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Legislation Matters


Department of Public Policy & Advocacy

Rick Trombly, Director
Contact: rtrombly@nhnea.org
(603)224-7751 ex. 306

Bill Tracker

2012 Legislative Session - Follow the Bill's introduced in the NH House and Senate.

Legislative Hearing Schedule

2012 Legislative Session -Follow the committee meetings schedule.


Legislative Update
April 4, 2012

NH Supreme Court Rulings Clarifies Pension Vesting Timeframe

Last year, NEA-NH and the NH Retirement Security Pension Coalition filed suit against the state over changes made by the Legislature to members’ pension benefits. One change that affected all members, regardless of years of service, was a 2% increase in employee contributions. Other changes affected only members with less than ten years of service, such as what income was included in the pension calculation, and raising the number of years of service from the last three to the last five on which a pension would be calculated.

NEA-NH believed that these changes were unconstitutional and testified to that effect before the Legislature during public hearings.

As you might remember, earlier this year a Merrimack County Superior Court judge ruled that pension benefits vested after ten years of service and the 2% contribution increase was illegal. He also ruled that the changes affecting members with under ten years of service were allowable as he ruled that pension benefits did not vest until after ten years of service.

However, in a NH Supreme Court decision issued last Friday, the court ruled in a separate case relating to a judge’s pension, that a public employee's pension, in fact, vests not after ten years of service but rather when an employee has completed probationary status. This ruling has a significant positive impact for our members with under ten years of service. We will now rely on this case in our appeal challenging the Superior Court’s ruling that the Legislature could change their pension benefits.

A great deal of legal work must be done before we have a final resolution of the cases we filed, but this development gives us a great deal of hope that ultimately we will prevail.

Rick Trombly
NEA-NH Director of Advocacy and Policy


Legislative Update
March 20, 2012

Marathon House Session Clears the Air

Last week the House of Representatives met for three days to consider legislation that was printed in a two inch thick document. Unsurprisingly, but true to form, none of the bills created jobs, but many of them dealt with social issues. Included among them were bills dealing with education and collective bargaining. I thought I’d give you a round-up of where we are legislatively at this point in the session.

While we are still following a number of bills, the major legislation which we have been tracking looks like this:

Pension Bills-The Senate amended SB 229 which forces all new hires into a defined contribution plan to the formation of a study committee to examine the feasibility of making such a change. House supporters of a defined contribution plan immediately amended HB 1640 with the language originally contained in SB 229.That means the conversion to a defined contribution plan for new hires is still alive despite the Senate having removing it from its legislation.

Vouchers-The Senate will vote this Wednesday on SB 372. This bill contains the same language as HB 1460 which will be voted on by the House next week.  Both bills would allow businesses to make a contribution to a voucher fund from which students could attend religious or private schools. Parents who home school their children would receive a payment from the fund as well. These contributions would be tax deductible by the businesses. Because state revenue would be reduced,  the local public school the child would have attended would lose the adequacy grant for the child who receives the scholarship. In short, public tax dollars will pay for the scholarships while local school districts see their funding reduced.

Anti-Collective Bargaining-Three anti-collective bargaining bills were passed over to the Senate. HB 1677 is a Right to Work Bill similar to the one vetoed by Governor Lynch last year. HB 1206 would require employees and school districts to share equally the cost of any insurance increase when a contract enters evergreen status. That means you pick of one-half of all insurance increases if your contract expires without a successor agreement in place. HB 1645 would allow a school district to request a decertification vote if a local’s membership falls below 10 members and that number is less than half of the employees eligible to join the union.

Constitutional Amendments-CACR 12 and CACR 8 passed the Senate with amendments to which the House disagreed. Both bills are headed to committees of conference. CACR 12 would overturn the Claremont school funding ruling and CACR 8 would eliminate the state’s obligation to provide any support for public education. It would also allow the legislature to fund religious education. CACR 6 limits any increase in a state budget to the previous budget plus the cost of inflation. That means there would be no increases in education for aid for school districts.

Please go to  http://www.neanh.org/  and click on the Legislative Dashboard to follow these and other bills important to educators.

Rick Trombly
NEA-NH Director of Advocacy and Policy


Legislative Update
February 1, 2012

Court Rules 2% Increase Unconstitutional

The Merrimack County Superior Court has ruled that the 2% increase to the amount our members pay toward their retirement contribution passed this past June by the legislature was unconstitutional for members with more than 10 years of service. The court also agreed that the increase constituted a substantial burden.

The court ruled that those members with under ten years of service were not vested in the program and therefore the increase did not violate the state or federal constitutions' contract clauses.

As you can imagine, there are many decisions we need to make as members of the retirement security coalition about how to go forward from this point. More information will be forthcoming but for now, this is a huge victory for our members and an example of the benefits of collective action.

Rick Trombly
NEA-NH Director of Advocacy and Policy


Legislative Update
January 20, 2012

Representative Manuse (R-Derry): "Public Employees are not taxpayers."

On Thursday January 19, 2012 the House Labor and Rehabilitation Committee heard a number of bills ranging from eliminating the collection of union dues through wage deduction to eliminating public sector collective bargaining altogether. During the testimony on HB 1645, the bill which would make collective bargaining for public sector employees "against public policy, illegal, unlawful, void and of no effect", one of its sponsors, Representative Andrew Manuse stated that "Public sector employees were not taxpayers."

The committee also heard testimony on HBs 1163 and 1206, two bills which would remove your ability to pay your union dues by wage deduction even if you wanted it done that way. The sponsors of the bill could not explain why union dues differ from other expenses which would remain deductible under the law. They also could not explain how they stood for the freedom of individuals to refuse to join a union while supporting legislation to remove the freedom for individuals to pay dues by voluntary deduction. The committee will combine the two bills and vote on them in the future.

While this was going on, in another room the House Municipal and County Government Committee was hearing a bill sponsored by Representative Neal Kurk, (R-Weare) which would require locals to re-open their contracts to reduce the cost of medical benefits if asked to do so by their employers. Under the bill, if amended as requested by Representative Kurk, a local would have to open its contract to re-negotiate cheaper medical coverage if the school district request it to do so. If the district and local could not agree on reduced costs within 45 days of their first meeting, the last best offer of each side would be placed before an arbitrator who must issue a ruling within 45 days of that hearing. Once the decision is rendered, the local governing body-not the school board, but the voters in the district-could decide to reject the arbitrator's report. If they do so there would be no changes to the medical provision of the contract. If they accept it then the decision would over-rule the prior contract provision.

On Wednesday January 25, 2012 the House Education Committee will hear HB 1575, relative to alternate course selections for certain pupils. This bill is sponsored by Representative JR Hoell (R-Dunbarton). He is the sponsor of HB 542 which allows parent to opt-out of the curriculum being taught in classrooms. The bill allows students to opt out of classes at school and participate in a parent directed course. A pupil participating in this program is placed in the library or study hall or other appropriate place while class from which they opted-out is being taught. In place of that class the pupil may participate in community service, internships, on-line courses, performing groups...you get the picture.

This alternate course will count toward the required number of credits to graduate.

More information about these bills, and other legislation we are tracking, can be found at our Legislative Dashboard on our website, www.neanh.org. If you wish to communicate with the members of the committee hearing these bills you may also do so by visiting the Dashboard.

Rick Trombly
NEA-NH Director of Advocacy and Policy


Legislative Update
November 1, 2011

What, Me Worry?

I can't take credit for turning that question into a great marketing tool. Those of us who grew up reading MAD magazine know that those words are the hallmark of Alfred E. Newman, the magazine's trademark fictional character. He was once a candidate for President of the United States as well.  Given recent actions at the state house, and reviewing the list of bills that we will face next session, that question is one we cannot afford to ask ourselves. You'd better be worried.

There are approximately 15 bills that repeal the right of public employees to collectively bargain or severely restrict those benefits which can be bargained.  If you followed the Wisconsin battle earlier this year, at no time did the legislature threaten to repeal collective bargaining entirely.  That makes the threat to your rights even more restrictive than Wisconsin's.  One benefit in particular which is under attack is your medical insurance coverage.  If this legislature has its way, you will be required to accept the medical coverage, if any, your district chooses without any negotiation.  Your co-pays, deductible and type of coverage will depend on what your district decides to spend.  That is, if they choose to offer you any coverage at all.

If you think that can't happen, please know that the New Hampshire House of Representatives has already passed two bills which contained these provisions.

Much of the legislation being proposed to eliminate or roll-back collective bargaining rights is drafted by an out of state organization named the American Legislative Exchange Council.  Their goal is not to preserve the unique nature of New Hampshire's collective bargaining process, but rather to wipe it out or make it useless.

In New Hampshire the collective bargaining process for public employees does not end when the school board and the education local reaches a proposed contract. The legislative body, most often in district meetings or through the ballot box, must approve its terms and conditions.  This added level of citizen participation ensures local control which is absent in other states.

In future legislative updates, I will be writing about other bills that will affect educators, your retirement and your schools.

As I said at the beginning of this message, you'd better be worried.

Rick Trombly
NEA-NH Director of Advocacy and Policy


October 15, 2011 President's Training

Materials available for download:

View and download a copy of the 2011 voting record.


Organizers' Toolkit for Legislative Actions

Organizers Handbook
Local Action Options
Community Survey
Parent Flyer


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