NH Senate Vote On Mentally Ill And Guns Could Put Public Safety At Risk

Gun

NH Senate Votes to Loosen Public Safety Laws, Advance Dangerous Annulment Process to Restore Gun Rights to Mentally Ill

CONCORD, NH – The entire Senate Republican caucus and four Senate Democrats voted today to erode the quality of SB 244’s original relief from disabilities (RFD) program to restore gun rights for people whose mental health treatment has ended—the appropriate formula—and replace the bill with a dangerous and untested “annulment” process that doesn’t take into account mental health history. The 17-7 vote means the bill moves to the House.

Statement from Granite State Progress Executive Director Zandra Rice Hawkins:

“SB 244’s original goal was to report the names of those who are prohibited purchasers of firearms due to mental health to be reported to the NICS background check system, and to establish a relief from disabilities program for people whose mental health treatment has ended so that they can restore their gun rights. Granite State Progress supported these original goals, but the gun lobby amended version of SB 244 jeopardizes public safety.”

“The annulment process that passed the Senate diminishes the state’s ability to determine when a person should get relief, and does not provide judges with appropriate evidence to consider when making these determinations. Unlike the original bill, the amendment does not require any consideration of the person’s mental health history, the person’s reputation as developed through character evidence or character witnesses, and changes in the person’s condition. No documentation is required regarding documentation of the commitment or treatment resolution, nor does it require releases allowing mental health providers to provide opinions about the person’s dangerousness and suitability to possess firearms.”

“SB 244 will likely not meet federal standards for a relief from disabilities program, meaning the State of New Hampshire cannot apply for federal funding to help implement a process to submit mental health records. The striking irony is that SB 244 originally set out to make sure New Hampshire was submitting mental health records to the background checks system, and instead this gun lobby amendment narrowed the bill to only how to remove records we aren’t even adequately reporting. We are beyond disappointed that Senate Republicans, aided by four Senate Democrats, chose to undermine public safety and establish an untested and unstable annulment process that could put guns back in the hands of those who should not have them. Following tragedies such as Newtown and Virginia Tech, we expect more.”

“On a better note, the Senate rejected a skewed study commission that focused solely on how to keep records out of the background checks system. That commission membership was heavily tilted towards gun groups and sought to undermine the current background checks system.”

More background:

SB 244’s annulment process doesn’t meet best practices and jeopardizes federal funding opportunities should New Hampshire start to report mental health records in the future.

The ATF form, wherein states apply for their Relief from Disability programs to be certified in order to receive federal funding, makes it clear that the state program must “receive evidence concerning and [must] consider…the circumstances regarding the [prohibition]; applicant’s record, which must include, at a minimum, the applicant’s mental health and criminal history records; and applicant’s reputation, developed, at a minimum, through character witness statements, testimony, or other character evidence.” The amendment’s process doesn’t require mental health records be submitted, doesn’t require any character evidence, and doesn’t require consideration of the circumstances surrounding prohibition.

Even red states that pass these laws require that mental health professionals weigh in: South Carolina passed a law last year that requires: 1) examination of the circumstances surrounding the prohibition, 2) the petitioner’s mental health and criminal history records, 3) character evidence, and 4) a current evaluation by either the state Department of Health or a licensed physician addressing whether the petitioner poses a threat to self or others.

The amended version also lowers the judicial standard for restoring rights, making it more likely that people who are still dangerous will have their rights restored and be able to buy guns. Under the original bill, the petitioner had to show “by a preponderance” that he is not dangerous. Under the amendment, the other side has to show “by clear and convincing evidence” (a higher standard) that he is dangerous, and that the “danger” would have to be “potentially serious.”

Sen. Clark’s proposed constitutional amendment on the use of dedicated funds passes Senate

NH House

(Concord, NH) Last week, the New Hampshire Senate passed CACR 19, a constitutional amendment proposed by Sen. Martha Fuller Clark that would require that dedicated funds “shall be used only for the special program for which such fees or assessments were imposed.”

Dedicating funds is a popular way to offer stable, long-term support to important and popular programs. From highway funds to domestic violence prevention, the legislature has created approximately 300 such funds over the years to provide consistent funding to our priorities.

Just as often, however, the legislature has found these funds irresistible when the need to plug gaps in biannual budgets arises, as it inevitably does. This constitutional amendment, if passed by the House and by the citizens on Election Day, would not make that impossible – it would simply require a two-thirds majority of both the House and the Senate to pass.

“I believe it is important that there should be truth in government. If we want to gain the trust of the public we should keep our word and not take money from our citizens that has been dedicated for one particular purpose through funds and fees and use it for another,” Sen. Clark said. “Perhaps the most egregious example is when, in 2011, the legislature took millions of dollars from a fund created to provide scholarships for students in our state and used it to replace the state’s obligation to fund operating dollars for our university system. Putting this issue before the public with a Constitutional amendment will allow us to see if they agree.”

Having passed the Senate with a vote of 21-2, CACR 19 now goes to the House for consideration. If it passes the House, it will go before the voters on the ballot for the November 4th general election. Support of two-thirds of the voters is required to make this measure a part of the New Hampshire Constitution.

Senate GOP Sentences Future Retirees onto Social Services

Image by Marc Nozell (CC Flickr)
Image by Marc Nozell (CC Flickr)

Image by Marc Nozell (CC Flickr)

CONCORD – THURSDAY, on a party-line vote, the Republican-controlled Senate killed SB 364, a bill sponsored by Sen. Sylvia Larsen, (D-Concord), to create real pension reform for employees hired on or after July 1, 2011. Hard-working new public employees harmed by the disastrous retirement changes in 2011’s HB2 told their personal stories during the bill’s committee hearing. Today they came back to Concord in hopes to convince their Senators to vote for their families, for the economy, and against resource-shifting to the social services net.

“It’s a sad day in New Hampshire when our legislators refuse to listen to their constituents, kicking the can of real pension reform down the road again to burden a  future generation. Our public employees deserve better than partisan politics being  placed ahead of common sense and dignity.” said Laura Hainey, President of AFT-NH.

Chris Cummings, representing NH Troopers’ Association, noted the impacts this low new member benefit program is having on recruiting and retaining high-quality employees in the Granite State. “This bill would have given us an opportunity to compete for the best and brightest recruits to address today’s law  enforcement challenges. With this vote, Senate Republicans have turned their backs on the public safety of New Hampshire.”

For more information on the New Hampshire Retirement Security Coalition, please visit nhretirementfacts.com and follow us @NH_RSC

UPDATED 1715

Senator Larsen Comments on Senate Bill 364

CONCORD – Senator Sylvia Larsen released the following comments after the defeat of Senate Bill 364 which would create real pension reform for newly hired public employees.

“I am disappointed we could not get a Senate majority to help pass SB 364. This bill would not change the fact that new hires are now required to work longer, retire at an older age, and pay more for their retirement benefit. It does however, include a compromise in the form of a defined contribution plan for Group I, which until recently has long been opposed by workers. I believe this bill represents real pension reform.”

“I believe there were unintended consequences during the 2011 legislative changes to the New Hampshire Retirement System, that’s why I introduced Senate Bill 364. After reviewing data last year from the New Hampshire Retirement System, I came to the conclusion that the Legislature must act now or else there will be a substantial social cost down the road.”

The current retirement plan creates a future generation of impoverished public employee retirees. It will provide only 45-49% salary replacement in retirement. Experts say that all retiring workers whether in the private or public sector need to receive between 80-85% of your last working year’s salary. Current law leaves the average firefighter retiring in 25 years with only $34,000 and teachers averaging $24,000 in retirement pay. That’s hardly a liveable wage now, let alone 25 years from now”

“Under the changes made in 2011, retired police, firefighters, and teachers thirty years from now could qualify for social services. It’s unacceptable to think that firefighters – who don’t receive social security and who spent decades running into burning buildings – would now be forced to survive on food stamps. We know we have problem now and have the advantage of years to offset the shortfall,” said Senator Larsen. “If we don’t act now, the Legislature will be kicking the can down the road and hoping a future Legislature will find a way to foot the bill and avoid thousands of police officers, firefighters, and teachers living on social services.”

“By failing to address the problem now and pass real pension reform, we are pushing costs for the state and taxpayers further into the future.”

Much Rejoicing As NH Senate Unanimously Passes Paycheck Fairness Bill

sylvia larsen

“This definitive, bipartisan action by the full Senate affirms that both Republicans and Democrats agree we must act to close the wage gap in New Hampshire,” said Senate Democratic Leader Sylvia Larsen.

Senate Bill 207 has been cited by Senate and House Democrats as a top priority for the 2014 legislative session. All Senate Democrats have sponsored the legislation with House Speaker Terie Norelli serving as the leading House sponsor along with co-sponsors Rep. Shannon Chandley (D-Amherst), Rep. MaryAnn Knowles (D-Hudson), and Rep. Marjorie Porter (D-Hillsboro).

sylvia larsen

Senator Sylvia Larsen

“The New Hampshire Paycheck Fairness Act will give the more than 60% of women working in today’s economy, as the primary or co-breadwinners for their families, the much needed tools they need to combat the wage gap,” stated Larsen.

“It’s distressing that, in the year 2014, women in New Hampshire, who are working full-time jobs, still earn only 77 cents on the dollar compared to men. National studies have found that a pay gap exists between men and women in nearly every occupation. However, with this bipartisan, unanimous vote, we are sending a crystal clear message that the Legislature is on the side of all workers guaranteeing fair and equal paycheck, without fear of retaliation.”

Senator Larsen concluded her statement by saying, “I look forward to a quick House action, so New Hampshire can renew our commitment to the fundamental principle of, an equal day’s work deserves an equal day’s pay.”

“Today’s unanimous Senate vote to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act is an overwhelming, bipartisan affirmation of the principle that an equal day’s work deserves an equal day’s pay,” stated Governor Maggie Hassan. “This common-sense measure to help eliminate the pay gap between women and men will strengthen our economy and the financial security of working families across our state. I applaud the Senate for today’s bipartisan vote and encourage the House to pass this critical legislation in order to help all of New Hampshire’s workers earn a fair and equal paycheck.”

“We commend members of the Senate for voting unanimously to remove a remaining barrier to pay equity in New Hampshire,” stated Mark MacKenzie, President of the NH AFL-CIO. “Passing SB207 was the right thing to do for fairness and equality, and the right thing to do for the majority of Granite State working families who depend on women’s earnings to get by.”

“We commend the Senate’s unanimous adoption of the New Hampshire Paycheck Fairness Act,” stated Zandra Rice-Hawkins, Executive Director of Granite State Progress. “This law would give employees the tools they need to challenge wage gaps. Data shows that New Hampshire women make 77 cents for every dollar a man earns. Coupled with the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act already in law, these two acts can help to create a climate where wage discrimination is no longer tolerated.”

Along with the Democratic leadership in the House and Senate, community groups helped push legislators to pass this Paycheck Fairness bill.  Below are statements from some of the other organizations celebrating today’s vote.

Kary Jencks, Executive Director, NH Citizens Alliance for Action: “The Senate recognized today that ensuring equal pay for equal work is important to protecting New Hampshire working families.  A woman’s earnings, whether she is married or not, are crucial to family support. Closing the wage gap is the right action for New Hampshire to take for the economic security of Granite Staters.”

Devon Chaffee, Executive Director of the New Hampshire Civil Liberties Union: “We applaud the Senate’s bipartisan approval of the New Hampshire Paycheck Fairness Act. In approving this critical legislation, the Senate has taken an important step towards eliminating unfair gender paycheck inequities in the state of New Hampshire.”

Dawn Andonellis, Public Policy Chair for the American Association of University Women (AAUW) of New Hampshire: “We applaud the New Hampshire State Senate for passing the Paycheck Fairness Act in a bipartisan fashion and for taking this important step toward closing the wage gap and ending gender discrimination in the workplace. Moving this bill forward would give the women of New Hampshire a reason to actually celebrate Equal Pay Day on April 8. Finally, women are closer to achieving equal pay for equal work.”

Mary Jo Brown, Chair of the New Hampshire Women’s Initiative: “The New Hampshire Women’s Initiative applauds the Senate’s unanimous adoption of SB 207. SB 207 is a great step toward reducing the wage gap and promoting pay equity for all Granite Staters. The bill, which includes provisions towards paycheck transparency, honors NHWI’s agenda and findings from our 2013 statewide listening sessions with NH citizens. We are proud to thank Senator Larsen and her cosponsors for the bipartisan support of the bill. We are excited that the Senate has passed this important piece of legislation and look forward to working with the House.”

Fatima Goss Graves, Vice President for Education and Employment at the National Women’s Law Center: “This bipartisan vote reflects the simple fact that giving women tools to combat pay discrimination and close the wage gap is a common sense solution that everyone should be able to get behind.”

The NH Senate was realistically the only hurdle this bill faced in getting passed in New Hampshire.  The GOP controlled Senate was the only truly unknown in this bills likelihood of passing.  The bill will now moved to the Democrat controlled house, where I should pass with ease.  I expect the Governor could be signing this bill before May first.

 

The Video That Could Change Your Entire Outlook On The Casino Gambling Bill And The Gas Tax

Diana Lacey Screen Shot Video

Once a week the State Employees’ Association (SEIU 1984) sends out their Statehouse Bulletin. The bulletin highlights what the SEA is doing legislatively in Concord.  Every week they post a summary of what bills passed, what bills failed, and what bills are coming in the next week.  This week had all of that, and a little more.

This week’s bulletin had a special video message from SEA President Diana Lacey.  The video is a ‘call to arms’ for all of the SEA members to help convince their state legislators to pass two very important bills, the Gas Tax bill (SB 367), and the Casino bill (HB1633).

While this video was intended for the SEA membership, I feel that everyone in New Hampshire should listen to what President Lacey has to say.

Whether you support expanded gambling and the gas tax increase or not you should know what this will mean to hundreds of state workers. Will it mean more devastating cuts, and more layoffs, or will it mean new jobs for public and private workers?

Please take five minutes to listen to Diana’s message.

Share this post with your friends and family throughout the Granite State to ensure that everyone knows exactly what is at stake if these two bills do not pass this week.

The SEA has started a ‘Save Our Roads’ petition, which you can sign here.

Use this link to find your State Senator and ask them to support the gas tax increase (SB 367).

Use this link to find your State Representative and ask them to support the expanded casino gambling bill (HB 1633).

 

 

2-23-14 AFT-NH Legislative Update : Issues of the Week — Charter Schools and Common Core

AFT NH Legislative Update

The House Education Committee held several hearing and made recommendations on many bills this week, but many more bills remain to be worked on by the Committee.

Several of these bills dealt with charter schools. I will start calling them public charter schools when they:

•    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.

Let’s keep in mind that the funding for charter schools comes from Federal grants, the state of New Hampshire, and in some cases from local property tax dollars.  Unlike public schools, most charter schools are approved by the State, not the local community,in which they operate, thus eliminating local control but requiring local taxpayer support.

When a charter school opens, your local tax dollars, taken from your local school district budget, must pay for services for special education students attending the charter school.  If a charter school opens in your community your tax dollars are going to transport any student that lives in your community attending the charter school.  All of this is mandated by State law, and in a time when budgets are tight charter schools seem to be coming back and asking for more and more. And you have no say in the matter unless our local elected state leaders stand up and say “No more!”

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.

After their Winter break the House Education Committee will be making recommendations on several Common Core and Smarter Balance assessments and data collections.  Let me repeat where we stand on this issue:

We believe in assessments that support teaching and learning, and that are aligned with curriculum rather than narrow it.  Assessments should be focused on measuring growth and continuous development of students instead of arbitrary targets unconnected to how students learn. Assessments should be diverse, authentic, test for multiple indicators of student performance and provide information leading to appropriate interventions that help students, teachers and schools improve, not sanctions that undermine them.  Development and implementation of such tests must be age appropriate for the students, and teachers need to have appropriate computers to administer such assessments.  Because each district is at different stages in their teacher/staff development and student curriculum changes that meet Common Core Standards and the assessment of their students, the Department of Education should waive the Smarter Balance testing deadline for at least another two years. – See more at: http://nh.aft.org/legislation/aft-nh-legislative-update-february-9-2014-0#sthash.wtI9u20y.dpuf
Elsewhere, the full Senate voted to defeat SB 322: relative to the renomination of teachers. AFT-NH believes 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 though an improvement plan.  We are disappointed in this vote and would like to thanks all the Senators who did vote with us. To see which senators voted with us 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


MONDAY, MARCH 3

WAYS AND MEANS, Room 202, LOB
1:00 p.m. Subcommittee work session on HB 492-FN-L, relative to the legalization and regulation of marijuana.

TUESDAY, MARCH 4

CHILDREN AND FAMILY LAW, Room 206, LOB
10:00 a.m. Executive session on
HB 1206, relative to juvenile placement in shelter care facilities and at the youth development center,
HB 1236, establishing a committee to study supervised visitation centers,
HB 1260-FN-L, relativeto communication of the cost of services provided under the children in need of services (CHINS) program to parents.

EDUCATION, Room 207, LOB
9:00 a.m. subcommittee:
HB 1239-FN-L, relative to the implementation of new educational standards,
HB 1508-FN, terminating state participation in the common core educational standards.

10:00 a.m. subcommittee
HB 1239-FN-L, relative to the implementation of new educational standards.

10:30 a.m. Subcommittee
HB 1586-FN, relative to student and teacher information protection and privacy,
HB1587-FN-L, relative to the collection and disclosure of pupil data.

11:00 a.m. subcommittee:
HB 1432, delaying implementation of certain statewide assessments and studying the effects of delaying implementation of certain curriculum changes in the public schools,
HB 1238, relative to access to assessment materials.

1:00 p.m. Executive session on
HB 1432, delaying implementation of certain statewide assessments and studying the effects of delaying implementation of certain curriculum changes in the public schools,
HB 1239-FN-L, relative to the implementation of new educational standards,
HB1587-FN-L, relative to the collection and disclosure of pupil data,
HB 1508-FN, terminating state participation in the common core educational standards,
HB 1262, relative to student assessment data privacy,
HB 1496, relative to the objectivity and validity of student assessment materials,
HB 1238, relative to access to assessment materials,
HB 1586-FN, relative to student and teacher information protection and privacy.

EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENTS AND ADMINISTRATION, Room 306, LOB
11:00 a.m. Executive session on
HB 1101-FN, relative to the recovery of overpayments by the retirement system and establishing a committee to study the policies and procedures of the retirement system for benefits wrongfully paid,
HB 1130-FN-L, relative to the Northeastern Interstate Forest Fire Protection Compact,
HB 1152-FN, terminating the benefit program for call, substitute or volunteer firemen administered by the New Hampshire retirement system,
HB 1493-FN-L, relative to members of the retirement system working after retirement, and relative to membership of political subdivision officials appointed for fixed terms.

FINANCE – (DIVISION III), Rooms 210-211, LOB
10:00 a.m. Work session on HB 1624-FN, modernizing the juvenile justice system to ensure rehabilitation of juveniles and preservation of juvenile rights.

LABOR, INDUSTRIAL AND REHABILITATIVE SERVICES, Room 307, LOB
10:15 a.m. Executive session on
HB 1189, relative to temporary worker rights,
HB 1228, establishing a commission to investigate the procedure for public employee collective bargaining.

MUNICIPAL AND COUNTY GOVERNMENT, Room 301, LOB
10:00 a.m. Executive session on
HB 1285, relative to recommendations by the department of revenue administration regarding municipal fund balance retention,
HB 1560-FN-L, prohibiting the use of funds received from a political subdivision of the state to lobby.

WAYS AND MEANS, Room 202, LOB
10:00 a.m. Executive session on
HB 1633-FN-A-L, relative to expanded gaming in New Hampshire.

WEDNESD AY, MARCH 5

Senate Executive Departments and Administration, Room 100, SH
9:00 a.m. EXECUTIVE SESSION ON PENDING LEGISLATION

10:00 a.m. House in session

THURSDAY, MARCH 6
1:00 p.m. House in session

WAYS AND MEANS, Room 202, LOB
10:30 a.m. Full committee work session on
HB 1415-FN, establishing a robotics education fund in the department of education.

TUESDAY, MARCH 18
WAYS AND MEANS, Room 202, LOB
10:00 a.m. Executive session on
HB 1415-FN, establishing a robotics education fund in the department of education.

Senator Hosmer Introduces Bill on Employee Protections for Victims of Domestic Violence

Sen Hosmer

Sen HosmerCONCORD – Senator Andrew Hosmer of Laconia introduced his prime sponsored Senate Bill 390 at public hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee this morning. Senate Bill 390 would give victims of domestic violence employee protections in the workplace.

“Senate Bill 390 would afford victims of domestic violence the ability to request reasonable safety accommodations in the workplace and would prohibit employers from discriminating against employees who are victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking, and harassment. SB 390 would also prevent a qualified applicant for employment from being discriminated against because they were a victim of domestic violence,” Senator Hosmer said.

“I work in my families’ retail automotive business which employs about 150 people and over the years we have become sensitized to the struggles employees face outside of work that unfortunately spill over into the workplace and we have tried to make reasonable accommodations that balance the needs of our employees with the needs of our business,” Senator Hosmer said.  “It does require a bit of flexibility on behalf of the employer but in discussing this bill with other business people I can tell you that have been very supportive.”

“Prior to going into business, I was an ADA and much of my case load was domestic violence. These were some of the most challenging cases to prosecute and I can’t forget the ones that ended in homicides.  It gave me insight into a cycle of violence that victims often can’t extricate themselves,” Senator Hosmer said. ”One of the biggest factors that prevented victims from fully and completely separating from their abusers was their inability to achieve or maintain economic independence. Abuse, stalking and harassment extend to the workplace and many abusers know that they can jeopardize a victim’s employment by continually interfering with their work environment. When a victim loses their employment or is unable to secure employment because they’ve been the target they are more inclined to return to an abuser.”

Unfortunately, there are examples across the Nation where victims are being victimized again by losing their jobs, because of no fault of their own. We have seen that seven states (California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, New York, Oregon, and Rhode Island) in the last few years have passed similar bills.

“New Hampshire is one of the states that does not provide protection for domestic violence victims. By our lack of protection for victims, we aid and abet abusers and discourage victims from coming forward. I believe by encouraging victims to come forward and offering reasonable employment protections, victims have a better opportunity to break free of the cycle of violence,” Senator Hosmer said. ”I believe NH can and should do more to confront this insidious crime.”

Senate Bill 390 would ensure that it would be unlawful employment practice for an employer to: 1) Refuse to hire an otherwise qualified individual because the individual is a victim of domestic violence, harassment, sexual assault, or stalking. 2) Discharge, threaten to discharge, demote, suspend, or in any manner discriminate or retaliate against an individual with regard to promotion, compensation or other terms, conditions, or privileges of employment because the individual is a victim of domestic violence, harassment, sexual assault, or stalking. 3) Refuse to make a reasonable safety accommodation requested by an individual who is a victim of domestic violence, harassment, sexual assault, or stalking, unless the employer can demonstrate that the accommodation would impose an undue hardship on the operation of the business of the employer.

“This is reasonable and the right thing to do to address domestic violence. However, as a protection for business, I have included a provision for an undue hardship. It is defined in the legislation, as significant difficulty and expense to the employer’s business and includes consideration of the size and staffing needs of the employer’s business,” Senator Hosmer said.

Before making a reasonable safety accommodation, an employer may require an individual to provide certification that the individual is a victim of domestic violence, harassment, sexual assault, or stalking.

“We know domestic abuse often spills over into the workplace. Nearly three-quarters of abused women reported being harassed by their partner while at work. The fear of losing a job can also compound the abuse, as three-quarters of women report staying with their abuser longer for economic reasons,” Senator Hosmer said. ”Victims should not have to continue suffering in silence due to the fear they have of losing their jobs. Victims need to be able to speak up about what is happening, so they can get the help they need to leave their abusive situation. The fear of losing their job, the way they can support themselves and their families after they leave an abuser, should not be a burden they have to carry.”

“Legislators can ensure New Hampshire domestic violence victims get the protections they deserve by supporting Senate Bill 390,” Senator Hosmer concluded .

Senator Andrew Hosmer serves as the State Senator from District 7 representing Andover, Belmont, Boscawen, Canterbury, Franklin, Gilford, Northfield, Salisbury, Webster and his home town of Laconia. Senator Hosmer is the general manager of AutoServ, a family-owned automotive business. He has overseen the business’ locations and franchises double since he started in 1996.

2-10-14 AFT-NH Legislative Update: Common Core and Smarter Balance Assessments

AFT NH Legislative Update

This past week there were several hearings regarding the Common Core Standards and the Smarter Balance Assessment with several others scheduled for this coming week. AFT-NH knows that a recent AFT poll found that 75 Percent of teachers support the new standards, but it also found that they have not had enough time to understand them, put them into practice or discuss them with colleagues.

If these standards are to work 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,
•    Provide teachers with model lesson plans aligned to Standards,
•    Ensure textbooks/other curricula materials align with Standards,
•    Communicate with parents on the Standards and the expectations of students,
•    Develop best practices and strategies alone with coaching to help teachers teach content more deeply,
•    We need to ensure all districts have the equipment and bandwidth to administer computer-based assessments,
•    Make sure we have fully developed curricula aligned to Standards and available to teachers,
•    Assessments need to be aligned to Standards indicating mastery of concepts,
•    Professional development and training in the Standards need to be offered,
•    We need to develop tools to track individual student progress on key Standards.

We also know that:

States and districts must work with teachers to develop a high quality curriculum and professional development, provide students with the time needed to try out new methods of teaching to the standards in their classrooms, commit financial resources to ensure success, and engage parents and the community.

When assessing students, we need to make sure these tests inform teaching, not impede teaching and learning. All children deserve a rich, meaningful public education that prepares them for the opportunities, responsibilities and challenges that await them as they become contributing members of a democratic society.  Growing our nation’s future citizens and workers is a serious undertaking that calls for a thoughtful focus on teaching and learning. Since the implementation of the No Child Left Behind Act, the growing fixation on high-stakes testing has undermined that focus, putting at grave risk our students’ learning and their ability to meet the demands of the 21st-century economy and fulfill their personal goals.

We believe in assessments that support teaching and learning, and that are aligned with curriculum rather than narrow it.  Assessments should be focused on measuring growth and continuous development of students instead of arbitrary targets unconnected to how students learn. Assessments should be diverse, authentic, test for multiple indicators of student performance and provide information leading to appropriate interventions that help students, teachers and schools improve, not sanctions that undermine them.  Development and implementation of such tests must be age appropriate for the students, and teachers need to have appropriate computers to administer such assessments.  Because each district is at different stages in their teacher/staff development and student curriculum changes that meet Common Core Standards and the assessment of their students, the Department of Education should waive the Smarter Balance testing deadline for at least another two years.

Further, we believe that assessments designed to support teaching and learning must contribute to school and classroom environments that nurture growth, collaboration, curiosity and invention—essential elements of a 21st-century education that have too often been sacrificed in favor of test prep and testing. We know that collaboration with educators is necessary to ensure that high-quality instruction and content are given their proper emphasis.

UPCOMING HOUSE VOTES WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 12, 2014

The House Legislative Administration Committee made a recommendation of ought to pass with an amendment on HB 1122-FN, establishing the crime of filing false lien statements against public officials and employees. Rep. Joel F Winters states “this bill as amended would make it a crime to file a fraudulent lien. These fraudulent liens can take considerable time and money to clear up, and could prevent someone from buying or selling a home. The register of deeds would still accept the document but would have discretion about filing it if the lien was clearly fraudulent. AFT-NH is in support of the Committee’s recommendation and asks that it be supported.

The House EducationCommittee recommended that HB 1105-FN-L, relative to aid to school districts for costs of special education, Ought to Pass. AFT-NH supports this recommendation because it lifts the current cap of 72% on catastrophic special education funds and fully funds it. With this cap of 72% the state has downshifted roughly $8 million to communities. Catastrophic aid is a state fund that helps local district with exorbitant special education costs for our severely disabled children.

The House Education Committee also made a recommendation of ought to pass on HB 1114-FN, relative to limits on state expenditures for school building aid. AFT-NH is in support of this bill. It puts a floor to building aid not a cap. For the past six years many district have not been able to afford to complete upgrades, repairs or construct new buildings because of the cost. Keep in mind 50% of our school buildings are over 60 years old and many need infrastructure upgrades necessary for a 21st century learning environment.

The House Executive Departments and Administration committee recommended referring to interim study HB 1148-FN, relative to the reduction in the calculation of state retirement system annuities at age 65. Rep. Jeffrey P. Goley stated: “In 1988, the legislature decoupled group I pension benefits from Social Security, but left a statutory pension reduction of approximately 10 percent that took effect upon reaching the age of 65, then the full retirement age for Social Security. The normal retirement age for Social Security has now been increased to age 67. This bill would change the statutory reference from age 65 to “the members full retirement age for Social Security.”Committee members felt more time was needed to study if the intent in 1988 was to mirror the normal retirement age for Social Security.”AFT-NH would have liked a recommendation of ought to pass, as we understand the hardship this 10% reduction places on our retirees who have not received a cost of living adjustment in several years.

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 HEARINGS WEEK OF FEBRUARY 10TH

TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 11

CHILDREN AND FAMILY LAW, Room 206, LOB
9:00 a.m. Subcommittee work session:  HB 1260-FN-L, relative to communication of the cost of services provided under the children in need of services (CHINS) program to parents.

1:00 p.m. Executive session:  HB 1198, relative to the procedure for filing children in need of services (CHINS) petition,

CRIMINAL JUSTICE AND PUBLIC SAFETY, Room 204, LOB
1:00 p.m. Executive session:  HB 1550, permitting the audio and video recording of a public official while in the course of his or her official duties,

EDUCATION, Room 207, LOB
9:00 a.m. Subcommittee work session:  HB 1449, relative to the requirements for filing a charter school application,
HB 1298, relative to additional criteria for review of chartered public school applications,
HB 1141, requiring chartered public schools to share enrollment information with school districts.

10:00 a.m. HB 1432, delaying implementation of certain statewide assessments and studying the effects of delaying implementation of certain curriculum changes in the public schools.

11:30 a.m. Continued public hearing:  HB 1252, establishing a committee to study and propose a recodification of the education laws currently in RSA title 15.

1:15 p.m. Executive session on
HB 1132-FN, relative to school building inventory reports,
HB1377, authorizing conferral of degrees by private entities,
HB 1388, relative to student religious liberties,
HB 1397, establishing a committee to study whether the department of education is operating within its statutory authority,
HB 1463, relative to the definitions of “priority school” and “focus school.”,
HB 1469, requiring each school district to establish a special education parent advisory council,
HB 1534, establishing a commission to study fiscal disparities between public school districts, Continued executive session:  HB 1180, relative to days of school.

ELECTION LAW, Room 308, LOB
11:00 a.m. Executive session on
HB 1462-FN, relative to electioneering by public employees,

LABOR, INDUSTRIAL AND REHABILITATIVE SERVICES, Rooms 305-307, LOB
10:15 a.m. HB 1403-FN, establishing a state minimum hourly wage.
1:00 p.m. HB 1349, relative to the definition of independent contractor.

2:30 p.m. Full committee work session:  HB 1228, establishing a commission to investigate the procedure for public employee collective bargaining.

2:45 p.m. Executive session on
HB 1188, relative to paycheck equity,
HB 1404, relative to payroll cards,
HB 1405, prohibiting an employer from using credit history in employment decisions,
HB 1407, relative to privacy in the workplace,
HB 1592-FN, relative to requiring prevailing wages on state-funded public works projects

WAYS AND MEANS, Room 202, LOB
10:00 a.m. Full committee work session:  HB 1633-FN-A-L, relative to expanded gaming in New Hampshire.

WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 12

10:00 a.m. House in Session

Senate EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENTS AND ADMINISTRATION,Room 100, SH
9:00 a.m. SB 364, relative to group II service retirement allowances and relative to establishing a supplemental savings plan in the retirement system.
9:45 a.m. SB 398, relative to employment negotiations between the state and individual bargaining units.

LEGISLATIVE ADMINISTRATION, Room 104, LOB
12:00 p.m. or at the lunch break from session.
Executive session:  HB 1207, relative to identification of the source of legislative bill proposals,
HB 1440-FN, including the writing, promoting, or distributing of model legislation to elected officials as lobbying and requiring disclosure of scholarship funds, money, or other financial support received from such lobbyists by elected officials,
HB 1551, relative to the employment of elected officials

THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 13

10:00 a.m. Senate in Session

EDUCATION, Room 207, LOB
9:00 a.m. Subcommittee work session:  HB 1212, relative to social media privacy in higher education,
HB 1200, relative to student social media policies by educational institutions,
HB 1128, establishing a committee to study issues related to students receiving special education services while attending a chartered public school,
HB 1393-FN-L, relative to tuition payments for students attending a chartered public school in the student’s district of residence,
HB 1392-FN-L, removing the restriction on the number of pupils eligible to transfer to a chartered public school.

1:15 p.m. Rescheduled public hearing:  HB 1586-FN, relative to student and teacher information protection and privacy.

2:00 p.m. Rescheduled public hearing:  HB 1587-FN-L, relative to the collection and disclosure of pupil data.

2:30 p.m. Rescheduled public hearing:  HB 1238, relative to access to assessment materials.

3:00 p.m. HB 1508 termination of state participation in the common core educational standards.

FINANCE – (DIVISION II), Room 209, LOB
11:00 a.m. Work session:  HB 435-FN, relative to funding for chartered public school pupils.

WAYS AND MEANS, Room 206, LOB
9:30 a.m. Full committee work session:  HB 1633-FN-A-L, relative to expanded gaming in New Hampshire.

2-3-14 AFT-NH Legislative Update And Bills To Watch This Week

AFT NH Legislative Update

It seemed to be a long week with not much accomplished at the State House. The House is still working its way through retained bills from the 2013 session, while the Senate held its first full session on their 2014 bills.

The positive note of the week is that the Senate defeated SB 217 the right to work for less this week by a vote of 13 to 11. AFT-NH thanks all the senators who stood with us.

The Senate Health, Education and Human Services committee held a hearing on SB 322: relative to the renomination of teachers. This bill reduces from 5 to 3 consecutive years of teaching required for a teacher to be entitled to notification and a hearing when the teacher is not reappointed. AFT-NH supports this bill. 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 nonrenewed. When decision with such high stakes are being made,  all staff should be given reasons why, and should be given time to improve though an improvement plan.

A House Education subcommittee made the recommendation to defeat HB 1180, a bill increasing the minimum number of days of school from 180 to 190 and authorizing up to 10 of those days to be completed online in a manner to be determined by the school board.  AFT-NH supports this recommendation and we ask the full House Education committee to support this recommendation. We know that this bill is unnecessary because increasing the school year is something that can be done now if negotiated between the district and the union. If districts and the State want to improve education, offer school employees appropriate and useful staff development opportunities.  Give us the tools and materials to do the jobs and trust us as professionals!

The House Finance committee made the recommendation to defeat HB 1394, which would appropriate $600,000 to the Department of Education for the maintenance and repair of facilities for chartered public schools. We ask that the full House support this recommendation and defeat this bill.  Would it be fair to pass this bill when for the past 6 years there has not been any new money given to public schools for building aid?

The House Legislative Administration committee held a hearing on HB 1122, which would establish the crime of knowingly filing a false lien or encumbrance in a public record or private record against the real or personal property of a public official or public employee on account of the performance of such public official or public employee’s official duties.  AFT-NH is in support of this bill. 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. Unless you go to the Register of deeds in your county and fill out notice paperwork to be notified of such actions, you would never know this lien existed until you wanted to sell your home. It could take up to a year to clear this up and could be very costly.

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 HEARINGS FOR NEXT WEEK

TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 4
Senate FINANCE, Room 103, SH
1:00 p.m. SB 395-FN, relative to the retirement classification of the director of the divisionof forests and lands.

Senate HEALTH, EDUCATION AND HUMAN SERVICES, Room 103, LOB
10:00 a.m. SB 355, relative to access to social media by educational institutions.

House CHILDREN AND FAMILY LAW, Room 206, LOB
9:00 a.m. Subcommittee work session on HB 1260-FN-L, relative to communication of the cost of services provided under the children in need of services (CHINS) program to parents.

House CRIMINAL JUSTICE AND PUBLIC SAFETY, Room 204, LOB
10:00 a.m. Executive session on HB 1306-FN, prohibiting a law enforcement officer from soliciting another person to participate in criminal activity,
HB 1435, requiring law enforcement officials to disclose specific informationrelating to a police checkpoint,
HB 1565-FN, establishing the crime of filing false lien or encumbrance against public servant.

House EDUCATION, Room 207, LOB
10:00 a.m. HB 1262, relative to student assessment data privacy.
10:30 a.m. HB 1496, relative to the objectivity and validity of student assessment materials.
11:00 a.m. HB 1321, relative to reporting of Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery scores.
11:30 a.m. HB 1534, establishing a commission to study fiscal disparities between public school
districts.
1:15 p.m. Executive session on
HB 1147, permitting school districts to advertise,
HB 1180-FN-L, relative to days of school,
HB 1187, relative to an appeal of a change of school assignment decision by a superintendent,
HB 1191, establishing a commission to study manufacturing education in New Hampshire,
HB 1199-L, excepting certain students from authorized regional enrollment area agreements,
HB 1211, relative to the use of force by persons with special responsibilities,
HB 1507, relative to university system of New Hampshire in-state tuition rates for students domiciled in New Hampshire,
HB 1588-FN, requiring suicide prevention education in schools,

House EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENTS AND ADMINISTRATION, Room 306, LOB
1:30 p.m. Executive session on
HB 1126, establishing a committee to study alternative public employee retirement plans,
HB 1148-FN, relative to the reduction in the calculation of state retirement system annuities at age 65,
HB 1398-FN, allowing the retirement system to make payments in lieu of payments to estates in certain instances,
HB 1494-FN, relative to administration of the New Hampshire retirement system and authority of the board of trustees,
HB 1563-FN, granting group II retirement system status to certain positions in the department of corrections,

House FINANCE – (DIVISION III), Rooms 210-211, LOB
10:00 a.m. Work session on HB 525-FN, raising the age of minority for juvenile delinquency proceedings
from 17 to 18 years of age.

House SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY AND ENERGY, Room 304, LOB
10:00 a.m. HB 1265, relative to coordinating and funding broadband infrastructure information by the
enhanced 911 system.

WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 5
House in session

House LEGISLATIVE ADMINISTRATION, Room 104, LOB
12:00 p.m. or at the lunch break from session-Executive session
HB 1122-FN, establishing the crime of filing false lien statements against public officials and
employees,

THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 6

10:00 a.m. Senate in Session

House EDUCATION, Room 207, LOB
9:00 a.m. Subcommittee work session on
HB 1212, relative to social media privacy in higher education,
HB 1200, relative to student social media policies by educational institutions.
10:45 a.m. HB 1239-FN-L, relative to the implementation of new educational standards.
11:30 a.m. HB 1508-FN, terminating state participation in the common core educational standards.
1:15 p.m. HB 1586-FN, relative to student and teacher information protection and privacy.
2:00 p.m. HB 1587-FN-L, relative to the collection and disclosure of pupil data.
2:30 p.m. HB 1238, relative to access to assessment materials.

House ELECTION LAW, Room 308, LOB
11:00 a.m. Executive session on HB 1364-FN, relative to political expenditure and contribution
reporting requirements and relative to political expenditure limitations for state representative
and county office candidates,

TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 11

Senate JUDICIARY, Room 100, SH
9:45 a.m. SB 390, relative to protection of employees who are victims of domestic abuse, sexual assault,
stalking, or criminal harassment.

House EDUCATION, Room 207, LOB
10:00 a.m. HB 1432, delaying implementation of certain statewide assessments and studying the
effects of delaying implementation of certain curriculum changes in the public schools.
10:45 a.m. HB 1488-FN, adopting the interstate compact on educational support for military children.
1:15 p.m. Executive session on
HB 1132-FN, relative to school building inventory reports,
HB 1140, establishing a commission to study merit-based free tuition for certain residents
attendingschools in the university system of New Hampshire,
HB 1208, relative to the number of first 31year college students from New Hampshire high
schools required to take remedial classes,
HB1377, authorizing conferral of degrees by private entities,
HB 1388, relative to student religious liberties,
HB 1397, establishing a committee to study whether the department of education is operating
within its statutory authority,
HB 1463, relative to the definitions of “priority school”and “focus school.”,
HB 1469, requiring each school district to establish a special educationparent advisory council,
HB 1534, establishing a commission to study fiscal disparities between public school districts.

THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 13

House EDUCATION, Room 207, LOB
9:00 a.m. Subcommittee work session on
HB 1212, relative to social media privacy in higher education,
HB 1200, relative to student social media policies by educational institutions.

Our Daughters Deserve Better Than 77% Of A Man’s Pay

from the Examiner

As a father of two amazing girls there is one thing I hope they will never have to deal with, and we can make that happen today.

There is no denying that in spite of our best efforts, women continue to be discriminated against in the workplace.  The proof is in the paycheck.  Women on average are paid .77 cents for every dollar a similarly qualified man makes.  This is outrageous and should be stopped immediately.

Legislators in the past have tried to correct this atrocity by passing the Equal Pay Act of 1963.  The Equal Pay Act was a good start, however it is obvious that the problem did no go away.

Basic RGBA 2004 Census Bureau study compared the earnings of men and women in over 500 occupations and found that women earn less in jobs from business executive to dishwasher.

The problem is the Equal Pay Act has loopholes that continue to allow female workers to be paid unequal wages.

Many of these loopholes revolve around the fact the women do not know what their male counterpart actually makes.  In some companies the employer has actually prohibited workers from discussing their pay.   How is a woman, or a man for that matter, supposed to know if they are being paid differently if they are not free to discuss their wages with co-workers?

In a 2010 study we learned that 1-in-4 private sector workers are employed in companies that have punitive policies against employees who disclose their personal pay rates.  The same study found that another 38% said their managers actively discourage workers from talking about their wage with other workers.  Over 60% of the workers surveyed are being told not to discuss their wages.

paycheck_originalThis is why we must pass the ‘Paycheck Fairness Act’ in New Hampshire.  This new legislation would continue to strengthen the Equal Pay Act and add new prohibitions against employment policies that punish workers for discussing their wages with others.

Some people say that we do not need this type of legislation. They say that this just does not happen.  I say then pass the bill and prove that it does not happen.  Pass the bill and see if anyone challenges his or her employer for wrongdoing under this new law.  If an employer is not doing anything wrong, paying their employees equally, then this law will have zero effect on them.

It is the employers that know they are violating the rules, and have policies set up to punish workers for discussing their pay that are fighting the passage of this bill.

The next time someone tells you they oppose this ask them two simple questions:

1. What are you hiding?

2. Do you have any daughters? How do you feel knowing that they will be making 1/3rd less than a man solely because they are female?

I teach my girls that nothing should ever hold them back, and I hope by the time they reach ‘working age’ that the wage gap will be ancient history.