Ryan Lessard

Contributor

Before becoming a reporter for NHPR, Ryan devoted many months interning with The Exchange team, helping to produce their daily talk show.  He graduated from the University of New Hampshire in Manchester with a major in Politics and Society and a minor in Communication Arts. While in school, he also interned for a DC-based think tank. His interests include science fiction and international relations. Ryan is a life-long Manchester resident.

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Amid the fanfare and rumbling antique cars of the Amherst Fourth of July parade, candidates for president greeted residents and posed for pictures. Four candidates in total walked the parade route.

Republicans South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham and former Texas Governor Rick Perry jogged energetically from handshake to handshake, often joking with residents. Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush kept a steadier pace behind them.

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In his first visit to the state after announcing his candidacy for president, Donald Trump told a crowd in Manchester that because he's a businessman and not a politician, he’s the only one to solve the nation’s problems.

DD via Flickr Creative Commons

 As the state considers applications to run four medical marijuana dispensaries in the state, some towns and cities are preparing for the new law by updating their zoning rules.

New Hampshire’s medical marijuana law requires dispensaries be more than 1,000 feet from a school or drug free zone. But during Town Meeting on Tuesday, voters in Epping will decide whether to restrict dispensaries to industrial locations.

Courtesy of SNHU

  Southern New Hampshire University President Paul LeBlanc will spend three months at the U.S. Department of Education to help grow non-traditional higher ed programs. 

In an effort to increase access and affordability for students, the U.S. Department of Education will begin selecting universities as so-called experimental sites.

LeBlanc says experimental sites will act as centers of research and development for new models of higher ed. And he says he won’t be part of the selection process.

  It’s the first week of March, about the time we usually see the kickoff to the maple sugaring season. But maple syrup producers are still waiting anxiously for the sap to start flowing.

Howard Pearl joined All Things Considered. He’s a maple producer in Loudon and a director of the New Hampshire Maple Producers Association which represents 400 maple farms in the state.

  One of the 14 applicants who would operate a medical marijuana dispensary in the state is eyeing a location in Dover.

A group affiliated with Wellness Connection of Maine says it wants to operate in the seacoast region. Board member Bill Eldridge says it would also be named Wellness Connection.

“Many of the things that have been developed in Maine, we plan to license their intellectual property and run similar operations with the same high standards in New Hampshire if we receive a license.”

Nicole Tung/freejamesfoley.org via AP

  New Hampshire Senators Jeanne Shaheen and Kelly Ayotte have introduced legislation to set a $5 million reward for information that would point authorities to the ISIS terrorists who killed New Hampshire journalist James Foley and others.

The bipartisan bill would also authorize State Department rewards of $5 million for tips on the kidnapping and murder of any U.S. citizen by any foreign terrorist group. Seven other senators have co-sponsored the legislation. Shaheen and Ayotte introduced a similar bill last year.

Courtesy of NHLC

The New Hampshire Liquor Commission says sales of locally produced wines and spirits reached a record high of $1.35 million. Sales grew by 32.5% over the past fiscal year.

Liquor Commission Chairman Joseph Mollica attributes this growth to prominent product placement in the state’s liquor stores.

“We’re very supportive of them and we appreciate their hard work and dedication to their craft. And we’re happy to promote their products as New Hampshire citizens.”

The Liquor Commission also provides local producers with free warehouse storage.

AP Video/Still

  Last year, Seth Mazzaglia was convicted of the rape and murder of UNH student Lizzie Marriott. But after the conviction he sought to avoid being present for the sentencing hearing. He ultimately withdrew that request, but family members of the victim were surprised and angered. They had to face the prospect that they may not have their one chance throughout the proceedings to speak directly to the killer.

(Photo by <a href'="http://www.flickr.com/photos/tswartz/402696142/">Tony Swartz </a>via Flickr Creative Commons)

  New Hampshire may join several other states who are considering calling for a federal constitutional convention.

The House Committee on State-Federal Relations and Veteran Affairs voted to support two of four bills that would call for a convention under Article V of the U.S. Constitution.

One of the bills backed by the committee targets campaign finance issues brought on by the U.S. Supreme Court decision in the Citizens United case.

Calls from 34 states or a two-thirds vote in Congress is needed for a constitutional convention to take place.

Melanie Holtsman / Flickr CC

  The Manchester School Board’s Curriculum and Instruction Committee has approved a measure letting parents pull their child from taking tests linked to the Common Core standards.

The proposal includes a mail campaign to inform parents of this option. The letters would state that there would be no penalties if they choose to opt out of the Smarter Balanced test. And parents would need to notify the child’s principal of the decision in writing.

Flikr Creative Commons / Mortmer

According to a report by the Associate Press, Federal transportation dollars for New Hampshire road maintenance fell by more than %5 between 2008 and 2013. New Hampshire’s department of transportation spending has also fallen by more than 16% over roughly the same period.

This has meant delays to regular maintenance to secondary roads and bridges. And as these roadways deteriorate, the state will have to pay a higher price for reconstruction.

New Hampshire rates more than a third of state roads as in “poor” condition. And another 50 miles get added to the list each year.

AP Photo

  Potential Republican candidate for president, John Bolton is visiting New Hampshire today. He is scheduled to speak during a Politics and Eggs event hosted by The New England Council and The New Hampshire Institute of Politics at Saint Anselm College.

The visit by the former U.N. Ambassador was originally scheduled for late January but was postponed due to snowy weather.

Other potential candidates are expected to arrive in the Granite State next week including Florida Senator Marco Rubio and former Maryland Governor Bob Ehrlich.

NH Attorney General

  The case of Nathaniel Kibby, the Gorham man accused of kidnapping and repeatedly sexually assaulting a Conway teenager for several months, will likely go to trial next year. That’s according to a superior court justice who presided over a dispositional hearing Thursday.

After listening to both defense and prosecution, Judge Peter Bornstein said he's putting the trial on track for January of 2016. The delay was largely to afford the defense enough time to sift through thousands of pages and dozens of CDs containing evidence provided by the prosecution.

Gun Store / Flickr Creative Commons

  The House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee will hear arguments Thursday on a bill that would expand background checks for gun sales in the state.

The bill, sponsored by five Democratic representatives and one Republican senator, would require all commercial sales or transfers use a licensed firearms dealer. Licensed dealers are required to vet buyers through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, or NICS. But sales at gun shows or through personal ads are currently possible without background checks.

  The New Hampshire House voted 216 to 142 to defeat a bill that would stop sending tax dollars to Planned Parenthood. It’s already illegal in the state to use public funds for abortions, but some lawmakers believe that’s how the money is being spent.

The bill was not recommended for passage by the Judiciary committee and, ultimately, the full house agreed.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

  Rob Carolan with Hometown Forecast says an unpredictable ‘trough’ of low pressure sitting in the Atlantic is poised to bring some possible snow to the seacoast area this afternoon.

The House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee will hear arguments this Tuesday afternoon for a bill that would decriminalize marijuana possession of an ounce or less. It would also reduce criminal penalties for greater amounts and would make it a misdemeanor to grow up to six marijuana plants.

Penalties for possessing less than an ounce would be a $100 fine for adults or 35 hours community service for a minor.

Possession of any amount of marijuana currently carries with it a misdemeanor charge punishable by up to a year in prison and a fine of up to $2,000.

Ryan Lessard / NHPR

  Tuesday afternoon, the state Senate Commerce Committee will hold a hearing on a bill that would make New Hampshire a so-called “Right-to-Work” state.

The bill prohibits collective bargaining agreements that require employees to join a union.

It’s a perennial issue in the state and it went as far as passing the Republican-controlled legislature in 2011. But it didn’t have enough votes to override then-Governor John Lynch’s veto.

Governor Maggie Hassan is against Right-to-Work.

SalFalko via Flickr CC

  The state senate Ways and Means Committee will hear a bill that would approve the creation of two casinos this Tuesday morning.

Long-time casino champion and sponsor of the bill, Democratic Senator Lou D’Allesandro of Manchester, says this bill has a lot more revenue sharing than past bills.

“Every person in the state has a stake in this piece of legislation.”

D’Allesandro says the hosting community, neighboring communities, the hosting county and the state health department each get a cut of the revenue.

Gage Skidmore via Flickr CC

  Republican New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is returning to New Hampshire today. He’s scheduled to speak at a dinner in Concord at 6pm.

Christie was a frequent visitor to the Granite State last year. He made a number of trips to stump for Republican gubernatorial candidate Walt Havenstein.

Christie is being eyed as a potential GOP candidate for president in twenty-sixteen. 

Snow Plow
Nedra / Flickr Creative Commons

  We have another snowstorm in store for the state tomorrow afternoon but, Steve LaVoie with Hometown Forecast Service reports New Hampshire will be largely spared the worst of it.

“Looks like the amounts are generally gonna be a quick inch or two. The North Country may not see anything at all, actually. The best chance of any higher snowfall amounts will be along the seacoast again.”

He says there might be another round of snow showers Wednesday.

Courtesy Kaitlyn Coogan / Keene Sentinel

  Let It Shine, the group that organizes the Keen Pumpkin Festival, and city officials are at an impasse as this year’s festival hangs in the balance.

After the riot that took place during last years’ pumpkin festival, Let It Shine was saddled with an unusually high bill due to the added police response needed to control the disturbance.

It has already paid about $60,000 of the $90,000 bill and is now asking the city for approval to move forward with this year’s festival.

  The state’s Medical Examiner’s Office says the number of people who died of drug overdoses in 2014 is up to 300. That’s a record for the state and the number could still climb as ‘cause of death’ is determined for pending cases.

The synthetic opioid fentanyl was identified in a growing number of overdose deaths and even outpaced heroin as the leading cause of drug-related deaths last year. There were 193 drug-related deaths in 2013.

State officials say opioid abuse has reached epidemic levels.

Whit Andrews / Flickr/CC

  Searching resumes this morning for a 32 year old woman who may have spent the night in deadly weather conditions between Mount Adams and Mount Madison.

Fish and Game Advanced Rescue and volunteers from Mountain Rescue Service searched the area last night after a missing hiker activated a personal locator beacon registered to Kate Matrosova of New York City.  But after searching through deep snow and scrub trees in an area identified as the probable last known location of the beacon, rescuers turned back.

Sunset Power Lines
Michael Kappel/Flickr CC

  After months of heated bidding against NextEra Energy Resources, Eversource Energy, formerly Northeast Utilities, has won the right to build one of the largest electric infrastructure projects in New England history.

Citing lower costs, ISO New England, the regional grid operator, selected Eversource—partnered with National Grid—to build the ‘Greater Boston and Southern New Hampshire Reliability Project.’

Marc Nozell / NHPR

  Governor Maggie Hassan will include a new, administrative position for state government: a Chief Operating Officer.

The position, modeled after COOs in the private sector, would improve the state’s efficiency. The idea came from a commission convened by Hassan in twenty thirteen. It released its final report last month, which says the Chief Operating Officer would oversee operations for staff and IT across state agencies.

Melanie Holtsman / Flickr CC

  The Manchester School Board voted Wednesday night to administer the Smarter Balanced exams which would test students’ progress in meeting Common Core standards.

The vote puts an end to months of wrangling with the state Department of Education. Board members had originally voted to opt out of the test last summer but the DoE said doing so could mean the loss of millions in federal education aid.

Michael Webber via Flickr CC

  New Hampshire Fish and Game laid out a proposal Wednesday that would ban the use of chocolate to bait bears. This follows four confirmed bear deaths. Officials say the animals overdose on the theobromine in the sweets.

Those against the measure say limiting chocolate would be a better alternative to banning it.

The Fish and Game Commission voted to move the proposal forward. The public will have a chance to submit their concerns.

  The New Hampshire House committee on Health, Human Services and Elderly Affairs will hear bills to expand the medical marijuana law Wednesday.

One bill would reintroduce a home-grow provision which had been proposed in a failed bill last year and it was cut from the therapeutic cannabis law’s original language.

It would allow qualified patients to grow a certain amount of cannabis in their home and require them to report their cultivation location to the state.

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