NH Senate Dems pick Larsen as leader
CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — Democrats in the New Hampshire Senate unanimously chose Concord Sen. Sylvia Larsen on Friday to continue as their leader.
Larsen, who is entering her 10th term, has been the chamber’s Democratic leader for the last two years. She served as Senate president for four years before Republicans regained control of the chamber in 2010.
Republicans lost six seats in Tuesday’s election, but maintain a 13-11 margin, which means Senate President Peter Bragdon, the pick of the GOP caucus, is likely to continue as president.
Bragdon, 49, of Milford, is entering his fifth term in the Senate.
The House and Senate vote on leaders Dec. 5, after the newly elected lawmakers are sworn in.
House Republicans caucus to nominate a House speaker candidate Thursday. House Democrats make their selection Nov. 17. House Democrats regained control of the chamber in Tuesday’s election with a 222-178 edge, though the final margin could change after contested results are recounted. House Democrats currently have 102 members.
Larsen, 63, said she was honored to have the opportunity to lead Senate Democrats.
‘‘There is a renewed sense of optimism in New Hampshire and the message from voters is clear. People want a return to a common-sense, civil approach to problem-solving,’’ she said in a statement.
Larsen said among her top priorities is taking another look at New Hampshire’s new law requiring photo identification to vote. Next year, acceptable identification is narrowed and made much more restrictive, she said.
Larsen also wants to see if some of the funding to public colleges cut by the outgoing Republican Legislature can be restored. She also wants to see if aid to hospitals can be increased.
During her years in the Senate, Larson was the prime sponsor of a tax-free college tuition savings plan called the Unique Plan. She also has sponsored laws establishing a land conservation program, a subsidized insurance for children and on workforce housing. She has co-sponsored bills to raise the high school dropout age, establish a research and development tax credit for business and to reinstate a job training fund.
‘‘We’re ready to get to work with our new Governor-elect Maggie Hassan and Democrats and Republicans in both chambers to strengthen our economy, create jobs and continue to make New Hampshire the best state in the nation to live and raise a family,’’ she said.