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N.H. Executive Council Unanimously Adopts Policy Against Harassment and Discrimination

Daniel S. Hurd via Flickr CC

The New Hampshire Executive Council occupies a somewhat nebulous position in New Hampshire state government: They meet and vote in the State House, but they aren’t legislators; they’re part of the executive branch, but they aren’t a state agency.

And until now, the five-member council — responsible for everything from vetting judicial nominees to approving contracts — likewise fell through the gaps when it came to the anti-harassment policies that cover most of New Hampshire state government.

On Wednesday, New Hampshire’s executive council closed this long-running loophole, voting unanimously to adopt its own official policy against harassment and discrimination.

While the executive branch has such policies in place for state employees and other agency heads, those rules didn’t explicitly apply to the council. Democratic Councilor Andy Volinsky noticed the gap a few months ago and led the charge to get his colleagues to fix it.

“We have a lot of vendors and sometimes lobbyists, other folks that come before us. They deserve to be protected, they deserve to know that we’re covered,” Volinsky said. “It also sets an example — as the five executive councilors, we have a responsibility to act as a board of directors, and having policy coverage like this is very appropriate.”

The policy mimics that in place for the rest of the executive branch. Under the newly adopted rules, if someone believes they’ve experienced harassment or discrimination from an executive councilor, they can report to another councilor, the attorney general or in some cases the state’s personnel director for further investigation.

Casey McDermott is a senior news editor at New Hampshire Public Radio. Throughout her time as an NHPR reporter and editor, she has worked with colleagues across the newsroom to deepen the station’s accountability coverage, data journalism and audience engagement across platforms.

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