Frost’s Chilling Effect

by Susan Olsen

Anyone who is not a lobbyist but has used their own time and money – and taken the time out of their work day – to testify before a NH House or Senate committee knows how scary and intimidating it can be.   So you write your testimony, try to keep it concise, print it out in a big font, make copies for the committee, take a deep breath and begin.  Whether you will get questions from committee members is an entirely different thing but you hope to convey your ideas, your concerns, and yes, even your fears, of the pending legislation at hand.

Waiting to hear your name called, sitting at that small table with anywhere from 5 to twenty legislators looking at you, trying to keep your voice from breaking, making eye contact while keeping your place in your remarks is not for the faint of heart.

But imagine while you are reading your brief testimony to the committee, one member posts a copy of your testimony – with your name – on social media and says ‘We have another testimony reader. I am going to complain,  hashtag “wasting time, I can read”. ‘  On February 7, barely a month into her newly elected term, Democrat Representative Sherry Frost did just that.

I am sure my personal opinion of Ms. Frost’s crude and disrespectful language toward her colleagues is of no consequence to her or likely, anyone.  However, the chilling effect that Ms. Frost’s disdain for – and public humiliation of – everyday folks makes the job of citizen advocates even more scarier.   Why would anyone subject themselves to that?  Unless private citizens believe they will be received with consideration and respect – awkward and unpolished as some may be – why even try?

For no other reason, Sherry Frost should be admonished……

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