March 03. 2013 4:19PM

Your Turn NH: The role of independent contractors in NH's economy merits our support


As our state's elected officials begin to debate the issues facing Granite Staters and New Hampshire's business community, I would ask them to keep in mind the challenges we have all faced in recent years. In particular, small businesses and independent contractors continue to struggle under unnecessary government regulation and worry about their jobs and their ability to support their families.

Since it is never too late for a New Year's resolution, I encourage lawmakers at every level of government to commit to making it easier for businesses to expand this year. Specifically, the role of independent contractors in our economy should be supported to ensure every resident has access to flexible employment arrangements so that finishing college, caring for children, or helping elderly parents does not prevent anyone from meaningful self-employment. As a new parent who hopes to eventually be a stay-at-home mom, the independent contractor model would be a perfect fit for my family and one I hope to pursue in the coming years.

Independent contractors are critical to New Hampshire's workforce. During my tenure in the State Legislature, I had the opportunity to meet many contractors who were making important contributions to our state's business sector, including my husband who was an independent contractor when he owned his own consulting firm.

From tax preparers and hair stylists to delivery drivers and business consultants, many of the people who contribute to our community and the success of our economy, work as independent contractors.

In recent years, certain special interests have attempted to "classify" independent contractors as business employees, increasing the costs for small businesses that engage contractors and reducing the work-life flexibility that independent contractors highly value. Additionally, in some states, short-sighted lawmakers have imposed regulations on independent contractors, stifling growth and taking away people's rights to choose a livelihood that works best for them. New Hampshire should not follow that path.

As our economy continues to recover from the recession, independent contracting opportunities have grown immensely. From the new mother who wants to earn an income without going back to work full-time to the machinist who has established a new livelihood as an independent truck driver, we must make sure that we do not regulate or legislate people out of the opportunities they need to provide for themselves and their families.

Although we just narrowly averted going over the fiscal cliff, our country and state continue to face fiscal challenges and uncertainty. What we do know for certain, however, is that the freedom for small business owners to innovate and the ability of an individual to find work that suits their needs should be protected. As we move forward in 2013, I urge you to ask our leaders to share this resolve and support the role of independent contractors in New Hampshire.

Molly Sanborn works in non-profit public relations and served as a State Representative from Hooksett from 2010 to 2012.