Weekly N.H. News Roundup: Top Stories of 2019

Dec 19, 2019

With NHPR's news director and a panel of NHPR reporters who cover politics, health, education, and the environment, we revist some of the top N.H. stories of 2019  --  the prolonged budget impasse that ended just a week before the state's temporary spending plan was set to expire;  the escalating battle against PFAS; and the launching of the federally funded statewide addiction treatment system, The Doorway.  


Original air date: Dec. 20, 2019.

GUESTS: 

Some of the top stories of the year:

NHPR covered thousands of stories in 2019.  Visit here to view A Year in New Hampshire News: Top Stories of 2019, a month-by-month list of the most-read and most-engaging stories on NHPR.org, compiled by NHPR's digital staff. 

And here's some of what we'll discuss during our 2019 roundup show: 

2020 Primary:

The latest WBUR poll finds Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg and former Vice President Joe Biden leading the crowded race, followed by Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders and Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren.

Some candidates forgo traditional filing to get on the ballot for the 2020 first-in-the-nation presidential primary. 

State politics:

Gov. Chris Sununu vetoes a two-year state budget crafted and passed by Democrats in the legislature.

During the budget impasse, cities, towns, and organizations grapple with fiscal uncertainty.  

In September, the Democratically-controlled legislature passes a compromise budget, with the Governor calling it a "big win for New Hampshire families." 

The Governor also vetoed a record number of bills in 2019.  NHPR tracked them all.  

Environment/Energy:

The state announces two statewide lawsuits against eight companies, the original makers of toxic PFADS chemicals, for allegedly contaminating the state's drinking water. 

N.H. approves the country's most sweeping limits for PFAS chemical contamination in drinking water and then gets sued, a legal effort spearheaded by 3M, the chemical company that helped invent PFAS.

Climate activism grows, with some protesters arrested for actions such as blocking a train from delivering coal to a Bow power plant. 

Education:

Another legal battle over education funding begins as the ConVal school district sues the state, claiming lawmakers have failed to fund an adequate education as ordered by the N.H. Supreme Court. 

The N.H. Department of Education is awarded the largest charter-school grant in the country and plans to use the $46 million grant to double the state's number of charter schools.  But lawmakers hold up $10 million, the first installment of the grant, citing concerns over how the funding will affect existing public schools and the state budget. 

Health: 

In February, the state's new addiction treatment system, The Doorway, a "hub and spoke" system, launches, funded by a large federal grant aimed at the opioid crisis. 

The following fall, many said the new system showed promise but also major gaps, with inadequate funding for recovery centers. 

The state cancels its contract with Granite Pathways after teenagers in their drug treatment program at the Sununu Youth Services Center are found to have used drugs there.  Granite Pathways, which also serves at The Doorway for Manchester and Nashua,  called it a "mutual agreement" and said the current program had been faced with "too many challenges to ensure its success." 

The GAO finds that N.H. spent more than $4 million in state and federal money rolling out a Medicaid work requirement that was later struck down by a judge. 

A woman detained in a hospital emergency department for 20 days awaiting psychiatric treatment joins an ACLU lawsuit against the state of New Hampshire. 

Additional top stories:

Three victims in the Bear Brook murder case whose identities had remained unkown for more than 30 years are identified, and two of the victims are laid to rest in Allenstown. 

Seven motorcyclists in Randolph are killed by a driver with a suspended license, setting off an investigation into the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles.  In the wake of the accident, Gov. Sununu orders an in-depth review of N.H. DMV procedures. 

The Concord school district addresses public outrage over  how school officials handled student complaints about the behavior of a high school teacher who was later charged with sexual assault. Eventually,  the district's superintendent and the high school resigned,  and a new interim superintendent has promised to improve student safety