Deborah Aylward’s View from Concord — April

The NH Journal reports: “SB 563, sponsored by Sen. Bill Gannon (R-Sandown), prohibits state and local government entities from adopting sanctuary policies to prohibit or impede the enforcement of federal immigration law.” It also instructs local law enforcement officers to “use best efforts to support the enforcement of federal immigration law.” The bill passed the Senate 14 – 10.

In the Municipal and County Government Committee: HB 1124 “relative to limiting conflicts of interest for municipal board and committee members,” passed by an overwhelming, bipartisan vote (19 – 1). This bill addresses problems that, based on testimony, are prevalent statewide.

Whereas towns are enabled by law to adopt “conflict of interest ordinances,” many have not. The overall intent of the bill is to prevent public servants from having their fingers in too many pies and having the opportunity to unduly influence and/or to vote when having a direct or indirect, personal or pecuniary interest in the matters being decided, especially when involving financial transactions. Separation of positions and powers will help protect against fraud, waste, and abuse of taxpayer funds and assets. 

During public hearings, the committee heard testimony about numerous towns having officials, employees, and department heads occupying seats on boards and committees who engage in conduct that drives special or self-serving interests that are not in the best interests of the citizens served. From testimony, this is a widespread problem across the state, especially in certain smaller towns. This bill is long overdue, and it is anticipated to sail through the full house.