NASHUA — With the new legislative session kicking off this week, state representatives have been invited to participate in a forum to discuss important topics that are affecting the community.
On Friday, dozens of elected officials from southern New Hampshire are expected to attend the 2014 Legislative Symposium. Hosted by the Greater Nashua Chamber of Commerce, the fifth annual event will include a panel of business professionals set to address key issues that will be discussed in Concord in the coming year.
The panel will debate three general topics — a gas tax, Northern Pass and Medicaid and Medicare expansion.
“This event gives the chamber and local business leaders an opportunity to discuss — outside of Concord — potentially controversial topics in a neutral environment,” said Chris Williams, president of the Greater Nashua Chamber of Commerce.
The symposium is a nonpartisan forum where legislators can gather to informally debate issues outside of specific bills, focusing more on larger topics that will directly affect the local business community, Williams said.
“We approach the issues through the lens of the business community’s needs over the next 10 years, and break down the trends to see where we are compared to where we need to be,” says a posting about the symposium on the chamber’s website
Six panelists will be featured at the event, which will be held from 1 p.m. to 6:45 p.m. Friday at the Radisson Hotel in Nashua, 11 Tara Blvd.
The first of three seminars will provide an overview of Medicaid expansion in New Hampshire, and will include speeches from Steve Norton, executive director of the New Hampshire Center for Public Policy; Tom Wilhelmsen Jr., CEO of Southern New Hampshire Medical Center; and Charlie Arlinghaus, president of The Josiah Bartlett Center.
The second seminar titled “Is it Time for a Gas Tax in New Hampshire?” will include speakers Chris Clement of the New Hampshire Department of Transportation, state Rep. David Campbell of Nashua, and Arlinghaus, who will return for additional comments on this topic.
The final seminar will feature William Quinlan, president of Public Service of New Hampshire, who will discuss why divestiture of PSNH assets matter to southern New Hampshire.
The symposium is open to the public, and will be followed by an informal reception. The event was originally designed to be held every other year, but because of such tremendous feedback from legislators and business owners, the chamber decided to host the event annually.
About 45 area legislators are expected to participate, in addition to Mayor Donnalee Lozeau and about three city aldermen, according to Williams. An estimated 30 people from the public will likely attend, he added.
Nashua’s delegation, which was predominantly Republican before the 2012 election, is now mainly Democrats. The Democrats are returning to power in Nashua with 23 members of the House of Representatives and just three Republicans.
Friday’s symposium is sponsored by BAE Systems and PSNH. Tickets to the event are available for $30 for chamber members, and $40 for non-members. To reserve a seat, call 881-8333.