“Get right in there!”

Lobbying’s behind me, but civic engagement isn’t. I keep track of what my state legislature is doing and not doing on things like the right to life. A few days hence – when I’ll be away, as it happens – there will be seven hearings over two days on relevant bills.

Part of the work I do is to inform and encourage people who are concerned about human dignity, but who are still learning how to put that concern into public policy action. I sat down yesterday to write about the seven hearings – seven, when it can be a challenge to get people to turn out for even one.

Should I bother? I’m called to say Yes, whether I see results or not.

I keep in mind something Pope Francis said in 2015 in one of his unscripted moments. He was speaking to Catholic laity in Rome for a conference. From Carol Glatz of NCR Online:

Catholics must get involved in politics even if it may be “dirty,” frustrating and fraught with failure, Pope Francis said. Given today’s “throwaway” culture and so many problems unfolding in the world, “Do I as a Catholic watch from my balcony? No, you can’t watch from the balcony. Get right in there!” he said.

One man asked how to keep strong the link between faith in Jesus and the responsibility of building a more just and caring world.

Christians have a duty to work for the common good in the world of politics, the pope said, adding that that does not mean forming a Catholic political party.

“That is not the way. The church is the community of Christians who adore the Father, follow the way of the Son and receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. It is not a political party,” he said.

However, individual Catholics must get involved and “embroiled” in politics, he said, because it is one of the “highest forms of charity” since it seeks the common good.

NCR Online, 5/1/15, accessed 2/4/23

Embroiled. Perfect term for how it sometimes feels for a lay Catholic to step up and testify in front of people who just don’t want to hear it, even though they were elected to listen.

So yes, I’ll write about seven hearings for the readers who ask me what’s happening at the State House. Those are the people who’ll take the information and “get right in there,” urging representatives to do the right things, in season and out of season.

A legislative tool kit

Over at Leaven for the Loaf, I concentrate on what’s going on at the State House in Concord. Before each biennium, I offer a tool kit of sorts for people who want to communicate with legislators and track legislation. I’ve just posted the kit for 2023-24. For my New Hampshire neighbors, I humbly offer the information. For readers from other areas, you might be interested in how we do things in a state where we have 424 state legislators for just shy of a million and a half residents.

You live in New Hampshire, you’re pro-life, and you want your legislators to get the message. Here are the nuts-and-bolts of getting that job done with the help of the General Court website, which covers the state House and Senate.

No other voters in the nation are closer to their elected representatives than those of us in New Hampshire. Twenty-four senators, and 400 state representatives: you probably already know at least one of them for your town. If you don’t, it’s likely a simple matter to meet one. Take advantage of that. 

Big change in 2023, reflecting the fact that the House is split 201-198: Most House committees are evenly split, with eight to ten members from each party. I expect some interesting outcomes.

By the way, I usually write “reps” rather than representatives. That does not reflect any disrespect for the position of a House member. It’s a matter of efficiency, not flippancy. When I’m flippant, you’ll know it.

If this information looks familiar, you’ve already got the tools. Let sharpen them.

Read the rest of the post at Leaven for the Loaf.

N.H. House committee says no to life-issue bills; full House vote soon

The New Hampshire House Judiciary Committee has frowned on the recent life-issue bills. The full House will meet on Wednesday, February 24 and Thursday, February 25 to vote on the committee’s “Inexpedient to Legislate” (ITL) recommendations.

On three of the bills, the votes were 11-10 on ITL motions, with Republican committee chairman Edward “Ned” Gordon joining the committee’s ten Democrats in the majority.

Usually, overturning a committee report on the House floor is challenging. Most House members don’t have time to research every bill, and so they lean heavily on the brief committee reports printed in the House calendar. 

They also lean on two other things: recommendations from party leadership, and messages from constituents. Most of us can’t control the former. You can definitely influence the latter.

Read the full post at Leaven for the Loaf.

(Update: the House passed both bills, but not until after an extremely contentious series of events over born-alive infant protection. See Leaven for the Loaf for details.)