Politics

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

Dan Tuohy / NHPR

Lawmakers took more testimony Tuesday for and against a bill to legalize recreational marijuana.

Those who support legalizing marijuana say the time has come. Opponents argued the bill is an effort by advocates to get a toehold for the marijuana industry in New Hampshire.

 

Dr. William Goodman, Medical Director at Catholic Medical Center, opposed the bill on behalf of the New Hampshire Medical Society.

 

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

Governor Chris Sununu delivered his 2018 State of the State address Thursday in front a joint session of Granite State lawmakers at the New Hampshire State House.

Scroll down for photos, a transcription of the speech, news reports, and more, to be updated throughout the day.

Our coverage began on The Exchange, which featured mayors from around the state giving their perspectives on the state of New Hampshire's cities. (Listen to that program here.)

Jason Moon for NHPR

A bill that seeks to limit the political activity of state commissioners had a public hearing today.

The bill would prohibit the heads of state agencies from doing things like donating to a candidate or participating in a campaign while they’re in office.

Senate Democratic Leader Jeff Woodburn is the prime sponsor.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

Just over a year in office, Gov. Chris Sununu is enjoying relatively high approval ratings, according to the most recent poll from the UNH Survey Center

Casey McDermott, NHPR

When it comes to getting lawmakers to take sexual harassment seriously, State House officials have said they only have so much control — that there's no rule forcing legislators to read the institution’s policy on harassment, let alone attend workshops on the issue. An anti-harassment training session held several weeks ago drew a turnout of only about 10 percent.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

The New Hampshire House has voted to send a bill that would reauthorize the state's version of Medicaid expansion for further study, giving it an uncertain future.

This bill would have reauthorized the New Hampshire Health Protection Program, the state's program that provides health insurance coverage for over 50,000 low-income adults who do not qualify for Medicaid. If not reauthorized, the program will end on Dec. 31.

The House on Thursday agreed with a committee recommendation that more work is required to create a program that taxpayers can support.

AP

New Hampshire Sens. Jeanne Shaheen and Maggie Hassan say they have helped to secure an agreement to provide an additional $6 billion to respond to the national opioid epidemic over the next two years.

The Democratic senators said Wednesday they also received assurances that the opioid funding formula will be improved to prioritize states like New Hampshire with high mortality rates from overdoses.

The campaign in New Hampshire’s 1st Congressional District is among the most crowded and most buzzed-about midterm races in the country. With all that attention comes plenty of money, from both inside and outside the state.

Jason Moon for NHPR

A proposal to amend the New Hampshire constitution had its first public hearing at the state house today. The amendment is designed to give crime victims more rights in the criminal justice system.

Today’s hearing drew some big name supporters but also some unexpected opponents. NHPR reporter Jason Moon was at the hearing and he joins me now to talk about it.

So, what is this victims’ rights amendment? What sort of rights would it give a victim?

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

Advocates for more local control in New Hampshire are trying again to amend the state constitution, this time to let municipalities pass laws protecting people's health and the environment.

A dozen New Hampshire towns already have ordinances geared toward ensuring locals’ health, safety and welfare, sparked by big energy developments or water quality concerns.

But Granite State municipalities technically can’t enact any laws the state doesn’t allow them to. So supporters say those ordinances wouldn't hold up in court – which is why they need a constitutional amendment.

N.H. Supreme Court

Governor Chris Sununu has nominated Justice Robert J. Lynn to lead the state's Supreme Court.

Todd Bookman / NHPR

A Senate committee is taking up a bill aimed at strengthening New Hampshire's animal cruelty laws after a Wolfeboro breeder was accused of keeping dozens of Great Danes in filthy conditions.

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee is holding a public hearing Tuesday on the bill, which relieves the financial burden on taxpayers when animals are seized in cruelty cases and redefines what constitutes a commercial breeder under state law.

The bill requires mandatory, unannounced inspections of pet stores, animal shelters, rescues and commercial breeders.

N.H. Senate

Former state Sen. Sam Cataldo of Farmington died in a car crash this weekend.

Updated at 5:43 p.m. ET

After days of buildup amid a political firestorm, House Republicans released a controversial memo on Friday that alleges the FBI abused its surveillance authority to target a former foreign policy adviser to the Trump campaign.

The memo also has shed more light on the broader Russia case and confirmed or advanced other aspects of the story beyond the GOP's campaign against the FBI and Department of Justice.

Robert Garrova for NHPR

Controversial undercover video producer James O’Keefe returned to New Hampshire last night to speak at an event sponsored by College Republicans at UNH and the 603 Alliance.

Several of the two dozen or so in attendance were college students who listened intently as O’Keefe called out what he sees as media bias and corrupt journalism from outlets like The New York Times and CNN.

Casey McDermott, NHPR

Rep. Bob Backus of Manchester said he thought Tuesday morning's anti-harassment training for legislators was worthwhile — even if, he conceded, he might not have absorbed the whole thing.

“I wasn’t fully awake and participating very well,” Backus, a Democrat, said in the hallway after the 8:30 a.m. presentation wrapped up.

Jason Moon for NHPR

A public hearing was held Wednesday for a bipartisan bill that would create legal protections for transgender people.

The hearing drew such a crowd that it had to be moved to Representatives Hall. The large, stately room that seats 400 was mostly full.

Casey McDermott, NHPR

Gov. Chris Sununu's Millennial Advisory Council is still waiting to hear the governor's feedback on a set of policy recommendations they put together at his request last month. In the meantime, the group may start weighing in directly on a range of high-profile issues before the legislature this session. 

Associated Press

President Trump is delivering his State of the Union address to Congress, which will be followed by a response from the Democratic Party. Journalists across the NPR newsroom will be annotating those remarks, adding fact-checks and analysis in real time.

You can also watch the speeches live, just scroll below the fact-check transcript to see the video.

Follow the real-time fact-check:

NHPR Staff

Backers of a bill to include “gender identity” in the state’s anti-discrimination statute are holding a rally in Concord Wednesday in advance of a scheduled public hearing.

The measure - House Bill 1319 - would expand protections for transgender people in areas of employment, housing and public accommodations. The state’s anti-discrimination law currently includes factors such as age, race, religion and national origin.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

Gun laws are always divisive in the Live Free or Die state, but Tuesday, lawmakers are taking up a bill that is dividing a normally united front in the Republican-controlled state house: Gun rights groups.

Casey McDermott, NHPR

A month after issuing an initial set of recommendations on how to make New Hampshire more hospitable to young adults, the Governor’s Millennial Advisory Council will gather at the State House Tuesday night.

Daniel S. Hurd via Flickr CC

New Hampshire lawmakers will get a refresher course this week on the State House’s anti-harassment and anti-discrimination policies. The program, scheduled for Wednesday morning in Representatives’ Hall, is not mandatory – but legislative leaders have said it is encouraged. 

justgrimes / Flickr Creative Commons

In one of its strongest public statements on the issue yet, the Secretary of State’s office said it doesn’t believe people who are merely domiciled in New Hampshire should be allowed to participate in its elections and the state should establish a single residency standard for voting eligibility.

Allegra Boverman

New Hampshire is one of about a dozen remaining states that doesn’t allow online voter registration — but a bill introduced this year could change that.

FILE

U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen is calling for an investigation into the U.S. Olympic Committee and the U.S. Gymnastics program regarding sexual abuse.

N.H. Lawmakers Reviewing Voter Registration Bills

Jan 25, 2018
NHPR File Photo

  New Hampshire's newest voter registration law is still tied up in court, but lawmakers are considering several additional proposals on the often controversial topic of voting.

Proponents of such measures argue they are trying to restore confidence in elections, while opponents say the goal is to prevent certain groups of people, such as college students, from voting.

TORBAKHOPPER / Flickr Creative Commons

New Hampshire House lawmakers are considering two bills on the topic of gender reassignment surgery.

One bill would prohibit gender reassignment surgery for anyone under age 18. The other would prohibit Medicaid from paying for sex reassignment surgery, drugs or hormone therapy.

Lawmakers are again considering lowering the drinking age in New Hampshire.

The House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee is holding a public hearing Tuesday on a bill that would lower the legal age for alcohol possession from 21 to 20.

In 2016, the House rejected a bill that would have allowed residents as young as 18 who were accompanied by adults to drink beer or wine, but not liquor. Similar bills have failed in other states over the years, in part because states that lower the drinking age below 21 would lose federal highway money.

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.

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