Capital Comments: The Election Results and the Legislative Process

By State Senator Bob Odell

Legislators have often worked to impose mandates on local schools to teach civics.  It is natural that politically active people would want to make sure that public schools engage and motivate students to become good citizens.

And while school work is important, the power of an idea to pay respect to the staff and graduates of a high school who are serving or have served in our military seemed to this writer a very powerful addition to our attempts at civic engagement for students.

With the support of Stevens High School principal Paul Couture, substitute teacher Carol Thebarge’s idea for a Veterans Day ceremony for the students and staff to honor alumni who have served in the military was a new approach for involving students in our annual Veterans Day holiday.

An American flag, which had been saluted by our fighting men and women, and sent to Carol by Stevens High School graduate Army Sergeant David Carrier now serving in Afghanistan, was raised during an emotional ceremony.

I was at the ceremony to read a letter of support and congratulations to Stevens High School from Governor John Lynch.  Standing during the ceremony at the top of the stairs at the entryway to the school, I could see the attentiveness and respect the students showed during the program.

The highlights of the program were the reading of names of staff and alumni who have served and the raising the flag that so recently had flown in Afghanistan by Stevens High School teacher and nearly 40 year veteran of the Coast Guard, Tom Liveston.

I saw no texting, no cell phones in use and general student appreciation as all of us learned a new way to show our respect and to honor our men and women who have served or are serving our nation in the military.  Congratulations and thanks to Carol Thebarge for implementing a wonderful idea that is as good as any civics mandate from Concord.

While the majority in the new Senate has decided that Peter Bragdon (Milford) will be the Senate President and the House majority will determine the next Speaker of the House this week, there are hundreds of decisions on standing committee appointments, committee chairmanships, assignments of office space and parking spaces to be made.

There are dozens of statutory committees, commissions and councils that have members appointed by the House Speaker or the Senate President.  I canceled a meeting last week of the legislative subcommittee of the State Parks System Advisory Council. There are two Senators on the subcommittee and one was defeated in the election.  There are three House members; one was defeated, one did not seek re-election.  Only two of the five legislators are left on the committee.  Subcommittee work will have to await new appointments.

The Commission to Study Business Taxes has been meeting weekly to insure that we meet our statutory obligation to submit an interim report by December 1. The final report is not due for two years.  Business taxes are a complicated subject on the best of days and the input of veteran legislators with professional tax experience is important.

There are four House members on the commission; two were defeated.  One is a CPA and the other is a lawyer and CPA.  Three members are from the Senate.  One was defeated. And she is an experienced attorney with a practice involving general business and real estate matters.

The ripple effect of the decisions of voters on Election Day is forcing change throughout the legislative process. The new House Speaker and Senate President will need to move quickly to fill dozens of vacancies on study commissions and other committees.

The new leadership teams in the House and Senate will have full court presses put on them by members seeking appointments to favored committees.  A letter has been circulated to all newly elected House members asking them to submit their three choices for committee assignment.  The process in the Senate is no less deliberate, just a bit more subtle.

Our local Chambers of Commerce provides many services to our small business community. We all know it is those small businesses that are at the core of our successful regional economy.

Twice a year, for example, the Newport Area Chamber of Commerce hosts a “salute” breakfast to recognize businesses being established, moving into the area or changing location.  It is an opportunity to have chamber members see what is going on and to encourage and possibly help the new or expanding businesses.

The new businesses in the area recognized last week at the Fall Salute Breakfast included People’s United Bank, a mortgage lender; Watts Bakery, a new Main Street store; City Auto Sales, a trailer and used cars dealer; Pinnacle, a bait and tackle shop that will also sell hunting and fishing licenses; and, Northwood Power Equipment, a new location for a major regional dealer of tractors, backhoes and other power equipment.

The Community Alliance has a new volunteer driver program which will match volunteer drivers with people who need rides to go shopping, to get to medical appointments and other daily tasks that require transportation.

Two businesses were recognized as they expand and move to new locations.  Lake Sunapee Plumbing and Heating has relocated to their newly renovated building on Sunapee Street.  NAPA Auto Parts has also moved to their new location on Sunapee Street.

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