CONCORD, N.H.

State Senate gives first OK to 4-cent gas tax increase

New Hampshire’s Senate gave preliminary approval Thursday to a measure that would raise the state’s gas tax by 4 cents a gallon but stripped out a provision that would have automatically tied future increases to the Consumer Price Index.

The vote was 14-9. It now goes to the Senate Finance Committee for a vote.

If approved by that committee and the full House then signed into law, the 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.

“It has been a long, rough, bumpy road filled with numerous potholes,” Sen. Jim Rausch, the chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee and sponsor of the measure, said as he brought the bill to the floor.

Rausch said a 4-cent increase would cost $16 a year for someone who drives 10,000 miles a year and gets 25 miles per gallon.

Rausch, a Derry Republican, wants the trucking industry to support his proposed increase or face reductions in the amount of cargo they can haul on New Hampshire highways. He said if there isn’t more money to maintain New Hampshire’s roads something else has to be done and lowering the weights trucks can carry would cause them less damage.

The New Hampshire Motor Transport Association opposes the tax hike, saying it would hurt the trucking industry.

Gov. Maggie Hassan has said if a consensus is reached on a tax increase, she will sign it.

AMHERST, Mass.

UMass seeks feedback on its ‘Blarney Blowout’ response

The University of Massachusetts Amherst has asked former Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis to review the university and the town’s handling of last weekend’s “Blarney Blowout” parties and similar disturbances.

Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy said Thursday the goal is to prevent “a recurrence of last week’s disturbing events.” Dozens of people, including many students, were arrested and four police officers had minor injuries when pre-St. Patrick’s Day celebrations got out of control in several areas around town.

Subbaswamy said the Amherst city government supports the review. It will cover campus and community preparations and the conduct of first responders, university officials and town leaders during and after the disturbance.

Davis, Boston’s police commissioner from 2006-2013, dealt with last year’s Boston Marathon bombing and several sports championship celebrations during his tenure.

BOSTON

Effort to include gay vets in parade is abandoned

A gay advocacy group says it is ending its efforts to get organizers of Boston’s St. Patrick’s Day parade to allow a group of gay veterans to march.

The executive director of MassEquality said Wednesday the group had reached a dead end in its negotiations and won’t participate in Sunday’s parade.

Parade organizers, the South Boston Allied War Veterans Council, said a week ago that it had been “deceived” by MassEquality and had ended negotiations.

No deal was reached despite the intervention of Boston Mayor Martin Walsh and U.S. Rep. Stephen Lynch.

Walsh says he won’t march if gay groups are excluded. A Walsh spokeswoman told The Boston Globe the mayor is disappointed no deal was reached.

BOSTON

Suspect in fatal accident indicted on new charge

A woman accused of killing a 7-year-old Boston girl and seriously injuring her mother while driving drunk has been indicted on a new charge of manslaughter by motor vehicle.

The Suffolk County district attorney announced Thursday 36-year-old Olivia Mora could face five to 20 years in prison.

Prosecutors say Mora’s speeding SUV hit a parked car Nov. 26, jumped a curb, hit a fire hydrant and struck Brianna Rosales and her mother.

Mora pleaded not guilty in district court last year to charges including motor vehicle homicide while operating under the influence and operating under the influence causing serious bodily injury. Those charges are among those in the Wednesday indictment moving her case to superior court. Mora’s lawyer said at her November arraignment she had medical issues.

A new arraignment hasn’t been scheduled.

NEW BEDFORD, Mass.

Building in Melville book among two to be restored

Restoration plans for two historic New Bedford buildings, including one made famous in Herman Melville’s “Moby-Dick,” have been unveiled.

The Waterfront Historic Area League announced Wednesday that JMBA Plus Architects of New Bedford has drawn up plans for the $2.3 million project to restore and ultimately connect the Seamen’s Bethel and Mariners’ Home.

The Seamen’s Bethel, a place of worship for mariners that was called the Whaleman’s Chapel in “Moby-Dick,” was built in 1831 and renovated and reopened in 1867 after a fire.

The Mariners’ Home traditionally provided lodging to seafarers between voyages. It has been vacant for several years except for Port Society office space on the ground floor.

The project includes a glass-fronted connector linking the buildings with an elevator, making both accessible to disabled visitors, according to The Standard-Times.

Structural alterations to the buildings will be minimal, architect Joe Booth said.

Funding for the project is expected to come from state and federal historic tax credits, the Massachusetts Cultural Council and a Community Development Block Grant, historic league Executive Director Teri Bernert said.

The project is scheduled for completion next year.

BRIDGEPORT, Conn.

Judge rules woman, 93, can’t have four cats back

A 93-year-old Connecticut woman who once had more than 50 cats in her home has lost a bid to get four of her felines back.

A state judge in Bridgeport ruled Wednesday that Marion Perreira of Stratford hasn’t shown that she can properly care for the animals.

The Connecticut Post reported that authorities have removed 52 cats from Perreira’s home and euthanized about 20 since 2010. Many cats were sick and much of her home was soaked with cat urine.

Perreira was arrested, but animal abuse charges were later dropped.

She signed an agreement in 2011 allowing the town to clean her home and have four cats returned to her, but the judge refused to allow the return of the animals.

Perreira’s lawyer says he won’t appeal the ruling.

– From news services