Executive Director Message

Margaret M.L. Byrnes

Happy New Year! I hope you enjoyed the holidays and are feeling good about the year ahead!

As we head into 2024 (a leap year, in fact!), we're both grateful for another successful year on the books and excited to work with you in the year to come.

Let’s start off with the fun stuff: We had a blast with many of you at our Annual Conference in November! Our hilarious keynote, Meagan Johnson, taught us about the different generations in the workforce right now, and how their values and beliefs influence the way they work. Attendees had the choice of over 50 educational sessions throughout the two-day conference, and many stayed for our dinner and entertainment event, featuring comedy magician Dewayne Hill. Thank you for another memorable event!

In the last month, we launched our new Member Portal, which members can access through the NHMA website. The portal is a new member benefit that will streamline and improve the way members engage with NHMA, including opting into NHMA communications, like the Legislative Bulletin and Newslink; downloading or purchasing publications; registering for workshops; posting classified ads; managing the contact information for local officials from your municipality—and more.  For a tutorial on how to get started, view our 35-minute webinar from December here.  Here are instructions on how to register for an event on our website.   Look out for more tutorials on our website and via e-blast to our members. (And thank you in advance for your patience as we get the portal up and fully operational!)

On the legislative side, NHMA government affairs staff will be following about 400 bills in 2024—an increase from last year. This means there are even more bills affecting municipalities, and many not in positive ways. We rely heavily on local officials to contact their legislators or testify at legislative hearings to assist in passing legislation that comports with our member adopted policies, and defeating legislation that does not.

Unfortunately, a recurring piece of legislation that would make it harder for municipalities to work with NHMA and have their voice heard has also returned for 2024; this year, that bill is HB 1479. This means that local officials must not only advocate for legislation that is supportive of our communities—but they also must fight to be heard at all. It’s never too early to tell your representatives to oppose HB 1479 and any legislation that seeks to cut local officials out of the legislative process. To stay in the know throughout the session, don’t forget to register to receive the Legislative Bulletin, sent weekly during the session, and/or subscribe for live updates on bills through our bill tracker, FastDemocracy.

The legal services team recently created a new resource for local officials, the Volunteer Manual, which we hope will be helpful to current and prospective local officials alike. Right now, they’re ramping up for our annual Moderators Workshops in January and February and a slew of town meeting-related legal inquiries leading up to March 12, the date on which most towns hold their annual meetings. After town meeting, be on the lookout for our annual revision of Knowing the Territory, the “bible” of municipal law, and join us for a Local Officials Workshop if you can. Other training opportunities throughout the year include A Hard Road to Travel, the Right-to-Know Law, training for municipal trustees, code enforcement, the Land Use Law Conference—just to name a few.

2024, here we go!

Warmest regards,

Margaret Byrnes   Margaret M.L. Byrnes, NHMA Executive Director

P.S. Look out for NHMA’s 2023 Annual Report in the March/ April issue of Town & City!

P.P.S. 2024 dues invoices were sent out in November. We ask that you remit payment—or just let us know when payment will be made (e.g., after town meeting) — by January 31. Thank you for your membership with NHMA!