Politics

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

The House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee will hear arguments this Tuesday afternoon for a bill that would decriminalize marijuana possession of an ounce or less. It would also reduce criminal penalties for greater amounts and would make it a misdemeanor to grow up to six marijuana plants.

Penalties for possessing less than an ounce would be a $100 fine for adults or 35 hours community service for a minor.

Possession of any amount of marijuana currently carries with it a misdemeanor charge punishable by up to a year in prison and a fine of up to $2,000.

Ryan Lessard / NHPR

  Tuesday afternoon, the state Senate Commerce Committee will hold a hearing on a bill that would make New Hampshire a so-called “Right-to-Work” state.

The bill prohibits collective bargaining agreements that require employees to join a union.

It’s a perennial issue in the state and it went as far as passing the Republican-controlled legislature in 2011. But it didn’t have enough votes to override then-Governor John Lynch’s veto.

Governor Maggie Hassan is against Right-to-Work.

SalFalko via Flickr CC

  The state senate Ways and Means Committee will hear a bill that would approve the creation of two casinos this Tuesday morning.

Long-time casino champion and sponsor of the bill, Democratic Senator Lou D’Allesandro of Manchester, says this bill has a lot more revenue sharing than past bills.

“Every person in the state has a stake in this piece of legislation.”

D’Allesandro says the hosting community, neighboring communities, the hosting county and the state health department each get a cut of the revenue.

Gage Skidmore via Flickr CC

  Republican New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is returning to New Hampshire today. He’s scheduled to speak at a dinner in Concord at 6pm.

Christie was a frequent visitor to the Granite State last year. He made a number of trips to stump for Republican gubernatorial candidate Walt Havenstein.

Christie is being eyed as a potential GOP candidate for president in twenty-sixteen. 

Governor Hassan Delivers 2015 Budget Address

Feb 12, 2015
Allegra Boverman for NHPR

Governor Maggie Hassan delivered her 2015 budget address to a joint session of the N.H. Legislator Thursday.

Click through the gallery above to see photos of the address. Scroll down for our live blog, the full text of her speech, as well as the Republican response, related links, explainers, and photographs.

Reporting by Brian Wallstin, NHPR Staff. Photography by Allegra Boverman.

Marc Nozell / NHPR

  Governor Maggie Hassan will include a new, administrative position for state government: a Chief Operating Officer.

The position, modeled after COOs in the private sector, would improve the state’s efficiency. The idea came from a commission convened by Hassan in twenty thirteen. It released its final report last month, which says the Chief Operating Officer would oversee operations for staff and IT across state agencies.

Kris Klop / Flickr/CC

  New Hampshire's U.S. senators are supportive of President Barack Obama's decision to pursue a congressionally approved authorization for the use of military force against Islamic state fighters.   Republican Sen. Kelly Ayotte says as the Senate begins hearings on the language and scope of Obama's request, she wants to learn more about whether he is prepared to fully execute an effective strategy to defeat ISIS under the terms of the authorization.  Democratic Sen.

Carol Robidoux for NHPR

With less than a year to go before the 2016 New Hampshire primary, the Granite State is starting to see more and more visits from potential hopefuls – so far mostly on the Republican side.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry was talking about the weather when he told New Hampshire voters he's "just warming up," but he also says he's carefully preparing for a possible presidential campaign.

In Bedford on Wednesday, Perry joked about the 80-degree difference in temperature between New Hampshire and Texas this week. But his main message to business leaders was that the federal government has failed them by not providing predictability and stability in taxes and regulation.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

Governor Maggie Hassan will today present her spending plan for the next two years on Thursday. Budget writers face several key challenges this year.

Will the Governor again include a casino in her budget? Will she propose spending on commuter rail, a goal she called crucial when she was sworn in? We’ll have to wait for the speech to see. Hassan didn’t tip her hand in brief comments to reporters.

Allison Quantz for NHPR

Lawmakers took testimony Tuesday on a senate bill to change workers compensation payments. It's an issue that's come up before.

New Hampshire has high workers comp costs, twice the national average according to the Insurance Department, and making the system less expensive is a priority for lawmakers and the Governor.

  The New Hampshire House committee on Health, Human Services and Elderly Affairs will hear bills to expand the medical marijuana law Wednesday.

One bill would reintroduce a home-grow provision which had been proposed in a failed bill last year and it was cut from the therapeutic cannabis law’s original language.

It would allow qualified patients to grow a certain amount of cannabis in their home and require them to report their cultivation location to the state.

Penalties for indecent exposure and the legality of abortions are on tap for the New Hampshire House.

Lawmakers are scheduled to debate these and several other issues during Wednesday's legislative session, beginning at 10 a.m.

NHPR / Michael Brindley

In the wake of President Obama's recent budget proposals and the continuing threat of ISIS in the Middle East, the U.S. Congress will have a lot of important decisions to make.

To check in with the New Hampshire's delegation, we start by talking with our 2nd Congressional District representative. Congresswoman Anne McLane Kuster joined Morning Edition. 

Sara Plourde

Planned Parenthood is suggesting New Hampshire lawmakers replace the state law creating "buffer zones" around facilities that provide abortions rather than repeal it.

New Hampshire's 25-foot buffer zone law has not been enforced since its passage last summer because of a U.S. Supreme Court decision that struck down a similar Massachusetts law. The House Judiciary Committee took testimony Tuesday on a bill to repeal the buffer zone law outright. Its sponsors say the state will face a costly lawsuit if the law remains in place.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

 

The high cost of two major lawsuits against the state are complicating the next state budget, and it's not the first time that's happened.

A settlement over mental health services will cost the state $24 million in the upcoming budget, and another suit over a hospital tax could take up to $80 million from the general fund. These costs won't be easily swallowed in an already tight budget of roughly $10.7 billion.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

A legislative committee overseeing implementation of the Affordable Care Act in New Hampshire may be taking on new duties.

State Sen. Jeb Bradley, a Republican from Wolfeboro, is sponsoring a bill to increase the powers of the joint health care reform oversight committee to include the state's newly-expanded Medicaid program. The bill would require the committee to provide oversight, policy direction and recommendations for legislation.

NHPR / Michael Brindley

    

Former New York Governor George Pataki is in New Hampshire this week, as he weighs a run for president in 2016.

He joins Morning Edition to talk about his visit to the Granite State.

You’ve said you may be running for president, but you’ve said that before. What’s different this time?

Christopher Sessums via Flickr CC

The fraught topic of education funding is again before lawmakers as two bills seek to eliminate a cap aid to local schools that was imposed in 2011. The bills hope to head off a possible lawsuit from school districts that have missed out on millions of dollars because of that cap. 

The push for change has bipartisan support, even though it could result in less funding for many schools.

Josh Rogers for NHPR

On The Political Front is our weekly conversation with NHPR's Senior Political Reporter Josh Rogers. This week, what Mitt Romney's exit means for 2016, and a look at the issues up for debate this week at the N.H. Statehouse.

Let’s start with Presidential politics – Mitt Romney won't make said a third run for president. What was more surprising, that he said no, or that he was thinking of running again in the first place?

Josh Rogers for NHPR

Mitt Romney’s decision to skip a third run for president leaves the New Hampshire's GOP presidential primary without a clear early front-runner.  

Mitt Romney had been publicly flirting with a 2016 run for the past three weeks. On Wednesday he made a campaign-style trip to Mississippi, but little more than a day later he used conference calls to tell his staunchest backers that he’s decided it is best to clear the way for others leaders in his party.

Jim Merrill ran both of Romney’s N.H. campaigns. He said he didn’t see this coming.

Tracy Lee Carroll, NHPR

House lawmakers are considering a measure that aims to create guidelines for election officials to judge a voters domicile. And the secretary of state’s office supports the bill.

The fight over what should constitute domicile for voting purposes has been going on for years in New Hampshire, and it’s often focused status of college students.

Allegra Boverman / NHPR

Health and Human Services commissioner Nick Toumpas told lawmakers he will make up most of the $58 million hole in his budget through $45 million in cuts and savings, including trims for community health centers and family planning programs.

But the issue rankling lawmakers the most is $7 million of payment cuts to nursing homes.

Toumpas told the legislature’s fiscal committee those cuts were a tough call.

“I just had not a whole lot of options, in terms of what we needed to do.”

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

New Hampshire's top health official warned lawmakers his department’s current budget has what amounts to an $82 million shortfall. The legislature’s fiscal committee meets Friday to consider a proposal by the Governor to balance the state budget by July.

As he briefed the house finance committee, Health and Human Services commissioner Nick Toumpas stressed what many lawmakers already know – that his department faces a tough balance sheet.

NHPR Staff

For the second straight year, a group of activists are marching across the Granite State to raise awareness for their goal of getting money out of politics.

Members of the New Hampshire Rebellion have covered more 300 miles over the past ten days, with marches starting in Portsmouth, Nashua, Keene and Dixville Notch.

Those four marches are set to converge in front of the Statehouse in Concord later today, marking the fifth anniversary of the Citizens United Supreme Court decision.

Sheryl Rich-Kern for NHPR

Two progressive groups – Democracy for America and MoveOn.org – launched a campaign in New Hampshire this weekend to urge Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren to run for president.

On Saturday, around 75 fans of Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren packed a small conference room in one of Manchester’s mill buildings. Many held signs that promoted a presidential candidate as much as it did a populist cause.

NHPR Staff/Photo of Jeb Bush courtesy World Affairs Council, Chris Christie photo courtesy NJ National Guard

There’s still a year to go before any ballots are cast in New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation primary.

Still, that hasn’t stopped Republicans expected to make a run for president from hitting the campaign trail in the Granite State.

Chris Galdieri is an assistant professor of politics at St. Anselm College who specializes in presidential races.

He joins Morning Edition to give us a roundup of how the field of candidates is taking shape.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

The state budget is facing a $30 million dollar shortfall, according to the Legislative Budget Office. Legislative budget assistant Jeff Pattison briefed lawmakers today. He stressed that the number could grow or shrink between now and the end of the fiscal year.

“We are looking at about a 30 million dollar problem, but that’s as of January 14th. There are a lot of things that are going to be happening between now and June 30th. My expectation is these numbers will still be changing when we get to the committee of conference in June.”

Emily Corwin / NHPR

U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, a likely Republican presidential candidate, is returning to New Hampshire with a full day of events including meetings with lawmakers, activists and business leaders.

Paul's visit will begin Wednesday with a breakfast in Manchester with state legislators. He'll then meet privately with Manchester Mayor Ted Gatsas, attend a pro-Second Amendment rally, speak at a forum on Common Core, tour a charter school and end the day meeting with business leaders and activists.

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