Apr 29, 2016 9:13 PM

Landrigan: NH Political Report. State's opioid crisis, Kinder Morgan pipeline and more


CONCORD — The Kinder Morgan pipeline through southern New Hampshire and northern Massachusetts is history, but it’s not stopping lawmakers here from taking action to protect property owners.

The State Senate Thursday endorsed a House-passed bill that would require gas pipeline project developers to take the entire property of someone who the utility needs a piece of for its corridor.

This would only apply to properties within 250 feet of the corridor but we’re still talking about what could be millions of dollars in property takings for a significant pipeline with miles of corridor. Sen. Andy Sanborn, R-Bedford, said it’s the only fair course to take.

“Oftentimes, people’s greatest assets are their homes and surrounding property and they have a right to certain protections against the taking of this property by a private business or government entity or at least being given just compensation should the owner of the property agree to such a deal,’’ Sanborn said.

Critics maintain these powers are preempted by federal law and would not stand up to a constitutional challenge. That’s why Senate Democrats and three Senate Republicans joined together to stick a severability clause onto the measure. This means if a federal court ever struck down this eminent domain mandate than it would not nullify the rest of the measure which now includes setting aside even more money for residential energy efficiency projects.


Congressman Frank Guinta, R-NH, had an incremental but key legislative victory on Capitol Hill this week.

The House Judiciary Committee endorsed several bills dealing with the nation’s opioid epidemic. Included in that batch was one Guinta authored that would require the General Accountability Office to study Good Samaritan Laws in states such as New Hampshire to see whether a national law to give immunity from prosecution those who report a drug overdose to law enforcement would be wise.

"Across the country, heroin and opioid abuse are growing at rapid rates, especially in New Hampshire. In schools, kids are learning to administer anti-overdose medication," Guinta said. "That’s how bad the problem is: Police and firefighters, even family and friends, must carry medication like Narcan and know how to use it at a moment’s notice. We must protect them from liability laws that could interfere with emergency treatment."


Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-NH, introduced legislation this week to dramatically increase support for access to child care.

Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-WVm, joins Ayotte with the measure that would increase the maximum amount that employers can provide or employees can set aside to the Dependent Care Assistance Program (DCAP), a flexible spending account which they can use to pay for childcare on a pre-tax basis.

DCAP can also be used to pay for elder care. This bill raises that cap to $10,500 and indexes it for inflation. It also provides tax credits to employers who match the DCAP contributions to encourage them to offer this benefit.

"As working mothers ourselves, we know firsthand the importance of giving families flexibility and options to balance their careers and personal lives," Ayotte and Capito said.


The State Liquor Commission taking a big step towards trying to make its state revenue numbers this week as it will open its massive, New Hampshire Liquor and Wine Outlet store on Nashua Road in Londonderry May 12.

The new, 15,000-sq. ft building is three times the size of its existing store.

"This new NH Liquor & Wine Outlet in Londonderry is the latest example of the New Hampshire Liquor Commission’s commitment to strategically investing in its 79 statewide stores in an effort to continue to increase profits," said Commission Chairman Joseph Mollica. "This new store will feature a dramatically expanded retail space, an enhanced selection of wines and spirits, and a more comfortable and inviting shopping experience. We expect this new Londonderry store to generate $8.5 million in sales each year, helping NHLC continue to deliver record revenues to the New Hampshire General Fund."


Conservatives are determined not to cede the environmental issue to Democrats and New Hampshire is a key battleground for that campaign.

[KL1] Entrepreneur Jay Faison announced this week his Super PAC, ClearPath Forward, will lodge a seven-figure advertising campaign backing the re-election of both Ayotte and Ohio Republican Sen. Rob Portman.

"Not only do I intend to help re-elect Senators Portman and Ayotte, but we’re going to build a new model for winning in the Republican Party," Faison said. "I continue to believe that clean energy is an issue that Republicans can rally behind and will help our party move forward."

This is by no means a shocking development. Last July, Faison donated to a pro-Ayotte Super PAC a $500,000 donation, more than to any other Senate Republican up in 2016.


Lawmakers will benefit from two big briefings on Monday, one on the economy, the other on the opioid crisis.

The House and Senate Finance and Ways and Means Committee will receive nearly six hours of testimony from local and regional economic experts on the state of the economy. They include Community College System Commissioner Ross Gittell, New Hampshire Center for Public Policy Executive Director Steve Norton, UNH Sociology Professor Kenneth Johnson to Federal Reserve Bank of Boston Vice President Dr. Robert K. Triest.

Meanwhile in Representatives Hall, lawmakers will get a presentation from Dr. Abigail Zavod, an internal medicine physician from Nashua. She’s been an expert witness in Rhode Island and Massachusetts on medical malpractice cases but also advised the NH Board of Medicine in an advisory role regarding opioid prescriptions.


There’s no question Gov. and US Senate candidate Maggie Hassan will get to campaign with a healthy state budget surplus that should grow the state’s Rainy Day Fund to record levels.

Senate President Chuck Morse, R-Salem, sought to up that ante offering legislation this week that would lift the cap in state law that doesn’t allow the Rainy Day Fund to get an unlimited amount of excess cash. This will be a key flashpoint over the remaining weeks of the 2016 session namely how much the Republican-led Legislature will be willing to support in spending requests from Hassan.

Republican candidate for governor and Senate Finance Chairman Jeanie Forrester, R-Meredith, chipped in this week pointing out if lawmakers gave Hassan the budget she had asked for the state now would not be swimming in the black.


On Wednesday, Guinta hosts a press conference to promote his legislation to allow the sales of all firearms across state lines.

Guinta clearly believes that Second Amendment supporters can become a key coalition as he tries to politically defy the odds and win re-nomination to his First Congressional District seat. Come to Shooters Outpost is Hooksett is where Guinta will tout the bill aimed to capitalize on the fact New Hampshire is the only state in the Northeast without a sales taqx.

"Just as people travel to New Hampshire to purchase appliances, electronics, furniture and jewelry, they will be able to purchase firearms free from sales tax! Congressman Guinta’s bill would benefit New Hampshire’s entire economy," declares the New Hampshire Firearms Coalition.

Meanwhile watch for Guinta to lash out at the "out-of-state’" Super PAC money that is supporting Rich Ashooh’s primary challenge. It’s true most of the founders of the pro-Ashooh PAC don’t live in the state; it’s also true most attempts to gain advantage by attacking the source of Super PAC attack ads have fallen on deaf ears.


Former Democratic Party Chairman Joe Keefe will receive a Global Leadership Award next week from the World Affairs Council of New Hampshire.
The keynote speaker for the May 6 event in Portsmouth is Rear Admiral David Titley, former chief oceanographer for the US Navy.


New Hampshire’s two senators joined at week’s end celebrating the Senate confirmation vote of the first woman to lead a combat mission command.

Air Force General Lori Robinson will serve as commander of the US Nothern Command. She is a University of New Hampshire graduate and former resident of Bartlett.

"General Robinson is truly a trailblazer and New Hampshire is especially proud of her today,’" said Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-NH.


The National Journal today caught up with an issue we’ve spotlighted several times before, namely that the US Senate race in New Hampshire will be a nationally-watched fight over abortion rights.

The National Abortion Rights Action League is the latest, pro-abortion group to devise an ad campaign against Senator Ayotte and insists her views will hurt her chances for re-election this fall.

NARAL polling found abortion rights support was even higher here than nationally and the ad campaign follows an attack the group lodged against Ayotte and other GOP senators last year.

Quote of the Week:

"For marijuana, like alcohol, Congress should grant states their power under the 10th Amendment to legalize, regulate and tax it as each state may see fit. We need to admit that prohibition has failed. At my local high school in Hanover, marijuana can be had free for the asking every day and is far easier to obtain than alcohol. States wishing to legalize and tax marijuana could use the proceeds to increase funding for addiction treatment." [-] US Senate Republican candidate and ex-State Sen. Jim Rubens makes the argument this week that the current war against illegal drugs is not working.


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