Coronavirus Coverage - NH Politics | New Hampshire Public Radio

Coronavirus Coverage - NH Politics

Photo of Governor Chris Sununu
Dan Tuohy / NHPR

Gov. Chris Sununu will speak about the state's response to COVID-19, including possible removal of certain restrictions, during a news conference today in Concord. The governor said Wednesday that the state's mask mandate would be ending "wicked soon."

NHPR will broadcast the press conference live, starting at 3 p.m. Sign up for NHPR's coronavirus newsletter.

New Hampshire State House photo
Allegra Boverman for NHPR

New Hampshire House Speaker Sherman Packard wants to revisit a decision by an appeals court to vacate a judge's ruling that upheld his refusal to provide remote access to legislative sessions to lawmakers at a higher risk of serious complications from COVID-19.

N.H. General Court

House lawmakers wrapped up a three-day session Friday. They passed a state budget and dozens of other bills, including ones to relax gun rights, tighten election laws and limit the emergency powers of New Hampshire governors. The session was unusual for several reasons: The fact that it was conducted out of the State House and at a massive sports complex in Bedford; the nature of some of the legislation passed; and the fact that House Speaker Sharon Packard at one point used a vulgarity to refer to a female lawmaker.

N.H. General Court

The New Hampshire House has voted for two bills that aim to guarantee that houses of worship can remain open during states of emergence.

Courtesy

The New Hampshire House voted overwhelmingly Thursday to give lawmakers more say in future states of emergency.

A photo shows Manchester election workers reviewing returned absentee ballots ahead of the 2020 November election. They're inside a large event space the city rented out to accommodate the high number of ballots and people needed to process them.
Casey McDermott, NHPR

In each major election, hundreds of New Hampshire absentee voters are disenfranchised because of simple paperwork mistakes — and often, they might not know until it’s too late to fix their error. But a new proposal, building off of changes implemented during the pandemic, could provide a solution that ensures more people can have their votes counted in elections to come.

Dan Tuohy for NHPR

Tensions have been high in the New Hampshire House of Representatives this legislative session, between lawmakers of opposing parties and between lawmakers and members of the public.

NHPR's Morning Edition host Rick Ganley spoke with Speaker of the House Sherman Packard about how he's handling these tensions among representatives.

Dan Tuohy / NHPR

A week after voting to lift sanctions and reverse fines for businesses that flout state COVID guidance, the New Hampshire House is considering more bills aimed at undercutting the governor's emergency powers.

New Hampshire State House photo
Allegra Boverman for NHPR

A federal judge has rejected a legal challenge by Democrats to force New Hampshire House Speaker Sherman Packard to allow lawmakers with disabilities to attend House sessions remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic.

House Speaker Sherm Packard
Dan Tuohy / NHPR

Democrats in the New Hampshire House want a federal judge to force Republican House Speaker Sherman Packard to allow legislators with serious health conditions to attend next weeks’ House session remotely.

N.H. House members meeting outside in December, 2020.
Todd Bookman / NHPR

The 400-member New Hampshire House has found a new place to meet indoors later this month, but the Legislature's top Democrat is threatening legal action to allow lawmakers who don't want to meet in person due to COVID-19 the right to participate remotely.

courtesy New Hampshire General Court

There was full remote attendance during the most recent meeting of the New Hampshire House Ways and Means Committee. But one lawmaker, Committee Chairman Norm Major explained, would not be allowed to vote during the hearing.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

A bill designed to ward off lawsuits stemming from COVID exposures went before a state Senate committee Monday.

The measure's backers say it's prudent to protect businesses from lawsuits over COVID exposure, as well as local governments, schools, and religious organizations, so long as they can show they've followed state and federal COVID guidance.

Speaker Sherman Packard
Dan Tuohy / NHPR

New Hampshire House Speaker Sherman Packard has announced plans for the 400-member House to meet in person later this month, though he declined to disclose the precise location.

Daniel S. Hurd via Flickr CC

A  New Hampshire House committee wants to give a legislative panel the power to overturn any emergency order issued by the state’s health commissioner.

The proposal cleared the House’s Health and Human Services Committee by a 19-2 vote Monday.

State Rep. Al Baldasaro photo
Dan Tuohy / NHPR

A Republican legislator in the New Hampshire House failed to cover his face as required for more than three hours of testimony in a hearing room Friday, a day after he returned from Florida.

Dan Tuohy / NHPR

New Hampshire lawmakers are considering a bill to waive sanctions against businesses cited by the state for violating COVID-19 health guidelines. The plan's backers say lifting penalties for violators, once the state of emergency ends, strikes a proper balance.

Dan Tuohy, NHPR

N.H. House Speaker Sherman Packard from Londonderry says State House security is taking precautions after reports of planned protests in connection with President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration. Republicans in the state legislature elected Packard last week after he served as acting speaker following the COVID-19 death of his predecessor, Dick Hinch. 

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

With the pandemic still surging, state lawmakers have had to figure out new ways to meet and vote, let alone how to vote on the substance of hundreds of bills -- addressing education funding, taxes, voting issues, energy and the environment, and more. Also on the agenda: crafting a new two-year budget. Last week, about 400 House members met in a UNH parking lot, voting from their cars to elect Rep. Sherman Packard, a Republican from Londonderry, Speaker of the House. The same day, In Washington D.C., a mob of pro-Trump extremists attacked the U.S. Capitol, leading to to the deaths of several people, including a Capitol police officer. In the aftermath, state capitols have been at heightened alert, including in Concord. We get a preview of what's likely to dominate discussion at the Statehouse in the upcoming months.

Air date: Monday, Jan. 11, 2021.

Dan Tuohy / NHPR

New Hampshire lawmakers sat in their cars on a cold January day and listened to the first legislative session of the year - by tuning into a radio frequency. Even their vehicles were socially distanced, each separated by a parking space, in Wednesday’s "drive-in" style meeting of the New Hampshire House in a UNH parking lot intended to mitigate the risks of COVID-19.

Dan Tuohy / NHPR

Things are getting busy again at the New Hampshire State House with the start of the new year. This week, both the Legislature and Gov. Chris Sununu begin new terms against the backdrop of a worsening COVID-19 pandemic. NHPR Senior Political Reporter Josh Rogers discussed this with All Things Considered Host Peter Biello.

N.H. House members meeting outside in December, 2020.
Todd Bookman / NHPR

Republican leaders in the New Hampshire House say they're confident that a drive-in style meeting at the University of New Hampshire will provide a safe place for lawmakers to gather next week. But the proposal has elicited criticism from Democrats, who say it doesn’t provide for the health needs of lawmakers with disabilities or underlying health problems that make then susceptible to COVID-19 infection.

N.H. State House
Allegra Boverman for NHPR

The COVID-19 pandemic has inspired several new bills proposed for the coming legislative session. 

N.H. General Court

A New Hampshire state senator has tested positive for COVID-19.

Senator Bob Giuda, a Republican from Warren, is resting at home since first showing symptoms of the illness on Saturday, according to a press release from the Senate majority office Tuesday evening.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

Gov. Chris Sununu says he doesn't know - and doesn't think the public has a right to know - how many state lawmakers or State House staffers have tested positive for the coronavirus.

Sununu says if lawmakers choose to disclose a positive test that's their business, but, "It's not like the State House is infected and if you walk in you are going to get infected with COVID," Sununu said.

Dan Barrick/NHPR

The coronavirus pandemic continues to rattle the state's political circles, as one of the top-ranking Republicans in the New Hampshire House announced she had tested positive, and lawmakers and State House staff lined up to be tested for the virus in the wake of House Speaker Dick Hinch’s death from COVID-19.

Todd Bookman, NHPR

Rep. Dick Hinch, who was elected Speaker of the New Hampshire House just one week ago, died from COVID-19.

Courtesy of Laconia Daily sun

Story updated: Tuesday, Dec. 8, 5:15 p.m.

The Belknap County Legislative Delegation is reversing course and will provide a public audio stream of Tuesday evening’s scheduled meeting. The move comes hours after the Laconia Daily Sun requested the New Hampshire Attorney General intervene, citing the risk of COVID-19 as the delegation will gather in a room in the county complex that won’t meet social-distancing requirements.

photo of men not wearing masks
Todd Bookman/NHPR

Gone were the chandeliers and oil portraits, the upholstered seats and carpeted floors of Representatives Hall in Concord.

Dan Tuohy / NHPR

State health officials say a recent gathering of Republican members of the incoming New Hampshire House of Representatives has led to several cases of COVID-19.

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