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Steven Cunningham State Representative
Sullivan District 2


April 6, 2010

Steven Cunningham represents the towns of Springfield, Croydon, Newport, Goshen and Washington in the NH House of Representatives. 

Representative Cunningham is a member of the House Committee on Municipal and County Government.



Ever read a bill proposed as law and wonder how in heck did someone come up with such a foolish suggestion? I frequently did, and now I know what I suspected was right. I see them all the time at the state house. Now, I'll tell you, but I will make up the example from various bills to avoid embarrassing any of my esteemed colleagues.

Representative Bigshot's constituent Pete the Gardener has a problem with the neighbor's cat. Pete's prize petunia patch is regularly visited by the cat, where it likes to poo. So, Pete calls the animal control officer and insists that he capture the neighbor's cat, explaining that it not only leaves poo in his petunia patch, but digs up the prize petunias in its ardor to dig a hole. The local animal control officer explains that cats need to poo; always try to bury it; it is not illegal for a cat to run free, and so there is nothing he can do.

Incensed, Pete the Gardener calls his state representative, tells him about the cat poo in his prize petunia patch and insists that there needs to be a law. As Pete donated to Representative Bigshot's campaign and put up campaign signs for him, he knows Bigshot will be obligated to write the bill, and he does.

Submitting a bill took Representative Bigshot about an hour of time and cost the New Hampshire taxpayers over $1,000. It now receives a title, "A law to address the befouling of fauna" or some such title as obscures how asinine the bill really is. The bill now goes before a committee of 21 representatives. The first step is to hold a hearing. Representative Bigshot will speak first to introduce the bill. He explains how petunia patches state-wide are plagued by cat poo, and failure of the committee to act will cause severe illness in tens of thousands of gardeners.

Next, Pete the Gardener testifies. He regales the committee with horror stories of prize petunia patches pooed in, petunias pried from their patch by persistent digging, and poo covered fingers. Having used 30 minutes of 21 representatives time, the hearing is closed. The committee holds an executive session a few days later to examine the proposed legislation. With luck, the committee will spend 15 minutes discussing this important legislation and recommends that the NH House of Representatives should vote to kill this bill. Pete the Gardener, by this point, has cost the taxpayers at least $1,000, used over 12 man-hours of legislators time and used up a lot of paper.

The point of the story: I appreciate all the supporters who contributed to my campaign and stood in the cold holding signs and did all sorts of other chores to get me elected. I am always happy to listen, to help, and to submit appropriate legislation. Please don't get upset about your version of cat poo in the petunia patch problem and ask me to submit a bill. I won't do it. But, I will attend a committee hearing tomorrow on someone else's version of such a bill.

Steven Cunningham, O.D.
Representative, Sullivan County District  2

Telephone:  603-271-3317


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