Politics

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

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

Although the Senate is the only chamber meeting in full this week both bodies have a long list of public hearings to get through.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

The New Hampshire Senate unanimously passed a bill to put more money towards combating the state’s drug crisis. The measure now heads to the House. 

Josh Rogers for NHPR

Kelly Ayotte says she's gotten mixed feedback from voters over her stance on filling the Supreme Court vacancy left by the death of Antonin Scalia.

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A bill to regulate the use of drones in New Hampshire cleared a major hurdle Wednesday in the House. Despite receiving a negative recommendation from the House Criminal Justice Committee, the bill overwhelmingly passed the House 250 to 114 and now heads to the Senate.

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The New Hampshire House on Wednesday overwhelmingly passed a bill that would legalize needle exchange programs. The measure now heads to the Senate.

Paige Sutherland/NHPR

The question of whether New Hampshire should continue its expanded Medicaid program is now before the state Senate.

The Senate Finance Committee heard hours of testimony on the issue Tuesday, and the debate there is falling along the same lines as it did in the House – it all comes down to cost. 

Courtesy photo

 

State Sen. Jeanie Forrester is poised to become the fourth Republican candidate to enter New Hampshire's gubernatorial race.

Mike Dennehy, a GOP strategist who is working with Forrester, says she'll announce her bid on March 30 in her hometown of Meredith.

She is running to succeed outgoing Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan, who is running for U.S. Senate. Forrester is entering a four-way GOP primary alongside Executive Councilor Chris Sununu, Manchester Mayor Ted Gatsas and state Rep. Frank Edelblut.

Bernie Sanders and Ted Cruz each notched victories in Tuesday's Western contests, but Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump's big wins in Arizona still mean their overall delegate lead won't change much.

On the Democratic side, Sanders won big victories in the Utah and Idaho caucuses, but the much smaller prizes could end up netting him roughly the same number of delegates Clinton will get from her Arizona win.

Chris Jensen / NHPR

New Hampshire Sen. Jeanne Shaheen is on her way back to the United States, having left Brussels the day before deadly explosions happened at the city's airport and metro station.

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On the Political Front is our weekly check-in with NHPR's Senior Political Reporter Josh Rogers. 

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State lawmakers are set to tackle a pile of bills this week, many of which address New Hampshire's drug crisis.  The bills include proposals to legalize needle exchanges and the creation of a statewide drug court program. 

Casey McDermott, NHPR

James O’Keefe, a conservative activist known for his undercover videos in New Hampshire and elsewhere, marched into the State House Thursday afternoon looking to make a point about how the state enforces its voting laws.

He left with a subpoena.

Over the past few weeks, the attorney general’s office had been asking O’Keefe to preserve the raw footage from a series of videos filmed around last month's presidential primary.

New Hampshire's political boundaries get drawn every ten years, after new Census data comes out.

The idea of the bill taken up by the N.H. Senate today was to take the pen out of the hands of lawmakers and let an independent commission to draft the map of state house legislative districts—one that reflects voters’ wishes and “eliminates partisan distortions.”

But the Senate effectively killed that proposal Thursday—moving it to interim study as legislators are gearing up for election season.

Paige Sutherland/NHPR

Manchester Mayor Ted Gatsas has joined the race for New Hampshire governor. In his campaign announcement early Thursday morning, Ted Gatsas says the state's next governor needs executive experience like his to deal with issues like opioid abuse.

Via oregonlive.com

A bill that would have legalized casino gambling in New Hampshire fell flat once again in the state Senate.

If signed into law, the bill would have legalized video lottery games at a single location in the state. Originally the measure named Rockingham Park in Salem as the location - but in an effort to gain more votes – a revised bill called for an open bidding process.

Michael Brindley/NHPR

Manchester Mayor Ted Gatsas is running for governor.

Gatsas launched a campaign page on Facebook making his candidacy official.

WMUR reports he's expected to make a formal announcement and file his candidacy paperwork Thursday.

Gatsas was sworn into his fourth term serving as Manchester's mayor in January.

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The Senate meets Thursday morning to weigh in on roughly 30 bills, including one touching a frequent topic at the State House in recent years: gambling.

Mark Fischer via Flickr CC / www.flickr.com/photos/fischerfotos

New Hampshire's US Senators are split on what the Senate should do now that President Obama has chosen Merrick Garland as his nominee to the US Supreme Court. 

Paige Sutherland/NHPR

Lawmakers were evenly split Tuesday on whether or not the House should support the legalization of needle exchange programs in New Hampshire.

After a 7 to 7 vote, the bill now heads to the full House next week without recommendation from the Criminal Justice Committee. Last month the Health and Human Services Committee unanimously backed the measure.  

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

Former Portsmouth City councilor Stefany Shaheen will not be running for Governor.

Shaheen's decision, first reported by WMUR, follows months of speculation.

Shaheen had been asked  by Emily's List, the Washington political action committee dedicated to electing women who support abortion rights, to consider seeking the office her mother, U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen, held for 6 years.

So far two Democrats have announced they will run.  Executive Councilor, Colin Van Ostern, and Mark Connolly, the state's former top securities regulator.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

"On the Political Front" is our weekly check-in with NHPR's Senior Political Reporter Josh Rogers.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

After taking up more than a hundred bills last week in the House, lawmakers will have a pretty light agenda this week. 

House members will be meeting all week in committee but will not be in session. Meanwhile the full Senate will be returning this Thursday.  

Lawmakers’ most recent attempt at establishing a state minimum wage this legislation session failed in the House Thursday morning. The measure, which was rejected by a vote of 185 to 143, would have increased the minimum wage to $9.50 an hour by 2019.

Currently New Hampshire’s minimum wage is set at the federal rate of $7.25 an hour, making it the lowest minimum wage in all of New England.

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The New Hampshire House has voted down spending $4 million dollars in federal aid to explore extending commuter rail from Boston to New Hampshire. The money, which was tucked into the state’s 10-year transportation legislation, would have been used  to study how the state would pay for commuter rail.

A federal bill aimed at helping states tackle the ongoing heroin and opioid epidemic cleared a major hurdle Thursday. 

The measure calls for roughly $70 million over the next three years to help expand treatment for people battling addiction while in prison and drug prevention efforts in schools. It would also strengthen prescription drug monitoring programs.

The bill easily passed the U.S. Senate on a 94 to 1 vote and now heads to the House.

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The New Hampshire house has backed a measure to lift the cap on a key solar energy program.

Currently, those generating solar power in New Hampshire can be reimbursed for sending excess energy back to the grid, but the cap on that reimbursement program is set at 50 megawatts. The House measure would increase that to 100 megawatts. 

New Hampshire Senate
Allegra Boverman / NHPR

New Hampshire child protection officials would have more power to intervene when a parent is abusing drugs or a child is born drug dependent under a bill adopted by the state’s senate. The bill passed unanimously but not without debate.

The bill defines opioid abuse or dependence by a parent as neglect under New Hampshire's Child Protection Act. Right now that law doesn't identify specific conduct by parents as being sufficient to trigger neglect proceedings.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

House lawmakers weighed in Wednesday morning on a number of bills addressing New Hampshire’s election laws. This issue has gained momentum after videos last month claimed to show voter fraud in February's Presidential Primary.

www.p2012.org

 

Republican state Rep. Jack Flanagan has announced his candidacy for New Hampshire's Second Congressional District, the first to challenge Democratic incumbent Annie Kuster in the 2016 race.

Flanagan is a five-time representative from Brookline who has served as the majority leader under House Speaker Shawn Jasper.

He tells WMUR-TV he has confidence that he can influence public policy in Washington.

Kuster said she's looking forward to the race.

www.youtube.com

 

A super PAC working to return Democrats to control of the Senate is airing television ads attacking New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte over her opposition to letting President Barack Obama pick the next Supreme Court justice.

The Senate Majority PAC ad also ties Ayotte to Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump. A narrator says Ayotte is eagerly helping Trump in his calls for delaying until the next president takes office. The ad claims Ayotte is "ignoring the Constitution" and "not doing her job."

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