House Speaker Shawn Jasper, R-Hudson, says next month will be very busy with legislation but House committees should get time to process their bills.

May 7, 2015 4:11 PM

NH1 News Political Report: May 7, 2015 - The must-read, weekly NH political tip sheet

CONCORD - House Speaker Shawn Jasper, R-Hudson, has decided to give the House the rest of the month off when it comes to meeting in legislative sessions.

Jasper said the House has only 64 bills from the Senate left to act upon, and those can be done when they are expected to return June 4.

"There’s no reason to have 30-bill sessions. This will give the committees time to do their work," Jasper said during an interview.

The Senate, however, has a heftier amount of legislation to get through so they can be expected to meet at least once if not twice more during this month.

House and Senate leaders still need to get together on meeting dates next month. Throughout the year the Senate has met on Thursday, the House on Wednesday.

But ideally next month they would get together the same day as that makes it easier to set up conference committees or get final agreement on legislation. When this scheduling has failed to agree in the past, many more bills than need be have been sent to conference committees even though they weren’t necessary.


The absence of one state senator today was too many to take up the bill to repeal the controversial buffer zone around abortion clinics.

Sen. Regina Birdsell, R-Hampstead, was not there and considered likely to be a supporter of the repeal law.

"We decided to put this off for a week along with some education bills," said Senate Majority Leader Jeb Bradley, R-Wolfeboro.

Asked if the vote was close Bradley said, "It’s tight, really tight."

That’s for sure. In 2014, the Senate adopted the buffer zone on a final, 13-10 vote.

Assuming all 10 Senate Democrats oppose the real - and that’s a solid given - you have both Sen. Nancy Stiles, R-Hampton, and Bradley who had voted for the legislation in the first place. So if all holds to form, the bill could be blocked, 12-12.

This would save Gov. Maggie Hassan from having to veto the measure.

Hassan has not said she would, but she enthusiastically signed the legislation last year and her spokesman told the NH Political Report her view hasn’t changed one bit.

"The bipartisan law that Gov. Hassan signed last year is different from the overturned Massachusetts law, narrowly tailored to ensure the safety and privacy of patients and the public while also protecting the right to free speech. In addition, federal courts have recently upheld other buffer zone laws recognizing that there are laws that can balance safety and speech rights. Gov. Hassan continues to believe that women should be able to access critical health services without fearing for their safety, and given that courts have not ruled on our law, she believes it should remain in place," said William Hinkle, Hassan’s press secretary.

A federal judge last summer prevented the state from enforcing the buffer zone after the U.S. Supreme Court had decided the Massachusetts law was too restrictive to free speech.

New Hampshire’s law is different. For starters it doesn’t require buffer zones but leaves it to the clinics to decide whether they wish to have them imposed. The first offense by anyone also carries a warning and not a fine or civil violation.


An environmental interest group released a new poll showing strong opposition among Republicans in N.H. and the first caucus state of Iowa to letting foreign oil companies obtain land for drilling via eminent domain.

NextGen Climate’s survey showed only 4 percent of N.H. GOP voters and 5 percent in Iowa supported the idea.

Further, 52 percent of these Republicans in both states say they would be less likely to support a presidential candidate who favors allowing land grabs by foreign oil corporations like TransCanada.

TransCanada - the foreign-owned oil company behind the Keystone XL pipeline - has already filed paperwork to allow them to seize land from farmers and ranchers in order to build the Keystone XL pipeline.

“Allowing a foreign oil company to seize privately owned land in the United States isn’t just a bad idea, it’s a wildly unpopular one with Republican voters,” said NextGen Climate Chief Operating Officer Josh Fryday. “If Republican presidential hopefuls want to win over voters in Iowa and New Hampshire, they need to listen to their voices and stand up against the seizure of private property for the financial gain of a foreign-owned oil company.’’


You can forgive Senate President Chuck Morse, R-Salem, for not making it in Wednesday morning for the unveiling ceremony of the found historical artifact in the House chamber.

That’s because Morse served on the Senate Finance Committee that took testimony at its public hearing until 12:30 in the morning.

If volume is any indication of action, Senate budget writers are likely to try and find ways to reduce the $53 million cut the House budget made to Gov. Hassan’s budget for mental health services.

The area agencies and their supporters brought out parents, clients and advocates out in force to protest the cuts.

Among Senate leaders, there’s also a strong urge to try and find more money both for higher education and substance abuse.


A win is a win and chalk one up for the state GOP with the election of Rockingham County businessman Dennis Green to an open House seat.

But this outcome was hardly in doubt. The GOP has a 2-1 registration edge in Rockingham Dist. 12.

Need more evidence? In the U.S. Senate campaign last fall this House district was the fifth strongest for former Sen. Scott Brown in his loss to Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen.


Not much new found from the Rockefeller Center at Dartmouth College poll released this week.

President Obama still has low favorability in the state - 34 percent.

Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., does have a small lead (38 to 33 percent) over Gov. Hassan in a mock match-up for 2016. It’s worth noting Hassan’s favorability is the best of anyone in the survey.

Ayotte crushed ex-Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter, 44-25 percent in a race very unlikely to come about.

The presidential surveys are murky though a lift for N.J. Gov. Chris Christie who fares better against likely Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton (36.5 percent for Clinton, 34.4 percent for Christie) than any other potential GOP hopeful.

Ex-FL Gov. Jeb Bush lags much further behind Clinton, nearly 10 points.

Respondents had very strong backing for decriminalization of marijuana, 62-22 percent, and much less in favor for the death penalty, 40-32 percent.


Try as they might it could be very difficult to find common ground on the fetal homicide bill.

The chief sponsor, Lancaster Republican State Rep. Leon Rideout, says he is very open to trying to craft consensus between the House bill that defines a fetus at eight weeks and the Senate bill that sets the standard at viability.

Rideout has to work to smooth out feathers as some senators were quite unhappy to learn earlier this week that the House had slapped its standard onto a Senate-passed bill.

Meanwhile, Gov. Hassan is not about to lend a hand; she’d prefer this thing blow up before it gets to her desk.

In 2011, then-Gov. John Lynch vetoed an eight-week fetal homicide bill and at the time wrote in the message that he could have supported the viability standard.


What a surprise, state Democratic leaders pouncing on the Republican spat over Republican National Committeeman Steve Duprey attending a fundraiser for Planned Parenthood.

Duprey supports abortion rights but apologized to state party leaders since the GOP platform favors legal restrictions on abortion.

"It’s astonishing but not surprising that the New Hampshire Republican Party believes that support for women’s health is a ‘mistake’ that requires an apology," said N.H. Democratic Party Communications Director Lizzy Price. “Planned Parenthood provides critical health services for New Hampshire women and families including cancer screenings, breast exams and birth control, and Granite Staters will hold party leader Kelly Ayotte and GOP presidential hopefuls accountable for their party’s out-of-touch position on women’s health.”


Co-Quotes of the Week:

"We have to draw a line in the sand. Our children are dying." State Rep. Len DiSesa, D-Dover, supporting the bill to outlaw the sale of synthetic drugs.

"This bill will only force the synthetic drug abuser underground," Rep. John Burt, R-Goffstown, says in opposition to the same measure.


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