Politics

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

Breaking her silence, Hillary Rodham Clinton conceded Tuesday that she should have used a government email to conduct business as secretary of state, saying her decision was simply a matter of “convenience.”

“At the time, this didn’t seem like an issue,” Clinton said in her first public comments since it was disclosed last week that she exclusively used her private email for government business and housed her communications on a personal server.

NHPR Staff

UPDATE: Sen. Ayotte released the following statement regarding her signing the letter:

NHPR Staff

My daughter registered to vote for the first time before last year’s Town Meeting. The Supervisors of the Checklist made an appropriate fuss.

Special thanks to Bev Norton for additional photography. You can find her photos here.

One of them looked at her, beaming, and said, “You are the future of this town.”

She didn’t say “of this country,” or even “of New Hampshire.”

Evan Vucci/AP

Fresh off a trip to Iowa, Lindsey Graham spent Sunday afternoon at the Snowshoe Club in Concord.

Standing before a crackling fire, Graham told about 50 Republicans the GOP must lead on tax and entitlement reform, but most of all on national security.

"Congress and the Republican Party lost their way. We became the party of the tax cut rather than the party of national defense. Without national defense there can be no social security." 

www.bbc.com

All four members of New Hampshire’s Congressional delegation say they plan on attending Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech before a joint session of Congress this morning.

Several Democrats have said they plan on boycotting speech, which was organized by House Republican leadership without the involvement of President Obama.

On The Political Front is our weekly conversation with NHPR's Senior Political Reporter Josh Rogers. This week, a possible 2016 U.S. Senate matchup is starting to heat up and a look at what's on top this week at the Statehouse.

The legislature’s back in this week, the presidential candidates keep coming, but let’s start with Governor Maggie Hassan. Is it US senate candidate Maggie Hassan?

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

 On Wednesday the New Hampshire House will vote on whether schools should be able to compel students to disclose their social media activity.

The bill bans schools from demanding access to a student’s user name and password or requiring students to “friend” school officials on Facebook.

It would apply to private and public schools, K through colleges and universities. Prime Sponsor, Merrimack Rep Katherine Rogers says schools that demand access to a student’s social media accounts without a search warrant are denying that student the civil right to privacy.

File photos / NHPR

Update: The Republican-led House has rejected a short-term funding bill for the Department of Homeland Security, increasing the likelihood of partial shutdown of U.S. anti-terror operations at midnight.

In a statement, Sen. Jeanne Shaheen urged House Speaker John Boehner to call a vote on a Senate bill that passed earlier today. "We cannot afford the consequences of an agency shutdown,” Shaheen said.

Nicole Tung/freejamesfoley.org via AP

  New Hampshire Senators Jeanne Shaheen and Kelly Ayotte have introduced legislation to set a $5 million reward for information that would point authorities to the ISIS terrorists who killed New Hampshire journalist James Foley and others.

The bipartisan bill would also authorize State Department rewards of $5 million for tips on the kidnapping and murder of any U.S. citizen by any foreign terrorist group. Seven other senators have co-sponsored the legislation. Shaheen and Ayotte introduced a similar bill last year.

From Pope Francis and President Obama to the kid down the block, we have, for better or worse, become a world full of selfie-takers.

But as ubiquitous as they are, there are some places where selfies remain controversial — like the voting booth. The legal battle rages over so-called ballot selfies in the state that holds the first presidential primary.

This may be a fight of the digital age, but according to New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner, it involves a very old American ideal — the sanctity of the secret ballot.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

Is Gov. Maggie Hassan preparing to take on U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte in 2016? Hassan hasn’t said yet, but two national political groups that back Republicans seem convinced she is.

Crossroads GPS, a conservative non-profit founded by GOP operative and former George W. Bush adviser Karl Rove, released a radio ad Thursday attacking Hassan’s proposed budget. The 60-second spot comes a day after the National Republican Senatorial Committee launched a web ad that ridicules Hassan’s proposal to hire a chief operating officer.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

Vice President Joe Biden paid a visit to Wednesday. He collected an award at UNH law school, visited a community college and promoted the Obama administration’s economic record.

Speaking at the Warren Rudman center at UNH law, Biden told a crowd that included Rudman’s children that the former NH senator embodied public service and the ethos of his state.

"He served forthright, frugal and fair, everything about him, everything about him."

(Photo by <a href'="http://www.flickr.com/photos/tswartz/402696142/">Tony Swartz </a>via Flickr Creative Commons)

  New Hampshire may join several other states who are considering calling for a federal constitutional convention.

The House Committee on State-Federal Relations and Veteran Affairs voted to support two of four bills that would call for a convention under Article V of the U.S. Constitution.

One of the bills backed by the committee targets campaign finance issues brought on by the U.S. Supreme Court decision in the Citizens United case.

Calls from 34 states or a two-thirds vote in Congress is needed for a constitutional convention to take place.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

Marco Rubio’s stop at the Lawrence barn in Hollis was a freewheeling affair. The Senator accepted a jug of maple syrup, preached a message of opportunity, and  took questions that ranged from how to get money out of politics to whether the President ought to be impeached, to immigration.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

Florida US Senator Marco Rubio is in New Hampshire today. It’s part of a two day visit that’s largely seen as an early campaign trip of sorts by a political figure hoping to win the Republican Party’s presidential nomination in 2016.

Rubio has made a number of moves ahead of an expected presidential bid – he’s hired staff in New Hampshire, and he’s also used his political action committee to donate money to state and local officials and candidates, in this state and others that hold early primaries and caucuses.

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida is in New Hampshire to interact directly with voters who will help determine his presidential fate.

Rubio, a Republican, is traveling to key early voting states to promote his book,  American Dreams.

Rubio's trip to New Hampshire includes a Q-and-A session with voters in Hollis and a book signing in Manchester on Monday. He'll also speak at `Politics & Eggs' on Tuesday in Manchester.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan is in Washington, D.C., to attend a conference of the nation's governors, meet with President Barack Obama and the other Democratic governors and deliver a speech to a progressive organizing group.

AP Photo

  Potential Republican candidate for president, John Bolton is visiting New Hampshire today. He is scheduled to speak during a Politics and Eggs event hosted by The New England Council and The New Hampshire Institute of Politics at Saint Anselm College.

The visit by the former U.N. Ambassador was originally scheduled for late January but was postponed due to snowy weather.

Other potential candidates are expected to arrive in the Granite State next week including Florida Senator Marco Rubio and former Maryland Governor Bob Ehrlich.

Gun Store / Flickr Creative Commons

  The House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee will hear arguments Thursday on a bill that would expand background checks for gun sales in the state.

The bill, sponsored by five Democratic representatives and one Republican senator, would require all commercial sales or transfers use a licensed firearms dealer. Licensed dealers are required to vet buyers through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, or NICS. But sales at gun shows or through personal ads are currently possible without background checks.

  The New Hampshire House voted 216 to 142 to defeat a bill that would stop sending tax dollars to Planned Parenthood. It’s already illegal in the state to use public funds for abortions, but some lawmakers believe that’s how the money is being spent.

The bill was not recommended for passage by the Judiciary committee and, ultimately, the full house agreed.

School districts with growing populations could benefit from two pieces of legislation that got preliminary approval today from the New Hampshire House. 

The House voted this morning to move forward a bill that would lift a cap on how much state aid growing school districts can receive, as well as a measure to provide more money for school construction projects. The House Education Committee recommended passage of both. 

Allegra Boverman / NHPR

  The NH House is backing a bill that seeks to remove a potential financial incentive for county prosecutors who pursue liquor law violations.

The bill is fallout from mismanagement in the office of former Rockingham County Attorney, Jim Reams. Among other things, the state accused Reams of misusing fees his office collected while prosecuting liquor violations. Reams said current law allowed him to collect and spend the liquor fines.

The N.H. House is again hearing arguments to make marijuana possession punishable by civil penalties, not criminal.

Tuesday at a Criminal Safety Committee hearing crowded with supporters, cosponsor Representative Joe LaChance argued New Hampshire is the only state with criminal penalties for simple possession. 

“What’s the repercussion for that person who may not be able to afford college? Now he has a marijuana conviction, and according to federal law, you may not be eligible for student loans, public housing. What have we done to that person for the rest of their life?”

Brian Wallstin for NHPR

Lawmakers heard testimony Tuesday on a House bill to bring keno to New Hampshire bars and restaurants. Sponsors say the electronic game could raise some $8.5 million annually for education, while Gov. Maggie Hassan’s two-year budget projects $26 million in keno revenue.

NHPR’s digital journalist Brian Wallstin reported on keno legislation a year ago that died in the Senate, and he joins us now to give us an update on this year’s proposal.

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.

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