Megan Tuttle, NEA-NH President, and Rick Trombly, NEA-NH Executive Director, continue to attend House and Senate Committee public hearings and executive sessions to testify and lobby in-person on behalf of all public school students and employees. Here is this week’s Legislative Update:
Federal Gun Free Schools Act up for House Vote
Clearing up any confusion on whether guns are allowed on school property, the House Education Committee is recommending codifying the Federal Gun Free Schools Act into New Hampshire law. The vote in committee was 11-8. The vote in the House will probably be just as close. An amendment to the bill does allow parents picking up students to keep firearms in their vehicles without unloading them. The majority was concerned that requiring the unloading of guns on school property might lead to an accidental discharge.
Short Term Suspension, Long Term Suspension, and Expulsion:
What to do?
The House and Senate are dealing with this question through a number of bills. One bill,HB 231
, which would have required school districts to establish policies relating to suspensions and expulsions will go to the House floor Wednesday with a committee recommendation to kill the bill. Meanwhile, last week, the Senate Education Committee heard a bill which reduces suspensions to not more than five days. That could be extended an additional ten days if the infraction included such things as theft, destruction, possession of a firearm, BB gun, or paintball gun on school grounds. The bill establishes an appeals process for the suspended student and it requires that discipline be “progressive”. These “progressive disciplines” must be made a part of school policy. Following the hearing, the committee voted to retain the bill which means it will not be voted on until early next year.
It appears the vehicle to address this issue is HB 677
. This bill contains not only a look at school discipline in general, but also addresses the need for professionals in our schools who are trained to deal with disciplinary issues, spot behavior that may lead to problems, and to work with students and school employees to head them off. This bill does reference MTSS-B, which is an outgrowth of PBIS as a possible solution. HB 677 has been retained by the House Education Committee and it will work on the bill over the summer. As the work sessions are open to the public, NEA-NH will keep you informed about its progress and notify you when your input can be helpful in framing a good piece of legislation.
One step forward…
The Senate Education Committee voted unanimously to advance NEA-NH requested SB 141
, an act that will study violence against education employees. This now goes to the full Senate for a vote this Thursday.
…One step back.
Unfortunately, NEA-NH was unable to convince the House Education Committee to endorse a bill requiring school boards to adopt a Code of Ethics. Through social media, our members see more inappropriate postings by school board members that, if posted by a school employee, could lead to disciplinary action, including dismissal. These actions reflect not only on the individual, but also on the school community. A majority of the committee felt the appropriate remedy to prevent such behavior was the ballot box and the bill went down to defeat.
Vaping Up in Smoke for Minors
would make vaping illegal for those under the age of 18 and make it illegal to vape on school grounds. It also clarifies that vaping falls under the indoor smoking act. The vote to pass the bill was 20-0.
Visit the NEA-NH Online Dashboard and Action Center
Along with all the bills NEA-NH is tracking, you can find our Legislative Priorities document, current Take Action alerts, talking points, and past issues of the Legislative Update newsletters by clicking on the links below, or by visiting our website, neanh.org