This Week in N.H. News: 'Mad Libs' Legislation, Mad Commenters and One Very Fluffy Cow

Feb 24, 2017

Maybe it's the fact that the weather felt more like May than February, but it sure felt like a pretty long week. If you need help catching up on the headlines, or you're just in the market for some interesting reads to get you through the weekend, keep scrolling. (And if you haven't yet, make sure you're signed up for our newsletters to get this and other updates right to your inbox each week.)

Above The Fold
On the left: template language featured on the Foundation for Government Accountability's website. On the right: the language of a bill recently submitted by State Sen. Kevin Avard.

NHPR’s Jack Rodolico took a closer look at a proposal that would limit food stamp eligibility and found out that it’s almost identical to a piece of “model legislation” pushed by a Florida-based think tank in states across the country. Basically, as Jack points out: “It reads like a Mad Lib for welfare reform. Instead of blanks for verbs and nouns, the blanks are for the names of state welfare departments and programs.” Find out more here.

With transgender rights in the spotlight at both the state and national level, 15-year-old New Hampton resident Emily Fishbaugh is trying to use her personal story to educate politicians and the public on what’s really at stake. “All trans people are like everyone else and we deserve to be treated just like every other human because we are just like everyone else,”Fishbaugh told NHPR this week. “We go to the bathroom just like everyone else. And that’s all we do in the bathroom, we mind our own business.”

Dartmouth-Hitchcock doctor is breathing a big sigh of relief after reuniting with his wife, who was stuck in the final stages of applying for a green card just days before President Trump’s executive order banning travel from Iran (their home country) and six other Muslim-majority nations. The couple had been trying to finalize the process for a year and a half.

Especially for undocumented residents in New Hampshire, the same kind of traffic stop could have vastly different consequences — depending on where it happens. NHPR's Emily Corwin found that some police departments routinely report instances where someone doesn't have a valid ID to immigration officials, while others make a point to never ask for anyone's immigration status.

#NHpolitics

Gov. Chris Sununu poses after the bill signing with Executive Councilor David Wheeler, to his left, and NRA lobbyist John Hohenwarter, who traveled from Washington, D.C., to attend the signing.
Credit Josh Rogers for NHPR

The first new law of the Sununu era went into effect this week: The governor signed off on a bill to repeal the license requirement to carry a concealed gun, earning him cheers from fellow Republicans and gun rights lobbyists but also some  from New Hampshire police chiefs, who called the new law “dangerous.”

Democratic Congresswoman Annie Kuster told the VA it should scrap its current medical records system in favor of a new one. (Which, in her view, would make it more compatible with other hospitals.)

Gov. Chris Sununu also had a request for New Hampshire veterans this week: Be honest about what you need from the state, but keep your suggestions simple. “I wouldn't make it a 20-page study-plan-blue-ribbon-commission nonsense. The state has enough of that garbage.”

Some mixed movement on campaign finance reforms: The Senate nixed a proposal that would’ve limited the use of LLCs for fundraising, but another bill that would require more transparency from political advocacy organizations is moving forward.

The Senate also OK’ed a proposal that would let school districts to use tax money to send students to private schools, spurred by a dispute between the Croydon school board and state officials.

New Hampshire is one step closer to expanding funding for full-day kindergarten access, something its new governor has highlighted as a priority. 

By The Numbers

Credit Yankee Farmer's Market Facebook

One video of one very fluffy cow kicked up an unexpected Facebook firestorm — 70,000 comments and counting — for a small Warner farm, after critics from as far away as Hawaii used the post as a platform for a debate over the ethics of eating meat. For what it’s worth, the owners say Diego the Highland Calf will likely be spared from slaughter and instead seems like “a good candidate for breeding stock” instead. (Concord Monitor, Yankee Farmer’s Market Facebook)

$0 is how much some UNH students could end up paying for tuition under a new scholarship program meant to make the school more affordable to low-income Granite Staters. That doesn’t necessarily mean college will be entirely cost-free for qualifying students: They’ll still have to pay for things like room and board, fees and other expenses. (NHPR)

About 3,400 miles of New Hampshire roads could qualify for fixes paid for by the federal government. Find out more about the state of the state’s roads, bridges and other infrastructure projects — and how they might be affected by Sununu or Trump policies. (NHPR

91 percent of (self-identified) New Hampshire Republicans expect a strong economy ahead. Just 32 percent of Democrats said the same. In other news (as one of our colleagues put it), “Everything is partisan.” (NHPR)

Thermostats across the state were registering 23 to 27 degrees above normal this week, and the unseasonably springlike weather broke records in at least two cities. (WMUR)

40 percent of New Hampshire voters are undeclared, making them the largest voting partisan (nonpartisan?) bloc in the state. But one lawmaker wants to limit their participation in party primaries, citing concerns about the potential for electoral sabotage. (NHPR)

Some serious tree-trimming: Eversource says it’s shaping up to prune branches among more than 2,700 miles of power lines throughout the state. (Associated Press)

A Lebanon police officer quietly spotted a stranded motorist $20 in gas money — and no one would’ve known about it, if another passerby hadn’t posted about the good deed on Facebook. (Union Leader)

15 people (a small fraction of the estimated 3,000 gathered in downtown Durham to celebrate the Patriots’ Super Bowl win) are now facing criminal charges for getting a little too rowdy in their post-game revelry. (Union Leader)

New Hampshire’s community colleges are on track for a 7 percent funding increase and $10 million for new capital investments under Gov. Chris Sununu’s proposed budget, but the head of the school system says that still falls short of what’s needed to keep pace with personnel costs and keep tuition down. (NHPR)

We send our best wishes to Plumpy and Pierre, two ducks who got married at a Manchester elementary school on Thursday, thanks to the careful planning of one kindergarten class. (WMUR)