Heard on the Exchange | New Hampshire Public Radio

Heard on the Exchange

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

As part of NHPR's Crossroad: The N.H. Opioid Reporting Project, The Exchange went on the road on February 7, 2019 to the Nashua Public Library for a live discussion on how the city is taking a multi-pronged approach to tackle the opioid crisis. 

This discussion was recorded at the Nashua Public Library on February 7th, and an edited version of the conversation airs on NHPR on Thursday, February 14th at 9 a.m. and again at 7 p.m.

The full conversation is available below. You can find the edited conversation here

The marijuana legalization debate returns to the Granite State.  Advocates have been trying to legalize pot here for years, and this session, lawmakers are again taking up the issue.  On Tuesday, we examine the arguments. Advocates say legalization could lead to a decline in the use of more dangerous drugs.  But opponents warn of unintended consequences, including the impact on babies born to mothers who consume cannabis while pregnant. We'll also examine the broader context, as New Hampshire's three neighboring states have all legalized.   


Elaine Grant, NHPR

A little over a year ago, former Speaker of the N.H. House Shawn Jasper traded in his Speaker’s gavel  for the job of Commissioner of the N.H. Department of Agriculture, Markets, and Food.

Jasper suggested on The Exchange this week that he doesn’t miss the tussle of Statehouse politics -- dealing with 399 lawmakers, constant deadlines, and the scheduling of bills.

When it comes to his new job, Jasper said, “There are still issues here, of course, but I feel I’m able to help people a lot more directly." 

Jasper also outlined what he feels his department can and cannot do when it comes to resolving disputes over agritourism and advising farmers with concerns about the effects of climate change.  On the latter, Jasper said: "That is more UNH Cooperative Extension's role. That’s not something we’re able to do."

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The Office of The Child Advocate, established in 2018 as an independent agency to oversee the Division of Children, Youth and Families, issued its first annual report recently. Among its recommendations:  The state should fund more DCYF staff to help relieve overloaded case workers – a problem that has long beset the agency. But OCA Director Moira O'Neill says the job of protecting children includes the broader community -- though not all Granite Staters may realize they're required by law to report suspicions of child neglect and abuse.  

Home Heating for the New Hampshire Winter

Jan 24, 2019
State Farm/Flickr

New Hampshire winters are cold but that doesn't mean you have to be. Granite Staters face unique problems in heating their homes: some of the nation's oldest housing stock, little access to natural gas and extreme weather. New Hampshire ranked 21st on the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy’s State Energy Efficiency Scorecard while nearby Massachusetts, Connecticut and Vermont scored in the top ten.

But local programs are working to close the gap with discounted energy audits and rebates for energy efficiency home upgrades.  Plus, earth-friendly fuel options are getting more affordable. We discuss ways Granite Staters can keep warm and stay on budget. 

For a list of resources, click here! 

Your Home Is Cold. Here’s How To Fix That.

Jan 24, 2019
Robzor/ Pixabay

You’re cold and you want to fix that.  But there are a whole lot of options and a pretty big price tag with each of those options.

The phrase “energy efficiency” might have you thinking solar panels and electric cars, but the most effective energy efficiency measures are surprisingly low tech. Of course, each home has its own story - and its own expenses - but there are a number of weatherization and rebate programs available to Granite Staters to prepare your home for winter.

Courtesy

New Hampshire’s Office of Child Advocate is endorsing a bill to create 77 positions to better protect children.

Moira O’Neill says 57 of those positions are for child protective service workers. The rest are for supervisors.

The Senate Finance Committee has a hearing on the legislation Tuesday. It would cost about $8.5 million over two years, with $2.5 million coming from federal funds.

Dan Tuohy / NHPR

Efforts to end homelessness could get a major boost this year in New Hampshire.

Cathy Kuhn, the director of the New Hampshire Coalition to End Homelessness, says there is bipartisan support for a proposed $20 million investment over two years into the state’s affordable housing fund.

NHPR

New Hampshire’s legislative leaders voiced support for strengthening the role of the Child Advocate, an office established in 2018 to reform the state’s child welfare system.

The call to action comes two days after the Office of the Child Advocate released its first annual report that proposes additional caseworkers and training.

New Hampshire Senate Majority Leader Dan Feltes says an increase in the minimum wage is long overdue.

New Hampshire repealed its own state minimum in 2011, and has since used the federal rate of $7.25 per hour. 

Feltes and fellow Democrats in the legislative majority hope to raise the wage.

NH DHHS

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.

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.

Dan Tuohy / NHPR

 

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Steve Marchand has a plan to curb gun violence ... just don’t call it gun control, he says.

"Note - I don't call it gun control because that implies I'm trying to take your guns. It's reducing gun violence," he said on The Exchange on Wednesday.

AP

Congresswoman Annie Kuster says $6 billion in a new budget deal to fight the opioid epidemic is a good start. But she says a longer-term commitment is still missing - and she wants to ensure the funding formula treats smaller states fairly.

 

"It’s certainly more than is in the pipeline right now,” she says. “I think everyone agrees it’s critical that we get funding out on the front line to expand access to treatment and help people in their long-term recovery. We’ve got to get over the hump and save lives and get people back to work.”

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

A proposal to enshrine victims' rights in the New Hampshire Constitution has notable backers, including Gov. Chris Sununu, but some say it's too broad and vague.

Buzz Scherr, chairman of International Criminal Law and Justice Programs at UNH School of Law, is in this camp.

He also contends supporters are distorting the rights currently provided by state law.

NHPR Photo

 

New Hampshire’s "drug czar" says the recent collapse of Manchester’s Safe Station treatment provider has revealed gaps in the state's care.

NHPR File Photo

The president of the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce says he's encouraged by Gov. Chris Sununu's support for studying commuter rail expansion.

Michael Skelton now hopes state lawmakers follow suit. He will not be alone.

A new business coalition, “New Hampshire Business for Rail Expansion,” was unveiled Tuesday to advocate for restoring passenger train service from Boston to Manchester. Skelton first mentioned it while speaking on The Exchange on Tuesday.

File photo

Flu season in New Hampshire is not as bad as in other parts of the country, but doctors are starting to see an uptick in cases. 

Dr. Pamela Hofley, medical director at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Manchester-Bedford, says New Hampshire is just starting to head into peak flu season, which lasts through April.

“The New Hampshire flu activity level is certainly widespread in the state but still we’re considered low-level activity throughout the country, although we’re just starting to see an uptick,” she says.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

New Hampshire's Senate President Chuck Morse says work on Medicaid expansion in 2018 will be a balancing act that weighs federal requirements, fiscal impact on the state, and critical services.

“In any case we have to make sure that we protect the New Hampshire taxpayers,” he says.

It's clear that Medicaid remains a top priority for both Republicans and Democrats on the opening day of the legislative session Wednesday.

The common ground is agreement that Medicaid expansion is playing a role in helping the state combat the opioid crisis.

More than 70 families with children are living outside in the Manchester area this winter. They're sleeping in tents or cars, according to Cathy Kuhn, director of the N.H. Coalition to End Homelessness.  

Canada Concerned Over U.S. Tone in NAFTA Talks

Dec 14, 2017

In the nearly quarter century since NAFTA was enacted, trade has tripled among the three partners of the North American Free Trade Agreement: U.S., Mexico, and Canada.  And bilateral trade between Canada and New England has reached nearly $11 billion.

That’s according to David Alward, Boston-based Consul General of Canada, who joined The Exchange to discuss the impact of NAFTA on the region and the status of NAFTA meetings now underway in Washington.  The sixth round of talks will take place in Montreal in January.   

State University System Chancellor Todd Leach cites several factors behind cost-cutting measures at Keene State College.

Besides declining enrollment and competition, he says there was a perception that Keene State was in fiscal trouble due to a cut in state funding in 2010.

“We can look and see the numbers drop there,” he said on The Exchange.

Bryan via Flickr Creative Commons / https://flic.kr/p/5JZsiV

The Exchange spoke with New Hampshire teachers and administrators about competency-based education (CBE), which was adopted by the state board of education more than ten years ago.  Some districts have fully embraced the approach; others are just getting started.  

As our discussion revealed, some parents still have plenty of questions about a system that dispenses with many of the traditional ways of measuring progress and achievement and encourages students to pursue what Superintendent John Freeman of Pittsfield calls "personal pathways." 

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

A House committee this week recommended against  a bill to legalize pot in the state - but advocates on both sides are continuing the debate.

Speaking today on NHPR's The Exchange, Kate Frey, vice president of advocacy for New Futures, compares the marijuana industry to the big tobacco and big alcohol industries. 

“It’s a profit-driven industry,” Frey says. “And once ‘Big Marijuana’ moves in, just like ‘Big Alcohol,’ then you have pot shops in your neighborhood, you have highly potent edible products targeted toward kids."  

Getty Images | NPR

After mass shootings, mental health professionals find themselves at pains to explain that people with mental illness are more likely to be victims of violence than aggressors.

And they’re more likely to die by suicide than to harm others.

That’s again been part of the conversation after the Texas church shooting in which 26 people died, and the shooter, by several accounts, dealt with some form of mental illness or instability, including erratic, violent behavior.

 New Hampshire Insurance Commissioner Roger Sevigny encourages people to do their research and seek help from navigators for enrollment in the Affordable Care Act for 2018.

Sevigny acknowledged the uncertainty for certain consumers when the President and the Republican-controlled Congress continue to knock “Obamacare.”

Another challenge is the shortened enrollment period; Dec. 15 is the deadline this year.

N.H. Emergency Chief: Storm Severity Was Surprising

Nov 6, 2017
Chris Jensen Photo

In addition to the high winds and heavy rain of last week's storm, several other factors contributed to the fourth largest power outage in state history -- with a price tag in the millions, and counting. That's according to Perry Plummer, director of the state Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management.

NHPR File

In the final Manchester mayoral debate, challenger Joyce Craig accused incumbent Ted Gatsas of failing to follow protocol when a 14-year-old student was raped at a high school in 2015.

The rape was not made public until earlier this year when the county prosecutor announced that Bryan Wilson, who was 17 at the time, was found guilty and sentenced to 10- to- 20 years for aggravated felonious sexual assault at West High School.

Six percent of babies born in New Hampshire have been exposed to opioids.

And the actual number may be higher at this point.

“We are one of the hardest hit areas,” says Dr. Alison Holmes, a pediatrician at Children’s Hospital at Dartmouth.

KEN WATSON / KENWATSON.NET

An isolated forest fire in North Woodstock is so stubborn that even this rainy weather is not fully putting it out.

Woodstock Fire Chief John MacKay says the Dilly Cliff fire that was first reported Oct. 3 is contained, but some spots are still smoldering.

"With this rain the last two days I’d say it’s probably 90 percent put out," MacKay said today on NHPR's The Exchange.

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