Deborah Aylward’s View from Concord – March, 2023

By Deborah Aylward

House Record, Feb. 17
Municipal and County Government Committee

HB 123, relative to governing body members of the budget committee. Without recommendation. Statement in support of Ought to Pass: This bill amends RSA 32:15, I(b) to clarify the roles of budget committee members, which include representatives from the local governing body and school board (when the school district is located wholly within the town) who are appointed by their respective boards to serve for a term of one year and until their successors are qualified. This is the very definition of ‘ex officio’ which is Latin meaning “By virtue or because of an office; by virtue or authority implied by the office,” and as opposed to serving on the committee by virtue of being elected by the people, such as in the case of official budget committees.

The bill appropriately defines the local governing body and any school board members as ex officio and requires ex officio members to act in an advisory-only capacity. Furthermore, it prohibits ex officio members from voting or having their presence counted towards a required quorum. Whereas budget committees consider local governing bodies and, in some cases, school board budgets, this amendment will eliminate claims of bias, if not also undue influence and/or conflict of interests. If passed, this bill would allow citizens to understand that their budget committee is completely independent and that its members are truly neutral and act only in the people’s best interest.

The House voted in favor of HB367 to increase the income cap on Education Freedom Account programs. The cap was raised to 350% of the Federal Poverty Level and will allow more students having difficulties with achieving education success and parents faced with out-of-control inflation to qualify for the program. The vast majority of constituents in District 5 did not provide the Education Committee with written or in-person testimony in opposition, nor contacted me personally to that effect.

Only two constituents expressed opposition by email; therefore, I voted in favor of the education funding bills. This is a reminder that representatives must rely on ‘committee reports’ for assistance with decision making. The reports reflect the work of the committee members who hear and read all the testimony then recommend passing a bill or not. To officially have a voice in the legislative process by getting opinions, etc. on the record and for committee members’ consideration, one must either provide in-person testimony at hearings; and/or sign the ‘Blue Sheets’ as either ‘for or against’ any bill which is made available in the committee rooms before hearings begin; and/or may use the official House portal to submit remote, written testimony:

Emails sent to representatives independent of the remote testimony portal are not considered official testimony, or part of the official record. I wish to humbly thank the many constituents who have expressed  gratitude for the problem-solving I’ve happily accomplished on their behalf. Have a problem? Just let me know!