Committee OKs some emergency funding

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On Wednesday, August 26 the legislative Fiscal Committee met to vote on several emergency funding requests from state departments.

The requests came because the state is operating on a temporary spending plan following Gov. Hassan’s veto of the legislature’s budget bill. Each state department was given half of what it spent in the 2015 fiscal year. However, some state departments expected to spend more than that this summer.

The Fiscal Committee granted the emergency funding request for state parks, because the Parks and Recreation Department spends most of the yearly park budget during the summer and fall.

Other requests, such as funding for previously approved road construction projects, were denied.

Gov. Maggie Hassan (D) and the state Republican Party both took the opportunity to blame each other for any stalled projects.

“I am concerned that decisions to table other important items – such as delaying Department of Transportation funding for critical transportation infrastructure projects that are imperative to economic development and public safety – were motivated by politics and not the best interests of New Hampshire’s people and economy,” said Hassan.

“Governor Hassan has not only vetoed a budget that would have included funding for state parks, but has rejected a reasonable compromise proposal that included such funding. The governor’s consistent decision to put her political ambitions ahead of New Hampshire has endangered the state's tourism industry and risked harming the an already sluggish economy,” said Republican State Committee Chairman Jennifer Horn.

Both the Governor and Republicans in the legislature have offered alternative budget plans. Gov. Hassan argues that the Republican budgets fail to pay for business tax cuts. Republicans argue that final revenue numbers from the last fiscal year – to be released this September – will prove that the cuts are covered.

Do you have an opinion on the state budget this year?  CLICK HERE to post your thoughts on our site.

CLICK HERE to learn more about the budget debate.

CLICK HERE to read coverage from NHPR.

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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!

Ex-Im Bank uncertainty in NH

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This summer Congress allowed authorization for the Export-Import Bank to expire. That makes some New Hampshire businesses unsure about expanding to foreign markets.

The Export-Import Bank finances and insures foreign purchases of U.S. products.

Opponents of the Export-Import bank argue it is a form of corporate welfare, because the majority of loan money from the Export-Import Bank goes to large corporations such as Boeing.

Supporters of the Export-Import Bank counter that the majority of loan transactions go to small businesses. Given its low default rate on loans, the Export-Import bank also generates a surplus for taxpayers.

According to data from the White House, from 2009 through 2014 the Export-Import Bank supported 27 exporters in New Hampshire, 21 of which were small businesses.

Right now Congress is in recess, but Representatives may reconsider the Export-Import bank in September. All of New Hampshire’s Congressional delegation support reauthorizing the Export-Import Bank.

Do you have an opinion on the Export-Import Bank?  CLICK HERE to post your thoughts on our site.

"Hike Safe Card" raises $60,000

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The new “Hike Safe Card” program has raised over $60,000 for the Search and Rescue Fund this year, reports the Union Leader.

The New Hampshire Fish and Game Department is required by law to conduct all search and rescue missions on state woodlands and waterways. Until this year, hikers did not have to contribute to the Search and Rescue Fund, though they constitute over half of the department's rescue missions. Instead, the state used revenue from hunting and fishing licenses, OHRV and snowmobile registrations, and boat registrations. However, expenditures from the fund have routinely exceeded revenues by roughly $100,000. 

The $25 Hike Safe Card insures a hiker against the cost of a rescue, even if the hiker is negligent. Under state law, the Department can otherwise charge negligent hikers for the cost of a rescue.

Supporters of the Hike Safe Card argue that it is only fair for hikers to contribute to the Search and Rescue Fund, because hikers are more likely to need rescue than hunters, fishers, and other outdoor recreation enthusiasts.

However, some argue that the old system of billing all negligent hikers is more fair, or express concern that possession of a Hike Safe Card may cause hikers to take more risks than they would otherwise. 

Do you support the Hike Safe Card?  CLICK HERE to post your thoughts on our site.

CLICK HERE to learn more about the debate over Search and Rescue funding in New Hampshire.

Legislators consider body cameras

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This summer a legislative committee is studying a bill to require New Hampshire state police to wear body cameras.

Supporters of body cameras generally argue that cameras reduce conflicts between citizens and the police by creating an indisputable record of police interactions with the public. Body camera recordings can also provide valuable evidence in criminal cases.

However, body cameras also create concerns about privacy, for example when a police officer is interviewing a victim or entering an individual’s home. In New Hampshire, courts are considering whether or not to publicly release graphic body camera footage of an officer-involved shooting in Bath.

A final concern is the cost of buying cameras and managing the recordings. The New Hampshire Department of Safety estimates that body cameras would cost $472,400 in the first year and roughly $255,000 each year thereafter. The state could cover those costs by applying for grants and/or raising fines.

The federal Office of Justice Programs conducted a review of research on police body cameras. They found only five empirical studies, and concluded that there was still not enough evidence to decide if police body cameras are a wise investment.

Do you think police should wear body cameras?  CLICK HERE to read what the LFDA community had to say about the issue, and add your own comments.

CLICK HERE to read coverage from the Concord Monitor.

New education funding lawsuit

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The city of Dover has filed a lawsuit against the state over inadequate education funding.

According to the New Hampshire Constitution and a series of court rulings, state government must provide funding for each child to receive an "adequate" education.

State education funding for each town is calculated according to enrollment numbers, the number of students receiving free lunches, the number of English language learners, and several other factors.

However, starting in 2009 the state limited any increase in state funding, so a town can receive no more than 108% of the previous year's funding from the state.

State law also limits how much funding can decrease from one year to the next. So-called "stabilization grants" keep funding level for towns that are losing students.

This formula has hurt districts, such as Dover, that have grown more than the 108% cap.

"Since 2009, the state has underpaid Dover – and other similarly growing communities – each and every year," wrote Dover Mayor Karen Weston. "This fiscal year alone, Dover will lose over $1.4 million in state constitutional aid because of the arbitrary cap."

On the other hand, stabilization grants have protected some of the neediest school districts from losing funds as the number of enrolled students has fallen. If New Hampshire removes stabilization grants, over two-thirds of New Hampshire towns will lose some education funding.

Rep. David Hess, speaking in favor of the cap and stabilization grants in 2011, said, "it provides sustainability, predictability and continuity to that funding. … This is the single most important aspect of state aid to education – for educators, school bonds and local property taxpayers."

The budget passed by the legislature this spring would have gradually decreased the education funding cap Dover is challenging. Gov. Maggie Hassan (D) vetoed that budget, and the legislature will probably not draft a new budget until this fall.

Do you have an opinion on the school funding cap and stabilization grants?  CLICK HERE to post your thoughts on our site.

CLICK HERE to learn more about the school funding debate in New Hampshire.

Committee OKs some emergency funding

Join Our Community

Ex-Im Bank uncertainty in NH

"Hike Safe Card" raises $60,000

Legislators consider body cameras

New education funding lawsuit

Political Tracker

Ayotte, IRS chief spar over agency's response to ID theft
Union Leader — 8/27/2015
The head of the IRS was in town on Wednesday at the request of Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., to hear from victims of tax-related identity theft, and he got an earful.
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Emergency money to keep NH state parks open
LFDA Virtual Town Hall — 8/27/2015

New Hampshire State parks will continue operating through the rest of the year with $1.1 million in emergency funding.

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Sanders speaks to supporters in NH
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Issue Tracker
Family Planning in NH  
Family Planning in NH 

Last weekend, 200 protesters picketed outside of a Planned Parenthood office in Manchester, as well as at locations throughout the country. Jennifer Frizzell of Planned Parenthood of Northern New England said the health centers are for patients, not politics.
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Northern Pass  
Northern Pass 

Following Eversource Energy's proposal to bury 60 miles out of the 192-mile Northern Pass project, Sen. Kelly Ayotte says the company could do more. Congresswoman Ann McLane Kuster said she is pleased the company is looking at alternatives to overhead lines.
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New Tolls  
New Tolls 

Open-road tolling at Dover and Rochester is being considered as part of a project to widen the Spaulding Turnpike. Keith Cota, the DOT's chief project engineer, said the idea is based on the success at the Hampton tolls on I-95 and the Hooksett tolls on I-93.
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Wayne Claflin
I do not support the northern pass project. It has no future for NH. It will destroy NH beauty. The towers will be an eye sore. NH is not an extension cord for other states. Northern pass locked me out of their Facebook page because I am against their ridiculous project damaging the beauty of NH. Go down to Portsmouth NH and see those hideous power poles and lines
Mark Hathaway
I grew up in the Tilton/Lakes Region and moved north 15 years ago. I see the need for cheaper electricity and also see the needs of the towns, communities and citizens of NH. I remember when all there was at exit 20 was Marlette Mobile Homes & Pike Industries. The view from the top of the I93/Rt3 bridge was treetops. So those who are opposed to it, I say don't be, look what simple commerce has done to your "view".
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