New Hampshire's Virtual Town Hall
Fenton Groen, a Republican from Rochester, this week became the seventh state senator to announce he will not seek reelection.
Consider that there are 24 members of the New Hampshire Senate. Groen’s decision means almost a third aren’t running for their seats in November.
According to a Union Leader story, the others include: John Gallus, R-Berlin; Jim Forsythe, R-Strafford; Matthew Houde, D-Meriden; Ray White, R-Bedford; and Gary Lambert, R-Nashua, while Tom De Blois, R-Manchester, will be running for the District 4 Executive Council seat and must give up his senate seat.
Redistricting challenges grow
Another group has filed a legal challenge against the Republican-led House redistricting plan. This one is led by state Rep. Lee Quandt, an Exeter Republican.
He’s particularly opposed to the creation of a so-called “floterial district” in the new plan that contains Exeter, Stratham, Newmarket and Newfields.
See a Seacoast Online story on the issue here.
Quandt’s opposition to the plan endorsed by House Speaker William O’Brien isn't much of a surprise, Remember, Quandt plans to challenge O’Brien for the speaker’s job next year.
The Nashua Telegraph reported that the lawsuits challenging the redistricting plan are likely on a fast track for review by the state Supreme Court.
Besides Quandt’s group, the suing parties include the cities of Concord and Manchester, the town of Gilford, and the New Hampshire Democratic Party.
A House-passed plan to more rigorously check welfare claims for fraud is bumping up against some opposition in the Senate.
Senators doubt there is as much welfare fraud in the state as the Republican House leadership contends in its legislation, originally cast as HB 1858.
The Nashua Telegraph reported that the Senate Finance Committee heard testimony this week, but will not make a recommendation on the measure until next week. Indication are that the measure will be moved to a study committee, where legislative initiatives often go to die.
In other news from the Senate this week, senators were cool to a House measure to defund the chancellor’s office at the University System of New Hampshire.
The Senate killed bill to decriminalize possession of small amounts of pot.
The Senate Health and Human Services Committee voted against recommending House resolution that would declare a federal grant to Planned Parenthood of Northern New England “unconstitutional and void.”
And the Senate tabled a bill that would have allowed anyone to have a loaded gun at home or work and many to carry a concealed weapon without a permit.
Social issues poll
The most recent WMUR Granite State poll from the University of New Hampshire Survey Center took voters’ temperature on some social issues.
It found Granite State voters support right-to-work legislation by a strong margin - 71 percent to 12 percent. The legislature has passed a right to work bill, and it has been vetoed by Gov. John Lynch, but the House has yet to take up an override vote.
On the issue of parental notification for abortions, 58 percent favor such a law, 35 percent are opposed.
Ayotte in veepstakes
Speculation jumped again this week about Kelly Ayotte and whether the Republican U.S. senator from New Hampshire is in the running as Mitt Romey’s running mate.
The occasion was a campaign event regarding commercial fishing regulations held Monday at the state fish pier in Portsmouth. It was the second time in less than a week that Ayotte had shared a stage with Romney.
She herself said it’s unlikely she’d win the veepstakes. She said she’s focused on her job as senator.
Former N.H. Gov. John Sununu, a Romney supporter, says Ayotte is on a list of 19 or 20 names of possible VP candidates, but he doubts she’ll be the pick because of the danger of pairing two Northeasterners on a national ticket.
Former Republican Sen. Judd Gregg and wife endorsed Ovide Lamontagne in his campaign to be the next governor.
A state trooper on duty with Gov. Lynch and his wife, along with a Manchester firefighter, helped save a motorist from burning car this week.
And last but not least, the running of the Kentucky Derby on this, the first Saturday in May, has a New Hampshire connection.
The favored horse -- Bodemeister -- is named in honor of his trainer Bob Baffert’s 7-year-old son Bode, who (in turn) was named after Olympic skier Bode Miller, originally from Franconia, N.H.
Don’t forget to check in on our Facebook page, in particular our Free Form Friday discussions.
See you next week.