The following letter was sent to New Hampshire Senate President Chuck Morse, Senate Majority Leader Jeb Bradley, Senate Minority Leader Donna Soucy, House Speaker Sherman Packard and House Majority Leader Jason Osborne.
Citizen participation has always been a priority for the New Hampshire legislature. The health of our citizen government depends on it. And the health of our people and economy depend on stemming the COVID-19 pandemic.
That’s why the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation joins many others in urging House and Senate leaders to provide the people of New Hampshire the option to testify remotely during the upcoming legislative session. Remote access to the legislative process in 2020 and 2021 showed us that this works.
The Charitable Foundation has long supported a wide range of efforts to enhance civic engagement among New Hampshire residents. When people engage constructively in civic life and actively contribute to the well-being of their communities, those communities are strengthened.
A key component of our civic health and citizen government is the ability of those most affected by proposed legislation to share their knowledge and experience with decision-makers. Remote access during the last session expanded such participation — while protecting the health of legislators, their constituents and our communities.
Remote access is the only way for many people — those with disabilities that impair mobility, or who cannot take time off from work, or who live great distances from Concord — to exercise their fundamental right of citizenship to participate in the legislative process.
The surge in COVID-19 cases prompted Governor Sununu to issue a recent executive order to help address the strain on our healthcare system, a strain that puts anyone who may need emergency or urgent care at risk. Large public gatherings, like in-person legislative hearings, will mean more people needing care and not getting it.
Remote legislative access is the right way to protect New Hampshire residents, to ensure that our government remains transparent and accessible, and to support civic participation for all.