- Associated Press - Wednesday, November 5, 2014

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) - Republicans won back control of the New Hampshire House on Tuesday, giving the party a majority in both legislative chambers and more power to push back against Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan as she begins her second term.

Unofficial results project Republicans winning 237 seats in the 400-member House, about a 60-seat swing from the current makeup of the Democratic-led chamber.

The party also knocked off Democratic Sen. Peggy Gilmour of Hollis to pick up a 14th seat in the 24-member Senate. Democratic Sen. Andrew Hosmer of Laconia was re-elected by just more than 100 votes, and his Republican challenger Kathy Rago of Franklin is asking for a recount. Control of the executive council, which must approve state contracts and gubernatorial nominations, also has flipped to Republicans.

Next year’s session will be dominated by crafting the next two-year state budget. Hassan and Republican leaders both say they’re hoping to work together, but strong differences remain on the spending plan and issues including right to work, Medicaid expansion and raising the minimum wage.

“Elections really do focus on distinctions; government is about finding common ground,” Hassan told reporters Wednesday, a day after winning another two-year term. “I’m willing to work with anybody who is willing to work with me and other legislators in both parties. It does take two to have a bipartisan approach.”

Another issue that could create a split between Hassan and the Legislature is her continued support of a casino that she says will generate more revenue. She has not been clear about whether she plans to include casino revenue in her budget.

Lawmakers passed a Medicaid expansion plan this spring that aims to use federal dollars to put low-income people on private insurance plans. The law includes a provision that means it will expire in 2016 unless the legislature votes to reauthorize it or the federal government stops fully funding the expansion. Roughly 22,000 people have received health insurance under the plan so far.

Hassan said Wednesday she remains confident that lawmakers and businesses will see the benefit of insuring more people and therefore reducing uncompensated emergency room payments. Morse, who helped craft the deal, said New Hampshire has set up a model for Medicaid expansion that protects taxpayers and he is open to a continued debate during the upcoming session. House Republicans, however, overwhelmingly voted against the plan

Lawmakers will begin voting on their leadership this week. Senate Republicans will meet Thursday to discuss the presidency, which Sen. Chuck Morse of Salem hopes to retain. Democratic senators gather Friday to choose a new minority leader to replace retiring Sen. Sylvia Larsen of Concord. House Republicans will meet Nov. 18 to choose a Speaker of the House. Rep. Laurie Sanborn, Minority Leader Gene Chandler and former speaker Bill O’Brien are all seeking the top job. House Democrats will meet next week.

Hassan spent much of her campaign warning voters not to let the Legislature fall back under O’Brien’s control.

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