In 2019, I worked with the N.H. Department of Information Technology to submit Senate Bill 2020-694 relative to minimal cybersecurity standards for municipalities. The bill mandated municipalities complete a cybersecurity checklist. Employee training to avoid phishing scams is part of this nationally accepted list.

At the bill’s hearing, NHDOIT staff testified the procedure would average 1 to 2 hours per town per year. But opponents protested towns must be free to decide for themselves whether to review their cybersecurity.

Regulations help correct for ignorance and protect from fraud. Building codes guard against unsafe structures. We are required to go to school and to pass driver tests because such requirements reduce public-assistance costs and unnecessary deaths. SB 694’s mandate would have lessened the likelihood that towns fall prey to cybersecurity scams.

We amended the bill to make the security checklist optional. The Finance Committee still refused it because it included $100,000 to advise and support towns on cybersecurity.

This year, one phishing attack cost Peterborough $2.3 million, 23 times the cost of SB 694.

Frugality and freedom from excessive regulation are core New Hampshire values. But ignoring real costs and consequences is hardly frugal. It’s time for New Hampshire to acknowledge pennywise policy and the freedom to behave foolishly cost our state millions every year. When we refuse to fund higher education, the cost comes in lost workforce. Refuse to raise the minimum wage and social-service costs rise. Refuse to mandate masks, health-care costs increase. Any practical Yankee can connect those dots.

Instead, in the name of “choice,” the state set up Education “Freedom” Accounts that will move millions of taxpayer dollars to a tiny scholarship agency. Neither the state nor districts will have any oversight of the out-of-state for-profits receiving the funds. Nor will taxpayers have any transparency into EFA’s educational effectiveness since students are free to submit a private portfolio to a third party for review. Taxpayers are signed on to fund as many students as qualify, with no budget cap. The program already appears to be over budget.

Is New Hampshire to become some anything-goes fantasyland where the public foots the bill for people’s whims and fraud-prone schemes? Are none of our leaders strong enough to place public well-being before pennywise policy and the freedom to be foolhardy?