This week at the State House
The Senate will meet in session on Thursday at 10 a.m. and the House will meet Thursday at 1 p.m. There are public hearings set on a number of our bills and the House will vote on a pair of bills we’ve working on. In addition, the Senate has scheduled hearings on the budget. There’s more info on all of that below.
You can find the complete House and Senate calendars below:
Contact senators in support of our COLA bill
We need members to take action to build support for HB 616
Last week, the Senate Executive Departments and Administration Committee held a hearing on HB 616, our pension cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) bill. Our President Rich Gulla was among those who testified in support of the bill. We need members to reach out to their senator as well as the members of the ED&A Committee in support of this bill.
Background: Members of NHRS have not received a COLA since 2010. As expenses rise, these retirees who dedicated their careers to public service find themselves left further and further behind. This bill would grant a 1.5 percent COLA to those who have been retired for 60 months. The House already gave this bill a strong vote of confidence (250-91), but we need to continue to push for support.
What you can do: We need members, especially those who would be impacted by the bill, to contact their senators. You can easily send a message to your senator using our updated online action form, which you can find here. We’ve given you a message to start with but we highly recommend personalizing it by explaining exactly what this COLA would mean to you. If you’d prefer to call your senator, you can find their contact information here. You can contact the entire committee here.
SB 6 set for a full House vote on Thursday
Our child protection bill, SB 6, is set for a floor vote in the House on Thursday after receiving a strong vote of support (16-0) in the House Children and Family Law Committee. If approved by the House on Thursday, the bill would then go to the House Finance Committee for consideration.
Background: Child protection staffing in the Division of Children, Youth and Families falls far below what is needed to meet nationally recommended caseload standards. Our child protection staff give all they can every day, but they need our help. This bill is a signal that help is on the way. It would add 77 new positions in the next two years.
What you can do: You can contact your representatives and ask them to support the measure. You can find your representatives’ information here. If you have any questions, you’re encouraged to contact Andy Capen at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Budget hearings set in Manchester, Concord
As the Senate Finance Committee works on its version of the state budget bills, it will hold two public hearings next week. These hearings are the best opportunity we have to talk directly with lawmakers about priorities for our state for the next two years. You’re encouraged to attend if you can.
The first hearing is in Concord on Tuesday, May 7 and the second is the following evening in Manchester. The Concord hearing will be streamed on the General Court website while the Manchester hearing will be streamed on Manchester Public TV. Here is full information on both hearings:
Date: Tuesday, May 7
Time: 1 p.m.
Location: State House, Representatives Hall
Date: Wednesday, May 8
Time: 7 p.m.
Location: Manchester City Hall, Aldermanic Chambers
WHAT ELSE TO WATCH FOR
Updates on other bills we’re following
In addition to the bill listed above, here are progress reports on a few other key issues:
Clinicians bill: The House Commerce Committee voted in favor of SB 115, a bill requested by our Clinicians United group to establish a commission to study the business environment for mental health providers in New Hampshire. The positive vote, albeit along party lines, will set the bill up for a full House vote in the coming weeks.
Workplace violence: The House is set to vote Thursday on SB 29, a bill requested by our Conservative Members Caucus that would create a commission to study incidents of workplace violence against state employees. The Executive Departments and Administration Committee recommended the bill ought to pass by a vote of 12-8, and the bill has been placed on the regular calendar.
Independent investment committee: The House will vote Thursday on SB 28, which would add an active employee pension system member to the NH Retirement System’s independent investment committee. The bill got a strong, bipartisan show of support from the Executive Departments and Administration Committee and is on the consent calendar.
Public employee privacy: The House Labor Committee will vote Wednesday at 10:30 a.m. on SB 19, which protects the privacy of information regarding public employees.
Notice to join unions: The House Labor Committee will vote Wednesday at 10:30 a.m. on SB 148, which includes important provisions that spell out the rights of unions to meet with new employees promptly after hiring. The bill will now cross over to the House for consideration.
Legislature as a public employer: The House Legislative Administration Committee will vote Wednesday at 10:15 a.m. on SB 249, which would include the Legislature as a public employer under the state Public Employee Labor Relations Act.