Politics

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

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

"On the Political Front" is our weekly check-in with NHPR's Senior Political Reporter Josh Rogers.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

After taking up more than a hundred bills last week in the House, lawmakers will have a pretty light agenda this week. 

House members will be meeting all week in committee but will not be in session. Meanwhile the full Senate will be returning this Thursday.  

Lawmakers’ most recent attempt at establishing a state minimum wage this legislation session failed in the House Thursday morning. The measure, which was rejected by a vote of 185 to 143, would have increased the minimum wage to $9.50 an hour by 2019.

Currently New Hampshire’s minimum wage is set at the federal rate of $7.25 an hour, making it the lowest minimum wage in all of New England.

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The New Hampshire House has voted down spending $4 million dollars in federal aid to explore extending commuter rail from Boston to New Hampshire. The money, which was tucked into the state’s 10-year transportation legislation, would have been used  to study how the state would pay for commuter rail.

A federal bill aimed at helping states tackle the ongoing heroin and opioid epidemic cleared a major hurdle Thursday. 

The measure calls for roughly $70 million over the next three years to help expand treatment for people battling addiction while in prison and drug prevention efforts in schools. It would also strengthen prescription drug monitoring programs.

The bill easily passed the U.S. Senate on a 94 to 1 vote and now heads to the House.

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The New Hampshire house has backed a measure to lift the cap on a key solar energy program.

Currently, those generating solar power in New Hampshire can be reimbursed for sending excess energy back to the grid, but the cap on that reimbursement program is set at 50 megawatts. The House measure would increase that to 100 megawatts. 

New Hampshire Senate
Allegra Boverman / NHPR

New Hampshire child protection officials would have more power to intervene when a parent is abusing drugs or a child is born drug dependent under a bill adopted by the state’s senate. The bill passed unanimously but not without debate.

The bill defines opioid abuse or dependence by a parent as neglect under New Hampshire's Child Protection Act. Right now that law doesn't identify specific conduct by parents as being sufficient to trigger neglect proceedings.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

House lawmakers weighed in Wednesday morning on a number of bills addressing New Hampshire’s election laws. This issue has gained momentum after videos last month claimed to show voter fraud in February's Presidential Primary.

www.p2012.org

 

Republican state Rep. Jack Flanagan has announced his candidacy for New Hampshire's Second Congressional District, the first to challenge Democratic incumbent Annie Kuster in the 2016 race.

Flanagan is a five-time representative from Brookline who has served as the majority leader under House Speaker Shawn Jasper.

He tells WMUR-TV he has confidence that he can influence public policy in Washington.

Kuster said she's looking forward to the race.

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A super PAC working to return Democrats to control of the Senate is airing television ads attacking New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte over her opposition to letting President Barack Obama pick the next Supreme Court justice.

The Senate Majority PAC ad also ties Ayotte to Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump. A narrator says Ayotte is eagerly helping Trump in his calls for delaying until the next president takes office. The ad claims Ayotte is "ignoring the Constitution" and "not doing her job."

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

The House voted 216 to 145 to reauthorize Medicaid expansion for another two years. The bill now heads to the Senate.

But that was after much debate on the floor Wednesday – more than two hours of it.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

As a former lobbyist for the New Hampshire banking industry, Jerry Little had little trouble raising money for his 2014 campaign for state Senate.

 

Of the more than $100,000 in contributions Little collected, more than a third came from donors with ties to the financial sector. Little, a Republican, went on to win his race by a comfortable margin.

 

The results from Tuesday's four primary and caucus states are in: three wins for Trump, one each for Clinton and Cruz, and one surprising, narrow victory for Sanders.

Bernie Sanders' tight win over Hillary Clinton in Michigan is the biggest news out of Tuesday night's presidential nomination races. Though Clinton had led consistently in recent polls, Sanders won by less than 2 percentage points with 99 percent of precincts reporting.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

The New Hampshire House will have a busy next two days with dozens of bills slated for a vote. A few of these bills focus on the state’s election laws, which have gained steam since last month’s presidential primary and ahead of this fall's general election.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

On Wednesday the House will take up one of this session’s most significant pieces of legislation – whether to continue the state’s Medicaid expansion program another two years. One of the biggest hurdles supporters of the bill have to overcome on the floor this week relies on the measure’s work requirements.  

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

"On the Political Front" is our weekly check-in with NHPR's Senior Political Reporter Josh Rogers.

NHPR Staff

 

Republican Senator Kelly Ayotte is facing a primary challenge in her re-election bid from Jim Rubens, a former state senator who unsuccessfully ran in the GOP primary against Scott Brown in 2014.

Rubens tells The Associated Press that the Republican base has "divorced" itself from Ayotte and that the GOP will not keep the Senate seat if she is the nominee. Two-term Governor Maggie Hassan is running on the Democratic side.

Rubens says he has never seen such dissatisfaction with the Republican establishment, including Ayotte.

Photo Courtesy UNH

New Hampshire's senators are supporting fishermen in their fight against federal regulations that shift at-sea monitoring costs to them.

Fishermen of New England species such as cod and haddock must pay the cost of fishing monitors under rules that took effect Tuesday. The monitors collect data to help determine future fishing quotas and can cost several hundred dollars per day. Many fishermen say they can't afford the new cost and some say they will likely go out of business.

Senator Kelly Ayotte agrees the costs have to be covered now or people will be out of business.

When the news broke earlier this week that state rep. Kyle Tasker had been charged with felonies related to drugs, guns, and luring a minor online for a sexual encounter, many in New Hampshire asked the question, "How did he get elected?"

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

A key House committee voted to support reauthorization of the state’s Medicaid expansion program for another two years. Under the bill, the state's insurance premium tax, along with hospitals and insurance companies, will have to cover the costs of the program that will no longer be paid for by federal dollars next year. For hospitals and insurers alone, that comes to about $24 million each year, starting in 2017.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

New Hampshire's state Senate is slated to vote on suspending the use of the death penalty. According to the bill's lead sponsor, Republican Kevin Avard, suspending the death penalty is good sense.

Avard once supported capital punishment, but says there are too many examples of the people improperly ending up on death row to remain confident the punishment is worth the risk.

“You know we are all capable of fallibility, and if you have 156 people who have been exonerated, we should take a real sober look at this.”

Sara Plourde/NHPR

As the New Hampshire legislature debates whether to extend expanded Medicaid, house lawmakers continue to question whether the state will get a return on its investment. After two days of work sessions, the House Finance Committee heard its final testimony Wednesday before its scheduled to vote.

Paige Sutherland/NHPR

House lawmakers continue to examine how New Hampshire would pay for Medicaid expansion for another two years. On Tuesday GOP leaders on the finance committee were again looking for a guarantee that if passed, private insurance rates will not increase.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

Lawmakers return to Concord this week after having a week off and they got right down to some controversial legislation.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

With former Republican presidential candidate Chris Christie now backing Donald Trump, New Hampshire's largest newspaper is calling its endorsement of the New Jersey governor a mistake.

"Boy, were we wrong," is the opening line of an editorial penned by New Hampshire Union Leader Publisher Joe McQuaid. 

NHPR Staff

New Hampshire might its run as one of the few states without an explicit prohibition on sex with animals. Backers of House Bill 1547-FN say it’s unfortunate, but it’s an issue that needs to be addressed.

Sexual conduct with animals has been banned in many states since the Colonial Era. But New Hampshire is one of 10 states where it’s never been specifically outlawed.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

Lawmakers backing a New Hampshire bill to criminalize women exposing their breasts in public say that failing to pass it could hurt the state's tourism industry and lead to rampant nudity.

Reps. Brian Gallagher and Peter Spanos are co-sponsors of legislation that would make it a misdemeanor for women to show their breasts or nipples in public with "reckless disregard" for whether it would offend someone.

Three weeks after the First in the Nation Presidential Primary, nine months before the November election, and New Hampshire is already on to a new round of political ads.

It began today with a 30-second spot from Sen. Kelly Ayotte, which features her 11-year-old daughter, Kate.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

"On the Primary Front" is our weekly check-in with NHPR's Senior Political Reporter Josh Rogers.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

After having a 7-day vacation, lawmakers will return to Concord this week. The full Senate will be meeting on Thursday to take up more than 40 bills. Meanwhile the full House won’t come back until next Wednesday.

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