Coronavirus Coverage - NH Politics | New Hampshire Public Radio

Coronavirus Coverage - NH Politics

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New Hampshire’s utility consumer advocate wants more transparency and public input on plans to lift the state's ban on utility shutoffs this month.

In a new emergency petition, ratepayer advocate Don Kreis says the state's electric, water and gas utilities are reporting large swaths of customers who've held off paying their bills in the past few months.

Dan Tuohy / NHPR

The New Hampshire Legislature wrapped up business for the 2020 session Tuesday, marking the end of perhaps the most unusual legislative session in history, with the State House essentially closed since March and lawmakers conducting much of their work remotely.

James Gathany / CDC

A group of New Hampshire doctors wants two Republican U.S. Senate candidates to walk back recent statements opposing mandatory vaccinations.

Josh Rogers / NHPR

In a busy and socially distanced session, the full New Hampshire Senate returned to Concord Tuesday for the first time since COVID-19 closed the State House in March.

While the subject matter of the legislation at hand may have seemed familiar – environmental policy, a proposed minimum wage increase, and health care bills – the setting and procedure were far from normal.

Josh Rogers, NHPR

The New Hampshire House met at the University of New Hampshire’s Whittemore Center Thursday, its first full session since the COVID-19 pandemic arrived in the state and the first outside of the State House in Concord since the Civil War.

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Democratic state lawmakers will get another hearing in a lawsuit over Gov. Chris Sununu’s authority to distribute federal coronavirus aid.

The complaint dates to mid-April. It argues that the legislature should get a say in Sununu's spending during the state of emergency.  

Superior Court Judge David Anderson previously denied the lawmakers’ request for an emergency injunction to stop that spending.

NHPR Photo

The Rules Committee of the New Hampshire House of Representatives has blocked a push by Republicans to propose a freeze on business tax rates, setting the stage for a potential standoff over whether the House can act on any bills when it meets June 11th.

Donna Hiltz / NHPR

Members of Congress from New Hampshire are joining a call for clean energy workforce investment as part of the economic recovery from COVID-19.

U.S. Rep. Annie Kuster and Sen. Jeanne Shaheen joined nearly 60 other Democrats, led by lawmakers from New York and New Mexico, who sent a letter on the issue to Congressional leadership this week.

The letter cites research showing the clean energy sector could lose nearly a quarter of its jobs to the pandemic in the near term.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

The state’s top tax official says the coronavirus pandemic could cut state coffers by more than $450 million through the middle of next year.

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State revenue commissioner Lindsey Stepp told lawmakers her department’s latest revenue estimates don’t presume a second wave of the coronavirus. She also stressed the challenges of modeling tax collections under the circumstances.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

Democrats hold majorities in both the New Hampshire House and Senate, but Republicans could make it impossible for state lawmakers to pass any legislation this year, as State House leaders attempt to finish business amid COVID-19 closures.

UNH Carsey School

A recent poll says New Hampshire residents' trust in science and government advice hasn't changed much, even as the coronavirus spreads.

Researchers at the University of New Hampshire's Survey Center polled about 1,800 residents in March and April.

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Dan Tuohy / NHPR

New Hampshire’s Executive Council voted unanimously Wednesday to release $1.4 billion from the state’s treasury, amid a standoff over transparency around how coronavirus relief aid is being spent. As NHPR’s Josh Rogers reports, the move averts the possibility of a government shutdown.

The council blocked the release of more than $940 million two weeks ago to try to get Governor Chris Sununu to share more detail on his plans to spend federal relief aid.

Casey McDermott / NHPR

Gov. Chris Sununu has authorized spending millions on New Hampshire’s COVID-19 relief efforts in recent weeks, using powers he established through a state of emergency declaration two months ago. He’s done so without the oversight typically provided by lawmakers and the Executive Council.

Dan Tuohy / NHPR

The New Hampshire legislature is planning to meet in full session for the first time since March. Legislative leaders say they are taking steps to keep lawmakers safe.

The 24-member Senate will be at the State House, meeting in the chambers of the 400-member House.

The House will meet at UNH's Whittemore Center in Durham on June 11.

Facebook screen capture

The New Hampshire Democratic Party hosted its first ever virtual convention Saturday.

The event normally gives the party a chance to energize members and donors, but this time, due to the coronavirus pandemic, it all had to happen on Facebook live.

State Democratic Party Chairman Ray Buckley told members that 2020 is the election of their lifetime. But he had to acknowledge that getting revved up during a pandemic is tough.

"We know the news can make us all anxious and, for too many, hopeless," he said, "but we all care about the future and we all must have hope."

CDC.gov

With data showing that COVID-19 is disproportionately affecting New Hampshire's Black and Latino communities, the Governor's Council on Diversity and Inclusion is asking for a response.

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In a letter to the governor, the council asked the state to establish a dedicated team, as well as a plan of action, to address the disproportionate impacts of COVID-19.

NHPR file

Top Democratic state lawmakers want a judge to reconsider their challenge to Governor Chris Sununu’s authority over federal coronavirus aid.

In their initial lawsuit, the legislators argued that they have a constitutional right to approve how the funds are used – even during a state of emergency.

Dan Tuohy / NHPR

Gov.  Chris Sununu is loosening restrictions on several parts of the state’s economy throughout the month of May.

On Friday, the governor extended his stay-at-home order to the end of the month, with some key amendments. Retailers will be allowed a limited number of customers in their stores beginning May 11, and restaurants can open with outdoor dining beginning May 18.

NHPR's Morning Edition Host Rick Ganley spoke with Sununu about his plans to slowly reopen the economy within the next few weeks.

Dan Tuohy / NHPR

Gov. Chris Sununu issued a stay-at-home order on March 26, 2020 in an effort to contain the spread of coronavirus in New Hampshire. Here is what you need to know about the amended order, which is now in effect until May 31. 

NOTE: THIS STORY CONTAINS OUTDATED INFORMATION AND GUIDANCE. PLEASE CLICK HERE FOR THE LATEST VERSION.

Bookmark NHPR's liveblog here for coronavirus updates in New Hampshire.

New Hampshire’s 'Stay at Home 2.0' – What Has Changed?

New Hampshire’s original stay-at-home order in response to the COVID-19 pandemic was set to expire on Monday, May 4. On Friday, May 1, Gov. Chris Sununu announced a plan to relax some aspects of that order and re-open parts of the economy.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

Senator Jeanne Shaheen says scientific guidelines suggest it's not yet time to phase out social distancing, despite President Trump's decision to phase it out at the federal level after April.

"The guidelines that were issued earlier by the administration to open up the economy suggested that you need to see 14 consecutive days of numbers of coronavirus cases going down before they reopen their economy," Shaheen said. "What's been reported is that there aren't any states in the country that have reached that milestone."

NHPR Staff

The state's community college system is seeking millions in federal COVID-19 aid.

Most of the money would be for tuition assistance. The community college system wants more than $29 million to help students pay for classes.

Chuck Ansell is the system’s chief financial officer. On Wednesday, he told members of the legislative committee advising Governor Sununu on COVID-19 aid that the state's community colleges are ready to help create a workforce relevant to local economic needs.

Dan Tuohy / NHPR

Gov. Chris Sununu says the state is working on a plan to reopen the economy in phases. Sununu's stay-at-home order is scheduled to end next week on May 4.

NHPR's Morning Edition Host Rick Ganley spoke with him about how he's working with local and regional leaders on plans to reopen.

(Editor's note: Because of the governor's cell phone connection, the audio for this interview is difficult to understand in places. The transcript has been lightly edited for clarity.)

justgrimes / Flickr Creative Commons

New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner has assembled a six-person "select committee" to advise his office on how to spend the $3.2 million in emergency election funding the state has received as part of a recent federal COVID-19 relief package. 

<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/68751915@N05/6757875045/">401(k) 2012</a> / Flickr

The Governor's Office for Emergency and Recovery (or GOFERR) is charged with the investment and oversight of federal funding in response to COVID-19.

NHPR's Morning Edition Host Rick Ganley spoke with Jerry Little, who's taking a leave as New Hampshire's Banking Commissioner to lead the office.

Little spoke about how the body is getting input and will decide how to spend the funds.

(Editor's note: this transcript has been edited lightly for clarity.)

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

President Donald Trump signed a bill Friday that provides $484 billion in relief to employers and states facing hardship due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The bill received broad support in both the House and Senate. NHPR's Peter Biello spoke earlier today with U.S. Rep. Annie Kuster, who explained why she decided to support this new legislation.

NHPR

The leader of the New Hampshire Senate said it’s too soon to make a decision on Gov. Chris Sununu’s proposal to retain business tax cuts scheduled to take effect in January, regardless of whether the state meets the revenue benchmarks required by law.

Dan Tuohy / NHPR

A judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed by top Democratic lawmakers over federal COVID-19 funding. The suit challenged Gov. Chris Sununu's power to spend more than $1.25 billion without legislative review or approval.

(Scroll down for earlier coverage.)

In his 16-page opinion, Superior Court Judge David A. Anderson granted Sununu's motion to dismiss, writing that stopping or delaying the governor from distributing funds in the midst of a global pandemic would be contrary to the public interest.

Zoom screenshot

Democratic state lawmakers say they'll push for renewable energy development as part of the economic recovery from COVID-19.

State senator and gubernatorial candidate Dan Feltes addressed the issue during a virtual Earth Day town hall Wednesday.

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Dan Tuohy | NHPR

A task force created to safely re-open the state’s economy met for the first time on Thursday.

The group consists of lawmakers, as well as leaders from a variety of industries including restaurants, retail and hospitals.

D.J. Bettencourt, policy director for Gov. Chris Sununu, said the committee’s mandate is “to ensure that New Hampshire’s economy is able to reopen efficiently, and in a manner that protects public health, while limiting the risks of any resurgence.”

Dan Tuohy / NHPR

Gov. Chris Sununu has formed a task force to advise him on a potential phased reopening of the state’s economy. The task force includes state economic and tourism officials, chamber of commerce members, a chief of police, and leaders of industry groups representing retail merchants, restaurants and hospitals, as well as several lawmakers.

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