New Hampshire lawmakers are preparing to vote on whether adults should have to show a valid I. D. when they vote at the ballot box. Many other states are now considering these laws as well. Supporters say it’s all about stamping out fraud, but critics call it an attack on a fundamental right of citizenship. Today we discuss the Voter I.D. issue.
The new owners of the Balsams resort in Dixville Notch are pulling together the money they need for a massive renovation. And, they hope federal programs will give them a big boost. NHPR’s Chris Jensen reports.
Late last year North-Country businessmen Dan Herbert and Dan Dagesse bought the Balsams Grand Resort in Dixville Notch for about $2.3 million.
Now they are looking for the money they need for an extensive renovation.
It is badly needed to make the resort competitive, get it open again and put hundreds of people back to work.
New Hampshire has one of the worst prescription drug abuse problems in the country. The state now ranks 5th in the nation for percentage of residents who abuse medications such as percocet, vicodin, and oxycodone, according to the Federal Centers for Disease Control. The problem is especially alarming among young people. New Hampshire has the second highest rate of 18-25 year olds who abuse prescription drugs in the nation.
Danielle Fiore , 24, says she was addicted to painkillers for most of her childhood.
"I had fractured my ankle and I was prescribed vicodin and it felt good. I was ten or eleven," she says. "As time went on I would get something else hurt or a toothache or something and I would get more painkillers. I have a bunch of teeth missing because I would complain and get them pulled so I would get pain killers."
Currently New Hampshire has no prescription drug monitoring program. The program, which is up and running in 48 other states, is initially funded through federal grants. The proposal to create a centralized prescription database that doctors and law enforcement could check to track so called "doctor shoppers" has been defeated several times in the state Legislature. A new bill is now being considered this session and its sponsor Senator Majority Leader Jeb Bradley, R-Wolfeboro, is hopeful that there is enough support for a statewide prescription monitoring program this time. He cites the growing number of overdose deaths in the state from prescription drugs. In the last decade overdose deaths from these medications have more than tripled.
For those who oppose a statewide prescription drug database privacy is a major issue. Rep. Neal Kurk, R-Weare, says such a program goes against the Granite State's core philosophy.
"This is New Hampshire, this is the 'Live Free or Die' state, " says Kurk. "One of the major reasons this bill has not been adopted is because most people feel it’s the independent philosophy, personal responsibility philosophy that prevails and that government should be small and not interfere with people’s lives."
Many of the state's independent pharmacists are also against a monitoring program because they worry they will end up footing the bill. The database would be drawn from pharmacy records. Rick Newman, a lobbyist for the New Hampshire Independent Pharmacy Association, says the small business people he represents will be end up carrying the burden of the costs of such a database.
"I can’t sit here as anyone with any kind of intelligence and disagree that’s there's a problem with people abusing prescription drugs in this country, of course there is," says Newman. "The question becomes whose burden is that? We can’t pass laws to put the burden on the small business person because they happen to be one part of the pipeline."
Emergency room doctors and those that treat pain say they are often confronted by patients who may be faking symptoms to get narcotics for their addiction or to sell on the street.
"I want people who have legitimate pain to get the proper pain medications that they need," say Dr. David Heller, an emergency room physician at Portsmouth Hospital. "But I don’t want to feed somebody’s addiction and I don’t want to write a prescription for drugs that are going to be sold to my kids or my kid's friends."
When thieves stole Patrick Symmes’ commuter bicycle in broad daylight, it’s not a stretch to say that he snapped. Late at night, he’d watch the surveillance tape again and again… plotting sweet revenge against the two men who’d methodically and nonchalantly pilfered his blue Novara Metro hybrid. Seven bikes and three cities later, Patrick has finally gotten his revenge…sort of.
In recent years, New Hampshire's Health and Human Services department has seen deep budget cuts and layoffs, and is now battling with the state’s hospitals and the U.S. Department of Justice over issues of taxation and patient care. Leading the way, its commissioner, Nick Toumpas, who was just reappointed for another term last month. We’ll hear Toumpas’ take on these issues, as well as how the state is handling aspects of the new federal health care law.
With demand for cremation, secular services, and environmentally friendly burials rising, funeral directors are adapting what could be called new end-of-lifestyle choices. Max Rivlin-Nadler is editor of Full Stopmagazine. He discovered an industry scrambling to meet new demands while attending the 130th National Funeral Director's Conference, held this year in Chicago.
Under the bill, lenders could charge 15 percent monthly interest.
Governor Lynch’s veto message notes the annual percentage interest rate on these so-called installment loans translates to more than 400%. Lynch says allowing such rates would hurt New Hampshire families, communities and the economy.
Lynch’s message also says the bill limits the state’s regulatory authority.
Lenders would get advance notice before the banking department conduct exams and regulators would have reduced power to levy administrative fines.
Next week on the Exchange, we begin with New Hampshire Health and Human Services Commissioner Nick Toumpas and how he’s handling budget cuts and legal challenges. Then we look at the debates over the state's Voter ID bill and if Granite State adults may need to flash an ID before stepping into the ballot box next election.
We talk to the co-authors of a new book who spent years in the field of political “opposition research”. They’re the folks that dig up the dirt and unveil the skeletons on candidates for Presidential on down to the local school board. It’s a story that involves shady characters, clandestine meetings and piles of documents, all aimed at bringing down your opponent and winning elections.
You can catch up on the Oscar-nominees this weekend, but there's also a chance to catch a rocumentary on Portsmouth's music scene in the 90's and ask the screenwriter of Ground Hog Day why he wanted Bill Murray to live forever. Hippo Editor Amy Diaz has the popcorn.
New Hampshire Audubon's annual Backyard Winter Bird Survey is coming up: the second weekend each February.
Three woodpeckers common statewide are among the early birds when it comes to loudly proclaiming territory and courtship. Lend an ear this time of year and you'll hear the rapid-fire drumming of powerful bills on resonant deadwood. Vocally challenged, woodpeckers drum while most other backyard birds sing.