Retirement fund grows 17.6%

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According to an early report, the New Hampshire Retirement System trust fund grew 17.6% in the last fiscal year, with a final balance of $7.3 billion.

However, that strong growth does not erase the unfunded liability in the system, estimated at roughly $4.6 billion.

"Right now we’re on a 30-year mortgage, if you will, to pay down the unfunded liability," said Retirement System spokesman Marty Karlon. "And so these returns, while handy in the short term, aren’t going to have a significant impact on the funded ratio of the plan."

The New Hampshire Retirement System has a plan to pay down the unfunded liability by 2039.  According to the Retirement System website, the legislature passed over 70 changes since 2007 "to prevent a repeat of the factors that contributed to the current unfunded liability."

However, some legislators believe the Retirement System needs a major overhaul.  For example, the state could replace pensions with  401(k)-style retirement accounts.

Do you the the New Hampshire Retirement System is on track?  CLICK HERE to post your thoughts on our site.

CLICK HERE to learn more about the unfunded liability in the retirement system.

CLICK HERE to read coverage from NHPR.

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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!

Concealed carry application changed

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After adding them in August, The New Hampshire Department of Public Safety has removed three questions from the application for a concealed carry gun license. The new questions had generated complaints from gun rights activists.

“We didn’t take a critical enough read of those new questions, and the way one of them was worded, it could be misinterpreted by an applicant,” Department of Safety Assistant Commissioner Early Sweeney told the Concord Monitor.

To receive a license to carry a concealed firearm, a New Hampshire resident must complete the one-page application, which is then approved or denied by local officials such as a police chief, mayor, or designated police officer. The three questions that were added in August asked whether an applicant had held a resident gun license before, whether an applicant had previously been prohibited from possessing a firearm by a state or federal agency, and whether an applicant is prohibited by federal law from possessing a firearm.

Despite the reversion in the questions section, some gun rights supporters are still unsatisfied with the application, calling for wording on the back of the application—which had also been changed in August—to be revised, as well. State Rep. JR Hoell, a Republican from Dunbarton and the secretary of the New Hampshire Firearms Coalition, told the Concord Monitor the previous wording made it clear that, “If you can own a firearm, you should be issued a license.”

Hoell said, should he win reelection this November, he would support legislation that says, “If you can own and purchase, you can carry.”

Two New Hampshire police chiefs interviewed by the Monitor said the three questions did not change how they approved or rejected concealed carry applications. Enfield Police Chief Richard Crate Jr. said the problem is not with the application but the permitting process itself.

“The way that the law works is where the problem is,” he said, calling the state’s permitting process “weak,” according to the Concord Monitor. “…You have to get a license to drive a car, you have to go through a few more steps. You don’t have to go through those steps to carry a concealed weapon.”

What do you think? Should the state change the process for applying to carry a concealed firearm? CLICK HERE to post your thoughts on our site.

Visit the Life Free or Die Alliance issue page on gun laws.

Read media coverage of the changes to the concealed carry application in the Concord Monitor and at Seacoast Online.

Electric Rates on the Rise in N.H.


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Citing a “lack of pipeline capacity” for natural gas into the region, New Hampshire’s second-largest utility announced Friday that it will be raising its electric rates, effective Oct. 1. The New Hampshire Electric Cooperative said its members’ monthly bills will increase an average of 12.2 percent.

The Plymouth-based Electric Cooperative, which services 83,000 members in New Hampshire, will increase its charges for electricity from 8.97 cents per kilowatt-hour to 11.6 cents per kilowatt-hour.

This comes after Liberty Utilities, which services about 43,000 customers in New Hampshire, filed with the state Public Utilities Commission for an electric rate hike of nearly 50 percent, from 7.73 cents per kilowatt-hour to 15.4 cents per kilowatt-hour, starting on Nov. 1. The average customer, says Liberty Utilities, will see a bill increase of about $50 per month.

Liberty also placed the blame for the increase on the region’s limited natural gas pipeline capacity, the Concord Monitor reports. The utilities say higher demand for natural gas in the winter drives its cost up. Natural gas is used in the winter for heating and generating electricity.

New Hampshire’s largest utility, Public Service of New Hampshire (PSNH), is predicting a much more modest rate increase of less than 1 percent starting on Jan. 1.

What do you think? How should New Hampshire utilities and state officials respond to escalating natural gas prices and increased electric bills? CLICK HERE to post your thoughts on our site.

Read media coverage of increasing electric rates in New Hampshire at New Hampshire Public Radio, the New Hampshire Union Leader, and the Concord Monitor.

"Bar exam" for
teachers?

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This year many New Hampshire college students in teacher preparation programs will take the Teacher Candidate Assessment of Performance (TCAP), a test that has been called "a bar exam for teachers."

In the past, graduating student teachers handed in a portfolio of lesson plans, tests, and handouts; that binder was the culmination of a degree in education. 

Some education reform advocates argue that the portfolio process does not hold teachers to uniformly high standards.  As a result, states across the nation are adopting tests for student teachers.

The TCAP was developed by members of New Hampshire's teaching colleges.  Supporters of the TCAP assert that it is a certification tailored to the unique requirements for New Hampshire teachers.  Unlike other assessments, the TCAP is graded in-state, by New Hampshire educators.

Skeptics may argue that there is an inherent bias in the TCAP, since the test is developed and graded by New Hampshire educators without any outside perspective.

Other opponents argue that tests such as the TCAP do not adequately take into account all aspects of a teacher's long-term practice.

Do you have an opinion on testing student teachers?  CLICK HERE to post your thoughts on our site.

CLICK HERE to read coverage from NHPR.

N.H. GOP Adds ‘Personhood’ to Platform

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At its annual convention Saturday, the New Hampshire Republican Party amended its official platform to include support for the “personhood” of “the pre-born child.” The party also added support for a Life at Conception Act “guaranteeing the protections of Life and Personhood to the pre-born under the Fourteenth Amendment of the US Constitution.”

The amended GOP platform, which goes into effect for the next election cycle, aligns it with a nationwide movement—championed by anti-abortion groups—to extend constitutional rights to the point of conception.

In a statement Monday, U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen, who is running for reelection to represent New Hampshire, called the amended platform “dangerously wrong,” claiming such an act would ban all abortions, most forms of birth control, and in vitro fertilization.

“[B]y signing on with Tea Party extremists, [the New Hampshire Republican Party is] showing just how irresponsibly out of touch they are with the needs and rights of women,” Shaheen said.

Shaheen’s Republican opponent, Scott Brown, also weighed in, breaking with his party’s position.

“I'm a pro-choice, independent Republican," he said in a public conversation with New Hampshire Public Radio. "So I don't agree with that particular part of the platform, however I have always felt that we are a big tent party, we have the opportunity to agree or disagree."

What do you think? Should the state and federal government define “personhood” as beginning at conception? CLICK HERE to post your thoughts on our site.

Visit the Live Free or Die Alliance issue page on family planning in New Hampshire.

Read media coverage of the New Hampshire GOP’s platform from New Hampshire Public Radio, NH Journal, and the New Hampshire Union Leader.

Retirement fund grows 17.6%

Join Our Community

Concealed carry application changed

Electric Rates on the Rise in N.H.

"Bar exam" for
teachers?

N.H. GOP Adds ‘Personhood’ to Platform

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NH concealed carry gun application changed again

LFDA Virtual Town Hall — 9/30/2014

New Hampshire's Department of Public Safety has made changes to the state's concealed carry gun license application for the second time in two months, following complaints from gun rights groups over some of the questions.

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In The NH News

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Stan Barker
The romantic in me says yes. The pragmatist says, not without some level of regulation. The FDA is not exactly a fine example of keeping contaminated food off the shelves, but completely uninspected foods making their way onto the shelves is like asking for salmonella outbreaks.
Martha Keenan Field
Regulations were originally put in place to keep us heathy from contaminated food.....what a joke when you now think about it....go into any grocer and you will find the shelves covered with carcinogens, heart stopping, diabetes causing crap!!!! Let small farmers prevail with out all the red tape BS! Maybe, just maybe...it will cut back on healthcare costs! Just a thought!
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