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Garry Rayno's State House Dome: NH legislative session winding to a close
Like any session, there are winners and there are losers, and some that fall somewhere in between.
While the death penalty passed the House by overwhelming margins twice, it died in the Senate on a 12-12 vote and then again when it was killed without debate.
The biggest winner by far was the hospital industry which will have more paying patients than every before through both the passage of Medicaid expansion or the NH Health Protection Program, and the Medicaid Enhancement Tax settlement after two superior courts ruled the tax unconstitutional.
The 4-cent increase in the gas tax will mean $32 million in new road and bridge projects over the next two fiscal years and in the future help pay for the completion of the Interstate-93 expansion project from Salem to Manchester.
The second year of the current biennial budget has yet to begin, but the 2016-17 capital budget process has already begun.
Public hearings will be held Monday and Tuesday on departments' requests for construction and renovation projects, design work and equipment totaling $227 million in general fund spending.
Other projects include $14.7 million in work on Merrimack County Superior Court, $20 million for renovating community technical education centers and $38 million for the University of New Hampshire for an integrated science facility.
First up will be the University System of New Hampshire.
Some key primary races are shaping up in the state Senate that could well determine which party will have control of the Upper Chamber come December's organizational meeting.
Two of the three have primary challengers more conservative than they are: Boutin will face Rep. Jane Cormier, who moved from Alton to Hooksett, and Stiles will face Steve Kenda of North Hampton.
As of Friday afternoon, Bradley did not have a primary challenger.
The winner faces one-term Democratic Rep. Linda Tanner of Sunapee, a long-time educator in the Kearsarge Regional School District, which comprises a good part of the district.
Reagan has generally followed the Republican leadership and did not vote for Medicaid expansion. Pearl is viewed as the more conservative in the race. Although the district is largely Republican, the right Democrat could make it interesting.
Avvard is considered the more conservative of the two candidates, which make his race against Democratic incumbent Peggy Gilmour of Hollis a more challenging contest.
Former Senate President Peter Bragdon of Milford is not seeking reelection, and that opened the flood gates as four candidates filed for the primary, Rep. Gary L. Daniels of Milford, Merrimack Selectman Daniel Dwyer, Merrimack attorney Dan Hynes and former Merrimack Rep. Maureen Mooney.
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