Hassan signs synthetic drug ban

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Gov. Maggie Hassan (D) plans to sign a bill banning synthetic drugs.

Last summer Gov. Hassan declared a state of emergency after dozens of New Hampshire residents entered emergency rooms after smoking synthetic marijuana, also called "spice."

"The impact of these dangerous drugs has been seen by local law enforcement, poison control centers and emergency rooms across the state and the results have been both fatal and devastating, especially to the state’s younger population," said Rep. Len DiSesa (D-Dover).

Bill opponents argue that the constantly changing list of chemicals in synthetic drugs makes it impossible for the state to fairly and effectively enforce a ban.

"Sadly, people sniff paint; glue; drink sterno; huff air freshener and many other common household items to get 'high.' Will all these be added to the list [of banned chemicals]?" pointed out Rep. Ed Comeau (R-Brookfield).

Do you support a ban on synthetic drugs?  CLICK HERE to post your thoughts on our site.

CLICK HERE to read what the LFDA community thinks about a synthetic drug ban.

CLICK HERE to read coverage from Foster's Daily Democrat.

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

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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!

NH pension fund getting healthier

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New Hampshire's pension fund saw improved returns in fiscal year 2014, shrinking the unfunded liability.  However, New Hampshire still has the sixth most underfunded retirement fund in the U.S.

Some flawed accounting methods and the 2008 financial crash contributed to New Hampshire's pension deficit. 

In recent years the legislature increased the amount employees contribute to the retirement fund. 

The New Hampshire Retirement System (NHRS) has a plan in place to eliminate the unfunded liability by 2039.

"We’re paying the full amount so we’re beginning to fill in the hole. We stopped digging in '05 and now we’re filling it in," said Marty Karlon, spokesman for the NHRS. "It’s not a good place to be, but there’s a reason we got there and hopefully we’re trending in the right direction now."

On the other hand, some legislators believe a more drastic change is needed to save New Hampshire's retirement fund.

Right now the House Special Committee on Public Employee Pension Plans is considering two bills to restructure New Hampshire's Retirement System: HB 369 and HB 556.

HB 369 establishes a defined contribution retirement plan for public employees, which essentially creates 401(k)-style retirement accounts.

HB 556 establishes a cash balance pension plan, which combines individual 401(k)-style accounts and pension guarantees.  Under a cash-balance plan, each year the employer contributes a set percentage of an employee's yearly pay, plus interest, to an individual account.  If the employee leaves the employer before retirement age, the employee may take the cash contents of the individual account with them.  If the employee stays until retirement age, the employee is guaranteed a set monthly pension payment.

Do you have an opinion on the future of the New Hampshire Retirement System?  CLICK HERE to post your thoughts on our site.

CLICK HERE to learn more about the unfunded liability in the New Hampshire Retirement System.

CLICK HERE to read coverage from NHBR.

NH knocked for background checks

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The pro-gun control group Everytown for Gun Safety is calling on New Hampshire and seven other states to report mentally ill individuals to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.

New Hampshire does not share mental health records with the federal government, despite a federal law requiring states to do so.

"The background check system is the single most important tool for stopping dangerous people from buying firearms and reducing gun violence," said Ted Alcorn, research director at Everytown for Gun Safety.

However, opponents argue that sending mental health records to the federal government is an invasion of privacy that could unjustly strip individuals of their Second Amendment rights.

"The stigmatizing of anybody who may have been depressed at one point is unacceptable," said Rep. J.R. Hoell (R-Dunbarton), who is also the secretary of the N.H. Firearms Coalition. "We could quickly stigmatize anybody who ever went to see a psychologist or psychiatrist."

Do you think New Hampshire should share mental health records with the National Instant Criminal Background Check System?  CLICK HERE to post your thoughts on our site.

CLICK HERE to learn more about the debate over gun control in New Hampshire.

CLICK HERE to read coverage from the Union Leader.

Commuter rail studies continue

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On Monday, June 29 Gov. Maggie Hassan (D) signed SB 88, a bill that establishes a committee to study public-private partnerships for a commuter rail.

In November 2014 the New Hampshire Rail Transit Authority (NHRTA) released the results of a feasibility study for a southern New Hampshire commuter rail.  The next step in that project was an environmental and engineering study, but the legislature decided not to fund that study in the next state budget.

SB 88 creates a committee that will look for ways to fund a commuter rail that does not rely solely on the government.

"Business leaders in southern New Hampshire have identified commuter rail as critical to their future economic growth, and I know that we can work together to make commuter rail a reality," Gov. Hassan said after signing SB 88.

Commuter rail opponents maintain that a commuter rail will not stimulate the economy like supporters hope.  In May the Josiah Bartlett Center for Public Policy, a conservative-leaning think tank, released a study that concluded commuter rail only helps development when other economic investments are already in the works.

"I like seeing people who are worried and thinking New Hampshire needs more people who are employed, and it would be great if it would create jobs, but the track record kind of speaks for itself," said Josh Elliott-Traficante, a policy analyst at the Bartlett Center.

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 possibility of a southern New Hampshire commuter rail.

CLICK HERE to read what LFDA community members think about state-funded commuter rail.

UNH tuition freeze ends

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The University System of New Hampshire will raise tuition next year, ending a tuition freeze.

The school says a lack of state funding is to blame.  New Hampshire is last in the nation for per-capita funding of higher education.

This year UNH asked the state to restore funding to 2009 levels.  The 2015 legislature voted to give UNH roughly 80% of the funding it asked for.

Opponents of a funding increase point out that UNH received a record amount of private donations last year. 

Opponents also note that no other public university in the U.S. has frozen in-state tuition for four consecutive years.  UNH froze tuition after the last state budget cycle, two years ago.

Do you think the state should give more or less funding to UNH?  CLICK HERE to post your thoughts on our site.

CLICK HERE to read coverage from Foster's Daily Democrat.

Hassan signs synthetic drug ban

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NH pension fund getting healthier

NH knocked for background checks

Commuter rail studies continue

UNH tuition freeze ends

Political Tracker

Look Ahead: Fiorina, Jindal, Carson, O’Malley head to NH this week
WMUR — 7/06/2015
After a busy Fourth of July weekend of presidential politicking, there will be no let-up on the New Hampshire campaign trail this week.
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Budget bottom line: It's all about the taxes
LFDA Virtual Town Hall — 7/05/2015

Much has been written about the differences between the Republican-controlled Legislature and Gov. Maggie Hassan over the 2016-2017 biennial budget she vetoed last month.

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NH GOP Chair Jennifer Horn discusses Guinta, state budget
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Issue Tracker
Northern Pass  
Northern Pass 

Department of Energy contractors are working on a Section 106 review of the Northern Pass transmission line to evaluate its impact on historic places and landscapes; a Presidential Permit to continue the project cannot be issued until the review is completed.
Learn More About the Issue...

Distracted Driving  
Distracted Driving 

Law enforcement officials in New Hampshire say they've stopped numerous drivers for using hand-held electronic devices since the ban on such devices went into effect on July 1. The first offense comes with a $100 fine, with amounts increasing for repeat offenses.
Learn More About the Issue...

Commuter Rail  
Commuter Rail 

Gov. Hassan has signed a bill that allows for funding to complete a study on bringing commuter rail from Boston to Nashua and Manchester. Earlier this year, lawmakers excluded $4 million from the capital budget for studying a proposed commuter rail.
Learn More About the Issue...

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Michelle Longley
Maybe they should take the time and resources available to teach people how to be more conservative in their usage and waste.... unsure emoticon There are too many pipeline accidents for me to ever support it coming near our waterways....
Rodd Ward
We need energy there is no way around it. Wind and solar are to inefficient. Lockheed Martin is working on their Fusion reactor right now. So in the mean time bring on the Natural Gas.
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