Heard on the Exchange

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

New Hampshire's Senate President Chuck Morse says work on Medicaid expansion in 2018 will be a balancing act that weighs federal requirements, fiscal impact on the state, and critical services.

“In any case we have to make sure that we protect the New Hampshire taxpayers,” he says.

It's clear that Medicaid remains a top priority for both Republicans and Democrats on the opening day of the legislative session Wednesday.

The common ground is agreement that Medicaid expansion is playing a role in helping the state combat the opioid crisis.

More than 70 families with children are living outside in the Manchester area this winter. They're sleeping in tents or cars, according to Cathy Kuhn, director of the N.H. Coalition to End Homelessness.  

Canada Concerned Over U.S. Tone in NAFTA Talks

Dec 14, 2017

In the nearly quarter century since NAFTA was enacted, trade has tripled among the three partners of the North American Free Trade Agreement: U.S., Mexico, and Canada.  And bilateral trade between Canada and New England has reached nearly $11 billion.

That’s according to David Alward, Boston-based Consul General of Canada, who joined The Exchange to discuss the impact of NAFTA on the region and the status of NAFTA meetings now underway in Washington.  The sixth round of talks will take place in Montreal in January.   

State University System Chancellor Todd Leach cites several factors behind cost-cutting measures at Keene State College.

Besides declining enrollment and competition, he says there was a perception that Keene State was in fiscal trouble due to a cut in state funding in 2010.

“We can look and see the numbers drop there,” he said on The Exchange.

Bryan via Flickr Creative Commons / https://flic.kr/p/5JZsiV

The Exchange spoke with New Hampshire teachers and administrators about competency-based education (CBE), which was adopted by the state board of education more than ten years ago.  Some districts have fully embraced the approach; others are just getting started.  

As our discussion revealed, some parents still have plenty of questions about a system that dispenses with many of the traditional ways of measuring progress and achievement and encourages students to pursue what Superintendent John Freeman of Pittsfield calls "personal pathways." 

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

A House committee this week recommended against  a bill to legalize pot in the state - but advocates on both sides are continuing the debate.

Speaking today on NHPR's The Exchange, Kate Frey, vice president of advocacy for New Futures, compares the marijuana industry to the big tobacco and big alcohol industries. 

“It’s a profit-driven industry,” Frey says. “And once ‘Big Marijuana’ moves in, just like ‘Big Alcohol,’ then you have pot shops in your neighborhood, you have highly potent edible products targeted toward kids."  

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After mass shootings, mental health professionals find themselves at pains to explain that people with mental illness are more likely to be victims of violence than aggressors.

And they’re more likely to die by suicide than to harm others.

That’s again been part of the conversation after the Texas church shooting in which 26 people died, and the shooter, by several accounts, dealt with some form of mental illness or instability, including erratic, violent behavior.

 New Hampshire Insurance Commissioner Roger Sevigny encourages people to do their research and seek help from navigators for enrollment in the Affordable Care Act for 2018.

Sevigny acknowledged the uncertainty for certain consumers when the President and the Republican-controlled Congress continue to knock “Obamacare.”

Another challenge is the shortened enrollment period; Dec. 15 is the deadline this year.

N.H. Emergency Chief: Storm Severity Was Surprising

Nov 6, 2017
Chris Jensen Photo

In addition to the high winds and heavy rain of last week's storm, several other factors contributed to the fourth largest power outage in state history -- with a price tag in the millions, and counting. That's according to Perry Plummer, director of the state Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management.

NHPR File

In the final Manchester mayoral debate, challenger Joyce Craig accused incumbent Ted Gatsas of failing to follow protocol when a 14-year-old student was raped at a high school in 2015.

The rape was not made public until earlier this year when the county prosecutor announced that Bryan Wilson, who was 17 at the time, was found guilty and sentenced to 10- to- 20 years for aggravated felonious sexual assault at West High School.

Six percent of babies born in New Hampshire have been exposed to opioids.

And the actual number may be higher at this point.

“We are one of the hardest hit areas,” says Dr. Alison Holmes, a pediatrician at Children’s Hospital at Dartmouth.

KEN WATSON / KENWATSON.NET

An isolated forest fire in North Woodstock is so stubborn that even this rainy weather is not fully putting it out.

Woodstock Fire Chief John MacKay says the Dilly Cliff fire that was first reported Oct. 3 is contained, but some spots are still smoldering.

"With this rain the last two days I’d say it’s probably 90 percent put out," MacKay said today on NHPR's The Exchange.

There may be inertia among some New Hampshire employers when it comes to hiring people with disabilities.

Andrew Houtenville is director of research at the Institute on Disability at UNH. He spoke on NHPR's The Exchange about the challenges those with disabilities face when searching for work.

“I think there’s a lot of inertia,” he says, in terms of employers reaching out to new networks.

The labor market may magnify the issue. New Hampshire's employment rate is one of the lowest in the nation, at 2.7 percent.

New Hampshire Senate Democratic Leader Jeff Woodburn says he will file a bill to ban "bump stocks" for guns if his House counterpart cannot muster support to introduce a similar proposal.

Gun debate continues after the mass shooting in Las Vegas that claimed 58 lives and left hundreds injured last week. Woodburn questions if debate will occur at all in Concord.

Senator Jeanne Shaheen calls the mass shooting in Las Vegas an act of terrorism.

 

Shaheen spoke about the incident today on The Exchange. She expressed condolences to the victims and their families. She says the U.S. must address gun violence. She says it can be done while respecting the rights of gun owners.

 

It remains under investigation. But does the heinous act of violence in Las Vegas on Sunday night meet the definition of terrorism?

 

Recent allegations of racist attacks or bullying among school-aged children have schools and communities doing some soul searching, along with establishing new policies and procedures.   

Grace Caudhill, the mother of a 7-year-old boy allegedly racially harassed on a school bus in the Oyster River School district told NHPR reporter Jason Moon that she has heard from the parents of biracial children in other parts of the state who describe similar experiences of "racial denigration and racial hate in school."  (Listen to the full story here.) 

NHPR File

New Hampshire Lottery Director Charlie McIntyre says Granite Staters currently spend about $25 million a year playing keno in Massachusetts.

That is one reason the state is upbeat about a new law that gives cities and towns the option to allow keno gambling. A projected $9 million in revenue will help fund full-day kindergarten.

Voters in eleven cities will weigh that ballot question this fall. But not everyone is so gung-ho about it.

NHPR File

Controversy over SB 3, a new voting law, remains a partisan cloud over Concord, despite a court ruling this week allowing much of it to take effect.

“Definitely the judge was offering a to-be-continued on this,” Dante Scala, a political science professor at the University of New Hampshire, said Thursday on The Exchange with Laura Knoy.

  The state committee reviewing Northern Pass has pushed back its deadline to make a decision, but a spokesman for the hydro-electric transmission project tells NHPR, “the end is in sight.”

 

“To use an overused sports analogy,” Martin Murray says, “We’re in the fourth quarter.”

 

Others might say it is overtime.