The spoils of the mid-term elections gave Republicans a renewed majority in the N.H. House, and the party’s caucus went right to work this week in choosing Rep. William O’Brien of Mont Vernon as speaker ... again.
O’Brien served as speaker the last time the Republicans dominated the House -- in 2011 and 2012.
During Republican caucus on Tuesday, O’Brien edged Rep. Gene Chandler of Bartlett, another former speaker, by just four votes. A third candidate for the post, Rep. Laurie Sanders of Bedford, withdrew from consideration because of family health issues.
The question on everyone’s mind is how different Speaker O”Brien version 2.0 is compared to Speaker O’Brien version 1.0.
His last term was marked by volatility and accusations from fellow members that he was a bully, including toward members of his own party.
After his selection on Tuesday, he described himself to media as “kinder and gentler”. See a WMUR interview here
The political stakes this legislative session are high with a number of hot button issues that could include repeal of Medicaid expansion, repeal of gay marriage, right to work, casino gambling, and creation of a new biennium state budget.
Gov. Maggie Hassan won re-election to a second term, which means she’ll have to content with Republicans in control of both the House and Senate.
The full House will vote on O’Brien as speaker on Dec. 3 when it’s expected he’ll receive a majority of votes.Budget presentations
State departments finished their presentations this week on their proposed budgets.
Gov. Hassan will deliver her fiscal 2016-2017 budget to lawmakers in February after she’s taken her agency heads’ requests and made some adjustments.
A highlight this was the Department of Corrections, which asked for an additional $48 million, in part to staff the new women’s prison in Concord that is being built with capital money approved in the 2014-2015 budget.
The Department of Education, which is funded through mostly federal money, wants an additional $37 million from the state's general funds.
The previous week, the University System of New Hampshire proposed an additional $21 million to maintain its tuition freeze, give more scholarships to students in science and math fields and lower tuition for some community college students.
And health and human services asked for $500 million more, saying it will become even harder to fund programs for the state’s most vulnerable citizens without new money in the next state budget.
The fiscal 2014-2015 budget crafted by Hassan, a GOP-led Senate, and a Democrat-led House came in at $10.7 billion.This and that
A legislative committee has agreed to a set of rules to regulate medical marijuana dispensaries. But the vote hinged on new legislation to fix a possible tax issue. See an NHPR story here
Meanwhile, a medical marijuana dispensary has been proposed in Epping. See a Seacoast Online story here
The study of creating a commuter rail between Boston and Concord released some findings this week: It would cost about $246 million and attract about 650,000 riders a year. See a Union Leader story here
New Hampshire’s unemployment rate fell to 4.2 percent in September, according to an announcement this week by the state. That’s the lowest it’s been in six years. See a Nashua Telegraph story here
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