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Legislative Update

posted Jan 21, 2012, 3:34 PM by Lise Tierney

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 different from other expenses which would remained 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