Register of Probate: Should it Stay or Should it go?

An elected office with no responsibilities?!  I want to know what you think.

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I am running for an elected position that doesn’t actually require any work. Sounds absurd, right?  How is this even a thing? But someone in every county in New Hampshire gets elected to this position every two years.  It’s called the Register of Probate (ROP). I want to know what you think. If you have opinions already, feel free to jump to the survey.  If you want to know more, please, keep reading.  

The job of ROP was intended to help people navigate the court system when dealing with disputed wills and estates. Currently, the actual duties have been stripped. The title is merely symbolic.

I did a little digging, and I discovered that the office of ROP has gone through changes every now and again:

  • NH’s first state constitution was written in 1776, which did not include the office of ROP.
  • in 1784, New Hampshire replaced the State Constitution with an upgraded version.  It included the office of ROP, but not as an elected position.
  • Nearly 100 years later, the State Constitution was amended in 1877 to make the ROP an elected position.  
  • In 2011, the responsibilities of the ROP were redistributed to counties clerks during judicial system overhaul. Yet, the office of ROP remains in the Constitution and on our ballots.

In 2018, we still can’t decide if the office of ROP should stay or go.  A bill to fully restore the position of ROP passed the House last year, but died in the Senate.

So, why am I running for ROP? It’s kind of a long a story.  It involves the opioid crisis and acupuncture needles.

This is New Hampshire, where running for office is quite the hobby for a lot of people. Many kept asking me when I am going to run for office. I’m baffled. I moved to Manchester in 2010 to join a busy Community Acupuncture clinic and eat maple syrup.  

But, two years ago, I decided that I wanted to get legislators to pass a state law to put acupuncture needles into the hands of other health professionals. Our state needs more treatment options for behavioral health, PTSD, and Substance Misuse Disorder. I lead an advocacy team to make that happen.

Elizabeth Ropp, advocating to change the state law around more treatment options for those suffering with addiction, including getting acupunture needles into the hands of other health professionals. Photo/Eric Zulaski

Our law passed unanimously.  It was a great experience to play an active part in how a bill becomes a law. I got to see the best in many of New Hampshire’s elected officials and I would be proud to one day serve as a State Representative. Before I can think about that, I want to make sure that our state’s new acupuncture law gets widely adopted.  Our state still grapples with a substance misuse and mental health epidemic, which is why I got so deeply involved in getting the law passed in the first place. That’s when a friend suggested that I run for ROP.

Some ROP’s want to restore the office to its original responsibilities. They see this work as valuable customer service to someone who is navigating the probate system. Other ROP’s have run on the platform to remove the position entirely. They claim that probate staff are more than capable of guiding people through the probate process. They also claim that eliminating the position saves money.

Both arguments seem perfectly valid. The difference of opinion has nothing to do with political affiliation. But, I want to know what voters in Hillsborough County think about it. Are you down with ROP or should we ditch ROP entirely?

Please take this survey by September 15.  And, don’t forget to vote in your local primary election on Tuesday, Sept. 11th.  


 

Elizabeth Ropp is running for ROP in Hillsborough County, NH.  She lives in Manchester with her husband, Eric, and two cats. She walks to work everyday, drinks a lot of coffee, and tries to make a difference.