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May 16: NH Senate acts on bills

Saturday, May 16, 2015 5:42
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(Before It's News)

Most all of the legislative action at the State House in Concord this week was concentrated in the Senate.

Senators took up abortion clinic buffer zones, parental notification with regard to sexual material presented at school, and domestic violence prevention funding — all while still wrestling with its version of the new two-year budget that is coming due soon.

The effort in the GOP-dominated Senate to repeal the 25-foot buffer zone around abortion clinics in the state, mandated by current law, failed on a 12-12 vote on Thursday then was placed on the table — effectively killing it — on a voice vote. A similar buffer zone law in Massachusetts has been struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court. See an NHPR story here.

The Senate voted 14-10 along party lines to approve the House-passed HB 332, which requires schools to give parents a two-week notice if course material that deals with human sexuality or human sexual education will be taught. The measure goes back to the House because of changes made by the Senate.

The Senate approved another House-passed bill – HB 603 — that says parents and school districts cannot be penalized if parents decide their children should not participate in statewide testing programs such as the Smarter Balanced program reflecting the Common Core standards. This bill is on its way to the governor.

The Senate also passed HB 563, which increases the per pupil state aid to charter schools by $1,036, bringing the total per student figure to $6,486. It too has been passed by the House, but has been tabled to allow Senate budget writers determine the funding in the new budget.

See a Union Leader story on these bill here.

Senators increased the cost of the fee to get married and created a new criminal fine to create a revenue stream for domestic violence prevention programs. See a Concord Monitor story here.

With regard to the budget, the Senate Finance Committee voted to restore money in the  Renewable Energy Fund, about $52 million that the House had removed to balance its $11.2 billion budget for fiscal years 2016 and 2017. See an NHBR story here.

Political buzz

U.S. Rep. Frank Guinta, R-NH, took it on the chin, financially and politically this week as the Federal Election Commission found that he accepted an improper $355,000 loan to his campaign in 2010 in the 1st Congressional District.

The FEC says the money was his parents’, while Guinta insists the money was his. Yet, the FEC’s official finding — and one that Guinta accepts — is that he “accepted excessive contributions,” far beyond the $2,600-per-election limit on individual contributions, “in violation of” federal campaign finance law. In accepting the finding, Guinta admits that he broke the law, even though in interviews this week he insists he didn’t. See a WMUR story here.

Guinta must pay repay $355,000 to the account of his parents and he must do so within a year. He also agreed to pay a $15,000 penalty.

This hasn’t sit well with Democrats, as you might expect. But it also didn’t sit well with the Union Leader news organization with its longstanding editorial support for conservatives and conservative values. On Friday, it published a scathing editorial: A photo of Guinta (and not a very flattering one, at that) with the words “Frank Guinta is a damned liar.” That's not the headline; that's the entire editorial.

Guinta also took some harsh criticism from U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-NH, who called the situation with the congressman “serious” and “troubling.” See a WMUR story here.

The other political buzz this week belonged to the always entertaining Donald Trump, the billionaire businessman who made visits throughout the state and said he will announce in June whether he intends to run for president in 2016.

He had a lot to say about President Barack Obama. “He’s a complete disaster,” he said at one point. But he didn’t have much to say about the 20 other Republicans who are considering or who are in fact running for president. See an LFDA posting with video of Trump here.

GOP presidential contender Ted Cruz, the Texas U.S. senator, has picked up a bloc of endorsements from New Hampshire conservatives. Included among the endorsers are former New Hampshire House Speaker and current Rep. Bill O’Brien, Executive Councilor David Wheeler, and former U.S. Sen Bob Smith. See an NH1 story here.

Kentucky U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, another of the GOP contenders, announced that 20 Republican N.H. state representatives — 8 percent of the GOP caucus — are supporting him. See a Concord Monitor story here.

And there’s this: The New Hampshire Supreme Court on Friday upheld a lower court ruling that struck down a 2012 voter registration law, saying language that links voting to getting a driver's license is unconstitutional and could discourage some people from casting ballots. See a Foster’s Daily Democrat story here.

Don’t forget that we’re on Facebook with a lot of engaging discussion. And don’t forget to return here next week for another look at the news that was.

Live Free or Die Alliance


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