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December 04. 2013 9:33PM

Council considers attorney to serve on PUC

CONCORD — Attorney Martin Honigberg received strong hints during an Executive Council hearing Wednesday night that his nomination to serve a six-year term on the Public Utilities Commission will be confirmed.

Councilors Debora Pignatelli and Chris Pappas each called Honigberg "well-qualified" for the position and Councilor Chris Sununu said public feedback he'd received leading up to the hearing was "overwhelmingly positive." The council likely will vote on his nomination at its Dec. 20 meeting, Pappas said.

Honigberg, a former senior assistant attorney general who is the head of the government relations practice group at the Sulloway and Hollis law firm in Concord, said during the hearing that he was honored that Gov. Maggie Hassan nominated him to the three-member PUC.

"I'm ready to roll up my sleeves," Honigberg said.

Honigberg said his time as a private-practice attorney should pose no conflicts in his potential role as a member of the PUC, which has jurisdiction over electric, telecommunications, natural gas, water and sewer utilities. He said he billed "zero hours" to any company regulated by the PUC and that Sulloway and Hollis performed no lobbying work for any company regulated by the PUC.

Pignatelli asked Honigberg why he didn't seek a judicial nomination. The council also held a hearing later Wednesday night for Circuit Court nominee Susan B. Carson and will hold another hearing Monday evening for three more judicial nominees: Robert James Foley, Margaret-Ann Moran and Patricia B. Quigley.

"That's up to the governor," Honigberg said. "It's hard to say 'no' to the governor when she asks you to do something."

"We don't have a problem with it," Pignatelli said to laughter from the audience.

Several speakers spoke in favor of Honigberg's confirmation, including Concord Schools Superintendent Christine Rath and state Supreme Court Associate Justice Robert J. Lynn.

"There is no question in my mind that Marty is up to the job," Lynn said.

tbuckland@unionleader.com


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