Capital Comments: Learning for legislators is on-going

Capital Comments from State Senator Bob Odell

Each week I shuttle between meetings in my office and committee rooms in the State House and the Legislative Office Building across the street.  Every meeting, whether with a constituent, a lobbyist or government official, is a learning experience.

If I were in school, a reader might compare it to moving between classrooms as much of a legislator’s role is being educated.  That means not listening to just one side of the story on legislation … but hearing the other side, too.

Last week I jotted down some information I gained from some of my meetings.

Joint Legislative Fiscal Committee:  As if we needed reminding, state governments have become very dependent upon federal government payments to states.  New Hampshire spent $2.271 billion of money received from the federal government in fiscal year 2011 that ended last June.  Total spending by the state in the same year, depending upon the figure used, was roughly $5 billion.  That means about 45 percent of state spending comes from Washington.

The implications for New Hampshire and other states are serious.  Spending from money we raise in-state  in the current two-year budget is down 11 percent from the prior biennium.  If the federal government, as advocated by leaders of both parties, cuts spending to reduce the national deficit and long term debt, some of those reductions will hit state governments. Continue reading

Proceed with Caution, Says One Budget Hawk | Front Door Politics

How cautious should lawmakers be when crafting the 2011-2013 biennium budget? Plenty cautious, according to one budget watcher who will give a briefing to a legislative committee today.

The third and final full day of economic briefings for a joint House-Senate committee will include presentations from three experts on the state budget and economy. Charlie Arlinghaus, president of the Josiah Bartlett Center for Public Policy, says, “I think this particular Legislature is prone to caution and it is an attitude to encourage.”

Via… Proceed with Caution, Says One Budget Hawk | Front Door Politics.

Photo: Charlie Arlinghaus urges caution in the next budget-writing session.

Capital Comments: First goal, do no damage

By State Senator Bob Odell

After the swearing in of Sunapee resident, Joe Mollica, as Chair of our state Liquor Commission, Governor Lynch came to my new office for an informal and unexpected end of year chat.  It was a slow day at the State House given it was just two days before Christmas and a good opportunity for the two of us to catch up.

The Governor wanted to make sure I had read a recent article in the National Journal magazine about New Hampshire.  The National Journal is a must read, highly respected publication for federal politicians and Washington policy makers.  The article the Governor was referring to is titled “The First State, Presidential hopefuls, take heed:  New Hampshire isn’t just a proving ground; it’s leading the nation out of recession.” Continue reading

Got Love For Your Community?

Sunapee News often writes about community. Now it’s your turn! We invite you to share your ideas about the things that contribute to your sense of community. A Gallup-Knight Foundation study, described below, discovered unexpected factors that cause people to love where they live. It also suggests new approaches to improving communities.

A three-year Gallup study of 26 U.S. cities has found that peoples’ love and passion for their community may be a leading indicator for local economic growth. Surprisingly, social offerings, openness and beauty are far more important than peoples’ perceptions of the economy, jobs or basic services in creating a lasting emotional bond between people and their community.

The 26 cities in the survey with the highest levels of resident love and passion for their community, or resident attachment, also had the highest rates of GDP growth over time.

“This study is important because its findings about emotional attachment to place point to a new perspective that we encourage leaders to consider; it is especially valuable as we aim to strengthen our communities during this tough economic time,” said Paula Ellis, Knight Foundation’s vice president for strategic initiatives.

Despite declines in the economy since the study was begun in 2008, the researchers found some surprising constants:

  • The things that create the greatest emotional connection between people and their community – social offerings, openness and aesthetics – have remained stable for three years.  These three things reliably rated highest among 10 drivers of resident attachment, which also included: civic involvement, social capital, education, perception of the local economy, leadership, safety, emotional well-being and basic services.
  • The link between local GDP and residents’ emotional bonds to a place has remained steady despite declines in the economy over the three years of the study.  Communities with residents who are more attached to a place show stronger growth even in tough economic times.
  • People’s perception of their community’s performance in social offerings, openness and beauty has a greater impact on their emotional bonds to a place than their demographic characteristics.
  • Perception of the local economy is not a leading reason residents create an emotional bond to a place.

For complete survey findings, visit www.soulofthecommunity.org.

Knight Soul of the Community is on Twitter (#SOTC) and Facebook (facebook.com/soulofthecommunity).

Sunapee News welcomes your comments.

Forum on NH Broadband Invites Public Participation

Enfield, New Hampshire

Public and private sector community leaders and interested citizens are invited to a forum that will discuss regional broadband activities and initiatives including those that affect the towns, citizens and businesses of the Upper Valley-Lake Sunapee and Southwest regions of New Hampshire. The program will be held on Monday, March 15 at the Enfield Community Building, 308 US Route 4 in Enfield at 2 p.m. The sponsors are WCNH.net, the Upper Valley-Lake Sunapee Regional Planning Commission and Southwest Regional Planning Commission. Discussion topics will include the New Hampshire Broadband Mapping Program, broadband grant applications and the Google “Fiber to the Home” Request for Information.

The program announcement encourages attendance by:
• Town officials (selectmen, managers/administrators, planners)
• School officials (board members, superintendents, business administrators)
• Chambers of Commerce members
• Business and civic leaders
• Economic development councils/Industrial development authorities
• Interested citizens

(Directions to Enfield Community Building: The community building is located at 308 US Route 4 in Enfield, NH. From I-89: Take Exit 17 and bear right onto Route 4 East into Enfield. Community Building is 100’ past intersection of Route 4 and Main St. Take a right into parking lot. From Lebanon: Route 4 East. Community Building is 100’ past intersection of Route 4 and Main St. Take a right into parking lot.)

For related information, visit www.broadbandnh.org or the University of New Hampshire website.

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Capital Comments: Stark Reminders of a Changing World

By State Senator Bob Odell

Last week was our annual legislative break.  It gave me the opportunity for a short trip to Portland, Oregon to spend a few days with a couple of grandsons.  Those two boys, seven and five years old, certainly helped take a lawmaker’s mind pretty much away from legislative issues and the state budget.

There are, of course, many stark reminders of how the world has been changing.   How about a $25 per charge for your bag when you check in at the airport?  And if overweight, the fee could be over $100. Continue reading

Sunapee Restaurant Owner Tapped for NH Liquor Commission

Gov. John Lynch today announced he will nominate Joseph Mollica of Sunapee to serve on the NH Liquor Commission at Wednesday’s Governor and Council meeting. Mollica is the owner of One Mile West Restaurant in Sunapee.

“Joseph Mollica has an exceptional business background and his expertise in the restaurant industry will be an asset to the commission,” Gov. Lynch said. “I know he will bring a valuable perspective to the Liquor Commission.”

The legislature is currently studying various ideas to re-structure the Liquor Commission, including moving from a full-time three-member commission to an executive director model.

If confirmed, Mollica would finish the term of former Commissioner Pat Russell, who retired earlier this year. The term will expire July 1, 2011.

Mollica has more than 20 years experience as a business owner in the restaurant industry, having owned and operated establishments in New Jersey, Massachusetts and New Hampshire. He graduated from the Johnson and Wales University in 1982 with a degree in culinary arts and food service management, according to the governor’s press release.

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