Politics

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

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."

Paige Sutherland/NHPR

A bill that would cut more than $88 million from the Governor Maggie Hassan’s proposed transportation funding will move to the House floor.

The House Finance Committee voted 15 -11 along party lines Thursday in favor of a measure, critics say would send a blow to New Hampshire’s infrastructure.

Deputy Commissioner of the DOT Patrick McKenna said these cuts would lead to more than 600 layoffs, the closure of nearly 200 bridges and devastate the state’s maintenance and plowing operations.

Wikipedia

 

Real estate mogul and reality TV star Donald Trump is heading to New Hampshire as he again considers a presidential run.

Trump will attend a reception Thursday at the Amherst home of Republican state Rep. Steve Stepanek.

The visit comes one day after Trump announced plans to form a presidential exploratory committee, allowing him to raise money and hire staff as he weighs a White House bid. Trump says he's already hired political aides in the key early voting states of Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina.

Paige Sutherland/NHPR

The Department of Transportation is warning New Hampshire House budget writers from voting to slash more than $88 million in funding from the Governor’s proposed budget.

The House Finance Committee is expected to vote on the bill Thursday morning.

Deputy Commissioner of the department Patrick McKenna said he is appalled by the cuts,  adding that it would result in the loss of more than 600 jobs, the closure of hundreds of bridges and would drastically affect the state's infrastructure by limiting road maintenance and plowing. 

NHPR Staff

 

House budget writers are preparing to vote on whether to cut millions of dollars from the Department of Transportation's budget, forcing layoffs and a decline in road maintenance.

Allegra Boverman / NHPR

The Department of Health and Human Services is warning House budget writers against cutting $160 million from the Governor’s proposed budget.

So far the House Finance Committee is proposing roughly $117 million less from the H.H.S budget. Meanwhile a proposal to cut more than $28 million from the state’s mental health services remains on the table.

Deputy Commissioner of the department Marilee Nihan tells the committee these cuts are “aggressive.”

Alex1961 via Flickr CC

New Hampshire transportation officials say a $41 million budget cut proposed by House budget writers would have dire consequences on public safety and result in more than 300 layoffs.

josh rogers/nhpr

Ted Cruz says history shows the GOP has been ill-served by presidential candidates based on their perceived electability.

Cruz favors abolishing the IRS in favor of a flat tax, and repeatedly said he plays to repeal every word fo so-called Obamacare, says the way to to avoid what he called the mushy middle,  is draw a line in the sand and make the race a clear choice. If that happens, Cruz says, the right sort of conservative would win broad support.

Paige Sutherland/NHPR

U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont is making stops in the Granite State Monday as he continues to flirt with the idea of whether to run in next year’s presidential race.

The Senator says having the funds to support a competitive campaign is one of the major issues holding him back.

NHPR / Josh Rogers

It’s Monday morning. NHPR’s Josh Rogers joins Morning Edition to discuss developments on NH’s political front.

Lots of political activity over the weekend Jeb Bush, Scott Walker and Ted Cruz all paying their respects to local Republicans. House budget writers busy. Let’s start with presidential politics.

josh rogers/nhpr

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker arrived in New Hampshire preaching small government and working to rebut claims he’s changed his stances on key issues.

His surging popularity among Republicans was on full display in Concord.

Unions protested outside his speech; Republicans inside cheered as Walker called for tax cuts and “eradicating” terrorism.

“We need a commander-in-chief who stands up and once and for all says our biggest problem is radical Islamic terrorism and we are going to do whatever it takes to weed it out all over the world.”

josh rogers/nhpr

Easygoing amid a swarm of media, the former Florida Governor chose a Hudson biotech firm for his first  N.H. stop in his likely presidential bid.

"I am joyfully pursuing the possibility of this," Bush said.

Along they way, Bush talked policy with members of the Nashua Chamber of Commerce. He faced questions on education and immigration, areas where his views are at odds with many conservatives in his party.

The  “grown up” approach to immigration policy, Bush told the crowd,  is to provide  undocumented immigrants a path to legal status.

U.S. Department of State

Two prominent staffers in U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen’s office will be leaving to lead Hillary Clinton’s efforts in New Hampshire as she prepares for her likely 2016 presidential bid.

Mike Vlacich was Shaheen’s 2014 campaign manager and Kari Thurman served as the campaign’s political director.

Vlacich received national attention last fall after defending Shaheen’s seat against well-funded Republican challenger Scott Brown.  

Shaheen, who was in the Granite State this week, tells NHPR she wishes her fellow employees all the best.

SalFalko via Flickr CC

 

Senators gave initial approval to legalizing two casinos, giving another shot at life to a perennial New Hampshire issue.

The two-casino bill passed the chamber Thursday by a single vote, 13-11, and will now be sent to the House. Casinos have often found support in the Senate but the House has never voted to legalize any casinos.

Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan supports a single casino as a means to bring new, non-tax revenue into the state, but she has not said whether she would sign a bill for two.

Allegra Boverman / NHPR

Senators have joined the House in supporting efforts to create a crime of fetal homicide, which would allow charges to be brought for the death of a fetus in certain cases, excluding abortion or other medical procedures.  

Thirty eight states have some type of fetal homicide law. The version passed by senators Thursday applies the death of a fetus that has reached the stage of viability - when it can live outside the womb. A House version passed Wednesday applies the law to fetuses past eight weeks of development. 

Allegra Boverman / NHPR

The New Hampshire House has voted down a bill in a 2-1 margin Thursday that would mandate paid sick leave.

Under the measure, businesses with 15 or more employers would be forced to offer workers 40 hours of paid sick leave annually.  

Republican Len Turcotte of Barrington said mandatory sick leave would only lead to harmful regulatory policies for employers.

“Employee contracts between an employer and an employee is an agreement that is freely reached and should be reached between the two parties without bureaucratic inference,” Turcotte his fellow colleagues.

Allegra Boverman / NHPR

Both the New Hampshire House and Senate have killed bills Thursday that would have established a higher state minimum wage.

The House’s measure, which was rejected in a 198 to 145 vote, would have raised the minimum wage to $9.10 by next year -- tacking on nearly $7 by 2018.

Meanwhile in a 14-10 vote the Senate rejected to increase the hourly rate by $8.25  by next January – reaching $10 by 2018.

The federal minimum wage of $7.25 will remain in place. Currently 29 other states have higher minimum wages. 

josh rogers/nhpr

Rick Perry gave a morning speech at St. Anselm college. By lunch he was at a Concord law firm, stressing the executive experience he gained as Texas’s longest serving governor.

Perry described the national mood as "pessimistic," but said would take just a few good decisions -- particularly on energy policy -- to change that. He also called for for cooperation across the asile.

Allegra Boverman / NHPR

 

The Republican-led House passed several bills Wednesday aimed at weakening aspects of the Common Core education standards and affirming the importance of local and parental control in education.

“We can fire a shot here today in the battle over federal intrusion,” Republican Rep. Glenn Cordelli of Tuftonboro told the chamber to loud cheers. “You will make a statement today, you will stand tall. No more unfunded federal mandates, no more federal control of education, no more.”

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