A potential law to prevent changes to petitioned warrant articles during municipality and school deliberative sessions would likely have a negative impact on Windham, according to Town Manager Dave Sullivan.
House Bill 423, which is being sponsored by State Rep. Fred Rice (R-Hampton), seeks to prevent a small group of residents from changing the bottom line of petitions.
"In terms of the legislation and based on our recent sessions, I think it would have a negative impact," Sullivan said in an email statement to Windham Patch. "There are times that changes are needed to an article to clarify issues.
Sullivan referenced two petitioned Conflict of Interest ordinances from last year, when he said the petitioners made amendments to their own petition.
"Under the proposed legislation, even the petitioners would not be allowed to make corrections or changes," Sullivan said. "This to me does not seem appropriate."
Sullivan also noted in his response that he supports the ability of residents to be able to submit the petitioned warrant articles to Town Meeting.
"This is the Democratic process," he said, "(and) while we have not had dozens of petitions over the years, generally most of our petitions submitted do not deal with appropriations, but rather such things as ordinances or 'sense of the meeting' items."
For Rice, the logic behind the bill has been likened to deliberative session "gymnastics" in recent years, where people have tried to "spin tricks," changing the intent of petitions.
Speaking about Windham voters, Sullivan said that generally they may make changes to an article but it is more to clarify a point or remove or add some wording, but the general intent remains.
Co-sponsors of the proposed change to town meeting law are state Rep. Tracy Emerick (R-Hampton) and Sen. Nancy Stiles (R-Hampton), among others.
No petitions will be on either the school or town ballots in Windham for 2013.