The House of New Hampshire returns Wednesday for a two-day vote on the bills. Since members of the latter gathered in early January to pass the Remnant Act, hundreds of bills have passed through committees.
Here are some of the voices you need to keep an eye on from House Education.
Accounts for Education Freedom
The House of Representatives is likely to vote against paired bills led by Democrats aimed at curbing a new “Freedom of Education Account” program that allows New Hampshire families to use public education dollars for private and household spending. Democrats, who strongly opposed the program on the grounds that it would cost and divert money from the Education Trust Fund, introduced House Act 1684, which would limit the total amount the state could send $ 3.3 million in grants to the Freedom of Education account for the second year of operation.
Democrats argue that the restriction would allow the program to be invested in a reasonable budget, which would prevent overspending of the education trust fund, which finances public schools. And they pointed to the unexpected interest in the program, which, according to the Department of Education, will cost the state about $ 8 million in the first year – spending more than expected. Republicans would argue that imposing restrictions would “deplete the program by setting an arbitrary budget.”
The Chamber will also undertake HB 1516that will not allow local property taxes to come in support of education freedom bills. Republicans rejected the bill as an “indirect attack” on the program and vowed to defeat it.
Both bills received 10-8 party recommendations “it is inexpedient to pass a law” in the House Committee on Education earlier this month.
Expanding school nutrition
Two other democratic bills related to school meals are likely to be rejected this week in the House of Representatives. one, HB 1660 will require public schools to provide both breakfast and lunch for all students – an extension of the current requirement for schools to provide “at least one meal”. HB 1660 will also create a state fund to help schools reimburse the cost of additional food services that can take money from “any available public, federal or private source”.
HB 1657, meanwhile, will create a state-funded “farm-to-school reimbursement program” to help schools wishing to buy locally produced food on farms, up to $ 1,200 a year per school. In the first year, the program will cost $ 600,000.
Democrats say the bills will help fight child hunger while supporting local agriculture. But Republican lawmakers say the cost of both bills will be too high.
“Providing breakfast and lunch for children remains the responsibility of parents,” said Deborah Hobson, an MP from East Kingston, and that “whether or not to participate in the program is a local school board decision.”
Both bills were voted by the House of Representatives Commission on Education as “inappropriate for legislative adoption.”
Areas of agreement
In several cases, the two sides have joined forces on specific bills.
The House Education Committee unanimously voted in favor of the recommendation HB 1218which will unite Granite State College under the University of New Hampshire, which, according to Democratic MP Dave Luno of Hopkinton, will enhance “system reputation, visibility and market reach” for Granite State College, which focuses on many of its programs for older adults.
Democrats and Republicans on the committee have agreed to add convictions for human trafficking to the list of offenses that prevent teachers from working. HB 1234and a ban on teachers convicted of assault and controlled drug possession HB 1311.
And the parties agreed to recommend killing two bills aimed at higher education. The first, HB 1574will require New Hampshire Public Colleges charge public tuition students who have registered to vote in the state. HB 1648 will require public higher education institutions to organize peer support groups on mental health.
Committee members said both bills would bring significant costs to New Hampshire’s university system, including a state education requirement that, according to the university system, could cost them $ 139.5 million annually.
Finally, the Chamber is ready to send for an interim study HB 1680, a bill to re-equip how the state distributes funding to schools, focusing it on student outcomes, effectively postponing the bill for the rest of the year. The bill’s main sponsor, Luno, said he welcomed the time for further study.
The House of Representatives will pass these bills and dozens of others on Wednesday, Feb. 16, at 1 p.m., and Thursday, Feb. 17, at 9:30 p.m. A live broadcast of the meeting can be viewed at http://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/.