Rights & Democracy is committed to building a movement for honest, accurate, and fully funded public education. The following is the current information coming into this year centered on ways we can influence specific bills in the House and Senate regarding our HEAL Together campaign. 

In this post:

  • Description of 8 important bills we’re working to support or oppose. 
  • Ways you can get involved: Sign up a grassroots lobby meeting with your Representative(s) or Senator, and sign-up to get involved with our year-round work to organize both locally and statewide around these issues through our H.E.A.L. Together NH Program.
  • You can receive our weekly Legislative updates on all of the issues Rights & Democracy NH is working on by signing up here.
  • If you aren’t feeling motivated to get involved with the legislative process this year, join us in working for change at the local level. We will have several good candidates running for school boards positions around the state, elections will be in early March. Together we can help them with phone banking, door to door canvassing, text banking, visibilities and other campaign support. Please reach out to either me or Asma Elhuni and we’ll help you find either a local candidate or someone who shares your values around the state who you can help win.

The 2022 legislative session has started and we are already seeing a handful of bills that are trying to build off of the harmful “Divisive Concepts” legislation. Some bills were filed to try and overturn the Divisive Concepts language of 2021 while other bills are trying to expand on the law passed last year and to make it more punitive for educators. 

Our strategy this year is similar to our strategy last year

  • We want to have as many grassroots lobby visits with Representatives and Senators as possible, especially with those who are on key committees or in House or Senate leadership positions. If you are interested in helping to set up or participate in one or more of these lobby visits please sign up here.
  • We will set-up phone banks and text banks into prioritized districts to try and move Representatives and Senators who may be on the fence with either direct phone calls or click-to-send emails. We currently have weekly phone banks every Tuesday for all of our issues, you can sign up for those here. (If you would like to sign-up to help phone or text banks but can’t do so Tuesday evening please email me: kevin@radnh.org)
  • We will do our best to keep everyone informed about public hearings before they happen and if you are available we encourage you to come to Concord and testify before the Committee. We can help get you prepared if you need any assistance. Hearings this year are only in-person, the Republicans are not allowing virtual testimony unfortunately. 
  • Letters to the editor and op-eds are always wonderful. If you would like some help either with the topic or the drafting or the distribution, please use the contact information above.

We’ll start with the good news. There are four bills we’re tracking and working on that would overturn the 2021 Divisive Concepts law. (SB = Senate Bill and HB = House Bill)

The Good Bills

“Repeal & Replace the Divisive Concepts Law” SB 304 & HB 1090 (Support)

  • Both bills would remove the language of the Divisive Concepts law passed last year and replace it with language that would recognize the need to provide diverse educational approaches to teaching and curriculum designed to meet the needs of students. It would also protect any educators, staff or administration from civil liability for teaching about historical or current experiences of groups protected from discrimination. The Senate bill would also do the same for public employees in workplaces and trainings.
    • SB 304 Sponsor: Senator Jay Kahn (Democrat from Keene) + 9 co-sponsors, all Dems. 
    • HB 1090 Sponsor: Representative Charlotte DiLorenzo (Rockingham Dist. 17) + 8 co-sponsors, all Dems.
    • SB 304 had a public hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee on January 12th. It has not yet had it’s second hearing, an executive session committee meeting where the Judiciary Committee members will vote on a recommendation. Once it receives a recommendation from the Judiciary Committee SB 304 will move to get a vote on the Senate Floor. 
    • Our allies Granite State Progress and ACLU-NH helped with drafting both of these bills.
    • HB 1090 is scheduled to have a hearing in the House Education Committee on February 8th at 10 AM in the Legislative Office Building. 

 

“Simple Repeal of the Divisive Concepts Law” HB 1576 & SB 298 (Support)

  • Both of these bills would simply remove the Divisive Concepts law passed in 2021 and not replace it with anything. 
    • HB 1576: Sponsor: (Prime) Manny Espitia (D). This bill will have a public hearing: 02/08/2022 11:00 am LOB 205-207 in the House Education Committee.
    • SB 298: Sponsors: (Prime) Watters (D). This bill had a Public Hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee on 02/01/2022, Room 100 of the State House at 1:20 pm.

 

The Bad Bills

The “Teacher Loyalty Bill”: HB1255

  • What this bill would do: This bill says no educator shall “advocate” the following political theories or doctrines: Communism, marxism, socialism or any theory that includes the overthrow of the US Government. Any negative analysis of US History can only be viewed through the lens of the historical time period and must be divorced from the current context. This is an attempt to sanitize history and excuse any and all wrong doing. The bill makes a violation of this law a violation of the NH code of ethics and conduct. This could result in an educator being fired or prevent them from getting a job. 

 

The “Expansion of Divisive Concepts Ban to Public Colleges and Universities” bill: HB 1313

  • What this bill would do: This bill would expand the Divisive Concepts law passed in 2021 to cover public colleges and universities such as University of New Hampshire and Plymouth State University. 
    • Hearings: This bill had a public hearing on January 11 in the House Education Committee. It has not had an executive committee hearing in the same committee yet to receive a committee recommendation before going to the House Floor for a full House Vote. 

 

The “But What About Them” bill: HB 1632

  • What this bill would do: This bill would require Educators, when teaching about the Civil Rights era, to include how other countries have treated religious and ethnic minorities and civil rights uprisings. This is an attempt to portray the US actions as not as bad as what other governments have done.
    • Hearings: This bill had a public hearing in the House Education Committee on January 19th. The General Court website says the bill had an executive committee hearing on January 25, where it would have received a committee recommendation. Next the bill will go to the House Floor for a full House vote, we don’t have a date yet for when this will happen. 

 

“Expanding the Power and Authority of School Boards” bill: HB 1137

 

Crossover Day

The last day for bills to cross over from the House to the Senate or from the Senate to the House is Thursday, March 31st. Bills may cross over before this date but they can’t cross over after this date. Because these bills are not attached to the budget, as the Divisive Concepts legislation was last year, they may move more quickly through the legislative process. 

 

This is a lot of information and we’ll do our best to keep you informed as these bills move through the House and Senate. Another great way to track bills we’re watching is to sign up to our weekly legislative updates.

Please feel free to reach out to me directly if you have any question or concerns and I will do my best to either answer the question or help to find the answer. 

Take care,

Kevin Pentz

Statewide Campaigns Organizer

 

“Give light and people will find the way.”

Ella Baker