Democrats keep Larsen as their leader
CONCORD - The State Senate Democrats voted unanimously today that Senate Democratic Leader Sylvia Larsen of Concord should continue in the post for the next two years.
Larsen, 63, was elected to her 10th term in the Senate Tuesday. Larsen was Senate President when Democrats controlled the Senate from 2006 to 2010 and has been elected Democratic leader six times.
"I am honored to have the opportunity to again lead Senate Democrats forward as we work to address the challenges facing New Hampshire," said Larsen after the vote. "There is a renewed sense of optimism in New Hampshire and the message from the voters is clear. People want a return to a common sense, civil approach toward problem solving."
She said a priority for Democrats in both the House and Senate will be to change the new photo ID law's restrictions acceptable photo identifications that become affective next year.
Under the new restrictions student IDs, or other non-governmental IDS would not qualify. Such restrictions did not apply during Tuesday's general election.
"We need look very carefully at that law and try to recognize whether we need to make that change or some other changes to make sure to protect our most precious right."
She said another priority will be to find additional money for the university and community college systems in order to hold tuition down, and return money to hospitals for uncompensated care within a balanced budget.
Lawmakers may need to have a discussion about the 10 cent cut in the tobacco tax the current legislature approved, that she said went to tobacco companies instead of into state coffers.
The current legislature also eliminated a $30 surcharge on auto registrations to fix bridges and roads. Larsen said that needs to be discussed as well.
"We need to look at our infrastructure, we can't keep ignoring it," Larsen said. "If we had had the registration fee in place, it would have paid for $90 million in highway and bridge repairs."
Senate President Peter Bragdon of Milford was the Republicans' choice to continue as Senate President when they met Wednesday.
The 24 Senators will choose their Senate President on Dec. 5, Organization Day. The House will also vote for secretary of state and state treasurer that day.
Larsen's election continued a banner week for New Hampshire women in politics.
New Hampshire made history on Tuesday, putting the finishing touches on the first-ever-in-the-nation all-women congressional delegation when voters elected Carol Shea-Porter and Ann Kuster to the U.S. House to join U.S. Sens. Jeanne Shaheen and Kelly Ayotte in Washington.
The state, of course, elected its second woman governor in Maggie Hassan.
In the House, former Speaker Rep. Terie Norelli, D-Portsmouth, is the leading candidate to again become the new Democratic majority's choice for Speaker. Deputy Speaker Pam Tucker, R-Greenland, is a strong candidate to become the House Minority Leader while State Rep.-elect Laurie Sanborn, R-Bedford, may also run for House minority leader.
Rep. David Campbell, D-Nashua, is also running for House speaker, and Rep. Gene Chandler, R-Bartlett, is also running for House minority leader. Under this possible scenario, the lone man in the leadership mix would be Senate President Peter Bragdon, R-Milford, who was unofficially named to lead the Senate majority caucus on Wednesday and was chosen in an official caucus vote Friday.