If enacted into law, the state's 18-cent tax would rise about 4 cents per gallon in July. It has not been increased since 1991 and is the lowest in New England. That increase is projected to raise $32 million annually for road improvements and the Department of Transportation.
-- -- ----
Head of NH female offenders programs named
CONCORD, N.H. (AP) -- The New Hampshire Department of Corrections has a new person in charge of programs for female offenders and family services.
Laura Hardwick, a professor with the Corrections Special School District, has been selected for the position. She's worked for the department for 11 years and was a professor with The Career and Technical Education Center.
Corrections Commissioner William Wrenn says as the department moves forward toward construction and opening of a new women's prison, Hardwick will play an important role in the development of gender-specific programs.
About 170 women are serving prison sentences in the state.
-- -- --
Applications being taken for NH youth arts grants
CONCORD, N.H. (AP) -- The New Hampshire State Council on the Arts is accepting grant applications for arts and cultural education activities benefiting students in grades K-12.
Activities funded by Youth Arts Project Grants may take place after regular school hours, in the summer, on weekends, on or outside of school property.
Music, dance, theater, visual arts, crafts, photography and creative writing are some of the areas that may be eligible for funding.
Grants range from $1,000 to $4,500. In order to qualify for a Youth Arts Project Grant, programs must be matched on at least a one-to-one basis with contributions from a source other than the State Arts Council or the National Endowment for the Arts.
Schools, school districts, SAUs, and not-for-profit organizations may apply by April 18.
-- -- --
Memorial Bridge to close for 5 nights for repairs
PORTSMOUTH, N.H. (AP) -- The Memorial Bridge that connects New Hampshire and Maine is closing overnights for an additional five days for adjustments.
The bridge that runs between Kittery, Maine and Portsmouth, N.H., will be closed to all traffic -- vehicle, bicycle and pedestrian -- from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. beginning Sunday.
The closures are necessary to make adjustments to the guiderail on the towers.
The work is slated to wrap up and the closures to end by 5 a.m. March 21.
The new, $81 million Memorial Bridge opened last August. It replaced one that opened in 1923 and closed for two years in July 2011 so the replacement project could get underway.
-- -- --
Clinton action committee to drum up support in NH
CONCORD, N.H. (AP) -- A political action committee supporting Hillary Rodham Clinton is sending staff members to visit New Hampshire next week to begin organizing support in case the former first lady and secretary of state decides to run for president in 2016.
Ready For Hillary is hosting events with state Democrats on Tuesday and Wednesday. New Hampshire holds the nation's first presidential primary and is a key state for every candidate since an early win can help build momentum.
Clinton won the primary in 2008, edging out then-Sen. Barack Obama. The state was also friendly to her husband: Bill Clinton earned the moniker "The Comeback Kid" after scoring a surprisingly strong second-place finish here in 1992.
Three Ready for Hillary staffers will meet with New Hampshire legislators for a private lunch Tuesday in Concord, then attend house parties in Nashua, Keene and Durham. On Wednesday, they'll attend a house party in Manchester. State lawmakers and executive councilors are among the featured guests at the house parties, a hallmark of the state's hands-on politicking.
As a super PAC, Ready for Hillary can raise and spend unlimited amounts of money but cannot formally coordinate with the Clinton family or its representatives.
Ready For Hillary has done similar outreach in another bellwether state, visiting Iowa in January. Iowa has the first caucuses of the campaign season. Clinton finished third in Iowa in 2008.
-- -- --
NH House considers raising juvenile delinquent age
CONCORD, N.H. (AP) -- New Hampshire's House is voting soon on whether to treat 17-year-olds accused of crimes as juveniles instead of as adults.
The House is scheduled to vote this week whether to approve the change and send the bill to the Senate.
At least 40 other states and the federal government treat the youths as juveniles. New Hampshire lowered its age from 18 to 17 in 1996 and attempts to raise it have failed over the years.
Supporters argue the teens are still of an age when they can be rehabilitated.
Raising the age would mean that crimes committed by 17-year-olds no longer would become part of an adult criminal record. Prosecutors would retain the right to ask a judge to certify a 17-year-old as an adult for major crimes.
-- -- --
NH national forest extends artists' deadline
CAMPTON, N.H. (AP) -- Officials at New Hampshire's White Mountain National Forest have extended the deadline for applicants seeking to be the next artist-in-residence.
The deadline has been pushed back one month -- to April 25.
Under the program, one artist will be chosen to live on or near forest property for at least three weeks to gain inspiration and share their talents at weekly public sessions.
The program is open to professional and emerging artists. Applicants can be performing or visual artists, composers, writers or craftspeople.
The program is run in conjunction with the Arts Alliance of Northern New Hampshire. Most of the artist's living expenses and other costs are covered.
The selected artist will take up residency sometime between July and September.
-- -- --
NH House panel considers Medicaid expansion bill
CONCORD, N.H. (AP) -- A House committee is expected to decide Tuesday whether to recommend passing a bill to use federal Medicaid money to pay for private health insurance for an estimated 50,000 poor adults.
The House Finance Committee will consider a Senate bill passed with bipartisan support that essentially creates a two-and-a-half-year pilot program providing coverage to eligible adults if the federal government approves using federal funds to pay for private insurance.
Supporters say the bill would improve the health of currently uninsured residents by providing access to affordable preventive and primary care. They say that would reduce the amount of uncompensated care provided by hospitals, which could help drive down premium costs and help struggling businesses.
Opponents argue the state's financial liability should be capped to protect taxpayers.
New Hampshire is one of six states that have not decided whether to expand Medicaid under the federal health care overhaul law.
The Senate bill would use 100 percent federal funding to expand the health care coverage. Anyone under 65 who earns up to 138 percent of federal poverty guidelines -- about $15,856 a year for a single adult -- could qualify.
The state estimates that 12,000 adults could begin receiving coverage in as little as a month under an existing program to subsidize employer-based coverage while 38,000 others would receive coverage through the state's Medicaid managed care program starting this summer. The adults on managed care would be moved onto private insurance in 2016 if a federal waiver is approved by March 31, 2015. If the waiver is denied, their coverage would be phased out over three months.
Under the plan, the expansion would end if federal funding drops below 100 percent and would end regardless at the end of 2016 if the Legislature doesn't reauthorize it.
-- -- --
NH Boy Scout troop wants manufacturing badge
MANCHESTER, N.H. (AP) -- A Boy Scout troop from New Hampshire is advocating for the creation of a new merit badge in advanced manufacturing.
Daniel Webster Council Troop 123 of New Boston recently toured the advanced manufacturing training labs at Manchester Community College and Great Bay Community College, where they learned about robotics, automation and advanced composites manufacturing.
The list of more than 130 badges Boy Scouts can earn already includes one in robotics and one in composite materials, and a badge for computer-assisted design will be added next year. But a badge focused entirely on advanced manufacturing would emphasize that manufacturing is both a traditional yet contemporary career path, said Assistant Scout Master Doug Cullen said.
The process of adding a merit badge starts with demonstrating that it would promote a hobby or career interest consistent with the aims of scouting, which include community involvement, environmental stewardship, career development and personal growth and leadership, Cullen said.
"In this case, we could focus on leadership, character development and green processes, as well as the obvious career development advantages," he said.
Together, New Hampshire's seven community colleges offer more than two dozen advanced manufacturing training and education programs ranging in length from two weeks to two years. They all were opened or have been updated with funds from a $20 million federal grant aimed at closing the high-tech skills gap identified by manufacturers.
-- -- --
Shaheen wants to limit outside cash in Senate race
By STEVE PEOPLES
NASHUA, N.H. (AP) -- Democratic U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen is calling on newly announced Republican challenger Scott Brown to sign the same pact in New Hampshire that helped prevent outside groups from pouring millions of dollars into his last Massachusetts Senate election.
In a letter sent Saturday, less than 24 hours after the former U.S. senator from Massachusetts entered the race, Shaheen said she "very much admired the People's Pledge" that Brown signed with Sen. Elizabeth Warren in 2012. Brown lost his Senate seat to Warren.
"I believe it limited the influence of outside groups and allowed the people's voices to be heard," Shaheen wrote. She asked Brown to make a similar pledge this year to give New Hampshire voters "the assurance that their voices will not be drowned out by third-party expenditures."
Brown would not comment on whether he would agree to a pledge but said Saturday that Shaheen is on a multiple-city West Coast fundraising swing that he says will provide money to third-party groups for more outside negative ads against him.
"It's hard to view Jeanne Shaheen's actions as anything other than hypocritical and self-serving," Brown said. "The people of New Hampshire can see through the Washington-style game she is playing."
The challenge comes as national outside groups gear up to send a river of money into a New Hampshire Senate contest that could be the most expensive in state history.
Brown on Friday night formally launched an exploratory committee to enter the Senate campaign during a Republican conference in Nashua, ending months of speculation about his intentions. While Brown has yet to file formal candidacy papers, his decision all but assures the GOP will have a top-tier contender in a November election that Shaheen was once expected to win easily.
The Washington-based Republican ally American Crossroads immediately announced plans to invest $650,000 in a television advertising campaign against Shaheen beginning next week. And even before Brown joined the race, outside groups on both sides spent more than $1 million in recent months on television advertising to influence the New Hampshire Senate contest.
Brown was to meet with voters in New Hampshire's North Country on Saturday.
The deal would require both candidates to donate half the cost of any outside group advertising campaign to a charity of the opposing candidate's choosing. The deal was credited with preventing the crush of negative advertising in the 2012 Massachusetts race that flooded airwaves in races in other states.
Shaheen included a signed copy of the pledge in her letter to Brown and asked him to sign and return it as soon as possible.
-- -- --
NH man dies in snowmobile crash in Barnstead
GILMANTON, N.H. (AP) -- A New Hampshire man has died in an early morning snowmobile crash in Barnstead.
Authorities say Aaron E. Brown of Dover was operating a snowmobile on private property at about 1:15 a.m. Saturday when he failed to negotiate a turn in a trail and collided with several trees. Brown was wearing a helmet.
Authorities say it appears that speed and alcohol may have contributed to the crash.
NH man sentenced in robbery of man in wheelchair
ROCHESTER, N.H. (AP) -- A New Hampshire man has been sentenced to more than a year in jail for his role in the home invasion and robbery of an elderly man in a wheelchair in Rochester last summer.
Thirty-three-year-old Jonathan A. Bolz of Rochester pleaded guilty this week in the June 27 crime.
Police say he and 22-year-old Daniel Springer of Farmington knocked on the man's door and pretended to be police. One of the men appeared to have a gun. Police say they ordered the man to give them prescription drugs. The man was not harmed.
Police say the two men took off with two types of medication, oxycodone and trazodone.
Foster's Daily Democrat reports (http://bit.ly/1lEE7zW ) that Springer is scheduled to appear in court on May 12.
Family escapes fire in Nottingham, NH
NOTTINGHAM, N.H. (AP) -- A family of six is safe after fire broke out at their home in the New Hampshire town of Nottingham.
Firefighters believe the fire early Friday morning was caused by a wood-burning appliance.
Fire Chief Jaye Vilchock tells Fosters Daily Democrat (http://bit.ly/1qFJUJg ) that the family of four adults and two children had recently bought the home and were in the process of moving in.
He says the family awoke to the sound of fire alarms and were able to escape unharmed.
The fire caused extensive damage to the home.
NH high schools raising money to help homeless
MANCHESTER, N.H. (AP) -- The New Hampshire Coalition to End Homelessness and Families in Transition are hosting a dodgeball high school tournament to raise awareness about homelessness.
The "Dodging Homelessness High School Tournament" is being held Saturday at Southern New Hampshire University.
Schools involved in the event have helped raise funds to support the organizations, including educational scholarships for homeless New Hampshire students.