Politics

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

Hannah McCarthy for NHPR

Gov. Chris Sununu delivered his budget address Thursday, outlining his priorities as the state Legislature kicks off its biannual budget writing cycle.

NHPR's newsroom has been reporting on what to expect this budget season — you can find a rundown on that right here — and now, we're offering more context on the things Sununu mentioned in the budget address itself.

Todd Bookman/NHPR

A New Hampshire House Committee is recommending against passage of Right-to- Work legislation, which would prohibit unions from forcing non-union members to pay fees to cover the cost of collective bargaining.

Members of the House Labor Committee voted 14-7, with many Republicans joining Democrats in opposition to the often partisan issue.

The bill next heads to the full House, which will take up the measure next week.

Hundreds of opponents filled Representatives Hall in Concord Wednesday, many wearing red t-shirts, to voice their concerns to lawmakers.

NHPR/Hannah McCarthy

A paid family and medical leave bill won’t be voted on this year, despite community and bipartisan support. Representative Mary Gile, the primary sponsor of the bill, is still holding out hope for its future.

The bill, which would establish a paid family and medical leave insurance program in New Hampshire, was given a consolation prize in committee on Tuesday. Legislators voted to retain the bill, meaning that it will move to a subcommittee for further deliberation, and be voted on next year.

NHPR Staff

Governor Chris Sununu delivers his budget proposal to lawmakers this week. It’s the first step in a months-long journey to build a two-year spending plan that will affect nearly every aspect of life in New Hampshire.

To help you prepare for the months of headlines to come, NHPR reporters are highlighting areas of the budget that are likely to generate the most discussion.

 

No one has ever called crafting a state budget easy. There are thousands of decisions and myriad competing interests. And for a new governor, there is also the crunch of getting it all done and printed a mere six weeks after taking office.

But if Gov. Chris Sununu is at all anxious about his final product, he isn’t showing it.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

While Representative Norman Silber, a first-term Republican from Gilford, initially hoped to get rid of same-day voter registration, he now says it seems like more trouble than it’s worth at this time.

Casey McDermott, NHPR

At first glance, one of the voting bills introduced by Representative David Bates this week would seem to be just a minor change, removing just four words from an existing statute.

The Windham Republican wants to strike part of the state law defining what it means to be a resident or inhabitant, or what it means to claim residency — specifically, the part that extends that definition to include people who intend to remain in New Hampshire "for the indefinite future." Those definitions, in turn, are used to help decide who’s eligible to vote in New Hampshire.

Paige Sutherland/NHPR

New Hampshire’s alcohol fund, which takes a small portion of state liquor sale revenues and puts it towards substance abuse prevention and treatment, has only been fully funded once since it was created in 2000. 

But one Keene lawmaker wants to change that.

justgrimes / Flickr Creative Commons

It’s shaping up to be a busy week for anyone following potential changes to the state’s election laws. At least 17 such bills are on deck for public hearings before House and Senate committees — a majority of which seek to restrict existing rules around voting.

joshrogers\nhpr

Four of the last five governors have used judicial selection commissions to help them find and vet possible judges. Governor Sununu says relying on outside advice, from lawyers, businesspeople and law enforcement worked for his predecessors, and helps inspire public confidence in the court system.

"It’s as system that's worked very well, and to make sure you are not just putting your political friends in there.  That's not the way we do things in NH, and so we thought the judicial selection commission was a great mechanism to ensure that type of transparency."

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

New Hampshire lawmakers face a stack of bills this week ranging election law, drug policy and child protection policies.

NHPR/Hannah McCarthy

It's a rite of passage in New Hampshire -- every year, hundreds of fourth graders make a pilgrimage to Concord for a State House tour. In this audio postcard, students from Woodland Heights Elementary School in Laconia learn the basics of law making -- and how to make their voices heard.

Scroll down for a 360 degree photo of the students in the N.H. Senate chamber.

CREDIT BIBLIOHOLIC / FLICKER CC

The New Hampshire House passed a pair of education bills Thursday that focused on parental control.

One would require school districts to give parents two weeks notice before teaching lessons involving sex.

NHPR/Hannah McCarthy

At the New Hampshire State House, lawmakers don’t limit debate to bills and the budget. Control of square footage in the building itself can be as controversial as any partisan policy. I took a tour with a man who has a set of keys to the shared rental.

NHPR/Hannah McCarthy

A proposal to establish a paid family and medical leave insurance program had its first hearing Wednesday at the State House. The idea has been in the works for a while, but some advocates think New Hampshire is finally primed for the idea.

PHOTO CREDIT KATJA RUPP, VIA FLICKR CREATIVE COMMONS

A bill that would make possession of small amounts of marijuana a violation rather than a crime received strong support at a public hearing Wednesday.

If the New Hampshire House passes the measure, it will be the 8th time it has done so in recent years.

Paige Sutherland/NHPR

The New Hampshire House meets Thursday to vote on bills ranging from education policy to a proposal to possibly change the state’s time zone.

Paige Sutherland/NHPR

The Executive Council Wednesday delayed the confirmation vote of Frank Edelblut to serve as state Commissioner of Education.

The delay was triggered by questions about whether Gov. Chris Sununu had followed the proper procedure in making the nomination. State law requires the governor to consult with the state Board of Education before nominating a new commissioner; Sununu said he only meet with the chair.

Sununu told the Council it would be “prudent” to hold off on the nomination until he has the chance to meet with the entire board.

josh rogers\nhpr

With Republicans controlling the Executive Council, Gov. Chris Sununu's pick to lead the New Hampshire Department of Education, former gubernatorial candidate Frank Edelblut is expected to win confirmation. But Democrats pushed Edelblut on his background – he has no professional  experience in education and homeschooled all seven of his children - and core beliefs. 

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

A Democratic senator from Concord is hoping to close a so-called loophole in New Hampshire’s election laws that he says undermines the state’s limits on campaign contributions.

Paige Sutherland/NHPR

The state’s task force on internet crimes against children is hoping to double the money available to help law enforcement investigate more cases.

Paige Sutherland/NHPR

A bill that would close a loophole that lets business owners make multiple campaign contributions to a single candidate will be up for debate Tuesday at the Statehouse.

Sara Plourde / New England News Collaborative, NHPR

While Republican governors in Massachusetts and Vermont expressed concern over the weekend about President Trump’s recent executive order on immigration and refugees, New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu took a more neutral stance when weighing in on the issue Monday.

Paige Sutherland/NHPR

The job of New Hampshire lawmaker isn’t terribly rewarding—at least if you’re talking about sheer salary. A spot in the state Legislature offers annual compensation of just $100, one of the lowest in the nation.

But though they don’t earn much in their Statehouse paychecks, some lawmakers regularly bring home extra cash just driving to and from Concord.

FILE

New Hampshire lawmakers will tackle two controversial issues this week: gun laws and marijuana policy.

Parents, doctors and child advocacy groups are urging New Hampshire lawmakers to support paid family and medical leave and help reduce the costs of child care.

Supporters of the Campaign for a Family Friendly Economy lobbied representatives Thursday on two bills. One would establish a family and medical leave insurance fund allowing for up to 12 weeks of paid leave. The other would add $15 million to the state budget to help families pay for child care.

Casey McDermott/NHPR

The head of the state's Division of Children, Youth and Families is stepping down after three years on the job. The  news comes just weeks after an outside review delivered a tough report of the agency's work. 

NHPR Staff

A proposal to require firearm safety training for New Hampshire lawmakers wishing to carry guns on the House floor has been defeated.

Democratic Minority Leader Steve Shurtleff proposed the rule Thursday after a representative dropped her loaded gun during a committee hearing this month.

House rules say lawmakers with the proper license can carry hidden guns in the House chamber. The new rule would have required them to take a speaker-approved gun safety course before being allowed to carry concealed weapons.

All members of New Hampshire's congressional delegation have signed on to a letter to President Trump demanding that he exempt the Department of Veterans Affairs from his executive order freezing federal hiring.

Senators Jeanne Shaheen and Maggie Hassan and Representatives Carol Shea-Porter and Annie Kuster, all Democrats, say a hiring freeze at the VA will delay veterans’ access to health care and resolution of their disability claims.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

A Windham lawmaker is hoping to rewrite New Hampshire's election laws in an effort to prevent what he calls potential voter fraud.

One of his proposals received some pushback Wednesday particularly from those who would have to abide by one specific change to current law.  

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