Politics

Political news from New Hampshire Public Radio, from the State House to the First in the Nation Primary.

Paige Sutherland for NHPR

During his run for Governor, Chris Sununu called commuter rail a “boondoggle” – a bad investment.

Now he’s putting his support behind a $4 million feasibility study to look at how commuter rail could work. On Wednesday morning in Nashua, Sununu said that with Amazon potentially coming to New Hampshire and more private partnerships available, he thinks it makes sense to explore rail.

State Senator Andy Sanborn at a political event at The Draft, the bar and restaurant he owns in Concord

A top State House leader said this week that an incident involving a sitting senator prompted him to seek the advice of an outside law firm, a process that spurred a larger overhaul of the New Hampshire Legislature’s anti-harassment policy several years ago.

Courtesy

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

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.

 

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.

Renewvia Energy Corp

State legislators vote Tuesday on a range of energy-related bills that were delayed last week, including two about the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.

White House Livestream

Secretary of State Bill Gardner says he was "surprised" and disappointed to find out that the presidential advisory commission he was tapped to serve on last May had been abruptly dissolved. While the announcement was made Wednesday night, Gardner said he didn’t learn of the news until Thursday morning.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

Two Republican senators, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin and John Barrasso of Wyoming, called off a planned trip to Russia last week after the Kremlin denied a visa to New Hampshire Senator Jeanne Shaheen.

Morning Edition Host Rick Ganley spoke with Shaheen about what she's calling Russia's travel sanction.


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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Wikimedia commons

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.

Paige Sutherland/NHPR

Joyce Craig will officially be sworn in as the first female mayor of Manchester on Tuesday, Jan. 2.

Peter Biello/NHPR

A Manchester drug treatment center got emergency funding from the state Friday to help pay off part of an $800,000 deficit.

FIRSTNET

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

Bev Newton via Flickr CC / https://flic.kr/p/7cf8Yk

There are thousands of historic cemeteries and burial grounds all over the state of New Hampshire, and a state lawmaker wants to make it easier to keep track of them.

Senator David Watters of Dover has been fascinated by old gravestones and cemeteries since he was in high school - he also researched them while teaching at UNH.

He says burial grounds reflect New Hampshire's history and tradition.

"In many towns they didn't have a local or central cemetery established you know sometimes into the 1800s."

A bill to study the impact of lower tax rates for undeveloped land will be considered in the legislative session beginning next month.

The tax structure is known as “current use.” It started decades ago as a part of a pro-environment push.

Basically, landowners who keep their property undeveloped — keep it forested, for example — pay a significantly lower tax rate, in theory encouraging them to preserve their land.

FILE

A handful of lawmakers are proposing changes to some of the state’s policies on marijuana in 2018.

Paige Sutherland/NHPR

A New Hampshire lawmaker next session will continue to try improve a decades old state policy that allows people with severe mental illness to be treated on the grounds of the state prison.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

As the state continues to grapple with a drug problem, top state lawmakers are hoping to get businesses to be a part of the solution.

Paige Sutherland/NHPR

A Republican state lawmaker who has tried for years to regulate drones in New Hampshire will try again in 2018.

FILE

A proposal next legislative session seeks to make it easier for needle exchange programs to open up in New Hampshire.

JOE GRATZ / FLICKR CREATIVE COMMONS

Judges in New Hampshire may soon get a few more years on the bench.

FILE

Overdose deaths remain high, as 2017 comes to a close and state lawmakers are looking to secure more resources for the crisis when they return to the State House in January.

Courtesy of the N.H. General Court

A state lawmaker from Concord pled guilty Friday to assaulting a political opponent.

Rep. Katherine Rogers, a Democrat, accepted a plea deal on a misdemeanor assault charge. The deal suspends a $1,000 fine pending good behavior, but Rogers must take an anger management class.

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