2012 Election brings dramatic changes to Concord

Capital Comments from State Senator Bob Odell

The voters spoke last week and brought dramatic changes to Concord.

Most attention was focused on the election of a new Governor, former State Senator Maggie Hassan, and the reversal of a three to one Republican majority in the House to a 222 to 178 Democrat majority.  There is much less attention on the changes in the makeup of the State Senate.

Broadly speaking, the Republicans retained a narrow majority of 13 to 11 but that is down from 19 to 5.  Given the wholesale GOP losses in House contests, it is surprising only one Republican incumbent, Jim Luther (Hollis), lost.  And he lost to Peggy Gilmour, also of Hollis, who he defeated two years ago.

The 24 newly elected Senators will be sworn in by Governor Lynch on December 5 as required by the state constitution.  There are 14 Senators who were re-elected last week and three who are returning after being out one term having been defeated two years ago.  And there will be seven new members with four of them moving from the House to the Senate including David Pierce (Lebanon).

In 2006, history was made when the New Hampshire Senate became the first state legislative body in the country to have women make up a majority of its membership.  There were 13 women Senators between 2006 and 2010.  There will be nine women in the new Senate.

Republicans and Democrats moved quickly to choose their respective leaders.  Senator Sylvia Larsen (Concord) is the senior Senator in terms of service with ten terms and she was chosen by her Democrat caucus to lead the Senate Democrats.  Senator Peter Bragdon (Milford) was selected to lead the Republicans and with their majority he will be formally elected Senate President for a second term when the Senators gather on December 5. Continue reading

Capital Comments: New Hampshire Senate lineup is in place

This week’s column by Senator Odell (R-Lempster) outlines the new committee lineup in the New Hampshire Senate: standing committees and appointments. Odell represents Senate District 8: Acworth, Alstead, Charlestown, Claremont, Gilsum, Goshen, Langdon, Lempster, Marlow, New London, Newbury, Newport, Roxbury, Stoddard, Sullivan, Sunapee, Sutton, Unity, Walpole, Washington and Westmoreland.

By State Senator Bob Odell

The New Hampshire Legislature has given substantial powers to the Senate President and Speaker of the House.  In the Senate, for example, the Senate President determines where you park your car, who will be your staff support person, which office you will occupy and possibly, most importantly, he determines which committees Senators will sit on for their two year terms.

Senator Peter Bragdon has been Senate President for less than a month but he has already made his mark on the Senate.  Staff assignments have mostly been made, Senators are in their new offices and everyone has a place to park their car.

Much of the work of the Senate is done by the standing committees so committee assignments are very important. As he was working on committee assignments, Senator Bragdon decided to fold the work of two committees into one committee.  The work of the committee that handled Fish and Game and wildlife issues has been added to the work the Energy, Environment and Economic Development Committee. Continue reading

Capital Comments: Mollica nominated to chair NH Liquor Commission

By State Senator Bob Odell

Last week seemed filled with bits and pieces of positive news for our region.

Joe Mollica, the former owner of One Mile West, the restaurant on Route 103 in Sunapee, was nominated by Governor John Lynch to be the next Chairman of the Liquor Commission.  He will be confirmed by the current but outgoing Executive Council at a special meeting called by the Governor for Dec. 20. Continue reading

Capital Comments: Flanders from Sunapee Appointed Senate’s Chief of Staff

By State Senator Bob Odell

After winning elections on Nov. 2, there was reason for new representatives and senators to be smiling and enjoying their status as legislators when they were sworn into offices last week that they will fill for the next two years.

The 400 member House will have more than 150 new representatives, men and women who have never served there before.  Another 30 plus members did not serve the last two years but had been state representatives previously; two members are returning after absences of 30 years. Continue reading

Capital Comments: A ‘Thank You’ To Those Who Serve Our Seniors

By State Senator Bob Odell

My mother died in October and she was on my mind during Thanksgiving last week.  She had dementia for more than a decade; she was physically up and around until shortly before her death.  While my sisters and I miss our mother, at 94, her death came quite naturally without pain or being bedridden except for the last couple of days.

I am thankful for the care, support and attention my mother received while living at a local nursing home, Woodlawn Care Center, in Newport. I write to thank the staff there and those that work in other nursing homes in our region. My experience has been that residents receive excellent care because of the individuals who serve them. Continue reading

Capital Comments: Lempster Loses A Man Passionate About His Causes

Yorick Hurd, II, an active resident of Lempster, NH, passed away November 15th. Scroll down to read Senator Odell’s tribute to this “wonderful and unique man who lived every day to the fullest.”

By State Senator Bob Odell

The Secretary of State has sent out notices summoning newly elected and re-elected Senators and House members to a meeting “on the first Wednesday of December … to attend and take their seats on that day.”  That is the requirement in our constitution that will bring together legislators for the first meeting of the new legislature.

It will be a day of celebrations as Representatives and Senators are sworn in with family and friends in attendance.  In addition to being sworn in as new legislators, the House and Senate will come together in a “joint convention” to elect the Secretary of State and State Treasurer.  With no opposition, Catherine Provencher will remain our Treasurer.  And Bill Gardner, America’s longest serving Secretary of State and chief protector of New Hampshire’s first in the nation primary, will be re-elected.

Every winning candidate looks forward to the day they can raise their right hand and be sworn into office.  That day will be Wednesday of next week.

Within each Senate district, there are roughly 16-17 House members.  The election produced many changes in who will represent my district when the House convenes next week.  Starting in Merrimack County, Steve Winter will represent the Sutton-Newbury two town district.  Steve and I served together in the House in 2002-2004 and then Steve served a couple of terms as Clerk of the Senate where his mastery of parliamentary procedure was very helpful.

David Kidder and Randy Foose will continue to represent New London, a part of the 8th Senate district as well as Wilmot and Danbury which are part of another Senate district.

In Cheshire County, the highest profile House Democrat defeated in the election was Dan Eaton. He had been the majority floor leader. Anne Cartwright of Alstead was a winner in the three member district that takes in the towns of Alstead, Marlow, Nelson, Roxbury, Stoddard, Sullivan and Walpole.  Incumbents Tara Sad and Lucy Weber, both of Walpole, were re-elected.  Bob Moore of Westmoreland will be the new representative for the Surry, Gilsum and Westmoreland distirct.

The election produced some changes in the makeup of the Sullivan County delegation to the House of Representatives.  While not part of the 8th  Senate District, the Grantham, Cornish and Plainfield house district will have two new representatives, Benjamin Lefebvre and Andy Schmidt.

Within the 8th Senatorial District, three incumbents, Steve Cunningham, Tom Howard and the dean of the Sullivan County delegation, Beverly Rodeschin, were re-elected to the Newport, Springfield, Goshen, Washington and Croyden district.  Representative Rodeschin will begin her 11th term in the House when she is sworn in next week.

Sunapee businessman Spec Bowers will be the new Representative for his town.  Sunapee is one of the few towns in the state with a one town legislative district.  In the Acworth, Langdon and Charlestown district, newcomers Tom Laware and Steve Smith will be the representatives.

Three incumbents, Joe Osgood, Ray Gagnon and John Cloutier were re-elected in the district that includes Claremont, Unity and Lempster.  They will be joined by first time representatives Charlene Lovett and Paul LaCasse.

The 13 member Sullivan County delegation has 6 incumbents returning to Concord and 7 new members.  After many years of having a Democrat majority, the delegation will have 9 Republicans and 4 Democrats for the next two years.

Very importantly, the House members from each county constitute the “delegation” which plays a critical role in county government.  The delegation works on and must approve the county budget each year.  It is not unusual for newly elected House members to not even know about this critical role they play in county affairs.  Some call it the “county government hat” that legislators wear.

While the tempo and workload of the Senate and House are quite different, I look forward to working with all of my legislative colleagues who will be serving in the House.

Our Lempster neighborhood has lost another resident and special connection to our town’s history.  I live on Hurd Road and part of a beautiful pond, Hurd Pond, is on my property. And down the road is the Hurd family homestead with a unique house that is one of the oldest in town.  The Hurd family history is integral to the history of Lempster.

Yorick Hurd returned to his family’s home 16 years ago.  And once in place, he was everywhere.  He tended to the maintenance of his historic home, sold Christmas trees and was always ready with a warm wave as I drove by going to and from the post office.  And he was the consummate volunteer and activist.  Whatever the task, Yorick was there.

He was passionate about his causes.  And as his State Senator, I heard regularly from my neighbor.  He sent me little messages about issues before the legislature, nearly always had signs in his yard for favored candidates and causes.  My last sighting of Yorick was in Claremont a couple of weeks ago.  He was on a street corner with a few others protesting America’s involvement in current wars.

As I write this morning, I look out at three lilac bushes that Yorick gave to Sandy and me many years ago.  They will serve as a reminder of a wonderful and unique man who lived every day to the fullest … good neighbor and faithful friend, involved in the community and always visibly committed to his favored causes.

Bob Odell represents State Senate District 8—Acworth, Alstead, Charlestown, Claremont, Gilsum, Goshen, Langdon, Lempster, Marlow, New London, Newbury, Newport, Roxbury, Stoddard, Sullivan, Sunapee, Sutton, Unity, Walpole, Washington and Westmoreland.

Capital Comments: Proposed Budget Cuts Loom Over Judiciary

By State Senator Bob Odell

To see the Chief Justice of New Hampshire essentially begging the legislature not to further cut the budget of the Judicial Branch and suggesting that the Governor with his new proposed $4 million cut is leading to the closing of our court system was a shocker.

Add to that the interruption of the Chief Justice by the Chair of House Finance Committee telling him his comments were out-of-place and that the legislature was struggling mightily to solve our state budget problems and that no one was trying to close down the courts.

The Chief Justice responded directly with plenty of “with respect” and “respectfully” but did not back down.  He said the proposed cuts would do damage to the court system no one wanted.  And, he said the courts, unlike other state agencies are an obligation of the state required by our constitution and have been since 1784.

It was a historic moment.  To see the obvious conflicts between the Governor as the executive branch, the legislature and the judiciary was a stand-off  to remember. Continue reading