These last several weeks are the most intense time of the legislative session; it is when critical bills near the finish line. Legislators are deep in negotiations and bills can be amended without public hearings. Anything can happen!
SB 193, the Education Savings Account bill, is the most important school-choice bill of the biennium, if not the last five years! The House Finance Committee will vote on Wednesday, April 25th with the bill advancing to the entire NH House the following week.
Below is the upcoming schedule for the next couple weeks; we include our analysis and recommendations for priority bills. As a courtesy, we list additional bills, meetings, and events relevant to education issues.
Public hearings are the best opportunity to communicate with committee members and share your opinion. The Legislative Office Building (LOB) is located immediately behind the State House at 33 N. State Street in Concord. For Senate hearings, sign the white sheet on a side table just inside the door to indicate your support or opposition for a bill, and if you intend to speak. The protocol is a little different in the House. The public may sign the blue sheet near the room entrance to indicate support or opposition to any bill; fill out a pink card if you intend to speak. If possible, provide written copies for each member plus the committee secretary. Generally, committee chairmen limit remarks to three minutes or less. Personal stories are most effective. If you are unable to attend hearings, email the committee, or better yet, call members individually and indicate if you are a constituent.
Bills may have an executive session at any time after the public hearing. This is when the committee discusses and votes on legislation; it is very influential when the entire chamber votes. Consequently, prompt action on legislation is highly recommended.
Once bills are exec’d, they are usually scheduled for a vote by the entire chamber soon after. This is when all members of the NH House or Senate will vote YEA (to support the committee’s recommendation) or NAY (to oppose the recommendation). Contact your legislators before the session day with brief, polite messages and mention you are a constituent.
Education committee members’ contact information is at the end of the article. For other committees, their group email addresses are in the analysis.
WEDSDAY, APRIL 25, 2018: HOUSE FINANCE COMMITTEE, LOB 210-211
Executive session on the following bill
Position – Support the bill
Information – The entire House Finance Committee will vote on the Education Savings Account bill as amended by the subcommittee, amendment #1289h. The amendment creates a small pilot program that allows NH to test the concept. ESAs are the next step in educational options for children across the Granite State. All students, regardless of their zip code and income level, deserve the opportunity for an education that fits their unique needs and goals. Even if 5% of eligible students participate in the ESA program – that is more than double the utilization seen in other states with ESAs – districts will retain roughly 99% of current funding, including all local money and federal grants. This is not a hardship to districts and they are compensated for children they no longer have a responsibility to educate. These funds are already allocated for education on a per pupil basis. The average cost of an “adequate education” is over $17k per student. The ESA is a more efficient use of these state dollars as families are incentivized to maximize every dollar for an education that fits their children’s needs. ESAs are constitutional under both the NH and US Constitutions. What the state constitution prohibits is the direct funding of religious schools. However, it permits public funds to flow to parents who can then choose among secular and religious educational options. As a state we have an obligation to fund each child’s education, not one possible provider of that education. We would rather focus on people instead of systems and buildings. Each child’s education and future matters. If the ESA can only help a few hundred children, it is still a big impact on their individual lives and the program can grow in the future.
Supporters can send a note to their state representatives and House Finance members in support of ESAs with this easy email form. If you want to compose your own message, we developed tips and information; resources with links can be found in Contact Legislators re ESAs. Additional articles about ESAs regarding the financial impact, constitutionality, and effect on NH families are available in ESA Articles. Please take a few minutes to email the committee asking them to support SB 193; their email is HouseFinanceCommittee@leg.state.nh.us.
THURSDAY, APRIL 26, 2018: NH SENATE, Senate Chamber at 10:00am
The NH Senate will vote on the following bills
Committee recommendation – Ought to Pass, vote 3 to 1
Position – SUPPORT the bill, YEA on OTP
Information – This is a reasonable and modest expansion of the existing tax-credit education law. It allows individuals to declare donations against their taxes. It also allows businesses and individuals to declare contributions against their tax on interest and dividends.
Committee recommendation – Ought to Pass, vote 4 to 0
Position – SUPPORT the bill, YEA on OTP
Information – These are technical corrections to the administration of the established tax-credit education program. They align to other established education budget processes.
WEDNESDAY, MAY 2, 2018: STATE ADVISORY COMMITTEE on the EDUCATION OF STUDENTS WITH DISABILITIES (SAC), MONTHLY MEETING
4:30 p.m. Department of Education, Londergan Hall, 101 Pleasant Street, Concord
Their agendas and minutes are available here. The committee does not meet in July and August. Their September meeting is their annual retreat.
THURSDAY, MAY 10, 2018: STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION MONTHLY MEETING
9:00 a.m. Department of Education, Londergan Hall, room 13, 101 Pleasant Street, Concord
Their agendas and minutes are available here.
THURSDAY, MAY 10, 2018: HOME EDUCATION ADVISORY COUNCIL (HEAC)
3:30 p.m. Department of Education, Londergan Hall, 101 Pleasant Street, Concord
The council does not ordinarily meet from June to August. Their schedule and minutes are available here. Read about the council’s recent activity at Opportunity for HEAC to Prove Its Value, Slow Progress for HEAC and Educational Neglect Bill, What is HEAC’s Purpose, and Is HEAC Ignoring Rules.
Brief phone calls are most effective, but personalized emails directed to an individual are also helpful; mention you are a constituent.
To find your Representatives, go to “Who’s My Legislator?” Brief and polite phone calls and emails are effective, especially if you mention you are a constituent. Mass emails are far less effective, but the email for all Reps is firstname.lastname@example.org.
To contact the Senate Education Committee, email or call them directly. Members of senate committees do not have a shared email address.
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To contact the entire House Education Committee, you may send one email to HouseEducationCommittee@leg.state.nh.us. At the bottom we’ve supplied a list of the committee members’ emails for an easy copy/paste.
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Send a note to your state representatives and House Finance members in support of ESAs with this easy email form. If you want to compose your own message, we developed tips and information; resources with links can be found in Contact Legislators re ESAs.
To contact the entire House Finance Committee, you may send one email to HouseFinanceCommittee@leg.state.nh.us. Below is the list of the members’ contact information as well as a simplified email list for an easy copy/paste.
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