Legislative Update: 2023 begins with hearing on repeal of divisive concepts bill, meeting of legislative oversight committee on education

While we’re still waiting for the majority of 2023 bills to be released, the work of the House Education Committee will begin this week as they hold their first public hearings on Wednesday, January 11, and Thursday, January 12. 

While we do not have all of the bill text yet, we are building a sense of the big themes this year: school funding, privatization and school vouchers, how and what to teach in the classroom, school building aid, and teacher recruitment and retention.  

As the session begins, here are the four things you need to know about the week ahead:

  1. We’re tracking over 130 bills, but are still waiting on the majority of bill text.
  2. The Legislative Oversight Committee for the Education Improvement and Assessment Program will meet on Tuesday, January 10. 
  3. There will be a public hearing on House Bill (HB) 61, which would repeal the state’s “divisive concepts” law, on Thursday, January 12, in the State House. 
  4. The House and Senate will hold other public hearings on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday of this week. 

Still waiting on release of bill text

The House and Senate have pushed back their signoff deadlines by about a week due to backlogs at the Office of Legislative Services (OLS). That means that we didn’t get the usual wave of bill text over the winter break; it also means that feeling out the 2023 policy landscape might take a little bit longer than usual. 

There are some key themes that are returning from last year: vouchers, funding, school building aid, divisive concepts, and parental bill of rights. We also see new themes this year: Lawmakers are seeking to adopt a student bill of rights, new legislation to address the statewide teacher shortage, and more. 

We’ll hold a webinar on the key themes this year on Wednesday, January 18, at 1 p.m. Register here: bit.ly/edpolicy2023 

Legislative oversight committee will meet on Tuesday

The Legislative Oversight Committee for the Education Improvement and Assessment Program will meet on Tuesday, January 10, at 10:00 a.m. in the Legislative Office Building in Room 205-207. 

The Committee, which was reinstated in 2022 after being disbanded in 2020, is responsible for evaluating the accountability measures for public schools and reviewing student outcomes. These types of committees are responsible for overseeing particular programs or agencies, and don’t act on pending bills.

Lawmakers seeking input on repeal of the divisive concepts law 

The “banned concepts” law, which was passed as part of the 2021-2022 state budget, has been a highly controversial topic in New Hampshire — and is the subject of a lawsuit. House Bill 61 would repeal the law and would clarify that the state could not ban or punish teachers or other school staff from teaching about current events, history, or the lived experiences of people. 

The House Education Committee will hold a public hearing on HB 61 on Thursday, January 12, at 9:30 a.m. in Representative’s Hall, which is in the State House. The House will also accept written testimony by email. Committee members can be emailed directly at HouseEducationCommittee@leg.state.nh.us or through the online portal, here.  

The House and Senate will hold other public hearings this week

The Senate Education Committee has scheduled public hearings on three bills on Tuesday, January 10. The House Education Committee has scheduled several public hearings on Wednesday, January 11, and Thursday, January 12. 

Two of the bills being discussed by the House involve requirements for what is being taught in New Hampshire classrooms: HB 102, requiring high school students to receive a minimum of one hour of instruction about the “nature and history of communism” prior to graduation; and HB 170, which would require school districts to teach cursive handwriting and multiplication table memorization. In 2015, lawmakers passed a law that recommended that schools teach cursive handwriting and memorization of multiplication tables; this bill would change that recommendation to a mandate. 

Senate Public hearings on Tuesday, January 10

Location: Legislative Office Building, Room 103

  • 9:00 a.m. SB 24, relative to conferring degree-granting authority to the New England Aeronautical Institute
  • 9:15 a.m. SB 39-FN, relative to criminal history checks for school transportation monitors
  • 9:30 a.m. SB 25, repealing a requirement for a report on chartered public school payments

House Public hearings on Wednesday, January 11 

Location: Legislative Office Building, Room 205-207

  • 10:00 a.m. HB 71, repealing a department of education report on chartered public school funding.
  • 10:20 a.m. HB 147, relative to membership of the advisory committee on the education of students with disabilities.
  • 10:40 a.m. HB 102, requiring high schools to include instruction on the nature and history of communism.
  • 11:25 a.m. HB 103, relative to school board member qualifications.
  • 1:00 p.m. HB 168, relative to surety indemnification for career schools.
  • 1:25 p.m. HB 155, relative to the division of educator support and higher education and relative to surety indemnification for private postsecondary career schools.
  • 2:00 p.m. HB 170, requiring the teaching of cursive handwriting and multiplication tables.

House Public hearings on Thursday, January 12

Location: New Hampshire State House, Representatives Hall

  • 9:30 a.m. HB 61, relative to teaching on discrimination in the public schools and discrimination in public workplaces.

Location: Legislative Office Building, Room 205-207

  • 1:00 p.m. HB 131, requiring reports concerning school policies on classroom recordings and in-classroom observers.
  • 2:00 p.m. HB 35, requiring student identification cards to include the National Eating Disorders Hotline.

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