Associated Press

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Some New Hampshire lawmakers are proposing that the state secede from the populous Eastern Time Zone and join in with Nova Scotia and Puerto Rico on the Atlantic time zone, dropping daylight saving time.

Opponents of daylight saving time argue that traffic accidents, heart attacks and strokes increase when we change time.

New England states have considered similar bills before, but they haven't passed.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu is asking Congress to give states as much flexibility as possible to design their own health care systems as part of the federal effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.

Sununu is offering his thoughts in a letter to U.S. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy sent Wednesday. Congress is soliciting governors' feedback on changes to health care. Sununu says a new system should avoid "onerous regulations" on states.

Health officials say New Hampshire has reported a high number of gonorrhea cases for last year, at 465.

The average in the past was about 130 cases per year, going back to 2007.

Dr. Benjamin Chan, state epidemiologist, said Thursday that New Hampshire historically has had one of the lowest rates of the sexually transmitted disease in the country. He said health officials are working to identify people who may have been exposed to gonorrhea to connect them with testing and treatment.

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  Police in Somersworth, New Hampshire, say an 11-year-old brought a loaded gun to school.

Police say there's no evidence the gun was used or was intended to be used in any threatening manner at Somersworth Middle School on Wednesday.

It's not clear where the student got the firearm from. No one was hurt.

The Somersworth Police Department's juvenile division was handling the investigation.

  Officials say an Arizona company that makes a spray version of an opioid painkiller for cancer patients has agreed to pay nearly $3 million after New Hampshire investigators determined the drug was being marketed to people who shouldn't be using it.

WMUR-TV reports Insys Therapeutics also agreed to properly market the drug, Subsys, and give $500,000 to combat the state's opioid crisis. Insys doesn't admit wrongdoing.

The spray version of fentanyl is absorbed under the tongue. It's more powerful than heroin.

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  Nurses in New Hampshire's state prisons may be getting a salary bump.

The Department of Corrections is asking executive councilors to approve $239,000 for a 15 percent pay increase over the next five months. Officials say the department has a hard time remaining competitive with the private sector in recruiting and keeping nurses. Roughly 19 percent of the state's 48 prison nursing positions were vacant last fiscal year.

NH DMV

  State officials say they're phasing in a new design for New Hampshire's identification cards over the next five years.

WMUR-TV reports officials announced on Tuesday that new driver's licenses and non-driver identification cards will feature a design with a more colorful background.

The cards will have a profile of the Old Man of the Mountain, a granite face-like profile that crumbled to the ground nearly 15 years ago, as well as an outline of the state and a purple lilac — the state's official flower.

The cards will also have new security features.

Daniel S. Hurd

 

Fierce debate is expected over a bill that would require sexual assault victims to corroborate their testimony if the defendant has no prior related convictions.

Lawmakers will hold a hearing Tuesday on the bill. Existing law doesn't require a victim to corroborate their testimony. Another bill before the committee would change the word "victim" to "complainant" in the sexual assault statute.

Domestic violence advocacy groups oppose both bills. Prosecutors, police and victims are expected to testify against the bill.

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  New Hampshire's chief accountant is resigning three years before his term ends, giving Republican Gov. Chris Sununu another key appointment in his first term.

Comptroller Gerard Murphy is leaving at the end of January when the state's comprehensive annual financial report is completed. The comptroller handles all statewide financial reporting, including monitoring state revenues, which determine how much money the state has to spend.

Murphy is taking the job of associate vice president for finance at Keene State College.

  A federal appeals court has upheld New Hampshire's law allowing buffer zones around abortion clinics that supporters say protect women from harassment.

The state law allowing buffer zones up to 25 feet has been on the books since 2014, but no clinic has established one.

The 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston said in its Wednesday ruling that anti-abortion activists had no standing to challenge the law because with no zones in place, their protests haven't been affected.

 

  New Hampshire's corrections commissioner says authorities are investigating four drug overdoses — one of them fatal — at the state prison in Concord and at a transitional housing unit in Manchester.

The overdoses resulted in the cancellation of inmate visitation at the prison from Tuesday through Thursday.

Commissioner William Wrenn says the fatal overdose happened at the Calumet Transitional Housing Unit in Manchester. He said 48-year-old Michael Robert Cullen was found unresponsive Friday night. Efforts to revive him were unsuccessful.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

  Democratic New Hampshire Sen. Jeanne Shaheen is one of 10 senators joining forces on legislation to punish Russia over interference in U.S. elections.

Shaheen, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said Tuesday that America must stand united in sending a strong message to the Kremlin that the attack won't go unpunished. She said President-elect Donald Trump "should face the facts and lend his support to our effort."

Allegra Boverman

 

 

If one New Hampshire lawmaker has his way, it might become difficult to find Russian vodka in the state's liquor stores.

Democratic Senate Minority Leader Jeff Woodburn on Monday proposed a bill that would establish a bipartisan commission to consider ways the state could respond to what he calls "Russian interference in our democracy."

  The New Hampshire State Conservation Committee has awarded nearly $290,000 in "Moose Plate" grants to 18 municipalities and conservation organizations that emphasize natural resource preservation.

Eligible grant applicants include county conservation districts, municipalities, qualified conservation nonprofit organizations, county cooperative extension natural resource programs, public and private schools, and scout groups.

The program is funded through the purchase of Conservation License Plates, known as "Moose Plates."

U.S. Drought Monitor

 

  New Hampshire's climatologist has announced that the southern portion of the state is no longer experiencing extreme drought thanks to recent rain and snow.

WMUR-TV reports that drought conditions in the region have been upgraded from extreme to severe.

State climatologist Mary Stampone says the flow of rivers and streams are now closer to normal, but New Hampshire isn't in the clear just yet. Residents relying on wells have been advised that they may still experience water shortages due to the ground's inability to absorb as much water as usual.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

 

Republican Chris Sununu is hours away from becoming New Hampshire's next governor, following in the footsteps of his father.

The 42-year-old Sununu will be sworn into office around noon Thursday. His father, John H. Sununu, served as governor in the 1980s. With Republicans leading the House and Senate, Sununu's inauguration marks the first return to full GOP control in Concord since 2004.

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  New Hampshire's health commissioner is offering an extra apology as his agency deals with a data breach that led to personal information of up to 15,000 people being posted online.

Authorities said last week that a former patient at the state psychiatric hospital accessed the confidential data last year using a computer in the hospital library and posted the information to social media last month.

Some of the 15,000 people have died, but the state is notifying their families because the information still could be used in identity theft.

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  Maine's governor says he has signed off on the results of a referendum that legalized marijuana in the state, but he is also calling for a moratorium on sales of the drug.

Voters in Maine narrowly approved of legalized marijuana in November. Gov. Paul LePage said on Tuesday during an appearance on WVOM-FM that everything that has crossed his desk related to the election is now signed.

But the Republican governor says he remains skeptical of whether it is wise for the state to implement legalized marijuana for recreational use.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

Democrat Maggie Hassan has been sworn in as a U.S. senator, becoming only the second woman to serve as a state's governor and senator in American history.

Hassan, a two-term governor, resigned at midnight Monday. She was sworn in by Vice President Joe Biden in the Senate Chamber in Washington at noon Tuesday, using the Bible that she received from her mother as a child.

In New Hampshire, Hassan handed over the reins to Republican Senate President Chuck Morse. He is serving as governor until Gov.-elect Chris Sununu, also a Republican, is inaugurated Thursday.

  Police have accused a 27-year-old man of setting fire to a church in Lebanon, New Hampshire, destroyed by fire.

Authorities said the Dec. 28 fire at the First Baptist Church was determined to be suspicious. They were looking for Anthony Boisvert, of Lebanon, as a person of interest in that fire and a second one.

NHPR

 

New Hampshire's Commissioner of Education plans to resign at the end of January.

Commissioner Virginia Barry sent an email to department staff Friday announcing that she will step down from the post on Jan. 30. 

Wild Turkey
John Mizel / Flickr Creative Commons

New Hampshire's Fish and Game Department is again asking for the public's help in counting the state's wild turkey population.

The state's Wild Turkey Winter Flock Survey starts Sunday and runs through March 31. Volunteers are asked to report sightings of wild turkeys via an online form, making note of the number of turkeys in the flock, where they were seen, the type of habit and what they were feeding on. 

Last winter, volunteers submitted more than 2,000 reports about more than 38,000 turkeys, nearly triple the previous year's total.

Chris Jensen for NHPR

Northern New England officials have scheduled their annual tri-state reciprocal snowmobile weekend.

From Friday Jan. 27 through Sunday Jan. 29, snowmobile enthusiasts can explore trails in other states without registering in those states.

All snowmobiles registered in New Hampshire may operate in Vermont and Maine, and all snowmobiles registered in Vermont and Maine may operate in New Hampshire.

  Transportation officials say work to replace the Sarah Mildred Long Bridge connecting New Hampshire and Maine is on schedule despite the cold weather.

The Portsmouth Herald reports that traffic on the Portsmouth side of the Piscataqua River has been rerouted this past week as workers add new roadway segments to pier one.

Ron Taylor, of the Maine Department of Transportation, says a vehicle span will be connected over the Market Street Extension in the third week of January. He says construction of the new bridge remained on schedule and on budget as of Thursday morning.

 

An official with the Planned Parenthood Chapter that serves Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine says the organization received a large boost in donations following the presidential election.

Planned Parenthood of Northern New England's Jill Krowinski, the outgoing vice president of education and Vermont community affairs, says about 600 donations were given in honor of Vice President-elect Mike Pence.

Cigarette
SuperFantastic / Flickr Creative Commons

  Retail tobacco sales to New Hampshire youth went up between 2014 and 2015.

The state Department of Health and Human Services says a survey found 16.6 percent of retail tobacco sales in 2015 were to children under the age of 18, who are legally not allowed to purchase it. That's up from 14.4 percent in 2014. The survey was conducted among 338 randomly selected licensed tobacco outlets.

Paige Sutherland/NHPR

Police in southern New Hampshire are reporting an increase in overdose deaths since Christmas Eve.

The Salem Police Department says it has responded to five overdoses since Dec. 24, a higher number than normal. Two of the overdoses were fatal. The victims, found in two separate incidents, were a 24-year-old female and a 31-year-old male. The police have not released their names.

Allison Quantz for NHPR

Officials at Dartmouth-Hitchcock say a "freeze" on the health care system's pension plan for its more than 5,000 participating current and former employees is set to take place at the end of January.

The Valley News reports the freeze means that pension benefits will no longer increase for employees in the system's "defined benefit" retirement plan. Benefits that have already been accrued by retirees and current employees will not be affected.

  Authorities say that based on new information, they now consider a New Hampshire woman who was last seen 35 years ago a missing person.

The attorney general's office says Denise Beaudin's family last saw the then-23-year-old on Thanksgiving in 1981 with her boyfriend, Robert "Bob" Evans, and her infant daughter. When relatives went to visit her Manchester home a few days later, the couple was gone.

Her family assumed they left town to avoid financial troubles and never called police.

  New Hampshire is closing out 2016 with the nation's lowest unemployment rate, wages that are on the rise and strong real estate sales.

Combined, these factors show the state's economy is strong heading into 2017. The state's gross domestic product growth rate of 2.9 percent is among the highest in the nation, according to the most recently available federal data.

Several New Hampshire economists say the state is in its strongest economic shape since the Great Recession.

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