The state was preoccupied for most of the week with snow -- from a small storm last Saturday, a blizzard on Tuesday and Wednesday, and another small storm on Friday into Saturday. And, by the way, predictions are for more snow on Sunday.
The blizzard came with enough warning that Gov. Maggie Hassan declared a state of emergency in advance of its arrival Tuesday evening. She ordered state offices closed on Wednesday and, while not declaring a travel ban, encouraged people to keep off the roads. Schools -- all schools including colleges and universities, canceled classes.
Utilities had their crews on stand-by and brought more crews from out of state just in case of power outages.
As storms go, it was a beaut in some places, particularly along the Seacoast and in Nashua, which recorded its largest snowfall ever at more than 30 inches. Power outages, however, were few and far between.
The recent snow has taken a big bite out of state Department of Transportation snow and ice budget. WMUR reported
the state has spent about $26 million on winter maintenance operations so far this season. That means the department has used about 61 percent of its $42 million budget.In the State House
As Granite Staters dug out mid-week and state operations got back to normal, the state Legislature committees were in session on Wednesday and Thursday.
Senate Majority Leader Jeb Bradley, R-Wolfeboro, told the Judiciary Committee that the Legislature should repeal the current requirement to get a permit to carry a concealed gun.
It’s called “constitutional carry” and Bradley argued that since residents already have to get a license to purchase a weapon they shouldn’t have to get an additional permit to carry a concealed weapon.
"(This bill) doesn't expand the number of people that are legally entitled to carry weapons, nor does it expand the number of weapons that are already legal in the state," he said in a Seacoast Online posting
of an Associated Press story.
He said the change would make New Hampshire safer, but law enforcement officials at the hearing argued the change would make it easier for dangerous or unstable people to carry concealed guns.
On Wednesday, the House Labor Committee heard the pros and cons of HB 361, which seeks to better define “employee” to loosen the rules on home-based workers. The state says that someone working from home for someone is an employee. Rep. Will Infantine, R-Manchester, wants a looser interpretation. This is not for some law firm to send
their paralegals home to work on their computers and call them independent contractors. That’s not the intent,” he said.
Labor advocates oppose it. Mark Mackenzie, president of the New Hampshire chapter of the AFL-CIO, said, “This is fraught with danger here. How do you define workweek and breaks and benefits and vacation?” See a New Hampshire Business Review story here
A House committee also took up a bill to create guidelines for election officials to judge a voters domicile. Its sponsor, House Deputy Speaker Gene Chandler, R-Bartlett, said local election officials need a way to determine whether someone is domiciled in New Hampshire, and not as a student. The measure has the support of the Secretary of
State. See an NHPR story here
Also, advocates for the homeless testified at a legislative hearing against a bill that would permit landlords to collect last month’s rent on top of a deposit and first month’s rent. See a Concord Monitor story here
The governor’s Commission on Innovation, Efficiency, and Transparency issued its final report
“In order to protect taxpayer dollars and improve state services, we must always strive for an innovative and efficient state government,” Gov. Hassan said
after its release. “This report highlights how we can strengthen our institutional commitment to these goals.
The recommendations include: improving operating performance through the creation of an Office of Operating Performance and the adoption of performance standards and metrics; modernizing the state’s approach to information technology; reorganizing in certain areas of state government to enhance efficiency; and incentivizing innovation
and efficiency within state agencies.
See a Concord Monitor story here
Fourteen applications have been submitted to operate medical marijuana dispensaries in the state. The applications are being reviewed by the state Department of Health and Human Services. See an NHPR story here
The state Fish and Game Department held a hearing on the use of certain electronic devices, including drones, while hunting. Hunters in attendance say they support a ban on drones and so-called “smart rifles.” See an NHPR story here
Some of the topics covered this week on Facebook
include a proposal to change car inspections to every two years and the use of drones in hunting.
Join us there to offer your thoughts and join us next week for another look back at the news that was. Enjoy the Super Bowl. Go Pats.