Elections, Powerball ID, power project headlined 2018
CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — The re-election of the guardian of New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation presidential primary, regulators’ rejection of a hydropower project, and a Powerball winner’s privacy fight were among the state’s top stories in 2018.
Others included the re-election of a Republican governor, the flipping of the Legislature to the Democrats, and the rejection of a proposal to give crime victims more rights.
A look at the state’s top stories:
SECRETARY OF STATE
New Hampshire lawmakers re-elected veteran Secretary of State Bill Gardner in a nail-biter session.
Gardner was criticized for serving on President Donald Trump’s election fraud commission. But his supporters argued that replacing him would politicize the office and could weaken the state’s argument for holding its primary first.
State regulators unanimously rejected an application for the Northern Pass, a hydropower project that would have provided clean energy to Massachusetts. Critics called it an eyesore and feared it would damage New Hampshire’s tourism industry.
The decision was a stunning setback for the project. Developer Eversource appealed to the state Supreme Court.
A judge ruled that a Merrimack woman who won a Powerball jackpot worth nearly $560 million can keep her identity private. She signed her ticket after the January drawing but learned she could have written the name of a trust, instead.
The judge said her privacy interest outweighed the public’s interest in disclosing her name in one of the nation’s largest jackpots.
CRIME VICTIMS’ RIGHTS
Legislators rejected a proposed constitutional bill of rights for crime victims, a measure that had broad support from the governor, law enforcement and victims’ advocates. If a majority of the House had supported “Marsy’s Law,” voters would have been asked whether to amend the state constitution to give crime victims a greater voice in court proceedings, as well as more information about the accused.
GREAT DANES SEIZED
A judge ruled that a woman found guilty of housing dozens of filthy and sick Great Danes in her mansion would serve no jail time. But Christina Fay was ordered to pay back nearly $2 million for their care. Her lawyers are appealing to the state Supreme Court.
Republican Gov. Chris Sununu won a second term, but control of the Legislature and Executive Council flipped from Republicans to Democrats.
The state’s last five Democratic governors found themselves in the opposite situation for at least part of their tenures. Sununu is the first Republican governor of New Hampshire in modern history to face a Democratic Legislature.
GUIDANCE COUNSELOR ASSAULT
The support some educators and former co-workers showed for guidance counselor Kristie Torbick when she was sentenced for sexually assaulting a 14-year-old student in Exeter resulted in controversy.
The school superintendent in Bedford, where Torbick worked before Exeter, resigned over allowing employees to support her.
PREP SCHOOL ABUSE
Owen Labrie, a St. Paul’s School graduate convicted in 2015 of using a computer to lure an underage student for sex, lost a state court appeal and was ordered to return to jail.
St. Paul’s was one of several prep schools across New England rocked by sexual misconduct claims going back decades. It released a report this year detailing abuse by former faculty members.
Phillips Exeter Academy also released reports of sexual misconduct involving former staffers.
New Hampshire’s Supreme Court ruled in favor of the state in a fight over a new voter registration law, keeping it in place through Election Day. The law requires new voters to provide more documentation if they register within 30 days of an election. Democrats and others who sued said the state is trying to create confusion where none exists.
Separately, a federal judge ruled that the process New Hampshire uses to validate signatures on absentee ballots is “fundamentally flawed” because the voter isn’t given notice if a signature is rejected.
DARTMOUTH SEXUAL MISCONDUCT
Seven current and former students sued Dartmouth College, accusing it of ignoring years of harassment and assault by three faculty members in the psychology department who have since left the school.
College President Philip Hanlon said Dartmouth will respond to the lawsuit with a sweeping plan to combat harassment and assault. He said college officials deny ignoring the complaints.