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Reaching Higher NH: The voucher bill going to the House floor Thursday could cost millions in new state spending

As everyone knows, the Senate has sent HB 1636 back to the House amended to include the version of SB 193 passed by the Senate in March of 2017.  Here is our overview of the voucher provisions of the bill.

The Senate amendment to HB 1636 is widely considered a placeholder for more work to be done on the bill in a committee of conference.  However, some supporters prefer this swing-for-the-fences voucher program the subsequent versions that incorporated some limitations in response to a flood of criticism.  And the whole Legislature seems to have become impatient and cranky, just worn out by the Governor’s over-the-top pressure to pass something salable nationally as a school choice win.  So there’s no telling where all this will lead. (more…)

There is no need for a committee of conference on HB 1636 (SB 193) – the House should vote Non-Concur.

HB 1636, amended to include SB 193, will come before the House again on Thursday, May 10th.  It contains the version of SB 193 that the Senate passed a year ago, a bill that served as a starting point for 15 months of work by House Education and Finance committees.
The Governor is putting the Legislature though this extended process but there is nothing left to be said.  Education and Finance Republican leadership, including the House members most committed to school choice, have already invested their best efforts in this bill.  The best a Committee of Conference could do is bring back a bill the House has already voted on twice. (Here is further coverage.)

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Update on the effort to resuscitate SB 193: action through the end of the session

The expectation at this point is that the House Education Committee will recommend that the amended HB 1636 be sent to a committee of conference and that the House will vote on that on May 10.  Here is the amendment adding SB 193 to HB 1636.  (This amendment, “Death Benefit for School Employee Killed in Line of Duty” was also added to HB 1636)

The House could kill the bill then and there but if it agrees to the committee of conference, the Speaker will name the committee members, probably then and there, and the committee will prepare its report.  The version of SB 193 added to HB 1636 is a version that the Senate passed in March, 2017 and that no one considers viable at this point.  The committee of conference will probably replace it with a version much like the one the House voted down this week.

The House would vote on the committee of conference report at the May 23 session.  If it passes, it will go immediately to the Senate.  If it fails, it is dead at that point.  The last day of the current legislative session is scheduled to be May 24.

Both the Concord Monitor (here) and the Union Leader (here) have provided updates on last night’s Senate action.  (more…)

The Senate has amended HB 1636 to include the language from SB 193

At 9:30 tonight (Thursday), the Senate amended HB 1636, creating a study committee about charter school teacher preparation and making unused district school facilities available to charter schools, to include the language of SB 193.

It is not clear which version of SB 193 the Senate amended into HB 1636 nor is it clear whether the amended bill will go to a conference committee or straight to the House floor for an an up or down vote on a motion to concur.

Update, 5/3 at 10:40:  Here is the amended version of HB 1636,  The added language is the version that passed the Senate in March of 2017.

To be continued.

SB 193 supporters’ effort to resuscitate SB 193 fails. Here’s an analysis of the vote.

Debate on a bill the House has voted on can be reopened if the majority supports a motion to “reconsider.”  The House voted this morning defeated a motion to reconsider yesterday’s vote on SB 193.

Here is breakdown comparing yesterday’s 170-159 vote on Interim Study (a Yea is a vote to kill the bill for this year) with today’s 165-172 vote that defeated the motion to reconsider yesterday’s vote to kill the bill (a Nay vote on the motion to reconsider is a vote in opposition to SB 193).

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Union Leader: NH House defeats controversial school choice bill — for now

For further background on the legislative prospects for SB 193, here are highlights from Dave Solomon’s coverage in today’s Union Leader:

A controversial school choice bill that would have directed some of the state’s education funds to parents for private school tuition failed in the House on Wednesday, despite the strong support of Gov. Chris Sununu and Republican leadership in the House and Senate.

A concern over the potential loss of funds to public schools, cited by Republican Neal Kurk of Weare, chairman of the Finance Committee, was a major issue leading to a 170-159 vote to send the bill, SB 193, to interim study.

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House votes Interim Study on SB 193, 170-159. But it’s not over! Here’s the roll call on yesterday’s vote.

After an evening in which both sides would have subjected Republican’s who supported the Interim Study motion to intense lobbying, there will be more maneuvering on the House floor today, attempting to bring the bill up for reconsideration.  If Sb 193 supporters lose again today, they may try to insert the bill into another piece of legislation still in process (the session is scheduled to end on May 24).

So please stay tuned for further opportunities to communicate with your legislators.

Immediately below is the roll call, alphabetical by House Member’s last name, copied and pasted from the General Court web site.  Below that is the same table, sorted by party and vote.  Below that, the table is sorted by vote and party. (more…)

Bishop Libasci doubles down on gaining state funding for Catholic schools

Now that the Diocese lobbying effort is out there, Bishop Libasci has cut to the heart of the issue with straight talk.

The Bishop’s message is no longer about empowering families who need an alternative to the excellent learning environment in our public schools but that legislators should vote for for SB 193 to pay Catholic school tuition.

Bishop Libasci crystallizes the issue SB 193 has put before the Legislature in his new letter to his parishioners: (more…)

Portsmouth Herald Editorial: Protect taxpayers, students, schools; send SB 193 for study

The Portsmouth Herald and its related seacoast papers ran the strong editorial below this morning on why SB 193 should be sent to Interim Study.  The vote is tomorrow and supporters are putting together elaborate plans to get something passed to keep the bill alive.  Now would be a great time to call your House member and follow up with an email about why the bill should be defeated (get their contact info here if you know who they are and here if you don’t):

The New Hampshire House Finance Committee is to be commended for its in-depth analysis of Senate Bill 193, which led it to warn that more study is needed before the state authorizes so-called “freedom savings accounts” for students.

After holding 13 work sessions and several public hearings on the bill, the Finance Committee voted 14-12 last week to recommend the bill be referred to interim study, where its many flaws can be addressed over the summer and fall to benefit a future Legislature.

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Is the Catholic Diocese of Manchester lobbying behind the scenes for SB 193?

American Catholic schools have always been a great source of learning in a context of values and discipline. But times are tough.  While New Hampshire public schools have lost 12% of their enrollment over the past 10 years, our private schools have lost 19%.  They are down from 20,000 students in 2008 to 16,000 students now (NHDOE).

New Hampshire’s nationally-known private schools are doing fine but the local, mostly church-based, schools are hard hit by those enrollment declines.  It’s a national phenomenon that NPR did a story on a year ago, observing, (more…)