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The Exchange

Weekly N.H. News Roundup: June 22, 2018

Jun 22, 2018

Governor Sununu issues several vetoes, including a long-promised veto of the death penalty repeal that passed this spring. An immigration checkpoint on I 93 results in five arrests -- and more controversy.

And data released by the federal government suggests chemicals known as PFAS may be risky at lower levels than regulated by New Hampshire.

This week's Roundup is hosted by Lauren Chooljian, politics and policy reporter for NHPR's State of Democracy project.

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This smoking alternative is sweeping schools nationwide and causing concern.  JUULs are small and easy to hide; they look like a flash drive and come in delicious-smelling flavors.  But manufacturers say their product is squarely aimed at adult smokers, to help them quit.  We look at the arguments. 

This is a rebroadcast of a show that originally aired live on April 25, 2018. 

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There are at least 50 species of non-native insects established in the state, including the Emerald Ash Borer, which has devastated the local ash tree population. Poised to join this list is another wood-boring bug, which could have a similar impact on more of New Hampshire’s trees: the Southern Pine Beetle.

“In New Hampshire, we live in a global hotspot of non-native forest insects,” said Matthew Ayres, Professor of Biological Sciences at Dartmouth.

Dan Tuohy / NHPR

Former state senator Molly Kelly explains why she's running for governor and addresses the big issues facing the state, including the opioid epidemic, public education funding, and New Hampshire's energy future.

Kelly is running against former Portsmouth mayor Steve Marchand in the Democratic primary.  The winner will face Governor Chris Sununu. 

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Since moving into the state in 2013, the invasive Emerald Ash Borer has been diminishing local ash tree poplations. Now, New Hampshire's forrests face a threat from another non-native insect: The Southern Pine Beetle. On Monday, June 18, the Exchange discusses the these two wood-boring beetles and their impact on New Hampshire, how they got here, and what we can do to fight back.

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Several high-profile suicides have been the focus of a national conversation, and recent numbers show that the rate in New Hampshire is up nearly 50 percent over the past 20 years. The Exchange on Thursday, June 14, will examine what's causing this rise in suicide deaths, and how N.H. is approaching this difficult topic. 

On Thursday, June 14, we're discussing suicide in New Hampshire and efforts underway to prevent it.

Suicide rates were up 48.3 percent from 1999 - 2016 in the Granite State, according to a recent report from the CDC.  We'll examine what might be contributing to this, as well as the latest thinking on how to discuss and prevent suicide.  Submit your questions below. 

Mental health professionals urge people suffering from suicidal thoughts to seek help by contacting the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, which is available 24 hours a day at (800) 273-8255.

Dan Tuohy / NHPR

New Hampshire Department of Corrections Commissioner Helen Hanks says only patients whose mental illness drives them to extreme violence end up in the state prison’s secure psychiatric unit, and it’s a small group -- on average occupying about 10 of the unit’s 66 beds every year.  

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It's been called one of the toughest jobs in the state: Commissioner of the Department of Corrections. Since last November, Helen Hanks has held the position, overseeing three prisons, probation offices, and transitional housing units.  Also on her watch:  The opening of a new women's prison after a long legal battle over equal treatment for female prisoners, and protests over the practice of housing non-criminal patients in the state prison's secure psychiatric unit.

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New Hampshire residents have long known the risks of contracting diseases like Lyme and West Nile from a tick or mosquito bite, but a recent report from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says there’s even more to worry about.

The CDC is now tracking 16 of these “vector-borne diseases” and says the number of cases has tripled between 2004 and 2016.

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Neighbors at the Coakley Landfill Superfund site in Greenland met privately with top EPA officials on Monday to discuss a long-standing concern: high levels of potentially toxic PFAS chemicals in a brook that runs alongside the landfill. 

Local residents handed New England EPA Administrator Alexandra Dunn a petition asking the agency to compell the group responnsible for the site's contamination to take several actions, including expanding testing of residential wells and installing water filters at homes and schools around the landfill. 

We get an update on the Coakley site, as well as other areas dealing with drinking-water contamination, from NHPR's Energy and Environment reporter Annie Ropeik. 

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The opioid crisis has forced physicians to rethink their prescribing practices, and many are providing fewer opioid prescriptions, potentially leaving some patients without proper pain management.

Tighter regulations and insurance requirements have reduced overprescribing, but many say this makes it difficult for patients with both acute and chronic pain to find the help they need.

Dan Tuohy / NHPR

In the first of our four-day In-Depth series, The Exchange explored whether mental health care in New Hampshire has improved since the state agreed to invest more in the system  — part of a 2014 legal settlement. All agreed there's been progress. There's more help for people in crisis and more transitional housing.

But there's still plenty of room for improvement, including on permanent-housing arrrangements and reimbursement rates for struggling community mental health centers.  

Jessica Hunt / NHPR

Jeffrey Meyers, Commissioner of the N.H. Department of Health and Human Services, says his agency is beefing up oversight of substance use disorder treatment centers that have been struggling to stay afloat or that have closed altogether after financial struggles – a situation the state can ill afford in the midst of the opioid crisis.  

Speaking on The Exchange, Meyers said the state is auditing these organizations regularly.

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Jeffrey Meyers, Commissioner of the Dept. of Health and Human Services oversees some of the state's most challenging issues: the opioid crisis and a struggling treatment network, a child protection system with high caseloads and under scrutiny, and a Medicaid expansion program under review.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

We talk with Republican and Democratic lawmakers about some major votes coming up at the Statehouse this session, including Medicaid expansion, now in the House;  a family and medical leave bill, under scrutiny in the senate; and a proposed Constitutional amendment on victims' rights, called Marsy's Law.

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Relief and Reconstruction in the Caribbean. A Catholic archbishop and bishop are visiting the state from Puerto Rico and the Virgin islands, a region hard hit by last September's hurricanes, to raise awareness about the suffering that continues there. Recovery has been slow, with thousands still lacking power and living in makeshift dwellings.  The bishops are here at the invitation of Bishop Peter A. Libasci, of Manchester, for an initiative called Through the Storm: Helping Our Brothers and Sisters in the Caribbean. For more information on the event, visit here

The Latest Thinking on Substance Abuse Prevention

Mar 23, 2018
Randy Robertson via flickr/CC

Scare tactics and catchy slogans don't work, many experts now say.  But if that's the case, then how best to keep people from becoming addicted to drugs or alcohol?  We find out what works, what doesn't, and where most efforts take place: While many look to schools, our guests say it requires a much broader approach.

This program is part of NHPR's Crossroad project, a station-wide look at the addiction crisis and its impact on the state. 

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There have long been complaints that the state's extensive training and certification requirements for some fields have led to workforce shortages, and the House recently passed a bill for a less restrictive approach. But opponents say caution is warranted - to protect the public and professional integrity.

Weekly N.H. News Roundup: March 16, 2018

Mar 16, 2018

New Hampshire students join thousands around the country in walking out of their classrooms to protest school shootings and NRA influence. The New Hampshire Attorney General finds that a state trooper was justified in shooting and killing an unarmed Enfield man.  And Secretary of State Bill Gardner, with 42 years on the job, faces a rare re-election challenge -- this time, from former Democratic gubernatorial candidate Colin Van Ostern.

Weekly N.H. News Roundup: March 2, 2018

Mar 1, 2018

A former St. Paul's teacher who has taught at the Derryfield School since 2009 is arrested and charged in connection with the AG's investigation of St. Paul's  handling of allegations of sexual misconduct. A Democrat wins a special election in Laconia, the fifth House seat to flip from Republican to Democrat since President's Trump's election.   And the CD1 race gets a bit more crowded, with Democrat Levi Sanders, son of U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders, announcing he's running.  

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

In his State of the State address last week, Governor Sununu declared: Life is better in New Hampshire than it was a year ago. On his list of achievements: fewer regulations, lower taxes, and school choice.  On his to-do list: A ten-year plan for the state's mental health system and a revamped Medicaid expansion program.  

N.H. Mayors On The State of Their Cities

Feb 14, 2018
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In advance of Governor Sununu's State of the State address, we check in with four mayors on how their communities are faring: on education, the local economy, and the addiction crisis. And we ask what they'd like to hear from the Governor.

Ellen Grimm for NHPR

  Marsy's Law is a nationwide effort to bolster the rights of crime victims.  Now, a New Hampshire bill to put these rights into the state Constitution has bipartisan support and the Governor's endorsement.  But there are concerns about possible unintended consequences and some hesitation over constitutional change. 

A Check-Up On Medical Marijuana In New Hampshire

Feb 6, 2018
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New Hampshire's program has been in place for several years now and appears to be gaining acceptance among patients and providers.  We find out who's using the system, who's providing the drug, and what questions remain -- including medical concerns, bureaucratic hurdles, and the possibility of federal intervention.  

President Trump's First State of the Union Address

Jan 30, 2018
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We take a look at the speech itself  -- the tone and the major topics, such as infrastructure, immigration, and national security.  

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It's been a year since an investigation of the state's Division of Children Youth And Families revealed an agency in crisis. At the time, officials and lawmakers promised a major overhaul, with new leadership, policies and funding. We check in on what progress has been made in protecting New Hampshire's children.


N.H. Debates: How Young Is Too Young To Get Married?

Jan 24, 2018
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How young is too young to get married and who decides?  The current legal age in New Hampshire is thirteen for girls and fourteen for boys.  Now, as the legislature debates several bills to change this, we examine the legal, cultural, and political issues involved. 

Weekly N.H. News Roundup: January 19, 2018

Jan 18, 2018

Governor Chris Sununu appears to open the door to commuter rail, supporting a study to explore whether it could work in New Hampshire.  A  bill to strengthen victims' rights makes its way through the legislature with bipartisan support.  And enthusiasm over a snowy owl ruffles feathers on the Seacoast.


U.S. Foreign Policy In Tumultuous Times

Jan 15, 2018
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The headlines involving North Korea, Russia and Iran have been alarming, including even the threat of nuclear war.  But fraught relations involving these countries go back decades. We examine that geopolitical history -- and try to untangle recent developments. 

 

GUEST: 

Wayne Lesperance - Professor of political science and Dean of undergraduate programs at New England College.

 

 

 

 

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