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Forget courthouses — New Hampshire’s entire court system may be getting rebuilt from the ground up, starting this summer.
The Senate votes tomorrow on a bill to bring the probate and district courts and the judicial family branch under one umbrella. The reorganization would bring lots of staffing and management changes and reductions, with an overall projected savings of almost $1.5 million in staffing costs in the next four years.
The idea behind House Bill 609, sponsored by Rep. Gary Richardson (D-Hopkinton), can be found in a major report by the Judicial Branch Innovation Commission. The report also called for New Hampshire courts to enter the digital age, and asks for $5 million to help them do it.
A new proposal has emerged to settle much (but far from all) of the legal and political controversy over New Hampshire’s unique medical malpractice insurance fund. Primarily, it would settle the matter of who has a right to the extra money in the fund.
Senate Bill 170 first forbids the state from claiming any surplus funds from the Joint Underwriting Association — either through legislation or taxation. It also orders that any “excess surplus” funds be distributed to policyholders. That excess measures at least $110 million, according to the bill. And that $110 million is at the core of the two-year controversy.
A House committee will hold a public hearing on SB 170 Tuesday.
What happens when two dilapidated courthouses are closed down in New Hampshire, and the money for a new facility can’t be squeezed out of the state budget?
As folks in the Seacoast are learning, you wait.
The long-anticipated Hampton-Exeter District court construction may get put off for another four years. The deadline to choose a permanent location for the combined district court already passed on the first of this year. Senate Bill 36 would extend it further to Jan. 1, 2015.
When Democratic Gov. John Lynch delivers his state budget address tomorrow, it will be a dramatic change from his last budget speech in February 2009.
Democratic majorities in both the N.H. House and Senate have been replaced by Republican super-majorities, and the state’s budget crisis has deepened. The next two-year budget hasn’t even been crafted yet, and deficit estimates range from $400 million to the $1 billion figure claimed by Republican leaders.
Linda Dalianis of Nashua will make New Hampshire history as the first woman to serve as the state Supreme Court’s Chief Justice. She was unanimously approved yesterday by the Executive Council and will take the helm from the retiring Chief Justice John Broderick, who has been named dean and president of the UNH School of Law. Three more judicial appointments were also approved.
Dalianis’s appointment was swift, having just been nominated by Gov. John Lynch in mid-November. To learn about the work she’ll have cut out for her, visit our earlier article “Considering Courts.”
Just in time for today’s Executive Council meeting, Gov. John Lynch makes two Supreme Court nominations. Linda Dalianis, who is up for the Chief Justice’s chair, would take over for John Broderick as chief administrator of a court system facing challenges from the state budget—and even from itself.
Executive decisions on federal stimulus money and appointments, a parting shot, and three challenges to gay marriage. It’s all in today’s dispatch by Michael McCord.
It’s ethics week at the New Hampshire State House. Well, not really. But a handful of ethics-related bills will be scrutinized, in what is generally a pretty tame session. Senate Bill 33 would allow “lobbyists and those connected with lobbyists” to sit on committees established by the judicial branch, and Senate Bill 116 would allow insurance companies to make political contributions. Both have passed the Senate and receive their House public hearings next week.
Does the state have the right or responsibility to take the life of a convicted killer? Should certain murders be punishable by death? Such are the questions open to public debate in Concord on Tuesday, Feb. 10, when four bills related to the death penalty will be heard by the House Criminal Justice & Public Safety Committee.
The committees are made, bills introduced and seats assigned. The NH House and Senate took their formal start for 2009 on Wednesday, Jan. 7, one day before Gov. Lynch’s inauguration.
And there’s no time to waste, as public hearings start next week on the nearly 1000 bills up for debate this session.
House committees are scheduled to hear a total of 55 bills next week, while the Senate is looking at 12. Following is a short selection of bill titles with their prime sponsors, hearing dates, assigned committees and brief analyses.