Get Involved in NHMA's Legislative Policy Process

Cordell Johnston, NHMA Government Affairs Counsel

NHMA’s biennial legislative policy process is getting underway. As a first step, we are recruiting volunteers to serve on our three legislative policy committees. These committees will review legislative policy proposals submitted by local officials and NHMA affiliate groups and make recommendations on those policies, which will go to the NHMA Legislative Policy Conference in September.

If you are a local official in an NHMA member municipality and are interested in serving on one of the policy committees, please contact the Government Affairs staff at 800-852-3358, ext. 3408, or governmentaffairs@nhmunicipal.org.

Each of the committees deals with a different set of municipal issues. The committees and their subject areas are as follows:

Finance and Revenue – budgeting, revenue, tax exemptions, current use, assessing, tax collection, retirement issues, education funding.

General Administration and Governance – elections, Right-to-Know Law, labor, town meeting, charters, welfare, public safety.

Infrastructure, Development, and Land Use – solid/hazardous waste, transportation, land use, environmental regulation, housing, utilities, code enforcement, economic development.

When you contact us, please indicate your first and second choices for a committee assignment. We will do our best to accommodate everyone’s first choice, but we do need to achieve approximately equal membership among the committees. We hope to have 15-20 members on each committee.

There will be an organizational meeting for all committees on April 7. After that, each committee will meet separately as many times as necessary to review the policy proposals assigned to it—typically three to five meetings, all held on either a Monday or Friday, between early April and the end of May.

The committee process will allow for in-depth review and discussion of policy suggestions so all aspects of each proposal, both positive and negative, will be examined. Based on that review, each committee will make recommendations for the adoption of legislative policies.

Each committee will be asked to approve two or three “Action Recommendation” items, which would be drafted by staff for introduction in the 2015-2016 session. Each committee may also approve a number of “Priority Recommendations,” which may be developed into legislation depending on staff resources and other factors.  A maximum of 12 Action and Policy Recommendations may be approved by each committee. The committees may also make Standing Policy Recommendations, which are not included in the policy limitation.

Once the committees complete their work, their policy recommendations will be printed in Town & City and sent to every municipal member of NHMA. Each municipality’s governing body will be encouraged to review the recommendations and establish positions on them. Members will also have an opportunity to submit floor policy proposals in advance of the Legislative Policy Conference

At the Legislative Policy Conference, scheduled for September 26, 2014, each member municipality is entitled to cast one vote on every policy recommendation submitted and on any floor proposals. Each policy proposal must receive a two-thirds affirmative vote of those present and voting in order to be adopted as an NHMA policy.

Every NHMA legislative policy begins with a proposal submitted by a local official, board, or committee. If there is a law affecting municipal government that you think needs to be fixed, or if you have an idea for how the functions of local government might be improved through legislation, this is your opportunity to make a change.

Accompanying this article is a legislative policy proposal form that can be used to submit a proposal for consideration. The deadline for submitting proposals is April 25, although earlier submission is encouraged. Please follow the instructions on the form for submitting your proposal.

We leave you, then, with two assignments, should you choose to accept them:

* Contact the Government Affairs Staff (soon!) if you are interested in serving on a legislative policy committee; and

* Submit a legislative policy proposal (soon!) if you have an issue that you would like to be considered as part of this year’s policy process.