and employers shall be calculated by assigning one half of the biennial change to the liabilities of the system to each.
  • The full House voted to defeat this bill, and AFT-NH supports this action.

HB 322: This bill would have required proficiency on the statewide assessment for advancement to grades 4 and 8. AFT-NH was in opposition to this bill. Since the implementation of No Child Left Behind, we’ve seen a growing fixation on high-stakes testing as a central piece of the effort to improve schools. Unfortunately, the result has been exactly the opposite. The low-level, high-stakes tests that now hang over our teachers and students—and their extreme misuse as a result of ideologically and politically driven education policy—have seriously damaged our public education system. AFT-NH believes that Learning Is More Than a Test Score.

SB 37: relative to management rights under collective bargaining. This bill would have eliminated your ability to bargain over wages, standards for evaluation, selection, layoff and retention, discipline, assignment and transfer and “other traditionally accepted management rights”. In essence, this would have ended collective bargaining for public employees. This bill was defeated by the Senate; AFT-NH fully supported defeating this bill.

CACR 6 and CARC 7:  Relating to education. Both of these proposed constitutional amendments concerned funding public education and left full discretion in the hands of the elected representatives at the State House. These proposals are almost carbon-copies of CACR 12 from 2012, which was defeated. Keep in mind we have come a long way since the Claremont Decision. We cherish public education in NH, but we also know that in a difficult budgetary environment, one of the most tempting areas to make spending cuts is in State support of education, thereby downshifting costs onto localities.  AFT-NH supported the defeat of these constitutional amendments, which happened this past Wednesday in the House.

And of course HB 323 the Right to Work for less bill. AFT-NH was in opposition to this bill and it was defeated once again!

BILLS THAT HAVE BEEN RETAINED BY THE SENATE OR HOUSE
These bills will be worked on by a committee and there will need to be a vote on the first day of the 2014 session

HB 494:  This permits other school personnel to administer a glucagon injection to a pupil. AFT-NH stands with our fellow organization New Hampshire School Nurses Association in opposition to this bill.

HB 341: relative to the cost of fiscal analysis of legislation relating to the retirement system.

  • This bill requires that whenever any proposed legislation needs a fiscal analysis of its impact on the NHRS, the administrative and professional cost of that fiscal analysis shall not be paid from Retirement System assets or charged as an expense of administration.
  • In the last two sessions it has cost the New Hampshire Retirement System over $100,000 to investigate the costs associated with proposed legislation.  This is money coming out of our system that could fund close to three pensions.
  • If a legislator puts in a bill then the funds to cost this should come out of their budget not ours.

AFT-NH supports passage of this bill.

HB 627: requiring unused vacation and sick leave to be converted to service time for purposes of calculating retirement system benefits.

  • This bill provides that at retirement the accrued but unused sick and vacation time of a retirement system member shall be converted to hours and applied as additional creditable service.

AFT-NH supports defeat of this bill.

HB 435:  relative to funding for chartered public school pupils. AFT-NH opposes this bill because it diverts scarce funding from our public schools just like the education tax credits initiated last year. If charter schools truly want to be considered public then they must:

  • Accept all children that walk through their doors,
  • The entire teaching staff should be certified,
  • They would take on all the responsibility of educating special education students and not rely on the local school system to offer services,
  • They would take on the responsibility of transporting the students to school.
  • In short they would have to follow all the laws and rules that current public schools follow.


BILLS THAT STILL NEED ACTION IN THE FULL HOUSE OR SENATE


HB 124:
relative to the determination of gainful occupation for a group II member receiving an accidental disability retirement allowance from the retirement system.

  • This bill reinserts a provision which removes the application of the gainful occupation reductions to retirement allowances of group II accidental disability beneficiaries who have years of service plus years of accidental disability retirement which total at least 20 and who have attained the age of 45.
  • The House Executive Departments and Administration Committee has no recommendation for this bill. AFT-NH -NH supports the recommendation of passage.

HB 364: relative to notice required concerning employment of a retired member of the New Hampshire retirement system of the limitations on part-time employment.

  • This bill was amended its in entirety.
  • This bill requires New Hampshire Retirement System employers to notify existing and prospective part-time employees, who are retired members in the retirement system, of the annual limitations on hours for part-time employment. The bill also requires the Retirement System to provide similar notice to all retired members.
  • An employer shall provide written notice of the hourly limitations on part-time employment and the potential effect that exceeding such hourly limitations could have on the retired member’s retirement benefits.
  • The Retirement System shall annually provide written notice to all retired members of the retirement system of the hourly limitations on part-time employment and the potential effect that exceeding such hourly limitations could have on the retired member’s retirement benefits.
  • AFT-NH supports the recommendation of passage from the House Executive Departments and Administration Committee.

HB 455: establishing a committee to study the use of a cash balance retirement plan for new state employees.

  • This bill establishes a committee to study the use of a cash balance retirement plan for new state employees and other groups electing to participate.
  • AFT-NH supports the recommendation of the House Executive Departments and Administration Committee of defeating this bill.

HB 381: relative to citizen complaints against a police officer. The House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee made the recommendation of defeating this bill. AFT-NH is in support of this recommendation and request that legislators support this recommendation when it comes before them. Keep in mind that there is already a process in place for complaints, and this bill would just provide a tool to those who want retribution against police officers who have faithfully performed their duties.

AFT-NH is also supporting the efforts of the New Hampshire Child Alliance Network on HB 260. This bill authorizes the Department of Health and Human Services to provide voluntary services to a child who would otherwise be found to be a child in need of services under RSA 169-D. This bill passed the House Children and Family Law Committee 19-0 and passed the full House on March 6.  The bill is now before the House Finance Committee, where they will discuss the cost of the bill. Governor Hassan did put in her budget $7.5 M in total funds for CHINS over the next two years. For more background information on this click here.

UPCOMING HEARINGS FOR NEXT WEEK
Note the ones in red are priority bills for AFT-NH

MONDAY, MARCH 18

FINANCE, Sugar River Valley Regional Technical Center, 111 South Street Claremont.
5:00 p.m. Public hearing on HB 1-A, making appropriations for the expenses of certain departments of the state for fiscal years ending June 30, 2014 and June 30, 2015 and HB 2-FN-A-LOCAL, relative to state fees, funds, revenues, and expenditures.

Rochester Community Center, 150 Wakefield Street, Rochester.
5:00 p.m. Public hearing on HB 1-A, making appropriations for the expenses of certain departments of the state for fiscal years ending June 30, 2014 and June 30, 2015 and HB 2-FN-A-LOCAL, relative to state fees, funds, revenues, and expenditures.

FINANCE – (DIVISION I), Room 212, LOB
9:30 a.m. Work session on HB 1-A, making appropriations for the expenses of certain departments of the state for fiscal years ending June 30, 2014 and June 30, 2015, HB 2-FN-A-L, relative to state fees, funds, revenues, and expenditures.

FINANCE – (DIVISION II), Room 209, LOB
10:00 a.m. Work session on HB 1-A, making appropriations for the expenses of certain departments of the state for fiscal years ending June 30, 2014 and June 30, 2015, HB 2-FN-A-L, relative to state fees, funds, revenues, and expenditures.

FINANCE – (DIVISION III), Rooms 210-211, LOB
9:30 a.m. Work session on HB 1-A, making appropriations for the expenses of certain departments of the state for fiscal years ending June 30, 2014 and June 30, 2015,
HB 2-FN-A-L, relative to state fees, funds, revenues, and expenditures,
HB 260-FN, relative to voluntary services provided to children in need under RSA 169-D (if needed).
1:00 p.m. Work session on HB 1-A, making appropriations for the expenses of certain departments of the state for fiscal years ending June 30, 2014 and June 30, 2015,
HB 2-FN-A-L, relative to state fees, funds, revenues, and expenditures.

TUESDAY, MARCH 19

FINANCE, Rooms 210-211, LOB
10:00 a.m. Executive session on
HB 260-FN, relative to voluntary services provided to children in need under RSA 169-D,
HB 269-L, authorizing a city or town to conduct a special meeting necessitated by changes in adequate education funding,
HB 299-FN, relative to tuition payments for chartered public school pupils,
HB 319-FN, relative to benefits for state employees serving in the armed forces,
HB 344-FN-L, relative to aid to school districts for the cost of special education,
570-FN, relative to school building aid grant eligibility for the White Mountain Regional school district,

FINANCE – (DIVISION I), Room 212, LOB
1:00 p.m. Work session on HB 1-A, making appropriations for the expenses of certain departments of the state for fiscal years ending June 30, 2014 and June 30, 2015,
HB 2-FN-A-L, relative to state fees, funds, revenues, and expenditures.

FINANCE – (DIVISION II), Room 209, LOB
1:00 p.m. Work session on HB 1-A, making appropriations for the expenses of certain departments of the state for fiscal years ending June 30, 2014 and June 30, 2015,
HB 2-FN-A-L, relative to state fees, funds, revenues, and expenditures.

FINANCE – (DIVISION III), Rooms 210-211, LOB
1:00 p.m. Work session on HB 1-A, making appropriations for the expenses of certain departments of the state for fiscal years ending June 30, 2014 and June 30, 2015,
HB 2-FN-A-L, relative to state fees, funds, revenues, and expenditures.

FRIDAY, MARCH 22

HEALTH, EDUCATION AND HUMAN SERVICES, Room 100, SH
1:00 p.m. HB 370-FN, repealing the education tax credit program.
EXECUTIVE SESSION MAY FOLLOW

MONDAY, MARCH 25

FINANCE, Rooms 210-211, LOB
2:30 p.m. Executive session on HB 1-A, making appropriations for the expenses of certain departments of the state for fiscal years ending June 30, 2014 and June 30, 2015,
HB 2-FN-A-L, relative to state fees, funds, revenues, and expenditures.

TUESDAY, MARCH 26

FINANCE, Rooms 210-211, LOB
10:00 a.m. Continued executive session on HB 1-A, making appropriations for the expenses of certain departments of the state for fiscal years ending June 30, 2014 and June 30, 2015,
HB 2-FN-A-L, relative to state fees, funds, revenues, and expenditures.

MONDAY, APRIL 1

TASK FORCE ON WORK AND FAMILY (RSA 276-B:1), Room 207, LOB
1:15 p.m. Organizational meeting.

NH AFL-CIO President Mark MacKenzie Pushes For A Higher Minimum Wage For NH Working Families

NH AFL-CIO Logo

For Cost-Effective Economic Development, Consider the Minimum Wage
By President Mark MacKenzie

President Obama raised the hopes of thousands of Granite Staters when he called for raising the minimum wage in his State of the Union address.

His words should also raise the hopes of our state leaders. We’ve seen intense debate in our Legislature and town halls over the past few years about how to strengthen our economy after the Great Recession and help working people get back on their feet.

For thousands of Granite Staters living on the edge, the minimum wage determines whether their jobs pay enough to make ends meet. Yet it isn’t just workers who have a stake in the minimum wage. The small businesses they patronize and the communities they live in all stand to gain from reestablishing New Hampshire’s minimum wage. If our leaders are serious about encouraging New Hampshire’s economic development, they will consider reestablishing the minimum wage and indexing it to inflation.

Throughout the recession, Granite Staters relied increasingly on low-wage jobs to support their families. We lost nearly 6000 jobs between January 2012 and December 2012, according to the New Hampshire Economic & Labor Market Bureau.  Alarmingly, the largest losses were in construction, healthcare, education, local government and manufacturing – all sectors that historically pay a living wage. And of the sectors that added jobs, one third paid an average of $10.85 an hour.

This is not an isolated trend. Contrary to popular belief, changing the minimum wage will not just impact teenagers and semi-retired people. As wages for working families have fallen and breadwinners come to rely on low-wage jobs to support their families, the minimum wage plays an increasingly critical role in determining whether a job gets a family out of poverty or keeps them in it.

Most businesses in New Hampshire are small employers whose wellbeing is intimately tied to the strength of their local economy and the fortunes of their customers. Lower wages mean fewer nights out, fewer ice cream cones bought for our children, fewer gifts at Christmas and birthdays. They mean waiting another year to fix the muffler on our car or replace our old winter coat. Ultimately, by paying their employees more, local businesses fare better.

It’s been argued that raising the minimum wage will force employers to reduce hours for their employees or lay them off. That this will happen to a degree large enough to hurt our economy is, at this point, simple speculation. A 2010 study from economists at the University of North Carolina, University of Massachusetts, and University of California-Berkeley found “no detectable employment losses from the kind of minimum wage increases we have seen in the United States”.

The reason for that is quite simple – a minimum wage means customers with more money in their pockets.

As Governor Hassan and our Legislature come to an agreement over the state budget, they will be asked to make a lot of tough decisions on how to foster economic development in New Hampshire with the resources we have available.

What they choose to fund is ultimately a reflection of their priorities. Yet they should keep in mind that the minimum wage offers a simple way to foster economic development without spending resources from the state.

Ultimately, the debate over the minimum wage comes down to the type of economy that we want. Do we want an economy that relies on subsidizing the employers who pay their workers the least? Or do we want one that recognizes that every worker’s toil is worthy of a living wage?

Jobs should keep Granite Staters out of poverty, not in it. It is time to reinstate the minimum wage and create a path to prosperity for workers and their families.

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