The New Hampshire Municipal Association (NHMA) has represented the interests of cities and towns before the New Hampshire General Court (House and Senate) and various state agencies since its founding in 1941. Municipal advocacy remains a central element of NHMA’s mission. Government Affairs services provided by NHMA’s Government Affairs staff members are funded solely by NHMA member dues.
The NHMA Government Affairs staff includes two attorney-lobbyists, a non-attorney lobbyist, and one support staff. The Government Finance Advisor also provides advocacy services as needed. NHMA’s Legislative Policy Positions and guiding Legislative Principles are set biannually by the Committee on Government Affairs (CGA), and serve to guide staff in advocacy activities. During and between legislative sessions, the Government Affairs staff works closely with the NHMA Board to ensure that NHMA’s legislative policies and principles are promoted consistently and aggressively before the legislature. For more information regarding the NHMA Board of Directors and CGA, visit the Governing Committees page.
Members of the NHMA Government Affairs staff follow several hundred bills of interest to municipalities during each legislative session. They draft legislation to carry out NHMA’s legislative policies, monitor legislative hearings, testify on bills when appropriate and work individually with legislators and local officials throughout the process. The staff also follows numerous study committees, commissions, boards and state administrative agencies, commenting on and assisting in the development of proposed agency rules. On occasion, staff members also work with New Hampshire’s U.S. congressional delegation on federal legislation affecting municipalities.
Every Friday during the legislative session, the Government Affairs staff publishes the Legislative Bulletin, which notifies local officials of upcoming hearings, votes on important issues, details of legislative activity during the past week, along with methods of contacting legislators on bills of municipal importance. Contact the Government Affairs department to add your name to our Legislative Bulletin distribution list.
Can You Spare 15 Minutes for Your Association?
We recognize you are a very busy person. With work, family and other commitments, who has time for legislative advocacy, right? Recognizing time as a formidable challenge, NHMA has developed the 15 Minute Advocate program to fit into the busy lives of our members. The goal is to provide information that members can quickly read, consider and take action on in 15 minutes or less. Learn more and sign up today! 15 Minute Advocate Form (PDF)
Assisting Local Officials with Advocacy Initiatives
Although members of the Government Affairs staff testify and work with legislators on many bills, it is always more compelling when local officials participate directly in the advocacy process. Hearing from local officials reminds legislators that the staff is representing the interests of “real people.” This is especially true when legislators hear from officials in their own districts. There is also a continuing need for local officials to serve with legislators and state agency representatives on various state policy boards and commissions.
NHMA strongly encourages local officials to contact their legislators and state regulators on matters of importance to their municipalities, and testify before them when possible. Staff members are available to facilitate this process.
The NHMA publication, A Guide to Legislative Advocacy for Local Officials, provides a thorough look at the legislative process and how you can participate. A limited number of print publications are available; members may contact NHMA staff to request a copy while supplies last.
NHMA Statutory Limitations
New Hampshire law (RSA 31:8-a) permits cities and towns to belong to NHMA provided that the Association does not take positions on “matters which do not directly affect New Hampshire towns and cities, nor engage in partisan political activity by endorsing, or otherwise supporting, any political party or candidate.” NHMA strictly adheres to those limitations. It never supports, financially or otherwise, any candidate or party, nor does it take positions on legislation not directly affecting municipalities.
NHMA also does not lobby on behalf of specific municipalities, although it will support or oppose legislation of concern to a specific municipality so long as it is of interest to members generally. NHMA is careful not to take positions on legislation in the absence of clear, member-adopted policy positions.
For more information regarding NHMA Legislative Advocacy, contact the Government Affairs staff at 800.852.3358, ext. 3408, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.