Before attending law school in New Hampshire in 2014, I had never been to New Hampshire. At that time, I did not imagine that I would be actively involved in local advocacy issues and discussions. I did not even realize how I could become involved.
Will Stewart, the Executive Director of Stay Work Play stated, “The goal of the Matters of State series is to virtually connect each region’s legislators with their under-40 constituents. We want to help legislators better understand the challenges faced by their younger constituents as this understanding is critical they craft public policies that have the potential to affect whether young people stay in, or leave, New Hampshire. And likewise, we want to create opportunities for young people to get to know their elected representatives so that they feel more comfortable reaching out to them in the future about these important public policies.”
Attending the Matters of the State for the Manchester region rekindled my enthusiasm for local public policy. The event was high energy and filled with engaging conversation. I can honestly say I came away from discussion feeling hopeful for change. I was excited about what I learned, the people and local representatives I met (virtually), and the synergy of attendees, group leaders, and local representatives.
I was pleased to see so many of New Hampshire’s State Representatives and Senators getting actively involved in these discussions. I believe, at one point, I counted 8 state representatives and 1 state senator in attendance.
As part of these policy discussions, we broke out into smaller groups to address solutions to reasons why young people leave the Manchester region as well as the state. I was lucky enough to be grouped with three state legislators as well as a highly engaged business owner. We addressed real life topics ranging from housing affordability and childcare availability to diversity, equity, and inclusion.
The goal for many employers in New Hampshire, such as my employer McLane Middleton, P.A., is to attract and retain key talent. Some of those key legislative priorities were addressed during the event including:
1. Diversity – attracting and promoting a diverse workforce
2. Student Loans – addressing affordable public education in New Hampshire as well as student loan payoff, which is essential to the future success of our state
3. Affordable housing – creating affordable housing for young professionals both on a short term to longer term basis.
Our group also addressed the increasing homeless population issue in New Hampshire and ways to improve the safety of our streets. Easy transportation, including rail service, was also addressed.
I would encourage young professionals to get involved. You will certainly benefit from engaging in such a stimulating environment. If you are interested in these types of conversations, Stay Work Play Advocacy Committee is taking on members. You could also sign up for the State House Skinny email newsletter to be kept in the loop on state legislation affecting young people.