Some Readers Say They Don’t Feel Safe at In-Person Legislative Committee Meetings

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Rep. Marjorie Smith, D-Durham

GOP Leaders Refuse To Continue Remote Meetings Despite COVID-19 Surge asked in our free newsletter Wednesday if you feel safe attending legislative committee meetings in Concord with the surge of COVID-19 cases – up to 357 new cases Thursday and 2 new deaths – with GOP leaders refusing to continue remote meetings in an unscientific survey – and here are your responses:

Rep. Marjorie Smith, D-Durham
Of course I don’t feel safe. But how do I honor my commitment to my constituents if I stay away?  I serve on the Redistricting committee we met today. All the Democrats on the committee and all the advocates in the audience were masked, but not the Republicans on the committee nor the reporters were masked. I know at least one unmasked reporter who has children too young to be vaccinated.  Were the reporters fearful of the Republicans thinking that by their wearing a mask they were showing political bias. If so, I think that is sick-in more than one way
And the committee member with the most experience is not allowed to participate remotely
The state Supreme Court has supported remote meetings
With Covid numbers increasing exponentially, there is no reasonable way to deny remote meetings
Do I feel unsafe, yes.  Will I attend meetings where I am expected to participate, yes
Thanks for asking

Jacquelyn Willey
I would not feel comfortable attending legislative meetings at the State House during this time.

Nancy Marashio
Your question is do I feel safe attending legislative hearings.  For me, safety is not the issue.
As a League of Women Voters NH State Board member asked to pay particular attention to election law and to higher education, I have spent my share of time attending and testifying at Committee meetings.  Some times there were plenty of chairs and the experience was supportive of public participation.  Other times many of us were backed up into the hall where we could not even hear what was being discussed.  During Covid’s electronic meetings, access was much easier and more consistent (though I did miss the in-person ease of reading the body language accompanying discussion).
The Speaker of the House is withholding electronic access, deliberately lowering the quality of access and the numbers of the public (not to mention legislators whose health is threatened in this Covid atmosphere)  who participate that way.   Article 8 in the NH Constitution Bill of Rights directly addresses “the public’s right of access to governmental proceedings” and THAT, not safety is my concern.

Andrea Thorn
No, I do not feel safe coming to legislative hearings in person while there is a surge in Delta variant. Also very tired of GOP ignoring the dangers to all of us. 

Patrick B. Miller, MPH
No. Nor other State meetings in other locations. Virtual options should be offered.

I would not feel safe attending meetings, especially since those who refuse to live stream meetings are often the same people who refuse vaccines and/or refuse to mask. Apparently they believe their freedom to infect others supersedes the common good.
Reprehensible, selfish and indefensible!

Annie Robbins
I do not feel safe attending legislative sessions. My vaxed, mask wearing, son just contracted covid while visiting in August. It was so educational to be able to watch our legislators at work last session. 

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