This Week in N.H. News: On Trump's Travel Ban and Lawmakers' Travel Reimbursements

Feb 3, 2017

Somehow, apparently, it's already February? Perhaps you've been too busy to keep up with the headlines this week, or you're among the many people taking a self-imposed break from the news — either way, consider this your reading list to catch up on the important or otherwise interesting stuff you missed around New Hampshire this week. 

And make sure to sign up for our newsletters to get this delivered straight to your inbox each week.

Above The Fold

  Granite State Grapples With Local Effects of Executive Order

Letters from elementary school students, like this one, have provided some comfort to local refugees amid recent uncertainty around resettlement policies.
Credit Emily Corwin/NHPR

Last Friday’s executive order barring immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries reverberated in lots of ways here in New Hampshire. It stirred up debate between those crying for more “extreme vetting” of refugees and others who pointed to the fact that refugees already undergo thorough, years-long screening before being cleared for arrival.

The governor remained relatively neutral on the ban, at least initially, but the attorney general was quick to decry it. Some prominent local faith leaders also spoke out against it.

Local refugees were left grappling with uncertainty about what other measures might be coming next, and at least 11 more people who were on track to resettle in the state are now blocked for the time being. One Dartmouth medical resident, an Iranian-American, says his wife was initially scheduled to have a long-awaited immigration interview this week – but that was called off, too, in the wake of the order

In Case You Missed It
(*Not an actual depiction of the bees discussed below.)
Credit GIPHY

UNH researchers are buzzing after managing to successfully document more than 140 distinct bee species— just in the White Mountain National Forest. It's a big deal, they say, because it could help identify which species are in decline and protect others who might be at risk.

A group of inmates at the state prison in Berlin staged a hunger strike this week to protest new rules that ban kissing and hugs longer than three seconds during visits – a rule change meant to curb drug smuggling, according to officials.

Remember the PFOA contamination that surfaced almost a year ago in Southern New Hampshire? The state just released preliminary results of blood tests given to some residents in the affected areas.

After a former New Hampshire Hospital patient’s suicide last year, plenty of people were wondering: Could the institution have done more? A new report takes a look at just that – but whether the public can see that report is another story.

At the national and local level, “school choice” is the subject of plenty of debate. Catch up on where the issue stands in New Hampshire and what’s at stake.

You’ve probably heard the term “net-metering.” But if you’re still not really sure what it means or how it might affect your electric bill, you’ll want to give this conversation a listen.

The Statehouse Like You've (Probably) Never Seen It

 As it turns out, jockeying for control of the square footage inside the building can be every bit as controversial as the jockeying that goes into partisan policy fights. (P.S. — If you're up for it, take a spin through this 360-degree view of the Statehouse for a look inside the chamber from a whole new angle.)

In Other #NHpolitics News...
Credit Sara Plourde, NHPR

For some state lawmakers, mileage reimbursements for the driving they do traveling back and forth to Concord can really add up.

Former gubernatorial candidate and state lawmaker Frank Edelblut’s path to becoming the next education commissioner hit a few roadblocks this week – first, in the form of a Democratic executive councilor/seasoned trial lawyer/education funding reform advocate determined to vet him very thoroughly, and then in the form of, well, a state statute about how his nomination was supposed to proceed.

From Senator to “SCOTUS Sherpa” – Kelly Ayotte’s second act after losing reelection now includes acting as an unlikely ally to onetime political foe Donald Trump, helping to shepherd his Supreme Court nominee through Capitol Hill.

The future of New Hampshire’s Medicaid expansion remains uncertain amid turnover in Washington, but one of its biggest Republican cheerleaders in New Hampshire says he still sees room for improvement – and changes from Washington could help to deliver just that.

New Hampshire stands alone as the only New England state where capitol punishment is still on the books, but one lawmaker wants to expand the cases in which it could be used as a penalty – in this case, to apply to anyone convicted of killing a minor.

One proposal up for debate this week aims to close the so-called “LLC Loophole” in New Hampshire’s campaign finance laws, which allowed some gubernatorial candidates to rake in big bucks through corporate contributions last fall.

What do dogs have to do with drug abuse? In case you’re wondering why the state’s veterinarians are paying close attention to a bill involving the state’s prescription drug monitoring program, this might clear things up.

More than 2,700 computers across N.H. have been used to exchange photos of kids being abused, according to the head of the state’s task force on internet crimes against kids. Because of funding issues, however, most of those cases aren't investigated — but a new bill hopes to change that.

Parental control: The House approved a bill to give parents two weeks’ notice before any lessons involving sex and another that would let parents opt their kids out of statewide testing.

Once again, the idea of loosening the state’s marijuana laws – the strictest in New England – gained broad support during a House hearing. (The real question: Will the Senate, which has typically rejected such measures, change its tune this year?)

Tell Us What To Investigate!

A few weeks ago, we started asking you to tell us what you've been wondering about life in New Hampshire. Since then, more than 60 of you — from Bristol to Boscawen to Milan to Milford — have weighed in with questions about everything from roadside graffiti to state regulations. 

We’re already planning to follow up on at least a few of the questions you’ve sent in so far. But we received far more than we’re able to investigate all at once — and we need your help figuring out what to tackle first. Vote for your favorite question here.

Listen Up!

    

You might learn something! NHPR’s Word of Mouth is out with a new (and especially timely) podcast dedicated to all of the stuff you wish you would’ve learned back in civics class. Tune in for answers to everything from “What’s a Chief of Staff?” to “What does the White House press corps do, anyway?” And while you’re at it, you can also send in your own questions about our democracy or the people who keep it running – you might get an answer!