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The Latest: Gov. Democrats pan Sununu’s speech

February 15, 2018

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — The Latest on Gov. Chris Sununu’s State of the State address (all times local):

12 p.m.

New Hampshire Democrats are criticizing Republican Gov. Chris Sununu’s State of the State address as short on specifics in several key areas.

Senate Minority Leader Jeff Woodburn, of Whitefield, says Sununu was focused more on props than policies. He and other Democrats say they wanted Sununu to show more leadership on reauthorizing the state’s expanded Medicaid program instead of just mentioning it briefly on Thursday. They also complained that the governor didn’t mention attracting more young people to the state, paid family leave or workforce development.

Republicans, meanwhile, praised the speech.

Senate Majority Leader Jeb Bradley, of Wolfeboro, said Sununu’s accomplishments like encouraging business growth, funding for full-day kindergarten and property tax relief are nonpartisan issues. He said that’s reflected in the enthusiasm lawmakers and voters have for Sununu.

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11 a.m.

Republican Gov. Chris Sununu says the state’s veterans shouldn’t have to wait for a simplified system of care with clear accountability.

Currently, resources for veterans and military personnel related to education, housing, benefits and medical care are handled by separate entities.

The House recently voted to further study a bill that would have brought all of those resources under one roof in a new department. Sununu says he hopes lawmakers will find a better solution next year but, in the meantime, he is issuing an executive order to accomplish the same goal.

Lawmakers who recommended further studying the idea cited opposition from within the veterans’ community and a belief that the state would be better off spending money on actual services rather than reorganization.

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10:55 a.m.

Republican Gov. Chris Sununu is calling on lawmakers to pass a bill he calls a game-changer when it comes to regulatory reform.

Sununu, who called New Hampshire a “regulatory police state” during his campaign, appointed a regulatory reform steering committee to conduct in-depth reviews of state regulations and recommend changes. The result was a bill that covers more than a dozen topics, ranging from professional licenses and building codes to foster home inspections and wetlands permits.

Last summer, Sununu issued an executive order wiping more than 1,600 regulations off the books, most of which were obsolete and weren’t being enforced.

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10:40 a.m.

Republican Gov. Chris Sununu is officially launching a program he’s been talking about for much of the last year — Recovery Friendly Workplaces.

Since taking office, Sununu has urged businesses to take a greater role in preventing opioid misuse and helping workers connect with treatment. He often argues that schools not only need to do a better job of educating children about substance misuse prevention, but that those prevention efforts need to seamlessly continue into the workplace.

During his State of the State address on Thursday, Sununu said a statewide program will launch March 1 that will help businesses improve safety, productivity and profitability while address opioid addiction “head on” in the workplace.

The latest data from the National Center for Health Statistics show New Hampshire ranks third in the country in the rate of drug overdose deaths.

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10:35 a.m.

Republican Gov. Chris Sununu is creating a new robotics competition that will reward winners with a free semester at one of the state’s public colleges, universities or community college campuses.

Sununu announced The Governor’s Cup during his State of the State address on Thursday. He described it as a partnership between the University System of New Hampshire, the community college system and FIRST Robotics program.

The new competition will be open to students across the state college credit, and each senior on the winning team will receive free tuition for a semester in college.

Sununu says the competition builds on momentum in efforts to promote science, technology, engineering and math in schools.

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10:25 a.m.

Republican Gov. Chris Sununu says nothing else matters if children can’t be sent to school safely.

In his State of the State address Thursday, Sununu mentioned the school shooting that left 17 dead the day before in Florida. He says his goal is to make New Hampshire’s schools the safest in the nation, and highlighted his support for a new Public School Infrastructure Fund.

The fund is investing nearly $20 million toward overdue infrastructure and security upgrades, such as securing the main entrance of the high school and preschool program in Berlin, installing card readers at entrances to the Salem middle school, and adding a surveillance system to a Dover campus.

Sununu says close to 300 schools across the state are benefiting from the program.

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10:10 a.m.

Republican Gov. Chris Sununu says New Hampshire is becoming a model of civic engagement, community service and economic opportunity because it embraces policies that put people first.

Sununu, in his second year office, opened his State of the State address on Thursday by saying life in New Hampshire is better than it was a year ago, and that’s no accident.

He says despite the dysfunction in Washington, New Hampshire’s leaders are focused on individuals, not systems, and putting people above politics.

He cited lower taxes, fewer regulations and increased educational opportunities such as full-day kindergarten and a school voucher proposal among the highlights of the last year.

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9:30 a.m.

New Hampshire state workers say the state of the state isn’t strong if the government workforce isn’t treated fairly.

The State Employees Association held a news conference Thursday morning ahead of Republican Gov. Chris Sununu’s State of the State address. Members pointed out that Thursday marks 230 days that state employees have been without a contract.

Dan Brennan, who works for the Department of Transportation, said when the contract expired, so did reimbursement for workers’ boots. He says that has left workers slogging through snow and other dangerous conditions without safe gear.

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8:42 a.m.

Republican Gov. Chris Sununu says it will take cooperation, innovation and compassion to reverse the terrible effects of New Hampshire’s opioid crisis.

Sununu, in his second year in office, is giving his State of the State address on Thursday. His comments about the opioid crisis were among a handful of highlights his office released before his speech.

Sununu also plans to talk about eliminating burdensome regulations, reversing the opioid epidemic, making schools safer, and giving crime victims greater rights under the state Constitution.

And he will outline new initiatives on the state’s management of veterans care and STEM education.

Invited guests include veterans, the parents of murder victim Lizzie Marriott, an advocate for people with mental illness, and inventor Dean Kamen.

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