The NH House and Senate are finishing bills as we approach “crossover,” when they trade surviving legislation and begin the second-half of the session. The senate has a two-day session to vote on their remaining bills.
There is one particularly critical bill in the senate, SB 318, that would debilitate the Education Tax Credit scholarship program, allowing it to help 1,000 fewer at-risk children. This is the time to contact your senator. Calls are best, but emails are helpful. We have a tool that sends an email to your senator; the message can be personalized for additional impact. We also have a page about ETC scholarships that compiles relevant information on the background of NH’s program, how they work, constitutional issues, and media coverage – one-stop reading!
We are monitoring numerous bills this year and those include our analysis and commentary.
Legislators’ contact information is at the end.
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. Indicate if you are a constituent.
Bills may have an executive session any time after the public hearing. This is when the committee discusses and votes on legislation, and amendments may be introduced. The committee makes one of three recommendations: Inexpedient to Legislate (ITL) which is to kill the bill; Ought to Pass (OTP) which is a recommendation to support the bill; or to send it to Interim Study (IS) which is to continue work on the bill. Committee recommendations are 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 body soon after. This is when all members of the House or Senate will vote YEA (to support the committee’s recommendation) or NAY (to oppose the recommendation). When the House and Senate have sessions, we list all the bills we are following, even if they are on the Consent Calendars, because they may be pulled and individually voted on or a floor amendment may be introduced. Contact your legislators before the session day with brief, polite messages and mention you are a constituent.
Legislators’ contact information is at the end of this article.
TUESDAY, MARCH 26, 2019: SENATE EDUCATION COMMITTEE, ROOM 103, LOB
Public hearings for the following bills
9:30 a.m. HB 181, relative to the house and senate members of the university system board of trustees.
9:50 a.m. HB 123, relative to emergency response plans in schools.
10:10 a.m. HB 329, relative to review and adoption of school data security plans.
10:30 a.m. HB 226, relative to the renomination of teachers.
11:00 a.m. HB 149, relative to the apportionment of costs in cooperative school districts.
EXECUTIVE SESSION MAY FOLLOW
TUESDAY, MARCH 26, 2019: HOME EDUCATION ADVISORY COUNCIL (HEAC) subcommittee at 3:30pm
Derry Public Library, 64 E Broadway in Derry
This is a subcommittee meeting to discuss proposed changes to Ed 315 as requested by the Commissioner. The public is welcome to attend. Read more about the subcommittee’s work in HEAC Reviews Ed Rule Changes.
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 27 and THURSDAY, MARCH 28, 2019: NH SENATE, Senate Chamber
The NH Senate will vote on the following bills
Committee recommendation – Ought to Pass with Amendment, vote 4 to 1
Recommendation — neutral
This bill requires the state Department of Education to provide the statewide assessment organization with students’ names and Unique Pupil Identifiers (UPIs). It gives the testing company vast amounts of our children’s information as the UPI is the key to unlocking all the data. Current law, RSA 189:67, already allows testing entities to access students’ names or UPIs (not both), and birth dates. The UPI is supposed to anonymize student data, to protect identifiable information. Instead, when matched with the student’s name and birth date, everything is accessible. Refusing the statewide assessment, as allowed in RSA 193-C:6, is unlikely to protect students who do not participate in the exam, as the students are included in the data, just noted as non-participants. UPIs follow NH students from the time they enter the public-school system all the way through post-secondary institutions as part of NH’s Statewide Longitudinal Data System (SLDS), also referred to as the NH Longitudinal Data System (NHLDS), for which the state received federal grants exceeding $8M. Homeschool students who attend high-school classes through the local district are included in the database. The intent of the bill is to allow schools and families to more readily track progress of individual students. However, we believe families are already able to do this by maintaining a file of the scores and reports from year to year. Also, the bill as amended includes a major penalty for violations, which is a significant improvement in the proposed legislation. Learn more about the privacy protections in the current reporting system here in the NH DOE’s FAQ. Read more about the NHLDS here. The NH DOE’s data dictionary is available here to see what information is collected in the state’s various databases. Read more about NH’s database system here.
Committee recommendation – Ought to Pass with Amendment, vote 3 to 2
Recommendation – NAY on OTP/A
This bill adds public-school projects to the Education Tax Credit (ETC) program. We might not be against utilizing state tax credits to fund public-school projects, but it does not fit in the nature, process, or intent of the Education Tax Credit Scholarship law which created the program for individual student tuition scholarships or homeschool scholarships. The Education Tax Credit Scholarship program is a school-choice mechanism in place in 18 states with 800 operating scholarship organizations providing tuition scholarships for low- and moderate-income children. We have two scholarship organizations operating in NH and they have been growing every year to assist low-income students. More scholarship organizations could open at any time and we expect the available tax credits to be fully utilized. The NH ETC program can already offer scholarships to students to attend out-of-district public schools, and through the homeschool scholarship any public or private educational program that charges tuition. This bill is deeply flawed even though the amendment removes the existing ETC program from control by a highly politicized and hostile management commission. As amended, the bill would debilitate the ETC program and reduce the potential number of at-risk children who could utilize the program by 1,000 students. The prime sponsor described the proposed program as functioning like a grant application. This concept would be better added to SB 270 which creates a tax credit for donations to NH’s career and technical education centers and passed with bipartisan support. Read more about this bill in SB 318 Paralyzes ETC Program.
THURSDAY, MARCH 28, 2019: HOME EDUCATION ADVISORY COUNCIL (HEAC) at 3:30pm
Department of Education, Londergan Hall, room 12, 101 Pleasant Street, Concord
This is the regular bi-monthly meeting of the Home Education Advisory Council. It is open to the public. We closely follow the council and regularly report on their meetings. Below is a list of recent articles relative to HEAC and homeschool issues.
CONTACT INFO for LEGISLATORS
To find your NH senator, and his or her contact information, refer to the senate’s roster page.
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.
The lists of education committee members with their contact information are available here. Brief phone calls are most effective; personal stories can be particularly compelling. Mention if you are a constituent.
The Senate Education and Workforce Development Committee list is below.[table “17” not found /]
The House Education Committee list is below. A list of the committee members’ emails is below the table for an easy copy/paste.[table “19” not found /]