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House Speaker Shawn Jasper, R-Hudson, is first House leader serving as budget negotiator in decades.

Jun 12, 2015 6:53 PM

Landrigan: NH Political Report. Don't be fooled; state budget deal is no slam dunk.


CONCORD - State budget negotiators have agreement on revenues for the next two years so a final deal must be right around the corner, right?

Not so fast!

Sure, House negotiators didn’t have much choice but to swallow the $117 million higher forecast from existing taxes and fees that the Senate came up with.

After all, the pace of state revenues has picked up since the House passed its budget in March.

But from the perspective of House Republicans, Speaker Shawn Jasper, R-Hudson, will have his work cut out for him convincing libertarians to embrace much of the spending the Senate added in their plan.

Observers believe this is why Jasper took the unusual tact of making himself a budget negotiator, the first speaker to do so in more than 30 years.

There’s also the view of Gov. Maggie Hassan and Democratic legislative leaders that both the House and Senate plans are unbalanced.

By their view, just because Senate and House Republicans have agreed on revenues doesn’t mean they can make a final deal that’s balanced.

Hassan’s criticized the fact the Senate doesn’t pay for its business tax cuts while the House budget all but drained the state’s Rainy Day Fund while carving $55 million out of a fund for renewable energy projects.

"We’ve got to make sure it all adds up," Hassan told NH1 News Friday.


She’ll probably ultimately win but the surprising House veto override vote sent the Hassan team scrambling at week’s end.

Credit this one to the growing-and-powerful craft beer lobby that’s been working for three years to end New Hampshire’s status as the only state in the country where it’s illegal to have child images on alcohol sold at retail.

This ban doesn’t apply to booze sold by on-premise restaurants and bars.

This gained even more momentum this year with the sensation of Founders Breakfast Stout, the hottest selling craft product in the US that has an infant child in front of a morning bowl on the cover.

Why? The beer is made with oatmeal and coffee.

Nearly 40 House Democrats went with the GOP to override Hassan’s veto.

Now it heads to the Senate where the craft beer lobby has plenty of bipartisan friends. One of its leading lights in the business happens to be ex-State Sen. David Currier, R-Henniker.

Hassan can afford to let one Senate Democrat go off the reservation even if all 14 Senate Republicans vote to override.

The Senate passed this bill on a voice vote.

Either way, it should make for an entertaining drama.


The lines are clearly drawn over a 30-day residency requirement and Gov. Maggie Hassan’s expected veto will only heighten the sharp disagreement.

Gilles Bissonnette with the Civil Liberties Union of New Hampshire, charged there is no evidence of ``drive by voter fraud’’ that would justify setting the 30-day restriction.

But Secretary of State Bill Gardner says in the last five elections there has been at least one case of voters prosecuted for casting ballots here or in their ``home states’’ illegally.

Further, Gardner points out New Hampshire would not be out of the mainstream since nearly 40 states have a residency requirement before they can either cast a ballot or register to vote.

New Hampshire is also one of five states the Congress agreed to grant a waiver to from the federal Motor Voter Act which compels states to let voters sign up at state vehicle substations, welfare offices and other locations.

All four other states with the waiver have some residency requirement to vote, Gardner added.

Finally, the bill soon to reach Hassan’s desk will make it easier for those on Election Day who have recently moved from one part of the state to the other.

All that said, Bissonnette and other election reform lawyers insist if this residency mandate even became law, state courts would toss it out as unconstitutional in a heartbeat.

They point to a 1973 Maine Supreme Court ruling that judged a 30-day residency requirement unconstitutional as it lacked a ``compelling state interest.’’


Yes, advocates for medical marijuana have plenty to be frustrated about when it comes to the state’s process of creating a market to sell it to seriously-ill patients.

But don’t try to convince one of their leaders, State Sen. John Reagan, R-Deerfield, that Health and Human Services Commissioner Nick Toumpas is at all to blame.

"He’s been working hard since day one to make this program a reality," said Reagan who has co-authored bills to expand the number of conditions covered by the law.

Reagan said Toumpas realizes that giving these patients therapeutic cannabis reduces their suffering and also lowers medical costs.

"It’s not only the right thing to do from a humane perspective it’s cost effective as well," Reagan claims.


It’s fashionable for New Hampshire politicos to pile on Iowa in the wake of its state GOP decision to cancel this summer’s straw poll.

To be sure, the institution has been used by the Iowa GOP as a way for it to raise big cash and at the expense of presidential campaigns get them to waste time and resources in the name of an early horse race contest.

On the other hand give them credit for pulling the plug on what has been a very lucrative, 29-year run.

They had much less incentive to keep this going given that Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio and Mike Huckabee all confirmed they were taking a pass on the straw poll event.

In recent elections, both 2008 nominee John McCain and 2012 standard-bearer Mitt Romney both boycotted or dismissed ahead of time the straw poll contest.

This time, national polls have Bush and Rubio sharing the current front-runner label and Huckabee had won the Iowa caucuses in 2008.

With this distraction behind them, Iowa’s GOP can now turn its attention to the caucus which already looks like a very competitive contest.

The field includes 2012 winner Rick Santorum, 2008 winner Huckabee and several others with vote-getting power among the evangelical activists who play a big role there including KY. Sen. Rand Paul, regional Gov. Scott Walker and ex-TX Gov. Rick Perry.


Quote of the Week:

"This smacks of the days when only landowners were eligible for voting." - Manchester Ward 4 Moderator Woullard Lett on the proposal to set a 30-day residency requirement to vote.


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