Welcome to the UNH Works Legislative Blog. We’ll update this space each Friday throughout the state legislative session with the latest UNH-related news from the State Capitol. Bookmark this page as your go-to source on UNH’s state legislative priorities and the actions you can take to advocate for a stronger UNH. If you haven't already, be sure to sign-up as a UNH Advocate to ensure you receive our action alert emails at critical times during the session.Questions about something you've read here or UNH's work in Concord? Contact Tom Cronin or Mica Stark for more information.
Friday, June 30, 2017
Gov. Chris Sununu signed the state budget Wednesday, closing another session of the Legislature. While there were some concerns lawmakers would not be able to agree on a final budget, the Republican majority was able to see past any internal differences to pass it.
- $3 million for capital improvements at Plymouth State University in the capital budget.
- $81 million each year in operating support for the University System, representing the fourth and fifth years of flat funding for the system.
- $10 million for the Governor’s Scholarship Program. Many specifics of this new program still need to be worked out, but we know it will support NH students seeking nearly any kind of post-secondary credential in the state.
ACTION ITEM: Unfortunately, during the final days of the session, House and Senate negotiators abandoned a bipartisan compromise on SB 43, relative to non-academic surveys, and chose to move ahead with the conservative Senate version. Please contact the Governor and ask him to veto SB 43.
UPCOMING: With the session concluded, this will be the last regular post until the legislature picks up again next January. In the meantime, please be sure to sign-up as a UNH Advocate to stay posted on any important updates that may arise over the summer and fall.
Friday, June 16, 2017
We were pleased the budget committee of conference preserved funding for the University System throughout the week-long negotiations. As agreed to by the committee, the system will remain flat-funded for the next two years at $81 million annually. Thank you to those advocates who reached out to the conferees to express support for public higher education, and to the committee members for protecting this funding.
Unfortunately, the committee of conference on the non-academic survey legislation did not turn out as well. Conferees agreed to the more conservative Senate position on the bill. We are concerned that this legislation will severely curtail important school-based research in the state, and are asking members to oppose to the committee report when it comes up for a vote.
UPCOMING: The House and Senate will vote on the budget and the other committee of conference agreements on Thursday. It is unclear if there are votes to pass the budget in the House, or if the legislature will need to pass a continuing resolution and return to Concord later in the fall.
Friday, June 9, 2017
Thursday was the deadline for the House and Senate to form committees of conference, setting the stage for the third period of the legislative session. Over the next two weeks, these small committees, typically comprised of three members of the Senate and four from the House, will attempt to reconcile the differences between versions of bills that passed both bodies.
At this stage, we continue to follow four bills. On Senate Bill 43, concerning non-academic research, we hope the committee will adopt the unanimous House position, which allows local school districts to set their own policies. On House Bill 25, the capital budget, it is likely the University System will retain a $3 million appropriation for a facilities project at Plymouth State.
Lastly, we join everyone in Concord in keeping an eye on House Bills 144 and 517, the two budget bills. It is unclear what it will take to convince a majority in the House to support a budget, with significant factions on each side arguing the current proposal spends either too much or too little. We’ll be working to ensure USNH remains funded at a minimum of $81 million annually.
ACTION ITEM: Please take a moment to e-mail the members of the committee of conference and ask them to protect funding for higher education in the next state budget.
UPCOMING: You can follow the committee of conference action here or check back next Friday for an update.
Friday, June 2, 2017
After a marathon session Wednesday, the Senate passed its version of the state budget, with 14 Republicans in favor, and all 9 Democrats opposed. This budget flat funds the University System at $81 million annually, the same level received each of the last three years, and 20 percent below the level received prior to the recession. Our thanks to Sen. Jay Kahn for his effort to adopt an amendment that would have funded a one-year tuition freeze for NH students. Unfortunately, this amendment failed along the same party lines.
Discord over the budget continues between factions in the House of Representatives. At this stage, there appears to be a real likelihood that a budget will not pass by the June 30th deadline, leading to a short-term spending bill that would hold all state spending flat until a compromise can be reached.
In more positive news, the House passed its version of SB 43, relative to research work in K-12 schools, unanimously on Thursday. The Senate must now decide to accept the House amendment, or seek a committee of conference to attempt to produce a compromise bill. Given the strong, bipartisan support from the House, we are hopeful that their version of the bill will prevail.
UPCOMING: Committees of conference will meet over the next three weeks. This is the most interesting time of the legislative session as the action moves quickly with a lot of “horse trading” between the bodies as each attempts to secure its preferred outcomes in the closing days of the session. We will continue to work towards a positive outcome on SB 43, while monitoring the latest on the operating budget.
Friday, May 26, 2017
Senate budget writers wrapped up their work this week. Unfortunately, their final product left the university system flat funded at $81 million annually, the same level of funding received the last three years. The budget does, however, include new funding for a scholarship program available to students attending any NH college, university or postsecondary training program. The budget heads to the full Senate next week, and then on to a committee of conference between the House and Senate.
UPCOMING: In addition to the budget, we await final resolution on a couple of items, including the nonacademic survey bill, to be voted on in the House next week, and a gubernatorial signature on the decal license plate legislation. Check back next week for brief updates on each of those items.
Friday, May 19, 2017
As expected, the Senate Capital Budget and Finance Committees completed much of their work this week. USNH and UNH remained at the same levels recommended by the House policy committees – $3 million in the capital budget for a renovation project at Plymouth State, and flat funding at $81 million annually in the operating budget.
Senate Finance, however, is not quite done yet. Awaiting a vote is an amendment from Sen. Dan Feltes, which would provide an addition $4 million over the biennium and allow for a one-year tuition freeze for New Hampshire students. Ultimately, the vote will hinge on revenues available and surplus dollars remaining at the very end of the Senate process. We expect to know the outcome on Monday.
We were pleased to secure a small victory on Tuesday when a House Education subcommittee recommended killing HB 466, which sought to create burdensome and unnecessary regulations concerning free speech on campus. The committee was swayed, in part, by learning that, in more than 30 years, there have been no first Amendment cases brought against USNH or its colleges.
While there are a few more weeks in the legislative session, UNH students in Manchester, Concord and Durham have completed final exams and the class of 2017 is celebrating commencements as this week wraps up. Our congratulations on a successful year and well wishes to the newest UNH Alumni!
UPCOMING: Various committee hearings will occur next week, but most important for us are the final votes in the Senate Finance Committee.
ACTION ITEM: Please take a moment to call or email members of the Senate Finance Committee and ask them to support the Feltes amendment to fund a one-year tuition freeze for NH students!
Friday, May 11, 2017
The Senate Finance and Capital Budget committees deliberated their spending plans this week, and both are expected to vote on formal recommendations next week. Look for a recap here next Friday.
As the Senate considers how it will fund higher education, UNH student government sponsored an event to encourage UNH students to share their experiences with state lawmakers. Watch the video here, and please share it on social media.
Finally this week, a story from Inside Higher Education indirectly touting additional benefits of UNH’s Granite Guarantee program caught our eye. In detailing a Maine effort to attract out-of-state students with discounted tuition, the story notes that the University of Maine saw enrollment growth from students in every other New England state – except New Hampshire. Enrollments from our state dropped 20 percent, which Maine administrators attribute to UNH’s Granite Guarantee and its promise of free-tuition for Pell-eligible New Hampshire students.
ACTION ITEM: Now is the key time to reach out to members of those committees. Please ask them to support UNH and public, four-year higher education.
Friday, May 5, 2017
The governor and legislative leaders honored the university’s 150 years of service to the state at the 2nd annual UNH Day at the State House on Tuesday. Faculty, staff and students from more the two-dozen programs showcased the myriad ways that UNH improves the state’s economy and quality of life. See great event photos in this Facebook album.
On Wednesday, President Huddleston announced his plans to retire at end of the next academic year. He will retire as the longest-serving president in UNH history, with 11 years of service.
Our thanks this week to Reps. Rick Ladd, Terry Wolf and Mary Heath of the House Education Committee for sponsoring a compromise amendment to SB 43, related to non-academic survey research. As amended, the bill enables local school districts to retain control over how research is conducted in their schools, which will allow UNH and other research entities to work with these districts to better to study and address community health concerns. The amended bill passed the committee unanimously and heads to the full House during its next session.
UPCOMING: Following a public hearing and an update on state revenues earlier this week, the Senate Finance Committee will begin tallying its version of the state budget next week.
ACTION ITEM: As Senate Finance begins making decisions on spending priorities, now is the critical time to express your support for public, four-year higher education. Please let the committee members know how UNH has impacted your life and ask them to help keep tuition affordable for future generations.
Friday, April 28, 2017
The House and Senate Education Committees were busy this week dealing with a number of high-profile items. In the Senate, committee members voted down a proposal from the new Commissioner of Education to revamp the department, choosing instead to study the issue over the summer.
In the House, committee voted to approve and fully fund full-day kindergarten. The House version adds approximately $6 million a year to the proposal offered by Gov. Sununu and the Senate, thereby providing funding to every community that chooses to expand to full day K. Later, the committee voted to study a bill that would allow parents to use public funds to send their children to the school of their choice.
Pertinent to UNH, the House Committee considered a compromise amendment to SB43 that would create a level of local control on the parental consent issue. We are supportive of the amendment and grateful to Reps. Terry Wolf and Mary Heath for introducing the change. We expect a vote on the amendment next Tuesday. Please contact the House Education Committee and asking them to support the Wolf/Heath amendment.
ACTION ITEM: The Senate public hearing on the state budget is scheduled for Tuesday, May 2. This is your opportunity to share your support for UNH with lawmakers. If you are in Concord, please consider testifying in person in that State House starting at 1PM. Or, follow this link to find contact information for members of the committee.
UPCOMING: Also on Tuesday, we will be holding our second annual UNH Day in Concord at the State Capitol. This event showcases the myriad ways UNH impacts the state through research, outreach and educational programs. If you’re in the Concord area, please stop by the State House lawn from 11-1 to see for yourself!
Friday, April 21, 2017
The House and Senate were back in session this week, and we are happy to report movement on key bills in both bodies. First, the House passed SB31, authorizing UNH to participate in the new license plate decal program. The bill now moves to the governor for his signature and we are hopeful that the decal will be available for purchase by the end of the year. Purchasing a decal will show your support for UNH and generate scholarship funds for New Hampshire students attending UNH.
Second, the Senate voted to kill HB 95, which would have created a committee to study how the university and community college systems spend and account for state funds. The University System is already transparent in managing the limited state dollars it receives. Moreover, an existing legislative study committee serves this oversight role, in addition to legislative leaders sitting on the USNH Board of Trustees. We’re grateful the Senate saw fit to use the existing oversight structures as opposed to adding more bureaucracy to state government.
Finally this week, Gov. Sununu issued a report on his “100 Businesses in 100 Days” initiative, outlining his efforts to woo new companies to New Hampshire during his first few months in office. You can read the full report here. We’re pleased the governor noted the importance of a highly skilled workforce in attracting new business to the state, and we look forward to continuing to work with him to meet that need.
ACTION ITEM: Mark your calendars for May 2 for the Senate public hearing on the state budget. This is your opportunity to share your support for UNH with state lawmakers in person. Coincidentally, the date is also the same as UNH Day in Concord, when we will be bringing over a dozen UNH programs to the State House to showcase the university’s impact on the state. Please join us from 11-1 on the State House lawn for UNH Day, then head inside to testify in support of increased state funding for UNH and USNH.
UPCOMING: The Senate continues its agency budget hearings next week. USNH Chancellor Todd Leach will present on Monday afternoon.
Friday, April 14, 2017
It was a quiet week in Concord as the dust settled following the House’s failure last week to pass a budget. On the Senate side, the finance and capital budget committees quietly began working on their version of these budgets, now House Bills 144 and 517. University System of NH and UNH officials will be in Concord to advocate for our operating and capital requests later in April and early-May. On campus, students kicked off the Senate phase of the budget with a letter writing campaign, you can read more about that effort in The New Hampshire.
Also out this week is a great story in the New Hampshire Business Review profiling the partnership between Dean Kamen’s DEKA, UNH and the U.S. Department of Defense to develop a new biotechnology center in downtown Manchester. The article highlights the opportunities and challenges that winning an $80 million federal grant to launch the project pose for the state, and outlines how a coalition of business, education and government leaders can move New Hampshire forward.
Looking ahead to next week, the House and Senate will be back in session, and we anticipate a vote in the House on the UNH license plate proposal.
ACTION ITEM: On Tuesday, House Education Committee plans another work session on the research bill we’ve been tracking. Calls to the committee asking for a compromise to preserve research continue to be a top priority for our advocacy work.
UPCOMING: We’re awaiting the scheduling of the Senate public hearings on the budget. Watch this space for details about opportunities to share your thoughts with the committees.
Friday, April 7, 2017
The first week of April can best be described as “the week that should have been” in the state capital. First, the House of Representatives failed, for the first time in memory, to pass a version of the state budget. Undone by a faction of Republicans, the majority was unable to muster the votes to pass the Finance Committee’s version of the budget before choosing to adjourn and punt the process to the Senate.
What does this mean for UNH? At the moment, very little. The university system was flat funded in both the Governor’s and the Finance Committee’s budgets. Perhaps a positive: The Finance Committee had removed the Governor’s higher-ed scholarship program, which may now have a life as the Senate considers the budget anew starting next week.
Elsewhere, a contentious hearing on a proposal to allow state funds to support sending some children to private schools delayed the planned work session on Senate Bill 43, related to academic survey work. In the Senate, lawmakers chose to delay consideration of a measure to study how the public higher education systems spend state funds until its next session in two weeks.
ACTION ITEM: Calls to the House Education Committee requesting a compromise on SB 43 to protect university research continue to be the top priority.
UPCOMING: The Senate will use two unrelated House bills as their budget vehicles and begin crafting their version of the two-year state budget on Monday.
Friday, March 31, 2017
The House Finance and Public Works Committees completed their work on the state budget this week, sending House Bills 1, 2 and 25 (the three budget bills) to the full House for consideration next week. As expected, the Finance Committee cut significantly from Gov. Sununu’s budget proposal and eliminated his higher-ed scholarship program. The Public Works Committee completed its work this week with far less fanfare. Of note, the committee did not support funding the biological sciences initiative at UNH Durham.
Our thanks to the House Transportation Committee, which voted unanimously to move the UNH License Plate bill to the full House for a vote. Please join us in thanking the committee for supporting the scholarships this program will generate!
Finally, President Huddleston and Senate President Chuck Morse teamed up this week to talk with 300 Salem High School freshmen about the importance of higher education. The two presidents discussed how they are working to keep higher education affordable in New Hampshire, both to encourage more of our state’s students to attend college here and to build a highly-skilled workforce that the state’s economy depends on to succeed. Read more about the visit.
ACTION ITEM: The House Education Committee spent considerable time on the K-12 research bill this week and will take the bill up again on Tuesday. If you haven’t yet (or even if you have!), please consider a call or email to the committee asking them to compromise on Senate Bill 43.
UPCOMING: Full House consideration of the state budget will be the big story to watch next week. Typically, the budget proposed by the Finance Committee is all but certain to win support from the full body. Press reports of division among the Republican majority, however, suggest that Wednesday’s session may not be so smooth.
Friday, March 24, 2017
House budget writers worked this week to trim Gov. Sununu’s proposal based on their conservative revenue estimates. Given this budget environment, we’re pleased to report that the House subcommittee charged with oversight of higher education recommended flat funding the USNH budget, the same as was proposed by Gov. Sununu. Thank you to those who reached out to members of the committee to express your support for UNH and helped us to at least hold our ground in the House. The full finance committee is expected to send their recommendation to the full House next week, followed by a vote on April 5th that will send the House proposal to the Senate.
Elsewhere, the House Transportation Committee held a public hearing on Senate Bill 31, which would authorize UNH to participate in the state’s new decal license plate program. Pat Closson, the incoming Chair of the UNH Alumni Association, was on hand to discuss the potential benefits of the program, including new funds for scholarships and increased awareness around the state, and to ask for support on behalf of the 66,000 UNH alumni living across the Granite State.
ACTION ITEM: The House Education Committee will be holding a work session on Senate Bill 43 related to non-academic surveys on Tuesday. Committee members have begun circulating a compromise amendment that addresses some of the concerns voiced by UNH researchers. If you haven’t already, please contact the House Education Committee and ask them to consider a compromise on SB 43 in order to protect important school and community-based research.
UPCOMING: In addition to meetings of the Finance and Education Committees, we’ll be watching the Transportation Committee for a favorable recommendation on the UNH license plate bill, which will send the proposal to the full house and, hopefully, on to the Governor for his signature.
Friday, March 17, 2017
The late winter blizzard barely slowed the legislative process in Concord this week, which included two University System presentations on our capital budget request. The board’s number one priority is the renovation and expansion of Spaulding Hall on the Durham campus, home to our biological sciences programs. This project seeks to meet the needs of bioscience companies who are growing and having a hard time finding enough highly-skilled workers. Representatives from Lonza and Medtronic joined UNH in the presentation. This week, we offered a revised vision for that project that we hope will be more in-line with the financing available in the House version of the capital budget.
The House finance committee continues to craft its version of the state operating budget, but now they are adjusting to new revenue estimates that they believe will necessitate spending cuts from Gov. Sununu’s proposal in order to ensure a balanced budget. Chancellor Todd Leach was again before the Finance Committee this week to support the system’s appropriation. Finance subcommittees will begin making recommendations to the full committee next week.
Finally, the House Education Committee held a public hearing on the non-academic survey bill we’ve been following throughout the session. As before, public health organizations and school leaders joined us in opposing this legislation and asking members to consider a compromise. We’ll continue to work with committee leadership to convey our concerns in the weeks ahead.
ACTION ITEM: Please consider calling members of the House Education Committee and ask them to consider a compromise on Senate Bill 43 in order to protect important research in the state’s public schools.
UPCOMING: Senate Bill 31, which would authorize specialty UNH license plate decals, is scheduled for a committee hearing in the House on Wednesday. We will continue to keep you updated as this bill motors through the committee process.
Friday, March 10, 2017
The full House of Representatives took action on about 275 bills over a two-day marathon session this week. By just eight votes, the House tabled a House Bill 478, which would have added protections for transgender individuals to the state statutes. This move effectively kills the proposal for this session. As you may recall, President Huddleston had submitted testimony in support of this bill. We will continue to monitor this issue as it is likely to return next year and into the future.
Two other bills we were following – HB 130 and 442 – would have regulated the sorts of questions that could be asked on employment applications. We had expressed concerns that as an employer required to conduct background checks on many potential employees, these bills could have made our hiring processes slower and more expensive. The House voted down both of these proposals.
Both the House and Senate continue to refine their proposals related to election reform. The House passed a number of smaller measures this week, while the Senate held a hearing on Senate Bill 3, which is shaping up to be the comprehensive bill likely to move through both houses.
ACTION ITEM: This Monday, March 13, is the public hearing on the House’s version of the budget. The hearing will be held at the State House in Concord beginning at 3 PM and will run into the evening. Please consider attending to share your UNH story and to ask lawmakers to support funding for the University of New Hampshire. If you are unable to attend in person, please share your thoughts by email. You can reach the full committee at: HouseFinanceCommittee@leg.state.nh.us
UPCOMING: We’re preparing for a busy week ahead with presentations before the House Finance and Public Works Committees concerning both our operating and capital budget requests. Additionally, Senate Bill 43, concerning K-12 research, will have a hearing before the House Education Committee.
Friday, March 3, 2017
State government and industries across the state were celebrating this week after US News and World Reports ranked New Hampshire as the second best state in the nation. While there was a lot to be proud of in the rankings, NHPR reminded us that the devil was in the details in some cases, including higher education. The Granite State can boast about our high four-year graduation rate and overall attainment, the report reminded lawmakers there is much work to be done to address issues of college cost and student debt.
The last week in February has traditionally marked legislative spring break, in sync with vacations at the state’s public schools. Consequently, the halls of the state house were quite this past week save for a few hearings to vote on bills awaiting action in committee, including a few we are keeping an eye on.
The House Finance Committee voted to retain House Bill 641, which would create a dual enrollment program to allow high school students to earn college credit through community college system. Typically retaining suggests the committee would like to work on the bill move over the summer. In this case, however, the committee expressed support for the policy and is holding the bill to determine if funding is available in the House version of the budget later this month. Elsewhere, the House Executive Departments and Administration Committee voted down two bills – House Bill 522 and 538 – that would have impacted licensing requirements for a number of programs taught at UNH.
ACTION ITEM: House Finance has announced two “road show” budget hearings next Monday (6th) to hear from residents around the state. At 4:30, the committee will convene at the Town Hall in Derry, and at 5:30 a hearing will begin at the Silver Center for the Arts in Plymouth. If you live near either of these hearings, please consider attending to let the committee members know you would like to see a tuition freeze at UNH. If you have any questions about the hearing or would like more information, email us!
UPCOMING: House Finance has scheduled the State House budget hearing for Monday, March 13. Advocates should keep an eye on their email for more information about this hearing. If you’re not already signed up, please do so now!
Friday, February 24, 2017
Both the House and Senate were busy this week trying to clear the decks ahead of the legislative “spring break” next week. The full Senate voted to pass Senate Bill 43, related to non-academic research. Despite our efforts, the Senate did not include the compromise amendment we sought to protect UNH research. We’d like to extend our thanks to Sen. Dan Innis, Sen. David Watters and others who assisted with this bill in the Senate. While we don’t yet have the outcome we would like, we will continue to make our case when the bill moves to the House in the next few weeks.
Elsewhere, the House Education Committee voted to retain a proposal claiming to protect free speech on college campuses. As the committee heard during testimony on the bill, free speech is protected by both the state and federal constitutions and is a cornerstone of the educational environment on our campuses. This bill, while well-intentioned, would only serve to make it more difficult for law enforcement to ensure campus safety while increasing litigation costs. We support the committee’s decision to retain the bill and look forward to working with them to study the issue closer over the summer.
Finally, on Thursday, University System Chancellor Todd Leach presented on the system’s budget request to the division of the House Finance Committee responsible for education funding. During the hour-long presentation, Chancellor Leach and the committee engaged in a wide-ranging and informative discussion on the system’s finances and budget request and how best to control college tuition costs in New Hampshire. The subcommittee will make a funding recommendation to the full finance committee in the weeks ahead.
BIG NEWS: As you may have read by now, UNH was proud to announce the "Granite Guarantee" earlier this week. The program will cover the cost of UNH tuition for all Pell Grant-eligible state residents starting with the freshmen class enrolling next year. You can read more about the program HERE.
ACTION ITEM: We continue to wait for the House Finance Committee to schedule their public hearing dates. Watch this space for when you’ll be able to share your UNH story with the committee members in person. Until then, please share UNH Works with your friends and family and ask them to join you in supporting public higher education in New Hampshire.
UPCOMING: Legislative activity will be slow next week as most lawmakers are out of town for the break. House Finance and a small selection of committees will meet to stay on track to meet the crossover deadlines at the end of the month.
Friday, February 17, 2017
Gov. Sununu spent much of this week discussing his funding priorities following the introduction of his first budget last week. You can listen to one such interview HERE. As suggested in this interview, there are important workforce issues the state will need to address in the years ahead. We look forward to continuing to impress upon lawmakers why supporting the state's public four-year higher education is an important part of that necessary effort.
Elsewhere this week, both the House and Senate met to deal with over 100 pieces of legislation, most notably the “Right to Work” bill which failed on a vote of 200-177. In committee, the Senate Education Committee recommended the passage of Senate Bill 43, concerning regulations for research in K-12 schools. Unfortunately, the committee did not support the amendment requested by UNH and our researchers. We’ll now look to the full Senate for support for this important change that will preserve our ability to conduct valuable research used to inform public policy.
ACTION ITEM: The full Senate will act on Senate Bill 43 on Thursday. Please take a moment to call or email your state senator and ask them to support a compromise on Senate Bill 43 and protect important research work.
UPCOMING: The House begins their agency budget hearings next week. The University System will present on Thursday afternoon to Division II.
Friday, February 10, 2017
The big news from Concord this week was the introduction of the state budget. In lieu of a unique post, we are sharing President Huddleston’s email to the campus community on the issue:
Dear UNH Community Members,
I'm writing with an update on the New Hampshire state budget proposed Thursday by Gov. Chris Sununu. As you may recall, working in conjunction with the other four-year public colleges in the state, UNH had asked the state to fund a two-year tuition freeze for all New Hampshire students, as well as to create new scholarships to help the state retain our best students and those studying in high-demand fields.
Unfortunately, Gov. Sununu’s proposal provides no increase in funding for the university system. His proposal also provides no funding for infrastructure improvements on our campuses. This is obviously deeply disappointing. Thankfully, Thursday was just the beginning of the budget process, which now moves to the House of Representatives, and then to the Senate in April. We look forward to continuing to make our case with Gov. Sununu and legislators over the coming months. There is still time to show our state lawmakers why UNH is worthy of state support. Please take a moment to join the UNH Works advocacy effort.
UNH is a great university and we have a great story to tell. We will continue to make our case to state lawmakers and we will be more effective with your help.
Thank you, and stay warm,
Mark W. Huddleston
ACTION ITEM: If you’re not already, please take a moment to become a UNH Advocate. We will need your help in the weeks ahead!
UPCOMING: Some good news, the UNH License Plate bill cleared the Senate unanimously on Thursday. We look forward to a hearing in the House Transportation Committee in the next few weeks.
Friday, February 3, 2017
The House considered a number of bills this week that would create state-funded college scholarships. New Hampshire is one of only two states that do not provide state-financed scholarship support to assist resident students attending schools in-state. Generally, UNH is supportive of any additional investment the state can afford to support the higher education goals of its residents. When considering these bills, however, we ask the legislature to be cautious with how they fund the proposals and how much it costs to administer the programs, both in an effort to ensure we are spending limited state dollars effectively to aid students.
Two UNH experts were at the State House on Wednesday to testify on bills of particular interest to their work. Kristin Smith, from the Carsey School of Public Policy, testified in favor of House Bill 678, relative to a family medical leave insurance plan. You can read some of Kristin’s research on the topic HERE. Marc Sedam, of the UNH Innovation Center, testified on Senate Bill 76, which would make changes to the Research and Development Tax Credit to help smaller, newer companies participate in the program. This proposal is in line with some of the recommendations of the recently released University Research and Industry Plan.
We’d previously shared information about Senate Bill 31, which would allow UNH to participate in the state’s decal license plate program. The New Hampshire wrote a piece on the bill this week, click HERE to read the story for more information.
ACTION ITEM: The Senate Education Committee is likely to vote on Senate Bill 43 – regarding survey research – next week. If your Senator is on the committee, please reach out and ask them to find a compromise to protect research in New Hampshire.
UPCOMING: Governor Sununu is scheduled to deliver his budget address next Thursday. This will kick off the state budget session and give us the first look at the Governor’s vision for higher education. Check back here next week for more information.
Friday, January 27, 2017
Right on cue with the season’s first Nor’easter, we saw a flurry of legislative activity this week that we hope lawmakers will approach with caution. Two bills in particular rose to the top of the list.
Senate Bill 43 creates new restrictions on research in state public schools. We appreciate the sponsors’ efforts to protect the rights of parents to be informed about their children’s experiences at school, but there are existing laws designed to ensure just that. This bill goes too far and would severely limit the data used by public officials to identify areas of concern in our communities and to evaluate programs to address them. An identical bill passed the Legislature last year and was vetoed by the Governor. You can read that veto message HERE for a bit more information about the bill.
The House Education Committee heard testimony on House Bill 477. Written by a Virginia-based First Amendment advocacy organization. This bill is a solution in search of a problem that does not exist on the campuses of our public colleges in New Hampshire. While the bill’s supporters cite a number of troubling examples of Constitutional violations in other states, they could not identify similar issues in the Granite State. Instead, their bill would make it more difficult and more expensive for campus administrators to protect the rights of all students while also ensuring the safety of the thousands of students, employees and visitors present on our campuses each day.
ACTION ITEM: Do you have a local elected official serving on the Senate or House Education Committees? Follow the hyperlinks to find out. If so, reach out and ask your Senator to find a compromise on SB 43 and your Representative to vote no on HB 477.
UPCOMING: Join us for I Believe in UNH night at the men’s hockey game on Friday, Feb 3. We’ve invited state lawmakers and staff to attend and cheer on the Wildcats as they take on division leaders Boston College. Let’s make it a sellout!
Friday, January 20, 2017
Chancellor Todd Leach was before the House Finance Committee this week to provide an overview of the operations of the University System. As part of his presentation, the Chancellor recapped our budget request and efforts to freeze tuition for New Hampshire students. He reiterated our expectation that legislative funding to support a tuition freeze would help UNH to attract more students and in turn help to address the state’s current labor shortage. You can click here to read more about the hearing.
In last week’s post, we noted a hearing on Senate Bill 31, which would allow students, alumni and friends of the university to acquire a license plate with a UNH logo. Through this program, we look forward to raising awareness for UNH across the state while also generating new funds for student scholarships. We’re happy to report the Senate Transportation Committee voted 5-0 in favor of the bill; it now moves on to the full Senate for consideration.
ACTION ITEM: UNH Cooperative Extension is the primary outreach arm of the university, bringing our research, expertise and services to every corner of the state. This work is funded through a partnership between UNH, the state and the individual counties, and support from all three is needed for the program to continue. This week we learned that funding in Belknap County may be in danger. You can click here to learn more about the situation. If you live in Belknap County, please consider following the link for steps you can take to help.
UPCOMING: Next week, the Senate Education Committee will consider legislation that poses a significant threat to school-based research in New Hampshire. Senate Bill 43 would create new regulations that would make this research more expensive and less reliable, thus undermining its value to lawmakers and program administrators. We will be working with the committee to address these concerns. Please check back next week for more information and ways you can help!
Friday, January 13, 2017
The legislative session began in earnest this week with orientation briefings by state agencies and initial hearings by house and senate committees.
The House Finance Committee hosted a number of briefings concerning the state’s workforce, demographics and revenues. Information gleaned from those briefings will help to inform future decisions on the state budget. Carsey School demographer Ken Johnson offered a presentation on Wednesday. You can view his and the other presentations here. They provide an interesting look at a number of important issues facing the state.
UNH’s full legislative agenda for the session is still taking shape. When finalized, we will share more information about those bills of interest on this blog. One priority bill, House Bill 95, was subject to a hearing this past week. As drafted, the bill would investigate stripping the University System Board of Trustees of control over the system’s budget and transferring that authority to the legislature. We oppose this proposal because it would undermine the experience and skills offered by our 29-member board of trustees, many of who have years of business and nonprofit leadership. The current system has produced strong results over the last 50 years. We fear this proposal would hinder long-term planning and unnecessarily inject politics and partisanship into the operation of our public universities.
ACTION ITEM: House Bill 95 remains under consideration by the House Legislative Affairs Committee. Follow this link to see if your Representative is a member of the committee. If so, please reach out and ask that he or she oppose HB95. Thank you!
UPCOMING: Hearings continue next week, including a session on Senate Bill 31 to allow UNH to issue decal license plates. This bill will support scholarships for New Hampshire students while also helping to raise Wildcat Pride around the state. House Finance continues their briefing series and will hear a presentation by University System Chancellor Todd Leach on Wednesday.