Town Meeting Day

Rebecca Lavoie / NHPR

 

Keep your fingers crossed for good weather next March — the New Hampshire Legislature has failed to resolve the issue of who has the authority to postpone local elections.

Nearly 80 towns rescheduled their March elections in 2017 due to a powerful snowstorm, and questions about whether doing so was legal remained unsettled when another storm hit this year.

City of Laconia

While Statehouse politics draw headlines, it's the day-to-day decisions at the city and town level that can have a bigger impact on our lives: from housing to education to the opioid crisis.  We sit down with a panel of local leaders, about the challenges and rewards of their jobs - and what they'd like to see from the state. 

Britta Greene for NHPR

Local officials from all corners of the state lined up Thursday for a hearing on a bill about who should have the power to delay town elections, for snowstorms or otherwise.

WashingtonNH.org

Plenty of local officials grumbled about the state’s orders not to reschedule town elections because of last week’s snowstorm. But only one — the town of Washington — defied those instructions and decided to delay its votes anyway.

xandert / Morguefile

At least two Rindge residents have lodged complaints with the state over how their town handled absentee voting ahead of Tuesday’s elections – raising concerns that the process was used to give an unfair advantage to certain candidates.

Rebecca Lavoie

With more than a foot of snow forecast in some parts of the state on Tuesday, it feels like déjà vu for many towns who had to scramble to accommodate a late-breaking nor’easter that swept in on town meeting day in March 2017.

Courtesy John Stark Regional High School

Communities across the state will confront questions of energy sustainability at their annual town meetings this week.

Several southwest New Hampshire and Seacoast towns plan to vote on urging the state and federal government to study offshore wind development in the Gulf of Maine.

Some of those towns are far from the ocean, but Henry Herndon, director of local energy solutions for the New Hampshire Sustainable Energy Association, says they could still benefit from new renewable power in the region.

Jason Moon for NHPR

On Town Meeting day tomorrow, several communities across New Hampshire will vote on whether to offer full-day kindergarten in their local school districts.

It will be the first time towns vote on the issue since lawmakers in Concord approved a program that provides state money for full-day kindergarten.


Weekly N.H. News Roundup: March 9, 2018

Mar 9, 2018

As next Tuesday’s town meeting day approaches, the N.H. Senate sides with the Secretary of State over who has the power to reschedule town meetings.  The state House of Representatives vote to send to the Senate a bill adding gender identity to existing state anti-discrimination laws. The Executive Council unanimously approves $600,000 for Manchester-based Hope for New Hampshire Recovery.

Courtesy Woody Little / Toxics Action Center

Environmental groups say they plan to sue a Bethlehem landfill owner for allegedly dumping contaminants into the Ammonoosuc River.

The news comes just days before a Town Meeting vote on a plan to expand the site.

Vermont-based Casella Waste Services is dismissing the threat as a political stunt.

The announcement came from two Boston-based nonprofits – the Conservation Law Foundation and the Toxics Action Center, where Woody Little is an organizer.

Todd Bookman/NHPR

It’s Town Meeting time, and in Rye, a long-simmering controversy is back on the ballot. On Tuesday, voters there will decide the fate of the old Town Hall.

For many in town, the 180-year old building raises civic pride. Others are simply ready to raze it.

Jason Moon, NHPR

As next Tuesday’s town meeting day approaches, state lawmakers are still dealing with the fallout from a nor'easter that delayed votes in dozens of communities across the state last year.

A bill approved by the Senate on Thursday sought to resolve an ongoing power struggle between the Secretary of State’s office and town officials over who should be able to postpone an election — for weather, safety or other reasons. 

  The New Hampshire Senate has approved a bill to ratify the results of town elections that were postponed due to the March 14 snowstorm.

Nearly 80 towns rescheduled their elections due to the powerful nor'easter that brought blizzard-like conditions and more than a foot snow to much of the state.

The Senate on Thursday passed an amendment that will allow towns who moved their elections to ratify the results after a public hearing and vote of the governing body.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

House Speaker Shawn Jasper wants to give towns that postponed their elections due to a snowstorm a way out of facing potential lawsuits from voters who may have been disenfranchised.

Jasper is proposing letting towns ratify the results of their elections by holding another vote. A bill he's sponsoring would give towns that moved Election Day the option of letting townspeople vote to ratify, or confirm, the results on May 23.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

Voters will head to the polls Tuesday in more than a dozen New Hampshire communities that opted to postpone their local elections due to last week's nor’easter.

Derry, Londonderry, Litchfield and Newfields are among the communities that chose not to hold their Town Meeting elections last Tuesday.

Voters in those towns and several others will instead cast ballots Tuesday on a number of issues, including local town council races, town budgets, and infrastructure projects.

Weekly N.H. News Roundup: March 17, 2017

Mar 17, 2017

Confusion reigns at town halls across the state as a nor'easter hits on Town Meeting Day.  The N.H. Senate examines bills reforming the state's Division of Children and Youth.  This follows a report that the head of DCYF closed hundreds of cases of suspected abuse over a two-day period last year.  And N.H.'s congressional delegation, along with Governor Chris Sununu, oppose the Republican healthcare plan.


CREDIT JASON MOON FOR NHPR

  Democrats are introducing legislation aimed at protecting towns from lawsuits that postponed Tuesday's elections due to a winter storm.

The bill says any municipal elections set for Tuesday that were postponed are "legalized, ratified and confirmed." Senate Minority Leader Jeff Woodburn is the bill's sponsor.

Dozens of towns moved their elections due to the snowstorm, despite Republican Gov. Chris Sununu's calls to hold them. He suggested towns could be open to lawsuits if they chose to postpone.

Jason Moon for NHPR

Tuesday saw a collision of two great New Hampshire traditions: nor’easters and town meeting day. They might not seem like the best pairing, but as NHPR’s Jason Moon reports the two found a way to coexist.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

  The late winter blizzard led town officials across in New Hampshire to postpone town meetings and elections. It's a decision many people -- but not all -- are happy about.

  Governor Chris Sununu says legislation is needed to clarify state law with regard to whether local officials have the authority to postpone Town Meeting elections.

After several communities announced Monday they were postponing local elections slated for Tuesday due to the storm, the Secretary of State's office said state law required them to hold their elections regardless of the weather.

Sununu said towns ultimately had the right to postpone, but did so at the risk of potential legal challenges.

  While many communities have opted to postpone Tuesday's Town Meeting elections due to the storm, others are moving forward with voting.

The town of Durham is still holding its town election today, despite what’s expected to be major nor’easter that could drop as much as two feet of snow.

Town Manager Todd Selig is encouraging voters to cast their ballots early, before the storm picks up in strength later in the day.

Tuesday’s nor’easter is causing a bit of commotion before it even arrives, sowing confusion about whether towns have the legal authority to reschedule their votes for better weather.

When weather reports began predicting a late winter nor’easter for this week, many towns around New Hampshire did something that sounds reasonable enough – they rescheduled the date of their town meetings.

Tracy Lee Carroll, NHPR

Updated at 4:30 PM:

After consulting with the Secretary of State, the Attorney General's office and holding a conference call with local election officials Governor Sununu says differences remain over who has the power to decide when an election can be postponed.

Voters in many New Hampshire communities will decide during next Tuesday’s Town Meeting whether to expand a property tax credit offered to veterans.

A state law passed last year gives communities the option of offering a tax credit of up to five hundred dollars to all veterans with at least ninety days of active service.

Previously, only veterans who served during wartime were eligible.

Margaret Byrnes is a staff attorney with the New Hampshire Municipal Association, and says expanding the tax credit would mean a drop in revenue for town budgets.

www.firenews.org

 

North Hampton officials say the southeast New Hampshire town is interested in discussing the possible regionalizing of fire services with Rye and Portsmouth.

The North Hampton Select Board plans to send a letter to Rye requesting that the two select boards hold a joint meeting to gauge interest in regionalizing.

Residents aware of Rye's regionalization talks with Portsmouth led them to write to North Hampton selectmen asking for the town to join. Rye Selectman Craig Musselman says the Rye board would welcome North Hampton to the conversation.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

It’s Town Meeting day for many communities across New Hampshire.

Voters will head to the polls to weigh in on local elections, town budgets, and infrastructure projects.

Many of those projects are reworked versions of proposals that have failed in the past, such as a $4.3 million proposal to renovate the 67-year-old Lincoln Akerman School in Hampton Falls.

Mark Lane is a school board member in town and says this is the fourth year in a row voters will consider the project.

sau21.org

Many New Hampshire voters may feel a bit of déjà vu when they head to the polls for next week’s Town Meeting.

That’s because many of the projects up for votes Tuesday are reworked versions of multi-million dollar municipal projects vote that failed before.

In North Hampton, officials are asking voters to approve a new public safety complex for the town’s police and fire departments.

Barrington voters are again weighing a proposal to build a new town hall there.

bow-nh.com

Voters in Bow have rejected a $5 million bond to build a proposed public safety facility.

The Concord Monitor reports the vote came during the second session of Bow’s town meeting Thursday night.

Of the more than 1,100 residents who voted on the bond, just more than half supported it, falling short of the two-thirds needed to pass.

The combined facility would have housed the police, fire and emergency management departments.

ryereflections.org

Voters in New Castle will meet Tuesday night to reconsider last week’s vote to defeat a $1 million bond for upgrades and renovations to the town’s elementary school.

Seacoast Online reports the reconsideration meeting will be held at the New Castle Recreation Center at 7.

At last week’s school district, voters defeated the bond question, which needed a two-thirds majority.

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