Politics

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

Allegra Boverman / NHPR

On The Political Front is our weekly conversation with NHPR's Senior Political Reporter Josh Rogers. This week, a look at the state budget, as Senate lawmakers begin work on crafting their own version of a two-year plan.

The New Hampshire House did what some thought it wouldn’t – or couldn’t –  pass a budget. The process  now begins anew in the state Senate.

Chris Jensen for NHPR

With the House having passed its $11.2 billion two-year state budget this week, it’s now up to the state Senate to come up with its own version of a spending plan.

Jeanie Forrester is a Republican from Meredith and chairs the Senate Finance Committee.

She joined Morning Edition host Rick Ganley to talk about the task ahead.

There’s a perception by some that the Senate will simply start from scratch, without any regard for what the House ended up passing. How accurate is that?

Allegra Boverman / NHPR

After the House passed its $11.2 billion dollar budget, the Senate will now have its chance to look at it.  But Senate President Chuck Morse says his chamber's version won't differ too much from the House's.

“There was a lot of good work that wen t into the budget up onto those changes were made to make the final balancing. We will take a look at the whole thing, but I’m sure there will be more we agree upon than disagree on,” he said Thursday in his office. 

josh rogers/nhpr

Republican George Pataki returned to N.H. Thursday.

The former New York Governor stumped in the North Country and announced a steering committee for what he describes as a likely presidential bid.

Pataki also took aim at Indiana’s controversial religious freedom law.

The law seeks to bar government actions that "substantially burden a person's exercise of religion,” and allows businesses to claim a right to free exercise of religion.

Civil rights groups say this opens the door to discrimination against gays and lesbians.

Paige Sutherland/NHPR

A $11.2 billion budget was signed off on Wednesday by the New Hampshire House.

Although the plan is a modest increase from the last biennial, it cuts hundreds of millions from what the Governor proposed.

The reductions include $6 million less for substance abuse treatment programs as well as $53 million less for developmental disabilities.

Denise Colby of Belmont says these cuts would force her to quit her job to care for her six-year-old autistic son.

Paige Sutherland/NHPR

The House version of the $11.2 billion budget passed along party lines with reductions to the Governor's proposed funding for social services still left on the books. 

Advocates for the developmental disabled filled the capitol, but those in favor of more funding for substance abuse treatment drew out the largest crowd.

Three-hundred – that is the number of lives that were lost in New Hampshire last year from drug-related deaths, and that is the same number of people who came to the State House on Wednesday to advocate for more funding.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

The New Hampshire house has passed an $11.2 billion state budget.

The proposal includes no tax and fee increases and lifts state spending by about $400 million, some $300 million dollars less than the plan proposed by Governor Maggie Hassan.

“This was an effort to look under every cushion of the sofa to look for loose change.”

Senator Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts was remembered Monday by the president, vice president, and senators from both parties as a powerful force for liberal causes who could also reach across the aisle. 

Among the senators - past and present - who paid tribute to Ted Kennedy at the dedication of the new institute in his name was Trent Lott.

“Yes, a Republican from Mississippi,” he told the crowd gathered at the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate.

Rebecca Lavoie, NHPR

NHPR's Morning Edition is checking in occasionally with New Hampshire’s Congressional delegation.

Tuesday morning, host Rick Ganley spoke with with Democratic U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen.

UPDATE: Sen. Shaheen will hold a town hall meeting Thursday night in Colebrook at 5:30 at the Tillotson Center for the Arts.

The Senate recently passed its budget, but you’ve raised some concerns with the plan. How confident are you that House and Senate lawmakers can now come together and agree on a budget?

Paige Sutherland/NHPR

  

Martin O’Malley returned to New Hampshire this week, but the former Maryland Governor did a little more than campaign for the White House during his visit.

At a meet-and-greet in Nashua, O’Malley played to the crowd, quite literally, sing and strumming the guitar to “This Land Is Your Land” for dozens of young Democrats.

The ex-mayor of Baltimore also riled up the crowd during his speech – calling for a stronger middle class economy based on higher wages and equal pay.

Gage Skidmore via Flickr CC

 New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is planning a two-day swing through the early-voting state of New Hampshire next month.

The potential Republican presidential contender will be making the trip on April 14-15.

A spokeswoman for his political action committee says Christie is planning to meet with community leaders while he's in town. She says they'll discuss important issues facing the country, including entitlement reform.

Christie is then set to return to the state for the New Hampshire Republican Party's "First-in-the-Nation Leadership Summit" on April 17.

CHESBAYPROGRAM VIA FLICKR

 

As he continues to explore a presidential bid, former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley is heading back to the early voting state of New Hampshire for the second time this month.

Paige Sutherland/NHPR

Sen. Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire said Monday that despite recent negotiation setbacks, she has no regrets in joining 46 other Republican Senators earlier this month in signing a letter addressed to Iran.

The letter warned Iranian leaders that any nuclear deal signed with President Obama would not last past his second term if Congress was not allowed to weigh in.

The Senators have received flak from colleagues across the aisle, arguing that the letter only stalled negotiations further putting the country at risk.

Allegra Boverman / NHPR

On the Political Front, NHPR's Josh Rogers speaks with Morning Edition host Rick Ganley about the state budget going before the House this week.

The state budget, the version crafted by House budget writers, heads for a floor vote this week. House Speaker Shawn Jasper has indicated he’s ready to lock lawmakers in to get the job done. Is it going to come to that?

Paige Sutherland/NHPR

Texas Senator Ted Cruz is in New Hampshire for the first time since he announced his bid for President on Monday.

Ted Cruz made his first stop at a VFW hall in Merrimack where he told the hundred plus crowd that the country needs a president who honors the logic of the founders.

“This country was built on a promise. It was built on an extraordinary idea that our rights don’t come from government they come from God and our founding documents, the declaration, the constitution were designed to rein in government and protect those God-given rights, ” Cruz said on Friday.

Paige Sutherland/NHPR

The state’s chapter of Americans for Prosperity, a conservative advocacy group backed by the Koch brothers,  are behind the House Finance version of the state's spending plan, which passed committee along party lines Thursday. 

The $11 billion budget trimmed hundreds of millions from Governor Maggie Hassan’s proposal including reducing spending for the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Transportation and University funding.

AFP State Director Greg Moore said the budget isn’t perfect but it is fiscally responsible.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

Governor Maggie Hassan joined Morning Edition Friday to talk about her reaction to the moves made Thursday by the House Finance Committee.

You’ve made clear your opposition to many of the recommendations made in the House budget. What particular proposals give you the greatest concern?

The House budget that was proposed earlier this week made unnecessary, very harmful cuts that will pull us backwards and will make it much more difficult to make the kind of economic progress we need to.

Paige Sutherland/NHPR

The New Hampshire House Finance Committee has voted along party lines to send an $11 billion state spending plan to the full House, for a second time. 

For the past week or so Finance Chairman Neal Kurk has described this budget as “business as usual.”

But cobbling together this year's budget wasn't easy, as lawmakers scrambled to find money to fill a $68 million hole needed to avert deep layoffs in the Department of Transportation, after Kurk’s plan to hike the gasoline tax failed to gain traction.

Paige Sutherland/NHPR

The House Finance Committee is heading back to the drawing board to come up with the money to avert deep funding cuts and hundreds of layoffs within New Hampshire's Department of Transportation.

DOT officials say the $88 million reduction from the Governor's proposed budget would result in more than 700 layoffs and severely limit road maintenance. 

During Wednesday's House session, House Speaker Shawn Jasper of Hudson disallowed the debate over the gas tax, he said, for procedural reasons 

Paige Sutherland/NHPR

The New Hampshire House tried to put to rest the continued controversy of a bill it killed last week making the red-tailed hawk the state's official raptor.  

During the debate Representative Warren Groen compared the violent bird to Planned Parenthood. Other representatives mocked the idea, which came from a 4th grade class in Hampton Falls. 

upupa4me via Flickr CC

 

Republican House budget writers are hoping to convince their colleagues to support an increase in the state's gas tax to avoid hundreds of layoffs and decreased road maintenance.

The House will debate the gas tax as part of a bill cutting $88 million from Gov. Maggie Hassan's proposed budget for the Department of Transportation. That cut would significantly lower what is in the state's highway fund, which officials say would have dire consequences for basic road and bridge maintenance.

Paige Sutherland/NHPR

The New Hampshire House Finance Committee has wrapped up its work on the state budget proposal, which now heads to the House floor next week. 

The roughly $11 billion budget cleared the committee Tuesday with all Republican backing – undoing many spending increases from the Governor.  

They spent $88 million less for the Department of Transportation, $46 million for education aid and $140 million less for the Department of Health and Human Services.

Paige Sutherland/NHPR

House budget writers are backing a proposal that would eliminate probable cause hearings for those facing felony charges in New Hampshire. 

The House Finance Committee voted in favor of the measure on Monday,  saying the change would save the state money. Meanwhile criminal defense lawyers say it will make it harder for anyone charged with a felony.

Paige Sutherland for NHPR

Republican Edward "Ted" Cruz was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2012. He is the first Cuban-American to serve in that role for the state of Texas. Cruz announced his candidacy for the 2016 presidential primary on March 23, 2015. (You can watch the video of his announcement at the bottom of the page.)

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

On The Political Front is our weekly conversation with NHPR's Senior Political Reporter Josh Rogers. This week, a look at the politics behind a push for an increase to the gas tax from the head of the House Finance Committee. 

The Finance Committee in the New Hampshire House hopes to finish its work on the House’s budget this week. Some of their decisions have been controversial, and there’s even been talk that mustering the votes to pass a budget in the House may be tough.

josh rogers/nhpr

 

Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz says in a Twitter message that he is running for president.

Cruz released an early morning tweet on Monday confirming what had long been an expected White House run from the tea party favorite. He becomes the first major candidate for president when he launches his campaign and a rush of more than a dozen White House hopefuls into the 2016 campaign is expected in the next few weeks.

Paige Sutherland / NHPR

Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul returns to New Hampshire just a day after hiring two key state staffers as he gears up for his anticipated presidential campaign. 

But despite recent media reports, the Republican has not officially announced his candidacy, but said he expects to announce in the coming weeks.

While attending an event at the Manchester internet service provider Dyn on Friday, Paul praised the initiative nature of the tech industry - saying that it does not just rely on government to fix its problems. 

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

Updated at 3:45 PM:

N.H. House speaker Shawn Jasper is demanding an apology from the state rep who made an abortion remark during debate over the bill proposed by fourth graders to designate the Red Tailed Hawk as the state's official raptor. 

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

The New Hampshire House of Representatives is asking the state Supreme Court to weigh in on a bill requiring people registering to vote — including out-of-state students or military personnel — to also register their cars and obtain drivers' licenses in New Hampshire.

The request for an advisory opinion was made in writing Wednesday and made public by the court Thursday.

A New Hampshire Civil Liberties Union lawyer says including the drivers' license requirement in establishing a voter's eligibility amounts to a poll tax that forces people to pay the state to vote.

Paige Sutherland/NHPR

Celebrity businessman Donald Trump joined fellow Republicans at a house party in Amherst, New Hampshire Thursday night while he continues to toy with the idea of running for president in 2016.

But this isn’t the first time Trump has flirted with the idea of running for President.

Four years ago he visited New Hampshire, but this time he took a step forward by forming an exploratory committee and hiring  staff in early voting states.

At the Amherst home of state representative Stephen Stepanek, Trump told Republicans that he would "make America rich again."

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