Legislative Update: Statewide voucher bill clears House vote

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​On January 3, the New Hampshire House of Representatives voted to pass the amended version of SB 193, the bill that creates a statewide voucher program, in a 184-162 roll-call vote. It now moves to the House Finance Committee and will have another public hearing on January 16, 2018.

SB 193 was one of the most controversial bills of the 2017 session. At Wednesday’s vote, some legislators wore yellow scarves in support of school choice and a number of citizens silently protested in the State House halls ahead of the vote. SB 193 would create one of the most expansive voucher programs in the country, allowing parents to receive state funding for their student in a form of an education freedom savings account (ESA) to use for private and religious school tuition, homeschooling expenses, and other education expenses.

The House Education Committee recommended to pass the bill in a close 10-9 vote in November.

The roll call

Here is the vote breakdown from the January 3 session. To see how your Representative voted, check the roll call here.

Voting for the bill:
Republicans: 178
Democrats: 4
Libertarians: 2

Voting against the bill:
Republicans: 16
Democrats: 146

Not voting:
Republicans: 23 (16 excused, 7 did not vote)
Democrats: 23 (16 excused, 7 did not vote)
Libertarians: 1 did not vote

Note: Excused votes are absences that have been approved by the Speaker of the House. ‘Not voting’ means that the Representative either did not vote or had an unexcused absence.

The next step: House Finance

The bill now moves to the House Finance Committee. The committee will hold a public hearing and then hold an Executive Session to vote on a recommendation for the full House. They may also further amend the bill.

The Finance Committee has scheduled a public hearing for SB 193 on Tuesday, January 16 at 1:30 p.m. in the Legislative Office Building, room 210-211.

Reaching Higher NH posts information about education-related bills in our Education Bills Tracker. Sign up for our daily or weekly newsletter to stay up-to-date on any updates or changes to hearings, executive sessions, or floor votes.

All are welcome to attend the hearing and Executive Session. The public is allowed to offer comments in person to the committee or submit written testimony. See our tips for testifying in a legislative committee here.

Senate approval

The original bill, which did not include the stabilization grants, eligibility requirements, or accountability measures, passed the Senate in a 14-9 party line vote. If the bill passes the House after going to Finance, it will have to return to the Senate due to the amendment. The Senate could either vote on the bill, concur with the House’s amendment, or meet in a Committee of Conference, where several members of both the House and Senate come together to reach a compromise. From there, it would go to Governor Sununu’s desk for signature. Read his latest statement regarding SB 193 here.

Analysis and continuing coverage

We will continue our coverage of the bill and are committed to releasing rigorous, nonpartisan analysis of its projected impact. Reaching Higher NH does not have a position on this, or any, proposed legislation.

Read our full coverage of the bill here, and read all of our policy analyses here.