NH Politics

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A state lawmaker wants entities that cause pollution in New Hampshire to pay in to the state's general fund as part of the cleanup.

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Legislators are considering sharply lowering how much arsenic New Hampshire allows in drinking water – but regulators said in a committee hearing Wednesday it'd be easier said than done.

Right now, New Hampshire uses the federal arsenic limit of 10 parts per billion in drinking water.

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Portsmouth businessman Deaglan McEachern announced his candidacy for Congress in an email blast on Wednesday, becoming the seventh Democrat to enter the race in the First District.

McEachern is a well-known name in state Democratic circles: his father Paul ran for Governor several times. Deaglan, 34, is a graduate of Phillips Exeter Academy and UC Berkeley, who went on to row competitively for Cambridge University and the U.S. national team.

“As Americans, we are stronger when we pull together,” he writes on his website.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

The New Hampshire House on Tuesday approved a bill that would create a family medical leave insurance program in the state.  

The measure--HB 628--would allow workers to voluntarily pay into a fund that could cover up to 12 weeks of paid time off.

Speaking on the House floor, Representative Douglas Ley, a Democrat from Jaffrey, told colleagues that without family medical leave, employees can be left to make a difficult choice.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

State lawmakers on Tuesday reaffirmed their support for the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.

The RGGI program lets polluters across nine states either cut carbon emissions or buy carbon allowances. Right now, New Hampshire puts a fifth of the money from selling those allowances into energy efficiency projects, and rebates the rest to customers.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu has a long to-do list for this year’s legislative session.

Sununu gathered Republican lawmakers together for a press conference early Tuesday morning that had the feel of a GOP pep rally. 

The New Hampshire Republican Party has sometimes struggled to unite, even with control of the Statehouse. But Tuesday, Sununu praised lawmakers for their work last year, expressed confidence in what’s ahead and tried to normalize potential splits.

 

Jason Moon for NHPR

A bill that would reorganize the Department of Education got the approval of the Senate Education Committee Tuesday.

The bill would rename the department’s divisions and reshuffle some of the responsibilities between them.

It would also give the commissioner more power to make changes in the future, provided the changes are approved by legislators.

The New Hampshire House of Representatives voted Tuesday morning in favor of legislation to legalize recreational marijuana.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

All State House lobbyists got a first-of-its-kind letter from leaders of the New Hampshire House and Senate last week, detailing the Legislature’s sexual harassment policies and reporting procedures. Its message was simple: Lobbyists should know they’re covered by those policies, too, and should feel comfortable speaking up if they experience harassment.

Keren Fenton / thebirthphotographer.com

The New Hampshire House is expected to vote this week on a bipartisan bill to create a family medical leave insurance program in the state. The bill was originally on the docket for last week but is among a slew of votes that had to be rescheduled because of the winter storm.

The bill would allow workers to pay into a family medical leave fund that could cover up to 12 weeks of paid time off for things like serious medical conditions or the birth of a new child.

Dan Tuohy / NHPR

N.H. Banking Examiner Todd Wells says financial institutions may be even less likely to work with marijuana businesses after the federal government signaled a tougher stand on legalization.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions canceled an Obama-era memo last week that federal authorities would not pursue states that legalize pot for recreational or medical purposes.

The move comes as a New Hampshire commission is studying marijuana legalization. Wells referenced the AG's action during a commission meeting today.

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Governor Chris Sununu says he opposes oil drilling off New Hampshire's coast, as the federal government proposes opening the North Atlantic region and much of the nation's coastline to oil and gas production.

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management wants to hold two auctions for offshore drilling space between New Jersey and Maine, in 2021 and 2023 – plus four more auctions in the South and Mid-Atlantic.

Allegra Boverman

A massive winter storm is moving along the eastern seaboard on Thursday.

 Morning Edition Host Rick Ganley spoke with Gov. Chris Sununu about how New Hampshire is preparing for the storm and how to access assistance in a case of an emergency.


Allegra Boverman for NHPR

The New Hampshire House of Representatives has approved a controversial school choice bill by a vote of 184-162.

N.H. Lawmaker Resigns Amidst Theft, Tax Evasion Charges

Jan 3, 2018
FILE

A Democratic state lawmaker who's facing multiple charges of theft and tax evasion has stepped down from office.

Thomas Katsiantonis of Manchester sent in his resignation letter on Wednesday. The former state rep and alderman faces counts of theft and tax evasion related to two restaurants he owns in Manchester – Grand Slam II and Tommy K’s.

Katsiantonis is charged with stealing $423,000 in rooms-and-meals tax revenues and failing to pay state business taxes. His trial is expected to start this Spring.

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A bill that would strengthen rules to prevent childhood lead poisoning is one step closer to the governor’s desk.

The New Hampshire House passed the proposal by a wide margin on the first session day of the year Wednesday.

The bill, which was a holdover from last year, mandates lead testing for all New Hampshire kids aged 1 and 2, though parents can opt out.

It also lowers the blood-lead level at which the state will intervene, and creates a loan fund to help landlords deal with lead paint issues.

Logan Shannon / NHPR

A bill that redefines the state’s residency standards passed the Senate with Republican support —  despite opposition from Gov. Chris Sununu — and is heading back to the House for further review.

Photo Credit woodleywonderworks via Flickr Creative Commons

In an email sent to legislative leaders last week, the New Hampshire Attorney General’s office wrote that Senate Bill 193 is constitutional.

That opinion comes days before the bill is to be voted on by the House of Representatives.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

When the New Hampshire Senate returns to the State House Wednesday, it’s expected to take up a Republican bill held over from last session that could tighten voter eligibility requirements by changing the definition of residency.

Manchester's New Mayor Says She's Eager To Get To Work

Jan 2, 2018
Paige Sutherland/NHPR

It's official, New Hampshire's largest city has its first female Mayor.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

Monday on The Exchange, U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen and Maggie Hassan will sit down with Laura for a special town hall broadcast in front of a live studio audience.

Do you have questions or comments for the Senators? Send them our way by email at exchange@nhpr.org and we might include them in the discussion. 

Be sure to include your name, and the New Hampshire town in which you live along with your question.

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.

Michael Brindley/NHPR

Questions about who should be allowed to vote in New Hampshire - and how - are likely to be front and center again at the State House this year.

One bill would bring ranked-choice voting to New Hampshire — where people would rank candidates in order of preference, instead of voting for just one at a time.

Another Republican bill would mandate that poll workers provide information on New Hampshire drivers license laws to anyone registering with an out-of-state license.

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New Hampshire House lawmakers are expected to vote Wednesday on a bill that would legalize home liquor distilling.

Booze enthusiasts are currently allowed to make up to 200 gallons of beer and wine at home - depending on the size of their household.

But distilling liquor at home is against state law.

That doesn’t make sense to Representative Scott Wallace of Danville.

"The natural progression of the hobby is you make some wine, if you’d like to turn that into brandy, that’s not currently lawful. So this bill would allow for that."

New Hampshire Lawmakers Look Ahead To A New Year

Jan 1, 2018
NHPR FLickr

We hear from State House and Senate leaders about their priorities for 2018.  Among them: Medicaid expansion, voting rules, water contamination, and school choice.


The question of whether to continue New Hampshire’s Medicaid expansion program is shaping up to be one of the biggest policy debates on deck.

There are three broad paths on the table.

A cohort of mostly Republicans has opposed the program all along and are likely to continue fighting for repeal. One bill with largely Democratic support would extend the program permanently.

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The new year means New Hampshire businesses will pay lower taxes.

Two key state business taxes were first reduced in 2016, the result of a compromise between then Governor Hassan and Republican lawmakers. The deal allowed for further tax cuts as long as revenues didn’t decline.

But the state’s relatively strong economy has pushed receipts up, triggering a new round of business tax cuts for 2018.

“This is all part of a process of trying to make the state more competitive,” says Greg Moore with Americans For Prosperity-New Hampshire.

Via Penuche's Ale House's Facebook page

Sam Penkacik looks hip enough to hang out a bar in Brooklyn, but New Hampshire enough to show up to the NHPR studio in a t-shirt, even though it’s below freezing.

Or maybe he hasn’t bought a new jacket since he moved back from San Diego.

"The bars out there - like I really got into the craft cocktail scene out there because there’s a lot to experience. I mean it’s a city, so you’re going to have a lot more options," Sam told me.

GouldHillFarm.com

A proposal to make it easier for New Hampshire farms to host things like weddings and larger-scale events will be up for consideration by state lawmakers in January.

The issue has come up repeatedly in recent years, both in the state legislature and in court cases.

Local regulations on what's known as 'agritourism' — events that bring visitors onto farm property — vary significantly from town-to-town.

Henniker Christmas tree farmer Stephen Forster, for example, has been fighting with officials in his town for years to host weddings on his property.

Sununu Reverses Decision on FirstNet, Opting N.H. Back In

Dec 28, 2017
FIRSTNET

Governor Chris Sununu is reversing his decision to opt out of the national first responders network FirstNet.

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