Capital Comments: Hassan sworn in as governor, sets out priorities

Capital Comments from State Senator Bob Odell

Inaugurations of New Hampshire governors are always exciting and each one ties us to our long history of democracy as a state and nation.

Governor Maggie Hassan, a former State Senate colleague of mine for four years, is the second woman to be governor of New Hampshire and the first Democrat to replace another Democrat since the 19th century. Last Thursday, she was also the first woman sworn in by a female Supreme Court Chief Justice. Continue reading

NH lawmakers convene this week amidst talk of gun ban repeal

“Like the start of any good game, formalities are on tap this week as the holiday calm lifts from the State House for the opening of the 162nd General Court. But some lawmakers will be busy even before those begin,” reports Front Door Politics in today’s Daily Dispatch: “Opening Ceremonies.”

Formalities: 1) Convening sessions for the House and Senate on Wednesday morning, including a joint House-Senate session in which Secretary of State Bill Gardner will report the November election vote totals for Governor and Executive Council. 2) Gov. John Lynch will be officially inaugurated to his fourth consecutive term on Thursday.

Bearing Arms at the State House: The Joint Legislative Facilities Committee has already made headlines. Last week, House Speaker William O’Brien (R-Mont Vernon) said at a committee meeting that he wants to lift a ban on guns and other “dangerous weapons” at the State House complex.…Read more via Front Door Politics, the Daily Dispatch

Power Outages in NH 2nd Only to 2008 Ice Storm

As of 5 a.m. Saturday, February 27, many New Hampshire towns remained in the dark, according to Public Service of New Hampshire. PSNH’s town-by-town report estimates that in Bradford 100% of their customers are without power, yet only 10% of Sunapee is still experiencing outages as of this morning. Yet many areas of Newbury, New London, Springfield and Wilmot remain without electricity according to the PSNH report.

The early morning assessment shows 46% of PSNH customers statewide without electricity including many towns in the Lake Sunapee region. For the Town by Town Report, visit PSNH.

This, the February 2010 winter wind storm has resulted in the second largest power outage in recent state history. The hardest hit areas in New Hampshire are the central, southern and southeastern regions.  High winds came through the area Thursday night and Friday morning taking down trees, tree limbs and power lines.

Gov. John Lynch on Friday urged those New Hampshire residents without power to make appropriate plans to stay warm and safe during what is expected to be a multiple day power outage, and up to a week for some customers. The governor declared a state of emergency to ensure all state resources are available to help families impacted by the winter storm and resulting widespread power outages and he  activated 50 members of the National Guard to assist local communities as needed.

The scope of the power outages is second only to the ice storm of 2008. About 30 state roads, many secondary roads remained closed or partially closed as of Friday evening.

Sunapee Restaurant Owner Tapped for NH Liquor Commission

Gov. John Lynch today announced he will nominate Joseph Mollica of Sunapee to serve on the NH Liquor Commission at Wednesday’s Governor and Council meeting. Mollica is the owner of One Mile West Restaurant in Sunapee.

“Joseph Mollica has an exceptional business background and his expertise in the restaurant industry will be an asset to the commission,” Gov. Lynch said. “I know he will bring a valuable perspective to the Liquor Commission.”

The legislature is currently studying various ideas to re-structure the Liquor Commission, including moving from a full-time three-member commission to an executive director model.

If confirmed, Mollica would finish the term of former Commissioner Pat Russell, who retired earlier this year. The term will expire July 1, 2011.

Mollica has more than 20 years experience as a business owner in the restaurant industry, having owned and operated establishments in New Jersey, Massachusetts and New Hampshire. He graduated from the Johnson and Wales University in 1982 with a degree in culinary arts and food service management, according to the governor’s press release.

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Sunapee Ski Resort Fails in Motion for Reconsideration

Following on her dismissal of a lawsuit against Governor Lynch and the state of NH last month over expansion at Mount Sunapee, Judge Nicolosi of the Merrimack Superior Court denied on Friday the ski resort’s motion for reconsideration. In her denial released yesterday morning, Judge Nicolosi found “no ambiguity  in the Lease nor any language directly guaranteeing expansion, the Court finds that Sunapee has no right to expand….”

Tim and Diane Mueller of Sunapee Difference LLC operate the ski area Mount Sunapee Resort located within Mount Sunapee State Park. The resort developers sought to change the leasehold area and gain an additional 175 acres to facilitate private condo development on  the western side of the mountain. They took their expansion argument to court in order to force Governor Lynch to approve their proposal for Mount Sunapee. They said expansion was always contemplated, even before the lease was signed in 1998.

The Mueller’s controversial request was formally made public in the resort’s 2005-2009 five-year master development plan for the state-owned ski area. However, the state refused to approve that aspect of the plan.

The next master plan is due in a few weeks and will be completed by June 1, according to the resort’s General Manager Jay Gamble. At a Mount Sunapee Ski Area Advisory Committee meeting held in Newbury on Thursday, Gamble did not say whether the new master plan for the ski area will again seek an expansion of the leasehold area.

Yesterday’s denial ends consideration in the Merrimack court. The Muellers have 30 days to file for an appeal to the state Supreme Court.

Related articles:

NH judge denies motion in mount sunapee case (Boston.com)

Mount Sunapee asks judge for reconsideration (Eagle Times)

Judge sides with State in resort lawsuit (Concord Monitor)

Judge Dismisses Mt. Sunapee Lawsuit (SunapeeNews.com)

A copy of the court’s decisions can be found at Friends of Mount Sunapee.

NH Revenues Decline and Caseloads Rise

“The impacts of the global economic recession are part of every discussion in the Senate Finance and Ways and Means Committees as we push to have committee votes at the end of May,” reports NH State Senator Bob Odell in this week’s Capital Comments. “Dealing with the economy’s impact on revenues and expenses complicates the budget process.” And as revenues decline, “caseloads of those who utilize services provided by the state are rising,” notes Odell. “The dilemma for legislators will be to secure revenues to pay the state’s share of these programs with the other funds coming from the federal government. It is tough to cut costs when we have an obligation to those who meet an income or medical criteria and thus qualify for assistance.” Odell also discusses the situation facing area auto dealers and the auto dealer protection law (SB 153) that Governor John Lynch signed last week. Read more in this week’s Capital Comments…

Related article: Lynch signs auto dealer protection into law (UnionLeader.com)

NH’s Bud Fitch Explains Stimulus Program

This week Orville “Bud” Fitch was on The Exchange, NH Pubic Radio. Several months ago, Gov. John Lynch put Deputy Attorney General Fitch in charge of the state’s Office of Economic Stimulus. As a guest of Laura Knoy on Thursday, Fitch gave an over-view of what his work is like heading up the new state office. Hear the  interview on-line (using Windows Player or MP3) via: NHPR – The Exchange.

The state government website is: http://www.nh.gov/recovery/

The federal government website is: http://www.recovery.gov/

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