Apr 16, 2015 12:50 PM

NH1 News Political Report: April 16, 2015 - The must-read, weekly NH political tip sheet


The day has nearly arrived.

House Speaker Shawn Jasper, R-Hudson, has decided not to let the casino bill languish in study while the Senate Finance Committee moves ahead framing its two-year state budget plan.

The House Ways and Means Committee will make its judgment on the Senate-passed, two-casino bill (SB 113) on Tuesday and all signs point to a pretty close outcome.

The panel held an all-day forum on the measure Tuesday, and both sides are vigorously buttonholing the few members who remain holdouts.

One veteran lobbyist claims the current count at week's end was 10-10 with one genuinely undecided.

Another unknown is whether all 21 members will be present for the executive session.

And if there are absent members, will Jasper - a casino opponent - name alternates who would vote the same way as the absent member or use the opening to his advantage?


It's that time in the legislative session when elbows start flying between House and Senate leaders over what they want.

And caught in the crossfire is the controversy over legislation to name the red-tailed hawk as the state's raptor.

As we first reported, Senate Democratic Leader Jeff Woodburn, D-Dalton, had wanted to attach this failed House bill to one legalizing the bobcat as the state's wildcat.

The NH1 News Political Report has confirmed that Senate leaders learned from House GOP counterparts that they would resent this move - intensely.

Obviously, House leaders view the Senate gambit as only embarrassing the House which took some national criticism for public comments on the House floor critical of the fourth graders who had advanced the red-tailed hawk idea.

So what was to be the House retaliation? Word is they threatened that this would jeopardize the Senate-passed bill to give a $28 million guarantee to redevelop the Balsams resort in the North Country.

This is an issue quite dear to Woodburn, as it would bring back to life one of the iconic businesses/tourist attractions in his district.

Ultimately, Woodburn and Senate Republicans agreed to back off Thursday and not amend the bobcat bill.

But they haven't given up on finding a new home for it.

The plot thickens.


Gov. Maggie Hassan has to be judicious with her vetoes.

To be sure, she has enough Democrats in both the House and the Senate to win most veto fights hands down.

But as someone who is considering whether to run for U.S. Senate in 2016, Hassan has to look at all legislation through that prism.

The bill to repeal a permit to carry a concealed weapon is a perfect example of that. She has to think long and hard about vetoing that bill since it would make her a big target of the gun lobby in a campaign against Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-NH.

Conversely there is the Common Core legislation - which the House passed on Wednesday - which is making its way to the governor's desk.

The bill which would block the state Department of Education from compelling any school district to adopt these standards puts some federal grants at risk, Hassan warned.

More importantly, this is a national narrative as President Obama in February threatened to veto a similar bill that the Republican-led, U.S. House approved.

A veto from Hassan on that bill would embolden party activists and make perfect sense.

Again, she'd ultimately win the day with ease particularly in the House where 138 Democrats opposed the measure.


The N.H. Legislature made history this week, becoming the first state in the nation to adopt legislation that would outlaw paying a sub-minimum wage to workers with disabilities (SB 47).

Rep. Will Infantine, R-Manchester, celebrated the unanimous House vote passing the measure.

"These are times that remind us there are more things that unite us than divide us,'' Infantine said.

The law dates back to the 1930s - a much less enlightened time when it comes to recognizing equal pay for equal work.

After the vote, the entire House gave a loud standing ovation to the bill that is on its way to Gov. Hassan's office for her signature at some point.


Hassan offered a personal moment this week at the ceremony that marked April as Donate Life month.

New Hampshire leads New England in organ donation, but still 46 percent do not choose to mark the donor box on their driver's license.

Hassan said she saw firsthand the power of a donated organ.

"A very good friend of mine called me last year and told me her child was receiving a donated kidney,'' Hassan recalled. "Hearing her voice on the other end of the line get emotional; it's a very powerful thing.''


The State House lawn was littered with blue and silver pinwheels to mark support for breastfeeding this week.

The House Commerce Committee is pouring over Senate-passed legislation that requires most employers to make some accommodation in the workplace.

Activist Kate Frederick has urged the committee to make some changes to the measure to make it more working-mom friendly.

The Business and Industry Association supported the measure that unanimously passed the Senate after it had been watered down considerably.

The Affordable Care Act requires employers to try and make some provision for breastfeeding moms up until the child turns one year old.

The legislation here would have New Hampshire join about half the states with their own state law provisions.


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