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Weekly N.H. News Roundup: March 9, 2018

As next Tuesday’s town meeting day approaches, the N.H. Senate sides with the Secretary of State over who has the power to reschedule town meetings.  The state House of Representatives vote to send to the Senate a bill adding gender identity to existing state anti-discrimination laws. The Executive Council unanimously approves $600,000 for Manchester-based Hope for New Hampshire Recovery.


  • Annie Ropeik - NHPR Energy and Environment reporter.
  • Dean Spiliotes - civic scholar in the School of Arts and Sciences at SNHU and author of the website NH Political Capital
  • Paul Steinhauser - NH politics reporter and a former CNN political reporter

Watch a video stream of the show:

Related links to subjects on today's show

"Domicile" continues to be an issue of contention in the legislature. 

NHPR's Casey McDermott has reported extensively onmedicaid expansion as well as the issue of balance billing.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Steve Marchand discussed his platform on The Exchange this week, and NHPR's Lauren Chooljian reported on reaction to his stance on gun control.

Paul Steinhauser reported on the struggle to have former Executive Councilor Dudley Dudley's portraithung in the statehouse.

Peter Biello has followed the resignation of the director of the New England VA Healthcare system.

The Department of Environmental Services proposes conditions for burying Eversource's Seacoast power line.


[00:00:31] From New Hampshire Public Radio. I'm Peter Biello and this is the weekly New Hampshire news roundup on the exchange.

[00:00:47] The New Hampshire House advances legislation that would make equal the definitions of domicile and residence which could have implications for voting. A top regional VA official retires months after VA whistleblowers call for his removal and the executive council votes to give 600000 dollars to hope for New Hampshire. These and other stories made headlines this week we will talk about them in this hour. And you can call into the exchange at 1 800 8 9 2 6 4 7 7 that's 1 889 to an PR. You can also send an e-mail to exchange at NHP artwork or post on our Facebook page at NHPR exchange. That's all one word and we are also streaming a live video of this radio shows.

[00:01:28] It is very easy to listen and watch. You can check out the stream on our Facebook page NHP or exchange or just search for New Hampshire Public Radio on Facebook and here to talk about the week's news and answer your questions about it. Dean Spiliotes civic scholar in the School of Arts and Sciences at SNHU. Author of the website and age political capital and HP bars any Ropeik and political reporter Paul Steinhauser everybody thank you very much for being here. Thank you. Again the phone number for you to call to join the conversation 1 800 8 2 6 4 7 7. Also email exchange at each party. We're going to start the show talking about domiciled resident inhabitant these terms.

[00:02:08] A bill in the House would sort of merge the definition to make them all one. These are oft repeated when lawmakers debate someone's eligibility to vote in New Hampshire. Paul why do these definitions matter.

[00:02:19] They matter greatly because there is a huge fight here in New Hampshire over who can vote whether out of staters who are domiciled in New Hampshire can vote. This fight has been going on for quite some time. Republicans in this state a lot of conservatives have said for years that there is voter fraud that Democrats try to game the system bring others in from all over state lines to vote in our elections. That's why we saw the big fight and the new law Senate Bill three became a law last year which tightened up the voting rules and regulations here in New Hampshire. Now the fight over the last couple of months has been over two bills and one of them was just passed as you said this week by the state House of Representatives. What it what it does is basically kind of bring the definition of domicile and residency together. And it also mandates that if you're going to vote in New Hampshire you have to be a resident. Which means you're going to have to either register your car or get a license. Democrats say this is voter suppression. Republicans say no we're just trying to get things in line to make it more uniform. It's a huge political fight. We saw it last year over last year's bill which is now a law we're seeing it this year.

[00:03:17] It may end up in court and they say it's to suppression. Democrats say it's suppression in part because college students are often domiciled not residents and they tend to vote Democrat.

[00:03:28] Exactly. And this really does affect college students in some of the bigger towns like Durham in Keene Plymouth and you know what a lot of those students often vote for Democrats Republicans say wait a minute you know Donald Trump may have won the election in 2016 in New Hampshire. You know if it wasn't for all these out of staters who were voting in our elections so there's a lot of upset people on both sides and they get. I think it may end up in court this bill may end up in court. So how is this different from House Bill 372 which also is addressing voter eligibility. They're pretty much the same bill. That's the beauty of the New Hampshire legislature. When you have 424 lawmakers you do have a lot of repeat bills. The other bill you just mentioned has already been passed through the state Senate. This one just got passed through the State House. We'll see if they get merged together or how it works out. We still have a couple of months to go in this legislative food fight session. Dean what's the governor saying about this.

[00:04:16] Interesting well we're waiting to see he said he's monitoring the situation here. He had been supportive of SB 3 but then had said that that was about as far as he wanted to go. He was recorded saying in an interview that he did not want to disenfranchise college students that he didn't think we needed any additional regulation. We'll see if he backs away from that. I think if this eventually gets to his desk it's going to be a pretty significant test of his independence as a chief executive because this is these kinds of pieces of legislation are very popular among Republicans. It mirrors a national debate around the country about whether or not there's voter fraud. And what is at the root of that voter fraud. You know we have a history in the state of of complications and understanding what's meant by domiciled. There's this phrase you know the place that you are more than anywhere else. This HB 12 64 as does HB 372 equates or makes domiciled equivalent with residency. You know it's going to it passes and is signed into law it will end up in court with the argument that it's a violation of civil rights because it in effect puts in place a form of a poll tax. If you required to establish full residency in order to vote. That usually means registering your car paying taxes on the car getting a driver's license costs money to do that. In particular the argument will be that it disenfranchises college students who spend most of their year within the state.

[00:05:45] So this is not the last we'll hear of this but I am very interested to see what Governor Sununu does as I said this will be a real test of his independence as a chief executive. He has said that SB 3 was sufficient that he didn't think we needed anything more. Now he sort of has kind of keeping his cards a little closer to the vest so we'll see what he does.

[00:06:04] OK. And normally we can spend a whole hour on this show. We certainly didn't really get it I'm sure. Yes certainly. I mean this has been such a busy week for the legislature we're just going to breeze through a variety of stories. We don't call this a round up all right. OK so let's talk about the fact that we will not in fact see a bill banning bump stocks right that one in this week. If you manage to do it let's try and squeeze this short discussion of this one and this bill would have raised the legal age to purchase long guns from 18 to 21 would have banned bump stocks.

[00:06:35] Democrats were not successful in introducing this Paul.

[00:06:38] Why they tried this was a last minute maneuver to a couple of days ago in a state House of Representatives of beginning the session. The top Democrat in the chamber tried to steal Shurtleff try to bring this up. Change the rules. You need a two thirds vote to do that. He tried to reintroduce this bill last fall wasn't successful then. Remember it also a similar bill got voted basically voted down in the states and the state Senate and he was unsuccessful this time as well. Even with all that's going on right now in the country after the horrific shootings down in South Florida even after the state legislature in Florida is just about to do the same thing. It's already passed through the legislature we'll see if the governor down to the Republican governor signed it into law. They were unsuccessful here Republicans say that it wasn't about not that they don't support these moves they just said you weren't following the rules. We've already had discussions on this. This fight will continue and continue throughout this legislative session. This is a huge issue right now with voters and it just shows the emotions in the wake of Parkland.

[00:07:37] And what's interesting is by trying to suspend the rules it gave Republicans an opportunity to essentially avoid having a debate on the issue and simply say this is not the way to go about doing this without having to make a statement one way or the other about whether or not they would support the support the changes. So essentially telling Mr. Shurtleff to use the normal procedure with the filing period and public hearings et cetera this is a fight that if it doesn't really reemerge in the state legislature this year you're going to hear about it on the campaign trail this summer and this fall.

[00:08:12] All right. Another thing worth noting this week any House lawmakers voted Wednesday to expand New Hampshire's antidiscrimination law to include transgender people. What protections would this law provide.

[00:08:22] So this would add gender identity to the state's anti-discrimination statute that already exists that covers things like housing discrimination employment discrimination public accommodations. It basically says you can't discriminate against a person on the basis of sex race. You know all of those things and it would add gender identity to that list so that includes transgender people who identify as different sects than the one that they were assigned at birth. And it basically is seen as a transgender rights bill in the state giving transgender people sort of state rights that they don't currently have.

[00:08:59] And Linds Jakows is a nonbinary transgender person who campaigned for the transgender rights bill here's here's that tape.

[00:09:07] Most people haven't yet met someone who is transgender and it becomes easy to believe those fearmonger even stories that we all hear when you actually haven't connected face and or real story to the issue of discrimination.

[00:09:25] Paul this bill now moves to the state Senate where there seems to be a lot of support the governor himself is now on record as saying he will support this as well. You know every time this bill has come up in committee there has been a lot of a lot of activists out there in support of it. It's got a lot of support around the state and we'll probably be talking about it becoming a law in a few months from now. What were opponents saying about this.

[00:09:47] Yes so they basically center on what I call the bathroom argument. And honestly the first time this came up in debate on the House floor this week I could hear groans from the House floor as well as in the gallery. This is you know I think to some a pretty tired argument which basically says that we're worried that if Prince Senator people can use the bathroom that corresponds to their gender identity that you'll have men going into women's bathrooms and sexually assaulting them willy nilly when this past year that you were up in the gallery right and that you're not supposed to make any noise votes are happened but what would happen when that happened. So there had been you know a lot of audible reaction throughout the day and then when it did finally pass there was a huge cheer some people yelling thank you. And they were quickly shushed them all in the hallway to celebrate not happening. You

[00:10:31] had some great tape of that this week. Good to hear. This is the weekly New Hampshire news roundup on the exchange on Nhpr. I'm Peter Biello. Still to come we're going to be talking about the CYF and balance billing. Send us your thoughts by e-mail exchange at NHP dot org or give us a call 1 800 8 9 2 6 4 7 7. Let's talk about D.C. The Senate Health and Human Services Committee voted unanimously on Tuesday for a bill that would restore funding to certain services at D.C. Wyeth one and a half million dollars.

[00:11:00] DEAN What are the services we're talking about the so-called voluntary services and this really stems from the very tragic incident of the murder suicide the father and 6 year old son in Derry and the new child advocate this new position that was created in order to have somebody to kind of kind of act as a sort of an external check on the CYF and what's going on with all the different cases she had been very critical saying that if some of these services if they have another issue was that I guess the family had reached out for some help but they didn't technically qualify for the kinds of services they needed. So this is a way to kind of fill in that gap and provide a bit more of a safety net for people looking for help. So I think in many respects this is kind of a direct result of having the child advocate come out and say that that this was missed a missed opportunity to help this family.

[00:11:55] And so my understanding is that these are voluntary services like the one thing it's kind of this gray area right between someone who you know is in clear direct imminent need of assistance and someone who has cause for concern but maybe hasn't like crossed the bar yet to actually get into the system so provide counseling and child care and other treatments for those people that sort of fall into that middle ground which is what we seem to think that this family and that was the issue reached out but they didn't trigger the typical you know required interactions and so there wasn't any other option.

[00:12:28] So this is a way to kind of fill that out a bit voluntarily and it seems according to the report Moira O'Neil that the child advocate was saying that this is pretty common in other states right. That other states have these things pretty well funded.

[00:12:39] Yeah I guess our system is a lot more underfunded than other states. This is this is usually something that's on offer.

[00:12:46] I see. OK well what's next for this funding bill. Do we know remains to be seen I guess. Not sure where it is in the process. All right well let's talk about one more thing here. Balance billing because a bipartisan measure to protect patients against so-called balanced billing got a strong endorsement from the New Hampshire House and he's busy week for the House. They've done a lot. Sailing through with no debate. Overwhelming support. But let's back up a little bit and talk about what balance billing actually is.

[00:13:15] What does balance is. So for example if you go to the emergency room with some kind of injury or you're need treatment because you're sick and it's you know in network services and in network hospital your expectation is you will be covered in the normal and customary way by your insurance company. If there is if there may be individual doctors or nurses or other services pathology that are provided by out of network doctors or nurses or services and bills at a much higher rate. So people are basically getting surprises tucked into their medical bills to the tune of thousands of dollars. And so this is an attempt to basically have that stop happening and require that hospitals and insurance companies to sort of figure it out amongst themselves rather than passing that cost on to the consumer. This is something that is an increasing concern in the state. So this this the House approved this particular bill as a way of protecting consumers when they go in to get medical treatment.

[00:14:17] And what's the history of this legislation. I mean is this brand new or have lawmakers been working on this for a while. I'm not sure how far it goes back.

[00:14:22] We've heard I've heard a lot about it over the last six months or so. You know I think this has been this has been something that you know health insurance costs billing et cetera is something that's been talked about for some time. The decision to actually act on this now I'm not sure how far back that goes.

[00:14:38] And what about the governor. Has he indicated support or opposition to this one way or the other.

[00:14:42] I don't I don't know that I don't know. So I think there's my sense my sense is in general there is support for this. I think it is going to be some pushback from providers and insurance companies. But this is viewed as something that is good for the consumers and there you know there you read about the bill and there are a number of anecdotes of people who literally socked with thousands of dollars from out of network doctors or services when they thought they were being covered in network Nhpr.

[00:15:06] Casey McDermott has been doing some great reporting on this subject by the way check it out at NHP dot org if you have some time. Let's talk about Medicaid expansion because this this happened just last night right after nearly two hours of debate. New Hampshire Senate approved a plan to keep the state's Medicaid expansion going for another five years. Paul this decision a long time coming.

[00:15:25] This is expected in the state senate because this is where that bill originated it was really championed by the state Senate President Chuck Morse and Jeb Bradley the majority leader. As you mentioned listen to this plan the Medicaid expansion plan which was set up through the Affordable Care Act which many of us know as ObamaCare and insures about 50000 people in the state a lot of the money from that program goes for treatment and recovery services for those dealing with addiction misuse substance misuse so it's an important program I think most people were on the same page that it needed to be continued. But how to do that this plan would continue the program for five years but it would add make some changes to it. It would also add a work requirement in effect one of the toughest work requirements of any state in the nation. That's the controversial part that a lot of people disagree on. It would also increase the alcohol fund the liquor revenues to about 5 percent to pay for this because the federal piece of the pie is going to reduce every year so the state has to pick up more payments here. It passed 17 to seven. All the Democrats were on board all 10 Democrats. There were 14 Republicans in the state Senate split seven for it seven against it Peter. Now the big test comes in the state House of Representatives this is going to be the real fight here. The Senate we had a feeling it was going to pass than it did in the house. This is going to be a big battle as over the next few months.

[00:16:45] The governor is on board. He would like to see this happen.

[00:16:48] Dean, Yeah just real quick Paul mentioned the gap in federal funding as federal funding decreases the state has to make that up which has been one of the concerns of people who who oppose this and the sort of 5 percent of liquor funds to replace what had been contributions from hospitals insurance companies which the federal government said we can't do that have been the way they had initially tried to fill that fill that gap you know for me this issue is really interesting politically this is the one issue on which I've really seen kind of Governor Sununu sort of evolve in terms of how he positions himself he had initially been very critical of expanding Medicaid during the campaign. He didn't he said he might oppose it he didn't know. I think he saw it with the Obamacare repeal attempts. How important this particular expansion is to people in the state and started it started to come around a little bit and now I think he's generally in favor of it under the right circumstances. Republicans really like the work requirement. That is something that around the country the states have grappled with this. Republicans have tried to insert into the reauthorization though the work requirements likely to face a legal challenge.

[00:17:53] Correct. It could. And remember this isn't the first time that New Hampshire has tried to get the federal government to say yes to the work requirements during the Obama administration they said no. Now we have the Trump administration they're much more receptive to these kind of work requirements.

[00:18:06] OK. Well listen as you can be forgiven if you feeling a little bit like you've been whiplash here because we've been breezing through so many stories you can imagine how lawmakers must feel for all the work they've had to do this March Madness.

[00:18:17] They were recall it last week.

[00:18:19] That's an apt name for it. I think we're going to get through a few more these stories with the remainder of this hour including the vote to raise the minimum age for marriage. The vote to shoot down Indigenous Peoples Day as as a state thing and most talk about Steve Marchant Democratic candidate for governor. That's all coming up. And we'd love to have your voice as part of this conversation so give us a call 1 800 8 9 2 6 4 7 7. Again that's 1 800 8 9 2 PR anything goes. Give us a call 1 800 8 9 2 6 4 7 7. This is the weekly New Hampshire news roundup on the exchange. I'm Peter Biello. We will be right back.

[00:20:32] This is the weekly New Hampshire news roundup on the exchange on Nhp. I'm Peter Biello here in the studio with Dean Spiliotes civic scholar and the school of arts and sciences at SNH you and the author website political cap ??nh political capitol political reporter Paul Steinhauser. And in each press Annie Ropeik we'd love to hear from you. If you have questions about the week's news. Give us a call. The number is 1 800 8 9 2 6 4 7 7. You can also send us an e-mail if you'd like. The address is Xchange at NHP dot org. It's been a busy week in Concord for New Hampshire New Hampshire legislators and we're going to talk about some of the things they've done some other news of the week as well. A lot of legislative news though. And we'll talk about the marriage age because the state House of Representatives voted on Tuesday to raise the marriage age in New Hampshire to 16 with judicial approval required until age 18. Right now girls can marry girls could marry 13 boys at 14 with permission of a judge. But it seems like there wasn't a whole lot of debate on this Paul. PAUL It was pretty clear that legislators wanted to raise to 16.

[00:21:36] Yeah I think it passed on a voice vote rather than an actual roll call vote which was interesting. We thought there would be a lot of debate on this. There was debate when it passed through the committee. This has been kind of pushed by a teen from Barrington. Her name is Cassie Lévesque. She went to Dover High and this has been kind of her pet project. Last year she pushed for a similar bill that would have raised the age to 18. That stalled in the state House of Representatives. They came back this year with a different one 16 which was more palatable to some people who had problems with raising the age to 18. Now it moves onto the state Senate where they think there is enough support. The governor has indicated he will pass it. I think a lot of people who had no clue were just scratching their heads that you could be 13 years old right now and get married as a girl of 14 as a boy that seems a little young in this day and age.

[00:22:22] Yeah it seemed like as far as I remember the article said that the existing law was created in 1997. Yeah worth an update seems like. Yeah. All right. So let's talk about another piece of legislation this week this one was not as successful as the marriage bill which is that the House of Representatives voted down a bill Tuesday that would have replaced Columbus Day with indigenous peoples day. Dean who is in favor of this bill.

[00:22:45] Well this is interesting this is a debate that's been going on increasingly over the years both at the state level and nationally. You know historians have reconsidered Columbus and the interaction with the indigenous peoples Native Americans also in Central America there's been a move to do one of two things either replace Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples Day or some other similar holiday and then others have moved to. In addition to Columbus Day recognize indigenous peoples day. There was a discussion about this in Durham a little while back I think in that case the goal was that in addition to Columbus they have an Indigenous Peoples Recognition. It sounds like you're suggesting this was to actually replace one with the other. That's a harder sell I think politically than doing them in tandem. But this is a debate that really sort of popping up all over the country in recent years.

[00:23:42] The town of Durham actually they passed it. So in Durham they do have no indigenous peoples in addition to Columbus Day though. Yeah. It wasn't a repeat a couple exactly a couple of state reps. I'm from Durham actually introduced this bill at the State House to make it a state bill as a state law as well. You know a lot of conservatives scratch your head and then you get of course they point to Durham which they consider the People's Republic of Durham so yeah not going to happen this year here in New Hampshire.

[00:24:06] OK. Well this is the weekly New Hampshire news roundup on the exchange on NPR we are speeding through these stories because there are in fact so many of them but slow us down if you'd like ask a question we really want to hear from you. We did get a comment from Dennis in Barrington regarding the discussion we had on voter eligibility the terms like domiciled resident inhabitant Dennis wrote to say please do not perpetuate the myth that Republican proposals to restrict voter eligibility is designed to address quote voter fraud which does not exist. These domiciled bills are about limiting voting by college students. That's from Dennis in Barrington. Thanks very much for reading in Dennis. And if you'd like to write in with your questions or comments e-mail exchange at NHP dot org.

[00:24:48] Paul did you want to mention some data has a great point though this issue so excites the base liberals progressives think that the Republicans are just trying to suppress the vote especially among college students. Republicans say no. There is voter fraud in this state and we have to do something about it. We remember all the controversy when President Trump then president elect Trump pointed to New Hampshire and said that you know there were bus loads of people coming over the border. We've been fighting this fight for a couple of years now and we'll keep fighting.

[00:25:13] I guess I mean we should point out to Dennis's point that there's little to no evidence that there are bus loads of people coming over the border to vote in this state and even the state the state officials who have discussed that haven't really been any resistance here.

[00:25:28] If he's a regular listener he certainly knows I'm not perpetuating that myth. Very outspoken about that this is this is a red herring. It's it's problematic. We have the Voter Integrity Commission which was as I predicted a disaster. So. So you know this is this is going to keep coming up it's being fought all over the country. It's going to end up as a civil rights issue in courts in the courts. And I think that's where we're going to be.

[00:25:51] All right Dennis thank you again for the e-mail. We appreciate it says the weekly New Hampshire news roundup. If you've got questions or comments give us a call 1 800 8 9 2 6 4 7 7 you can also post on our Facebook page at NHP or exchange which is also where you can watch a live streaming video of this broadcast. Let's talk about Steve Marchand. He's a Democrat. He's a Democrat challenging Governor Chris Sununu in this year's gubernatorial election and he took some time this week to spell out some of his positions on this program. You can find that in the exchange podcast by the way the full interview with Steve Marchand one of those positions was on guns and gun safety. He drew sharp contrast between himself and Governor Chris Sununu on the subject of guns. He says he's not trying to implement gun control trying to stop gun violence. He's proposing to do that Paul.

[00:26:38] He came out about a week ago with an event up in up in the north country where he proposed a bunch of things that you know legislatively could be done here in New Hampshire including. And we've been talking about these you know the bump stocks raising the age and he's continued these events he did 119 earlier this week and today he's going to be in Dover I'll be covering that one as well. There's been some pushback. The state Republican Party urged Second Amendment supporters and gun owners to get up there and give Marchand a hard time. They did what he when he had that event and he had a pretty lively debate with some Second Amendment people. But there is a clear contrast between Marchand who right now still remains the only Democrat who has officially announced a bid for governor. And Governor Sununu when it comes to guns the governor has been very clear he thinks we need to beef up school safety and he's touted what his administration has done. But he is not in favor of new laws. There is a very clear difference between these two people.

[00:27:30] Well let's hear from Steve Marchand on the subject of guns. Here's what he said earlier this week or at least part of what he said earlier this week on the exchange they said are you going to take my gun away.

[00:27:39] And I said Have you been arrested for a domestic violence charge in the last 21 days. If you have then yes. And if you have not and you haven't done these sort of things you have nothing to worry about.

[00:27:47] So seems like he's being very targeted with respect to what he would want to do with gun legislation. And this is this state is a state that very jealously protects its Second Amendment rights. So unlike some other states where Democrats have been very successful on this issue it's a little trickier here in New Hampshire even in the wake of such horrific things like the shooting in parkland which left 17 people dead.

[00:28:11] Should point out at this point that NHP Lauren Chooljian did some fantastic reporting on that very impromptu debate that Steve Marchand had with a lot of gun rights activists. You can find that at NHP dot org. The whole hour with Steve Marchand was not spent on guns necessarily. He spoke about legalizing marijuana. Why did he say it was a good idea to do this.

[00:28:32] And this has been his big thing for a while when he ran the first time in 2016 remember he was a Democratic candidate in 2016. He lost the nomination to call Van Ostern who eventually lost the general election to Chris Sununu. But Marchand was a big. Was this was one of his big pushes back and 16 it is again you know and a lot of people in the state feel the time has come for that but also he says economically we can benefit from the tax marijuana and that money can really help the state and a lot of other areas.

[00:28:59] And once again here's Steve Marchand on marijuana they said most of your opiates are prescribed not to cure but to mask over pain. It's pain relief. And in many I would argue most of those cases other ways that are far less addictive. One of them being legalized cannabis would be a way to dramatically reduce the entry the gateway. It's pain relief and a lot of cases to expand that ability to access that will dramatically lower. What ends up being the ultimate gateway that leads to heroin fentanyl Mal use of prescription opiates and so forth. To me it's not a choice. It's actually one of the tools to help deal with the problem.

[00:29:40] It's not a choice a way to help deal with the problem marijuana legalization as a way to fight the opioid epidemic.

[00:29:45] Dean you would just take a step back for a minute and look at the bigger political picture. You know Steve has been in politics for a long time he was mayor of Portsmouth in the mid 2000s. I think he believes that he got into the gubernatorial race too late the last time around and that if he got in earlier he might have had a better chance at the nomination. Perhaps he received some criticism. He had been kind of a business moderate and he took on the mantle of progressivism you know in the wake of Bernie Sanders tremendous success in the state. He was pushed back against that argument that that he shifted on his positioning you know in terms of what he's looking at for this election you have to have a relatively popular governor who's been a very quick study and learning how to triangulate between conservatives and moderates and independents in the state. Give conservatives some of what they want to give moderates some of what they want. That's usually a pretty good recipe for a governor in New Hampshire. But Steve is a tenacious guy who's been out arguing and campaigning nonstop for a number of months you know probably contextually his best hope is that the we know that the first the first midterm after a new president is typically rough on the president's party which would be the GOP. He had you know feeling perhaps it'll be a big enough of a blue wave that even a relatively popular governor will get washed out. It's not impossible.

[00:31:01] But it's I think it's going to be a challenge for him given my sense of how previous gubernatorial elections have gone. But it seems to be up for the fight and we'll see if he's going to end up with maybe a primary challenger at some point.

[00:31:12] Certainly possible it's still relatively early right primary challengers could get in and get a little late because there is a primary challenger very likely. Her name is Molly Kelly. She spent 10 years in the state Senate a Democrat obviously from the monotonous region Hillsdale right next to Keene. She just set up an exploratory committee which is a pretty clear sign that she's about to get in. She says she'll get the backing of Emily's List and some other large groups the MEETOO movement could be very helpful here so for those of us who cover campaign politics it looks like we may finally get a contested Democratic primary battle. But the bigger point New Hampshire Governors rarely lose that re-election to a second two year term it's only happened once in the last nine years.

[00:31:52] You guys I mean I'm new to this state relatively and I don't understand that can you speak to why that never happens.

[00:31:59] First of all we're only one of two states in the country also in Vermont that have two year terms for governors. Traditionally their four year term. So it's you really got a screw up around here. If you're the governor to not get reelected after two years again that was only Craig the only one who's done it was Craig Benson back in 2004 the Republican ran for reelection was defeated by John Lynch in 0 and Governor Sununu. His approval ratings are doing well he had a successful session last year. A lot of his agenda passed.

[00:32:25] It's going to be tough but not but definitely doable but tough and that election when Lynch 1 0 4 was really kind of the beginning of the turning points for Democrats 0 6 you had the big Democratic tsunami the Democrats take control of Congress and then away President Obama wins his first term. So Lynch really caught sort of the front edge of that of that democratic way. But I think it is I think a large part a feature of the sort of the two year two year terms and then also sort of the kind where state is kind of distributed ideologically with a lot of independents and usually pretty good set up for governor for at least one term.

[00:33:01] Over time it gets harder and harder for a four year term with a performance.

[00:33:04] Exactly not a bad way to think of anything interesting. OK. Two more things on Marchand was that one that he was proposing a gas tax calling it the least bad way to fix the Red List bridges. And he also spoke out against the work requirement for Medicaid worth mentioning. I don't know if that's those are positions that are going to endear him to voters or harm him politically. Dean what's your sense.

[00:33:26] Again hard to know. This whole issue of sort of figuring out you know in a primary it's certainly not going to hurt him in a primary in a general election. You know you've got to fight over that that that center group of independents in addition to solidifying your own base. If it's a wave election and lots of Democrats turn out in far larger numbers than Republicans that's certainly going to help him. But it's you know I think it's going to be it's not it's not undoable but I think it's going to be a challenge for him.

[00:33:51] The gas tax is interesting because remember we had this big debate earlier this year over whether the tolls should be raised that eventually the governor said not going to do it. There are a lot of problems with the existing highways right now and I think a lot of people feel even though they don't want to pay more money at the tolls or more money for gas that more money is needed to fix the roads in the state and the bridges and what we have any tunnels. I don't think so. I don't recall any time no. I

[00:34:15] know that Steve Merchant is pointing to the Red List bridges as something that you know a gas tax hike which I think he put maybe like three or four or several quote unquote cents figure on when when Lerner pressed him so that money could go for 18 years to get the last one. So

[00:34:31] I think that's a tough sell. OK. And if you know of any tunnels in New Hampshire send tell us I'm only half kidding here because I'd really like to exchange at NH proroguing.

[00:34:41] Speaking of elections in 2018 let's talk about the one for Andrew Volinski executive council seat because Republican Jim Beaird of Leicester announced his campaign for the District 2 seat. Who is Jim Beard. That's

[00:34:52] a good question because I wasn't even really that sure of Jim Beard before I reported this the other day. He's been in the private sector for a long time a pilot in fact as well. Worked in a lot of industries. He ran for the state Senate back in 2016 in the Republican primary it was an open seat he lost to Ruth Ward who's now the state senator in this GOP primary by just nine votes. That's about as close as you can get your reaction I think. Yeah. After about 5000 gas Exactly. So he's back again. This is interesting the 2nd district of the executive council starts over on the Vermont border Kean goes through Concord all the way to Dover and Durham. It's a very proud Democratic district. You get a lot of college students we were just talking about that Volinsky won the election for this district back in 2016 succeeding Colorado Austin who had run for governor but he didn't win by a heck of a lot. He only won by seven percentage points so you know there is a possibility here that the Republican could maybe make this a interesting race. It's tough.

[00:35:53] The redistricting of that district really made in a pretty safe Democratic district. You know he's primarily going to be known in the Keene area sort of the western part of the state and you know he's got to get over to sort of east of Concord. He himself has acknowledged that he needs to get better known and sort of the Concord to dirham court or if he wants to have a chance.

[00:36:10] OK. And speaking of Andrew Volinski he was he was instrumental in trying to get the Dudley's portrait put up at the State House correct.

[00:36:16] He was really the mastermind behind pushing and prodding the governor and the administration to do that. Coming back up for a moment and remind listeners who Dudley Dudley is yes yes let's definitely do that because she is quite quite a woman. She's really not a progressive icon and an inspiration to a lot of females in this state. She was the first female executive councilor ever in New Hampshire we're talking going back to the 7500. So she was a progressive crusader back in the day. She was a state representatives back in the 1970s she was one of the leaders of the movement that stopped Aristotle Onassis who had a lot of money was a Greek shipping tycoon from actually opening up a oil refinery on the shores of Great Bay in Durham. This was a huge fight back in the 70s. She was one of the environmental activists who fought and prevented this from happening. So listen she's got a great history She's beloved by obviously Democrats and progressive but also respected by Republicans. A painting of her was commissioned by Governor that was approved by Governor Hassan. There was an unveiling of the portrait back in December of 2016. And then everybody thought OK great well you know it's going to go up. Guess what it never went up and we're like what 15 months since then. Here's what happened. I spoke to her the other day for my stories and the Concord Monitor and in Seacoast Online on this she'd asked the artist to make changes to the portrait. It had been with the artist ever since Volinsky got involved. I looked for answers.

[00:37:42] Now the portrait is back in the hands of the state and the Executive Council just the other day unanimously voted 5 to nothing to allow the portrait to be hung. But now Peter the big question is where in the statehouse will it be hung. Is there a prominent place that she's hoping for. She would like to seat in the executive council chambers as does Volinski. There is if you're in the chamber room there is one panel left where they're there. Is there's room for another painting all the other portraits. There are a lot of people a lot of men obviously they're all men from the 17 and 18 hundreds so it could be interesting to see where the state government decides this painting will hang.

[00:38:18] It's just going to say Happy belated International Women's Day everybody. Thank you Andy. Appreciate that.

[00:38:23] This is the weekly New Hampshire news roundup on the exchange. We've got a lot of news to get through this week and we're doing it with you. We hope we've got some e-mails in response to the subjects we've already discussed want to bring these folks into the conversation regarding the transgender bill that advanced this week. Robin wrote in to say I don't care about the bathroom issue. But isn't it problematic to have a law that is based on a person's internal sense of identity. Is there any other law anywhere that is applicable or not depending on someone's inner feelings. The answer is yes other states do have this law right.

[00:38:55] Yeah. And I think that supporters of this bill would debate that this is just a feeling like something that could be chalked up to him as opposed to an inner identity even for a mental dysphoria. That is true. I mean something more than a feeling I think would be the argument.

[00:39:12] I'm glad we were able to get that comment in. Thank you very much Robin. This is the weekly New Hampshire news roundup on the exchange we're going to be talking about the V.A. when we come back from the break. Give us a call 1 800 8 9 2 6 4 7 7 or e-mail exchange at NHP dot org. I'm Peter Biello. We'll be right back.

[00:40:31] This is the weekly New Hampshire news roundup on the exchange on Nhp. I'm Peter Biello here in the studio with an bars Annie Ropeik Dean Spiliotes civics scholar in the school of arts and sciences at SNH U and the author of the website and age political capitol and political reporter Paul Steinhauser. And with you we hope. Give us a call 1 800 8 9 2 6 4 7 7.

[00:40:54] We'll start this last third of the show talking about the VA because there were few above the fold headlines this week about Dr. Mayo-Smith Dr. Michael Mayo-Smith who was the V.A. New England Healthcare Systems director overseeing not just the Manchester VA but also the White River Junction Vermont V.A. VA's in Boston Bedford Massachusetts. Main problems and a variety of these centers sort of put him in the crosshairs. The day after Representative any Custer called for his removal. VA Secretary David Shulkin did actually say that he was going to retire along with two other network directors across the country. Dean what exactly had Dr. Mayo-Smith done to merit this.

[00:41:36] Well this is he is he has been a source of frustration among the whistleblowers who said all of this in motion for some time when the problems at the V.A. were discovered. He was someone that people pointed fingers at and that he was involved I believe at least initially in the in the commission to study and figure out what the problems were. He was then removed from that but he's been a subject of strong criticism for some time now as being part of the problem and not part of the solution. And so as the calls for his ouster have grown conveniently decided that he should retire we talked I think last week about sort of the initial study that suggested that Manchester not get a full service VA which is something that Senator Shaheen and other members of our delegation have been pushing for and that actually the focus should be on partnerships with other local providers rather than an additional full center so Mayo-Smith as I said every time we talked about the story and the problems that the V.A. He's kind of at the center or one of the people to some of the criticisms. So now he's sort of finally run out of time.

[00:42:40] Yeah. There were a variety of stories not just at the Manchester V.A. they may have escaped local press notice here but at the Bedford VA for example there was a story of a veteran who apparently had died because the nurse who was supposed to be checking on him by the hour essentially was playing like a handheld video game or something like that that was in Boston Globe and all that seems to go straight to the leadership of what they call the veterans Integrated Services Network Visine one Michael Mayo-Smith tough situation.

[00:43:05] Huge issue here in New Hampshire. Obviously we have one of the highest per capita of vets in the country. But it's going to be a huge issue in the Second Congressional District race as Annie Kuster runs for re-election for a fourth term in Congress because Dr. Stuart Levinson one of the Republicans a row of challengers was one of those whistleblowers and the two other Republicans in the race are both veterans as well. So you're going to hear a lot about this on the campaign trail especially in the second district this summer and this fall you yeah be interesting to see what they have to say.

[00:43:29] Stuart Levinson of course critical of any Custer saying she didn't do enough soon enough to address the problems at the Manchester VA and b call for the ouster of Dr. Mayo-Smith who the whistleblowers say was part of the problem worth mentioning before we move on from the VA stuff is that that task force looking at the future of health care for New Hampshire's veterans is not quite done with its work. They're going to be having another two day meeting next week the 14th and 15th where they finalize the sort of draft report that they put out earlier this month so that's exactly what I will be following next week so we'll we'll stay on top of that.

[00:44:04] But anyway we got more stories to talk about this week including CB1 because former New Hampshire Republican vice party vice chair Matt Maybury of Dover has decided not to run for CB1. So I guess he's in the minority right because everybody else seems to be running.

[00:44:19] What we got 11 candidates in this race right so I guess we're not going to blitz Wolf this week may be interesting guy and I know pretty well obviously through. He works for Bill Binnie and I was part of the media for quite some time. Mayberry openly gay. He's one of the leaders also of the New Hampshire chapter of the Log Cabin Republicans well respected by Republicans across the street from those who love Donald Trump to those who hate Donald Trump. If he had jumped in he may have been able to garner a lot of support from all sides. There are only two other or three other Republicans right now running but may very ultimately decided not to make a bid. Why do we know. I think a lot of reasons I think there were some personal issues. I think he just felt the time was not right for him. This doesn't preclude him from running in the future and he said he's going to remain pretty active.

[00:45:04] OK. And so a lot of candidates in the race. Possibly one more. Bruce crutched tariff Hampton Falls founder and chairman of Focus Technology Solutions a successful business in Seabrook possibly joined do we know anything about Bruce.

[00:45:19] Now as you mentioned he's a technology person I.T. company founder and chairman. He has said he's I guess close to getting in are likely to get in is kind of close to the vest at this point in terms of positions he doesn't want or what he wants to save that for an announcement. I think the interest here among certainly among the RNC set it a wealthy individual and capable of investing in the race as they say basically cell funding and I will say this because I've said it before your program and I say it in every article I write about the First District which is a lot.

[00:45:54] This is one of the best congressional districts in the country. It is a top swing district. It's one of most high profile districts. It's ping pong back and forth between the Republicans and Democrats. Shea Porter and Frank into the former Republican congressman the last four cycles. And guess what. For the first time in 16 years we don't have an incumbent running for re-election and it's only one of 12 districts won by Donald Trump in 2016 that the Democrats control. That's why there is so much attention on New Hampshire's first congressional district.

[00:46:21] And I saw an item just the other day I believe that a top Democratic obviously see group has already reserved tens of millions of dollars.

[00:46:28] Right. Yes. OK go ahead. I think listeners would be interested. The House Majority PAC which is the top outside group that backs Democrats they've reserved money and they do. This is something normal but they reserve money for the last couple of weeks of the election on TV and radio here and 33 other districts. So it's got the attention of the national players.

[00:46:48] All right. Something worth mentioning about that the swingiest of swing districts happening on the seacoast and this is your wheelhouse here. The Department of Environmental Services is recommending the state say evaluation committee approve this 13 mile sea coast powerline project the right Reliability Project with some conditions. So tell us about this powerline and what are those conditions.

[00:47:09] Yes so this is what they call a reliability project which is ever sources response to what the regions grid operator ISO New England says is a need for basically more flexibility and backup options and sort of transmission lines along the transmission lines in case something happens. You know it ensures reliability on the system and so they have asked the utilities to come up with solutions to that problem. This is one of our sources solutions. They just finished a similar project in Merrimack that goes down to Massachusetts and this is the seacoast reliability project so this would run from about Portsmouth up across Little Bay into I believe. Now let me see here in Newington. Yeah well. So it's across a little bit between Durham and Newington so kind of imagine a straight line through those two towns and you get a 13 mile power line here which would go for about a mile under a little bay. So the conditions that yes is proposing and these are recommendations they were supposed to come out with last August it's delayed the proceedings for all that time and they're not going to be able to restart those proceedings. But the conditions center on that are the bird part that goes under the bay. So Diaz wants to see every source try some other ways to do it than what's called jet plowing which is what they had planned to do where they basically blow a trench into the bottom of the bay and lay the wind down what the sediment resettle on top of it. So that's the thing.

[00:48:32] We have some concerns about this the water quality impacts you know storing up all that it could be bad for the bay and we would like you guys to try digging a tunnel basically so you kind of go in one place come out the other you don't stir everything up along the way. So they want them to explore both options and to kind of come up with some analysis.

[00:48:50] Is this project developing a lot of opposition from environmentalists.

[00:48:55] Yes it's been controversial in the Seacoast ever since it was proposed. I mean this is you know I think the docket is David 2015 at the site evaluation committee. It's one of those you know and it's a lot smaller scale than say Northern Pass but you know it's it's drawn a lot of controversy and it's in its area down the coast and environmentalists will certainly be turning out at the Site Evaluation Committee to talk about this when it now comes back because they have the recommendations in hand.

[00:49:21] This is the weekly New Hampshire news roundup on the exchange on ??nh PR. Call us now to ask your questions or make comments about the week's news. We'd love to hear from you. 1 800 8 9 2 6 4 7 7.

[00:49:33] Email exchange at NHPR  Paul you want to jump in because you're talking about the environment in the Seacoast and I will say a victory for environmentalists in the state House of Representatives this week a bill that would force the state to clean up the Coakley landfill that Superfund site. That's cut a lot of people in the Seacoast nervous that passed the state House of Representatives now moves on the state Senate.

[00:49:51] Yeah no it's a really interesting Bill. They basically want the US to step in and do what the EPA is not doing honestly. They have potentially responsible parties. These are the towns and business entities that are kind of liable for the pollution landfill and the bill sort of spells out how is allowed to get those parties to pay up to restart remediation in a more serious way than EPA has been willing to do.

[00:50:20] And this is an issue where there is bipartisanship definitely on the seacoast a Republican and Democratic state lawmakers in the Seacoast are all uniform on this one. It was also championed by Mindy Messmer. She's a state rep from Rye a Democrat. And guess what she also happens to be running for Congress in that amazing first district race.

[00:50:37] So we've got a few more stories to discuss before the end of the hour. Paul I'll ask you about hope for New Hampshire Recovery because apparently they're getting they're getting some money.

[00:50:45] Yeah this has been a story you guys have been talking about. Everybody's been talking about over the last couple of weeks because hope for New Hampshire Recovery which is one of the state's largest operators of drug recovery centers they announced last month that they would be closing four of their five locations across the state only keeping the Manchester one open. And they cited a lack of funding. A lot of their funding comes from the state of New Hampshire. It had been held up since last summer because of a lot of issues including some maybe mismanagement at Hope for New Hampshire Recovery. The Executive Council unanimously approving on Wednesday six hundred thousand dollars for Hope for New Hampshire recovery that will allow them to keep Manchester open reopen Berlin and Franklin and Claremont and Concord centers though probably will not be reopening. Now the big discussion is well what will happen there. What other organizations will help out in those two areas.

[00:51:31] Another issue to discuss postponing elections. I mean last year's Town Meeting Day get some snow. Who knows we may get some snow next week during a town meeting day. You never know. In New England what kind of weather we're going to get. But New Hampshire's secretary of State Bill Gardner is saying do not cancel these elections or postpone these elections rather because of bad weather. Towns tried to do that last year and it was kind of a big mess and it was chaos.

[00:51:53] About a third of the towns across the country postponed because we did have that big storm. But the state Senate passing this bill now just just yesterday. Just last night 16 to eight to allow basically giving the secretary of state the power here over the towns to try to keep the chaos away. But a lot of towns are jealous of this because remember this is a state where towns jealously guard their rights. Town managers and moderators feel that they're being trampled here by the Secretary of State Mike Hawker.

[00:52:19] It is issue of local control and that the distinction that Gardner was trying to make some of these mountain moderators said they had the they had the right to postpone the vote and his argument was no you can postpone the business of the meeting and the discussion and the debate. But the actual balloting day you cannot tamper with so I mean that's sort of at the root of all of this.

[00:52:38] I just love this I just want to say I think this is the most New Hampshire thing ever that we're arguing about local control not postpone town meetings because of the snowstorms essentially as you know people other states are amazed if you get to vote like paving a sidewalk.

[00:52:52] And if you don't get that in other states check so many New Hampshire boxes are excited for Town Meeting week next week.

[00:52:58] That's what I have to go work on after this is all over town meeting preview stories way.

[00:53:02] We've got so much to do next week. It's not even funny. All right but let's talk about Chessy Prout because her new book came out and hold up the book for the cameras because we've got cameras in the studio now. Everybody take a look at Facebook Live. So this book she published a book about her experiences as a survivor of sexual assault at St. Paul's School in Concord. But any it's supposed to be more than just an account of what happened.

[00:53:25] Yeah I mean it's really interesting this is published under the teen label of Simon and Schuster which I just think is really cool. I mean that we have a book that's geared toward teen by you know co-written with a teen about sexual assault and survivor's rights and she sort of spells out on the back of the book like a survivor is a bill of rights that you know I have a right to use my voice when I'm ready to be happy and sad without being judged and to be heard and to stand with other survivors so I think that she's trying to spell out some solutions and advocate for people like her and not just tell her story.

[00:53:57] Yeah and worth noting that Jessie proud we'll be talking with NHP Rick Ganley about the book next week on The Today Show Chessy Prout reflected on her role in the ongoing investigation into sexual assault at St. Paul's School.

[00:54:10] It shouldn't be on a now 19 year old's shoulders to take on a 162 year old institution a sort of old boys network. And so I'm grateful for the attorney general of New Hampshire for continuing his investigation into the misconduct of St. Paul's School because there's a lot to be told their own Labrie the perpetrator was convicted of misdemeanor sexual assault and child endangerment.

[00:54:33] He's been asking for a new trial that's apparently going to be going all the way to the state Supreme Court. St. Paul School For its part has said that it doesn't support or foster an environment where something like this would happen there are folks who would disagree with that but that's what the school has said. So this will be interesting and interesting to any that you point out that that was for teens the book is marketed to teens.

[00:54:55] Yeah well I mean I think it's going to be marketed in all kinds of ways but I just did notice when I was looking at the back of the book that it's you know it's under Simon and Schuster teen label. And so I do think that's interesting you know it's kind of packaged in a you know teen lit kind of way. It'll be interesting to see what section of the bookstore goes in you know and I think there's something to that that that we're not just speaking to politicians and families here but to teen survivors themselves.

[00:55:18] Later today I will be speaking to Erin Molton for a conversation for the bookshelf from NHP our series of books by local authors Erin's author and the librarian and she was inspired to put together a book called Things We haven't said which is stories of survivors of sexual assault in one of the things that she was inspired by.

[00:55:37] She wrote in the introduction to this book was that there was not very much literature about sexual assault for teenagers.

[00:55:43] So it's interesting that this book now by Jessie proud and also things we haven't said seeking to sort of fill that gap in the book market so that's something that I will be focusing on today for next week. And I wanted to ask you Annie and then and then you Paul and Dean what you'll be following next week I guess any Town Meeting Day stuff.

[00:56:00] Well Peter it's our fundraiser for next year. Yeah I know we have lots of town meetings to cover I have to Site Evaluation Committee deliberative sessions to go to one about Northern Pass which is on Monday about restarting or resources appeal process and we're going to go and then the one about sicko's reliability is on Wednesday. So stay tuned for more. It's also New Hampshire Energy Week next week that there will be lots of legislative breakfasts and events with politicians in Concord about energy policy and renewable energy.

[00:56:29] You must be so excited so excited about you. Paul it's coming your.

[00:56:34] Energy is a big issue here though it is a huge issue. We all agree in New Hampshire. Well the state Senate and State House are back. More big votes the March Madness at the State House continues. But also we're the first in the nation primary state right. So the 2020 race is under way. Guess who's coming next week. Jeff Flake the U.S. senator from Arizona who's considering a primary challenge against Donald Trump. I spoke to him last night you'll see my article in The Concord Monitor this weekend and I'll cover for Fox News next week when he's here. Fantastic. Thanks Paul. And what about you Dean What were you looking at this weekend.

[00:57:03] Jeff Flake visit will be really interesting you know in March 23 as crossover day when every member of the House goes to the Senate and the Senate or the house so we are in the final crunch there at the state legislature alter. Interesting to see how the gun debate continues to percolate here with that big march coming up. I think also March 20 30 or 20. Actually 24th or something like that but in a couple of weeks so we're keeping an eye on the gun debate in the state as well.

[00:57:26] All right. We didn't receive any notes about people reporting tunnels in New Hampshire. I just tweeted about it but I think aside from the one that might be going on here I'm digging a tunnel. I've got my full circle.

[00:57:38] So anyway so I just want to make this comment from James in Berlin who wrote in regarding the voting discussion that we had earlier if college students are no longer able to vote in the state they are attending university what is stopping states from taking the opposite stance and saying you can't vote in a state unless you live there. And with all the issues surrounding mail and absentee ballots where are they going to be able to vote. That's the question from James in Berlin no time to answer your question here James. But the conversation does continue online at our Facebook page. And each P.R. Exchange check it out there you can find all the stories that we discuss today at our Web site NHP our dot org. The exchange is a production of new Hampshire Public Radio Engineers Dan Colgan senior producer Ellen Graham. Our producers are Jessica Hunt and Christina Phillips.

[00:58:21] Our theme music was composed by Bob Lord and I'm Peter Biello. Thank you very much for listening and have a great weekend.

[00:58:31] The views expressed in this program are those of the individuals and not those of NHP or its board of trustees or its underwriters. If you missed part of today's program listen to the exchange any time at ??nh PR dot org or subscribe to our podcast. Search Apple podcasts Google Play or stitcher for NHP or exchange 1A next to 10:00 Haun NHP.

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