State House Update for May 6, 2019

This week at the State House

The House will meet in session Wednesday at 10 a.m. and Thursday at 10 a.m., if necessary. Meanwhile, the Senate will next meet on May 15 at 10 a.m. The Senate will be holding hearings this week on the budget – more on that below. Last week, some of our biggest bills saw major votes, and there’s plenty still going on even as the session begins to wind down.

You can find the complete House and Senate calendars below:


RETIREMENT SYSTEM

Keep reaching out to senators on COLA bill  

Our retirees need an actual COLA, not just another one-time payment

The Senate Executive Departments and Administration Committee is expected to vote in the coming weeks on HB 616, our pension cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) bill. Sen. Sharon Carson, the Chair of Senate ED&A, introduced an amendment that would change the COLA to simply another one-time payment. We need members to contact their senator and make it clear that our retirees need a real COLA.

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 amendment would eliminate that COLA, replacing it with a one-time payment, not a percent increase added to base.

What you can do: We need members, especially those who would be impacted by the bill, to contact their senators and tell them that our retirees need a real COLA. 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 hereYou can contact the entire committee here.


CHILD PROTECTION

House overwhelmingly approves SB 6

On Thursday, the House overwhelmingly approved our child protection bill, SB 6. We’re thankful for the support of the House and even more thankful for the advocacy that our members have provided on behalf of this bill. Simply put, we would not be in this position without you. Moving forward, we are looking for members who are able to testify at one of the Senate budget hearings this week in support of the additional positions.

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: Members are asked to testify at either of a pair of hearings this week on the state budget held by the Senate Finance Committee (information in next post). If you can take part in the budget hearings, please coordinate with Andy Capen at acapen@seiu1984.org.


STATE BUDGET

Reminder: Budget hearings set for this week

As the Senate Finance Committee works on its version of the state budget bills, it will hold two public hearings on Tuesday and Wednesday. 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 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:

Concord hearing
Date: 
Tuesday, May 7
Time: 1 p.m.
Location: State House, Representatives Hall

Manchester hearing
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:

Corrections Group II: On Thursday, the Senate approved HB 116, which would allow the movement of Department of Corrections employees from Group I to Group II without specific legislation. The bill has been sent on to the Senate Finance Committee for review.

Workplace violence: On Thursday, the House approved 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 bill now goes to the governor’s desk.

Independent investment committee: On Thursday, the House approved SB 28, which would add an active employee pension system member to the NH Retirement System’s independent investment committee. The bill now goes to the governor’s desk.

Public employee privacy: The House Labor Committee voted Wednesday to retain SB 19, which protects the privacy of information regarding public employees. The crux of this bill was folded into the amended version of SB 148, which is next on the list.

Notice to join unions: The House Labor Committee unanimously approved an amended version of SB 148 on Wednesday. The bill spells out protections for public employee privacy and also provides labor unions with important worksite access protections. The bill has been placed on the consent calendar and the House will vote on it this week. If approved, the Senate would need to decide whether to concur on the amended bill.

Legislature as a public employer: The House Legislative Administration Committee deemed SB 249 inexpedient to legislate by a unanimous vote and placed the bill on the consent calendar. The bill would include the Legislature as a public employer under the state Public Employee Labor Relations Act.

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