Politics

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

Kris Klop / Flickr/CC

  New Hampshire's U.S. senators are supportive of President Barack Obama's decision to pursue a congressionally approved authorization for the use of military force against Islamic state fighters.   Republican Sen. Kelly Ayotte says as the Senate begins hearings on the language and scope of Obama's request, she wants to learn more about whether he is prepared to fully execute an effective strategy to defeat ISIS under the terms of the authorization.  Democratic Sen.

Carol Robidoux for NHPR

With less than a year to go before the 2016 New Hampshire primary, the Granite State is starting to see more and more visits from potential hopefuls – so far mostly on the Republican side.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry was talking about the weather when he told New Hampshire voters he's "just warming up," but he also says he's carefully preparing for a possible presidential campaign.

In Bedford on Wednesday, Perry joked about the 80-degree difference in temperature between New Hampshire and Texas this week. But his main message to business leaders was that the federal government has failed them by not providing predictability and stability in taxes and regulation.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

Governor Maggie Hassan will today present her spending plan for the next two years on Thursday. Budget writers face several key challenges this year.

Will the Governor again include a casino in her budget? Will she propose spending on commuter rail, a goal she called crucial when she was sworn in? We’ll have to wait for the speech to see. Hassan didn’t tip her hand in brief comments to reporters.

Allison Quantz for NHPR

Lawmakers took testimony Tuesday on a senate bill to change workers compensation payments. It's an issue that's come up before.

New Hampshire has high workers comp costs, twice the national average according to the Insurance Department, and making the system less expensive is a priority for lawmakers and the Governor.

  The New Hampshire House committee on Health, Human Services and Elderly Affairs will hear bills to expand the medical marijuana law Wednesday.

One bill would reintroduce a home-grow provision which had been proposed in a failed bill last year and it was cut from the therapeutic cannabis law’s original language.

It would allow qualified patients to grow a certain amount of cannabis in their home and require them to report their cultivation location to the state.

Penalties for indecent exposure and the legality of abortions are on tap for the New Hampshire House.

Lawmakers are scheduled to debate these and several other issues during Wednesday's legislative session, beginning at 10 a.m.

NHPR / Michael Brindley

In the wake of President Obama's recent budget proposals and the continuing threat of ISIS in the Middle East, the U.S. Congress will have a lot of important decisions to make.

To check in with the New Hampshire's delegation, we start by talking with our 2nd Congressional District representative. Congresswoman Anne McLane Kuster joined Morning Edition. 

Sara Plourde

Planned Parenthood is suggesting New Hampshire lawmakers replace the state law creating "buffer zones" around facilities that provide abortions rather than repeal it.

New Hampshire's 25-foot buffer zone law has not been enforced since its passage last summer because of a U.S. Supreme Court decision that struck down a similar Massachusetts law. The House Judiciary Committee took testimony Tuesday on a bill to repeal the buffer zone law outright. Its sponsors say the state will face a costly lawsuit if the law remains in place.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

 

The high cost of two major lawsuits against the state are complicating the next state budget, and it's not the first time that's happened.

A settlement over mental health services will cost the state $24 million in the upcoming budget, and another suit over a hospital tax could take up to $80 million from the general fund. These costs won't be easily swallowed in an already tight budget of roughly $10.7 billion.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

A legislative committee overseeing implementation of the Affordable Care Act in New Hampshire may be taking on new duties.

State Sen. Jeb Bradley, a Republican from Wolfeboro, is sponsoring a bill to increase the powers of the joint health care reform oversight committee to include the state's newly-expanded Medicaid program. The bill would require the committee to provide oversight, policy direction and recommendations for legislation.

NHPR / Michael Brindley

    

Former New York Governor George Pataki is in New Hampshire this week, as he weighs a run for president in 2016.

He joins Morning Edition to talk about his visit to the Granite State.

You’ve said you may be running for president, but you’ve said that before. What’s different this time?

Christopher Sessums via Flickr CC

The fraught topic of education funding is again before lawmakers as two bills seek to eliminate a cap aid to local schools that was imposed in 2011. The bills hope to head off a possible lawsuit from school districts that have missed out on millions of dollars because of that cap. 

The push for change has bipartisan support, even though it could result in less funding for many schools.

Josh Rogers for NHPR

On The Political Front is our weekly conversation with NHPR's Senior Political Reporter Josh Rogers. This week, what Mitt Romney's exit means for 2016, and a look at the issues up for debate this week at the N.H. Statehouse.

Let’s start with Presidential politics – Mitt Romney won't make said a third run for president. What was more surprising, that he said no, or that he was thinking of running again in the first place?

Josh Rogers for NHPR

Mitt Romney’s decision to skip a third run for president leaves the New Hampshire's GOP presidential primary without a clear early front-runner.  

Mitt Romney had been publicly flirting with a 2016 run for the past three weeks. On Wednesday he made a campaign-style trip to Mississippi, but little more than a day later he used conference calls to tell his staunchest backers that he’s decided it is best to clear the way for others leaders in his party.

Jim Merrill ran both of Romney’s N.H. campaigns. He said he didn’t see this coming.

Tracy Lee Carroll, NHPR

House lawmakers are considering a measure that aims to create guidelines for election officials to judge a voters domicile. And the secretary of state’s office supports the bill.

The fight over what should constitute domicile for voting purposes has been going on for years in New Hampshire, and it’s often focused status of college students.

Allegra Boverman / NHPR

Health and Human Services commissioner Nick Toumpas told lawmakers he will make up most of the $58 million hole in his budget through $45 million in cuts and savings, including trims for community health centers and family planning programs.

But the issue rankling lawmakers the most is $7 million of payment cuts to nursing homes.

Toumpas told the legislature’s fiscal committee those cuts were a tough call.

“I just had not a whole lot of options, in terms of what we needed to do.”

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

New Hampshire's top health official warned lawmakers his department’s current budget has what amounts to an $82 million shortfall. The legislature’s fiscal committee meets Friday to consider a proposal by the Governor to balance the state budget by July.

As he briefed the house finance committee, Health and Human Services commissioner Nick Toumpas stressed what many lawmakers already know – that his department faces a tough balance sheet.

NHPR Staff

For the second straight year, a group of activists are marching across the Granite State to raise awareness for their goal of getting money out of politics.

Members of the New Hampshire Rebellion have covered more 300 miles over the past ten days, with marches starting in Portsmouth, Nashua, Keene and Dixville Notch.

Those four marches are set to converge in front of the Statehouse in Concord later today, marking the fifth anniversary of the Citizens United Supreme Court decision.

Sheryl Rich-Kern for NHPR

Two progressive groups – Democracy for America and MoveOn.org – launched a campaign in New Hampshire this weekend to urge Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren to run for president.

On Saturday, around 75 fans of Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren packed a small conference room in one of Manchester’s mill buildings. Many held signs that promoted a presidential candidate as much as it did a populist cause.

NHPR Staff/Photo of Jeb Bush courtesy World Affairs Council, Chris Christie photo courtesy NJ National Guard

There’s still a year to go before any ballots are cast in New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation primary.

Still, that hasn’t stopped Republicans expected to make a run for president from hitting the campaign trail in the Granite State.

Chris Galdieri is an assistant professor of politics at St. Anselm College who specializes in presidential races.

He joins Morning Edition to give us a roundup of how the field of candidates is taking shape.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

The state budget is facing a $30 million dollar shortfall, according to the Legislative Budget Office. Legislative budget assistant Jeff Pattison briefed lawmakers today. He stressed that the number could grow or shrink between now and the end of the fiscal year.

“We are looking at about a 30 million dollar problem, but that’s as of January 14th. There are a lot of things that are going to be happening between now and June 30th. My expectation is these numbers will still be changing when we get to the committee of conference in June.”

Emily Corwin / NHPR

U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, a likely Republican presidential candidate, is returning to New Hampshire with a full day of events including meetings with lawmakers, activists and business leaders.

Paul's visit will begin Wednesday with a breakfast in Manchester with state legislators. He'll then meet privately with Manchester Mayor Ted Gatsas, attend a pro-Second Amendment rally, speak at a forum on Common Core, tour a charter school and end the day meeting with business leaders and activists.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

NHPR’s Josh Rogers joins Rick Ganley Monday mornings to discuss developments on New Hampshire’s political front.

Governor Hassan has begun her second term. Republicans voted Saturday to give Jennifer Horn another turn as party chair. And back to work for lawmakers in Concord. Let’s start with the GOP state committee meeting over the weekend, the re-election of Jennifer Horn. Significant?

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

Today, Governor Maggie Hassan begins her second term facing a far different political landscape than she faced two years ago. Scroll down for real-time updates from the Statehouse featuring news, tweets from NHPR reporters and photos by Allegra Boverman. Click through additional photos in the gallery above.

Visit the official inaugural committee website here. 

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

The New Hampshire House rejected an effort by backers of former Republican Speaker Bill O'Brien to install him as House majority leader. But O’Brien says he’s still moving forward with plans to form his own leadership team.

Backers of O’Brien knew they faced long odds in trying to get a House majority to reject the course it set just last month when members chose Shawn Jasper as speaker,  but that didn’t stop them.

Steve Stepanek of Amherst told colleagues the very future of the house depended on ensuring that caucuses -not any speaker - get final say on who should lead.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

Legislators can again carry concealed weapons on the floor of the N.H. House and in the legislative office building after the Republicans-led house voted to undo a prohibition on the practice put in place two years ago by Democrats.

The 228-149 vote came following a debate where Democrats like Len DiSesa, former deputy police chief in Portsmouth, argued allowing guns in the chamber risks public safety.

“The only people who should be armed in the House of Representatives are trained police officers.”

Sean Marshall via Flickr CC

 

Fights over Republican leadership and whether to allow guns in the House chamber will take center stage during the opening day of the New Hampshire legislative session.

House and Senate members meet Wednesday to officially begin the session. Sparks are likely to fly among two factions of House Republicans, as backers of Rep. Bill O'Brien will attempt to install him as the majority leader by changing House rules and going against Speaker Shawn Jasper. House members will also vote on whether to allow concealed weapons in the chamber.

Governor Maggie Hassan’s inaugural committee says it’s raised more than $200,000 dollars. State law permits such donations to remain private but a spokesman for the committee says the names and contribution amounts will be made available.

State law has never required the disclosure of inauguration donors, but one governor – John Lynch -- took the step of filing reports with the secretary of state’s office anyway.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

Each Monday, NHPR's Senior Political Reporter Josh Rogers joins me on Morning Edition for On The Political Front, a conversation about the week ahead in politics.

Listen to the segment below, or scroll down to read the interview.

Governor Hassan will be inaugurated for her second term Thursday. The legislature holds its first session day Wednesday. Let’s start with the governor. She faces a different political landscape than when she first won office in 2010.

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