Commuter rail study complete

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On Thursday the New Hampshire Rail Transit Authority (NHRTA) released the results of a feasibility study for a southern New Hampshire commuter rail.

The study examined three rail options: a line connecting Nashua to Massachusetts, a line extending to Manchester, and a line extending all the way to Concord.

The "Nashua Minimum" option would be primarily funded by federal and Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) contributions, leaving $4 million in additional costs each year. 

The "Manchester Regional" option would also be funded in large part by federal and MBTA contributions, leaving $7 million in additional costs each year. 

Lastly, the "Concord Intercity" option would get federal funds, but no MBTA contributions.  It would cost the state an additional $15 million each year.

The additional $4, $7, or $15 million each year could be funded through parking fees, vehicle registration fees, municipal contributions, lottery revenues, the state Energy Efficiency Fund, or some other state government source.

"We firmly believe that the options are clear: invest in passenger rail or choose the status quo and face the negative consequences associated with our young people fleeing the state while our existing population ages and in-migration continues to decline," said NHRTA chair Thomas Mahon.

Rep. Bill O'Brien (R-Mont Vernon), the Republican choice for 2015 Speaker of the House, disagreed.

"It’s not an energy-efficient way to move people; not a good use of money; and it would create a state bureaucracy that requires more taxation to sustain," said O'Brien.

Do you support a commuter rail in southern New Hampshire?  CLICK HERE to post your thoughts on our site.

CLICK HERE to learn more about the debate over a commuter rail in southern New Hampshire.

CLICK HERE to read coverage from the Union Leader.

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Stand up for the LFDA mission!
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The nonpartisan, nonprofit Live Free or Die Alliance (LFDA) serves New Hampshire citizens by providing objective information about issues and candidates; promoting the civil exchange of opinions in a variety of forums, online and in person; and connecting citizens with their elected officials.

Show your support for our mission: join the LFDA community today! 

Membership is always free, and gives you posting privileges on our website.

Want to learn more about us first?  Visit our About Page to learn about our mission, our Issue pages to learn about hot topics in New Hampshire government, our Voter Resources section to learn about elected officials, or our Member Posts to see what fellow Granite Staters have to say.  And don't forget to like us on Facebook!

Medical marijuana rules approved

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On Thursday a legislative panel approved regulations for New Hampshire's medicinal marijuana dispensaries.

The rules allow four medicinal marijuana dispensaries in four regions of the state: the seacoast, central New Hampshire, western New Hampshire, and the North Country.

The price of a patient's therapeutic cannabis identification card will be $50.

Although the legislative panel approved the regulations, one question remains: whether or not the dispensaries will pay property tax.

The medicinal marijuana law passed in 2013 requires that dispensaries be "not for profit."  That could potentially exempt dispensaries from property taxes.

Sen. John Reagan (R-Deerfield), a member of the legislative panel, said he will look into filing legislation to make the dispensaries pay property taxes.

The medicinal marijuana law also requires the state to issue a license for the first dispensary by the end of January 2015.  That means the state has just two months for the license application process.

Do you have an opinion on the regulations for medicinal marijuana dispensaries?  CLICK HERE to post your thoughts on our site.

CLICK HERE
to learn more about the debate over medicinal marijuana.

CLICK HERE to read coverage from the Concord Monitor.


Aging population: an opportunity?

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On Tuesday stakeholders and elected officials from Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont gathered to discuss the aging population in the region.

The three states have the oldest populations in the U.S.

There are many public policy challenges related to an aging population, such as a smaller labor pool and higher demand for state assistance.

However, the conference on Tuesday highlighted several opportunities in an aging population.  For example, New Hampshire, Maine, and Vermont could attract businesses that sell new medical technologies.  The states might also provide a testing ground for driverless cars.

"It's not all about the problems that will be created by the aging society, it's partly about how we actively reshape our society," said Charles Colgan, professor of public policy at the University of Southern Maine.

Do you think New Hampshire's aging population could be an asset?  CLICK HERE to post your thoughts on our site.

CLICK HERE to learn more about the demographics shift in New Hampshire.

CLICK HERE to read coverage from Seacoast Online.

O'Brien nominated for Speaker

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On Tuesday the Republican House majority nominated Rep. Bill O'Brien (R-Mont Vernon) for Speaker of the New Hampshire House of Representatives.

Rep. Gene Chandler (R-Bartlett) lost the nomination by just four votes. 

The Speaker is not officially elected until Organization Day, when the minority Democrats also vote.  In theory Chandler could work with the Democrats to edge out O'Brien on Organization Day, but Chandler said he would refuse any nomination.

In his comments to Republicans, O'Brien criticized Hassan and did not mention working with Democrats.  Chandler's comments emphasized a more cooperative approach.

However, several of O'Brien's supporters told the media O'Brien will be more inclusive in his second term as Speaker.

As Speaker in 2011 and 2012 O'Brien oversaw the passage of several significant bills, such as the business tax credit scholarship program for private and home school students.  However, his uncompromising leadership style inspired a member of his own party to sponsor a bill forbidding bullying in the Statehouse.

Do you think O'Brien is the right choice for Speaker?  CLICK HERE to post your thoughts on our site.

CLICK HERE to read coverage from the Union Leader.

Dept. of Corrections: More money for staff

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At a budget hearing Monday the New Hampshire Department of Corrections requested a $48 million funding increase.

The increase covers 65 currently vacant positions and 81 new positions for the new women's prison in Concord.

According to a NHPR report from August, state corrections officers are now required to work 3-5 double shifts a week to cover vacancies.  Since 2010 this forced overtime has cost the state approximately $3.5 million more than the cost of additional full-time employees.

Meanwhile, the inmate population increased 8% in fiscal years 2013 and 2014.

However, Gov. Maggie Hassan (D) has asked all state agencies to lower their budget requests, and other agencies have equally compelling needs. 

For example, a lawsuit settled in 2014 requires the state to increase funding for mental health treatment.  The University of New Hampshire has also offered a two-year tuition freeze in exchange for more funding.

Some lawmakers may see those funding requests as a higher priority than funding for corrections.

Do you think the Department of Corrections should receive a funding increase?  CLICK HERE to post your thoughts on our site.

CLICK HERE to learn more about the challenges faced by New Hampshire's prison system.

CLICK HERE to read coverage from Seacoast Online.

Commuter rail study complete

Join Our Community

Medical marijuana rules approved

Aging population: an opportunity?

O'Brien nominated for Speaker

Dept. of Corrections: More money for staff

Political Tracker
 
Shaheen, Ayotte split on Obama's immigration executive order

NHPR — 11/22/2014

New Hampshire’s two U.S. Senators are split on President Obama’s executive order on immigration preventing nearly five million people in the country illegally from being deported.
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Energy challenges lie ahead for New Hampshire

Foster's Daily Democrat — 11/22/2014

New Hampshire has work to do if it wants to secure its energy future.

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O'Brien, Hassan say they can work together
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Issue Tracker
Northern Pass  
Northern Pass 

A lawsuit filed against the Northern Pass by the co-owners of Owl's Nest Resort and Golf Club in Thornton has been dismissed by a judge. The business owners said the news of the transmission line hurt their business, forcing them to declare bankruptcy.
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The Affordable Care Act and NH  
The Affordable Care Act and NH 

The Department of Health and Human Services is delaying part of New Hampshire’s Medicaid Managed Care program until September 2015, when the state's sickest residents – those with developmental disabilities and traumatic brain injuries – will be transferred.
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Family Planning in NH  
Family Planning in NH 

New Hampshire, along with four other states, received an A grade from The March of Dimes for its management of preterm birth rates, as only 9 percent of its births are premature. The national grade is a C; preterm birth rates have fallen to 11.4 percent.
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Joe McInnis
To be an approved Uber driver you must first pass a background test. You must also prove that you have car insurance and a vehicle that meets safety standards. How about rather than more regulations we celebrate how many young people will now choose the convenience of Uber over driving drunk. Cheers Manchester Uber it up people
Sandra Perkins
Accountability and safety issues for all parties involved should be considered as it is a fairly new service. Communication with the state about policies and a way to track accountability might be ironed out - for the safety of all parties involved. A policy should be established especially about the security of the personal information of riders that Uber will end up with over time. (It is likely to include who rides where, how often, what their credit card number is, how many ride with a user, where someone frequents, etc). Uber will, unlike some other services, own a massive database. Will that information be sold to the highest bidder? Could one driver sell private information? etc....
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