Monday, June 29, 2009
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
Donna Schlachman has often been asked, “What’s it like?” That is, what's it like being a State Representative. Here's her answer:
Serving as your State Representative has been, in a word, wonderful. The work is hard, time consuming, and fascinating. I am definitely busier than ever before – though happily so. My Concord days have generally been Tuesday-Thursday, with the House in session on Wednesdays from January through June. When I am not in Concord, I find myself attending meetings,researching bills, preparing for committee hearings, preparing for Session, talking with constituents, tracking down answers to questions, and responding to emails. It is a full-time job, and I have no regrets. Being a part of history has been an inspiring experience. I have seen my fellow legislators at their very best and their very worst during debates in Representative’s Hall. On several occasions I have been brought to tears by it all.
Being a Rep is the best job I’ve ever had; even ones that I was reasonably paid for. It is challenging and fun. I have delved into areas I never would have expected to be involved with, or interested in, and loved it. And, I now have friends from over our state. People are incredibly nice and incredibly hard working. I find most of the Reps care very deeply about serving their constituents in Concord and doing what they feel is best for them and for the state. Yes, there are some duds. But, it amazes me that we can get so many good people to do this much work for $100 a year (before taxes) and a free pass through the NH tolls.
In about a month, the regular legislative session, during which new legislation is considered, will come to an end until next January. July is quiet in Concord and I’m taking some time in August as well for some “down” time (though I’ll travel with my laptop.) My work will pick up as the summer comes to a close. Late summer and fall/winter, I will serve on assigned legislative commissions and study committees, as well as work on a number of bills that have been retained by my committee for further development. Responding to constituent needs and issues never stops. I am also involved with crafting several pieces of new legislation that will be introduced next session.
As some of you know, I was assigned to the Commerce and Consumer Affairs Committee. (There are 22 Standing Committees with 18-20 members on each.) Commerce is a very busy policy committee. We hear close to 100 bills related to banking, insurance and business regulation as well as consumer protection and safety. (About 800 are introduced in the House each session.) Some examples of my committee’s bills are: the “soft landing” bill for NH’s automobile industry; insurance coverage for telemedicine; expansion of Healthy Kids insurance to age 26; coverage for Autism Spectrum Disorder; use of education and occupation in determining car insurance rates; transparency in condominium governance; banning phosphates in dish detergents; barring the use of RFID devices in consumer products; capping rates on short-term loans; and the use of fingerprinting in check cashing. Many of this year's bills tried to address problems with our healthcare system – we saw the mess up close and personal.
As a new State Representative, I have found the access the public has to the legislative process to be thrilling. It is democracy at its best. I invite you each of you to spend a day with me in Concord -attend hearings and sit in on the House session. It's a great way to see how the process works. One of the people that came with me this session loved it so much she came back again. Another may just run for office next time. If you have any interest in public service, or are just curious about the process, let’s talk.
I thank you all for this amazing opportunity you have given me by supporting my campaign. It feels like a good fit for my skill set and I hope that you will continue to contact me with concerns, issues and questions. We all know that the news media doesn’t always “get it right” so please call about anything and I will do my best share what I know and/or find out the answer for you.