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The Latest: Senate Democrats laud Hassan's speech, goals

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — The Latest on Gov. Maggie Hassan's State of the State address: (all times local): 4:05 p.m. Senate Democrats are lauding Hassan's State of the State address and her tenure as providing an agenda of moving the economy forward in a bipartisan manner. Senate Democratic Leader...

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — The Latest on Gov. Maggie Hassan's State of the State address: (all times local):

4:05 p.m.

Senate Democrats are lauding Hassan's State of the State address and her tenure as providing an agenda of moving the economy forward in a bipartisan manner.

Senate Democratic Leader Jeff Woodburn said he and his colleagues look forward to addressing the priorities she laid out, including the heroin and opioid epidemic and reauthorizing Medicaid expansion.

Woodburn also cited Hassan's call to fix the state's aging roads and bridges and providing training and education programs that elevate workers' skills to meet the needs of a 21st century workforce.

He said he and other Senate Democrats stand ready to accomplish those goals "the Granite State way" — through hard work, innovation and collaboration.


2:55 p.m.

House Majority Leader Richard "Dick" Hinch is responding to Gov. Maggie Hassan's State of the State address, saying the state wouldn't be as well positioned as it is without the hard work and sensibility of Republican legislation and leadership.

Hinch, a Republican from Merrimack, cites a "fiscally responsible budget" that was vetoed by Hassan before a budget was passed three months later.

Hinch says he believes the state can be proud of the work the Legislature has done and will continue to do to combat drugs and addiction.


2:10 p.m.

Gov. Maggie Hassan in her State of the State address is stressing the state needs to plan now how best to use the record $236 million in damages awarded it in a jury verdict against Exxon Mobil Corp. over groundwater contamination by the gasoline additive MTBE.

The jury verdict came down in 2013 but Exxon Mobil appealed. The New Hampshire Supreme Court rejected its appeal in October and the corporate giant last month asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review the case. The state has until March 23 to file its objection.

Hassan said Thursday the state needs to create a trust fund to be sure the award is used to treat contaminated wells and other water supplies.

The verdict is the largest by far in state history and came after a record-long, four-month trial.


2:05 p.m.

Gov. Maggie Hassan continues to call for restoring and increasing the minimum wage in New Hampshire.

The Legislature eliminated the state's minimum wage law in 2011, which means the federal minimum wage — currently $7.25 — is the state's minimum. In her State of the State address Thursday, Hassan said increasing the minimum is key to ensuring that the state's workers can succeed and support their families. But her comments came shortly after the Senate rejected a bill that would have set the minimum wage at $12 per hour.

The bill's opponents said employers know best and can make their own decisions about how much to pay their workers.


2 p.m.

Gov. Maggie Hassan has announced a new plan to help develop and expand New Hampshire's workforce.

She said Thursday at her State of the State address the program, called Gateway to Work, will strengthen job training, and create new apprenticeship opportunities. She said it would set up a partnership between the community college system and the business community to create apprenticeships in high-need areas such as advanced manufacturing, information technology networking, and health care.

She said employers would be provided job-training grants and salary support for eligible workers for six weeks.

Hassan also described partnering with nonprofits and other organizations to help people served by the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families program enter the workforce by expanding in-home visitation to work with more at-risk parents.


1:50 p.m.

New Hampshire Gov. Maggie Hassan is calling for reauthorization of Medicaid expansion as she delivers her State of the State address to legislators.

She said Thursday that more than 46,000 state residents now have the health and financial security that comes with quality, affordable health coverage.

Hassan says since expansion began, hospitals have seen a significant decline in inpatient, outpatient and emergency room visits by uninsured residents. The state also has seen an increase in revenues from the insurance premium tax, and cost-savings elsewhere due to preventive and primary care.

She cites experts as saying reauthorizing expansion is essential to increasing drug treatment capacity in the state.


1:40 p.m.

New Hampshire Gov. Maggie Hassan says in her State of the State address that the heroin and opioid crisis remains the most pressing public health and safety issue in the state.

The Democratic governor said Thursday she commends members of both parties in the Legislatures for quickly acting last month to send two bills to her desk to counter substance abuse that she's signed into law.

She says more resources and dollars are needed to combat addiction. She notes that revenues are already more than $40 million above projections this fiscal year.

Hassan also says supporting law enforcement efforts, strengthening prevention, treatment and recovery efforts are part of a comprehensive approach to dealing with drug abuse.


1:30 p.m.

Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan, in her second two-year term, is giving her State of the State address as she's running in what's expected to be a high-profile U.S. Senate race against Republican Kelly Ayotte.

Hassan started addressing the Legislature on Thursday afternoon.

One of the issues she may address is signing two bills into law aimed at stemming the state's substance abuse crisis.

Another may be reauthorizing Medicaid expansion. She hasn't commented on a plan introduced by Republican lawmakers outlining a proposal that includes work requirements for recipients and asks insurance companies and hospitals to help foot the state's share of the program's costs.

In her first state-of-the-state address, she renewed her call for New Hampshire to compete with Massachusetts by legalizing a casino, a measure rejected by legislators.