A lot of people tell me they don't understand how government works very well, or how laws are made. One of the things I hope to do is deliver a little practical material on Civics for those of us who haven't been to high school in a while. The whole issue of government, its value, organization, and operation, as well as the people who run it, commands a lot of public debate, to say nothing of the volume of fodder it provides for the media, and folks like me who try to understand it.
I will be trying to unravel a little of it on a regular basis. Mark Twain once observed that "No man's life, liberty or property are safe while the legislature is in session." Well, the New Hampshire legislature begins its session this week, and it lasts until late June. During this time I'll be focusing on legislative issues.
At this time there are no bills pending in either the House or Senate. Filing bills can start this week. What we do know, at this point, is the title of Legislative Service Requests (LSR'S), which are ideas Senators and Representatives have submitted to the Office of Legislative Services for having bills drafted. I've looked at close to a thousand of them and can already identify one issue that is going to be of great interest to, not only the City of Laconia, but also to each of the 10 towns in the county and the county as well.. That is, undoing the repeal by the Legislature in 2011 (effective in 2016) of the state's payment of 25 percent of the local government amount of the employer's share of contributions to the New Hampshire Retirement System of local public employees. You may have heard this referred to as "downshifting."
As a representative from Laconia, I'll be dealing a lot with issues of particular interest to Laconia; but, as The Laconia Daily Sun is read widely in Belknap County, I'll try to cover issues pertinent to county government as well. Some issues of statewide importance will also come up now and then.
At this point, I need to point out that The Daily Sun is not the only reason county issues will crop up. You see, unlike state senators, state representatives are involuntary participants in county government. All representatives of the cities and towns in New Hampshire's 10 counties constitute, by law, a group called "The County Convention." I'll deal with what county conventions do in future editions of this column, but, I'll give you a clue: most of it deals with money.
I'm planning to provide my thoughts to The Daily Sun every other week for as long as I can find interesting ways to demystify government. It may take a while.