Expect repeat bills in 2015

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Legislators are already requesting bills for the 2015 legislative session, and some of the bills that failed in 2014 are back on the list.

Rep. Renny Cushing (D-Hampton) is requesting a bill to repeal the death penalty.  Last spring the House voted to repeal the death penalty, but the Senate killed the bill.

Rep. Timothy Horrigan (D-Durham) and Rep. Andrew White (D-Lebanon) are both requesting bills related to the minimum wage.  Last spring the House passed a minimum wage increase, but once again the Senate killed the bill.

Rep. Kyle Tasker (R-Nottingham) is requesting a bill related to marijuana decriminalization.  The House passed a marijuana decriminalization bill in 2014, but the Senate refused to vote on the bill, citing a rule that prevents consideration of the same legislation two years in a row.

Rep. Leon Rideout (R-Lancaster) is requesting a bill to include fetuses in murder statutes.  In 2014 the House and Senate revised Rideout's bill to stiffen the penalties for murder when a fetus and a mother are killed.  The final bill did not allow separate prosecution on behalf of a fetus.

If any of those legislators lose re-election, another legislator must step up to sponsor the requested bill, or the bill dies.

Are you rooting for any of these bills in 2015?  CLICK HERE to post your thoughts on our site.

CLICK HERE to see all of the requested bills so far.

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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!

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.

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.

Expect repeat bills in 2015

Join Our Community

Retirement fund grows 17.6%

Concealed carry application changed

Electric Rates on the Rise in N.H.

"Bar exam" for
teachers?

Political Tracker
 
Hillary Clinton to raise money for Shaheen

Seacoast Online — 10/01/2014

Hillary Clinton is expected to help raise campaign cash for Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire — an important place to maintain friends, should the former secretary of state choose to make a second bid for the White House.
Read More... 

 
Gov. Hassan says state finished FY14 with $19.5M surplus

LFDA Virtual Town Hall — 10/01/2014

Governor Maggie Hassan says the state finished the last fiscal year with a $19.5 million surplus. It was the first year of the state’s two-year, $10.7 billion budget.

Read More...


 
Shea-Porter, Guinta square off at candidate forum
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Issue Tracker
Gambling  
Gambling 

Casino proponents are optimistic after two state House members who voted against expanded gambling, State Reps. Bianca Garcia and Patrick Bick, have lost their primary election bids and as Rep. Marilinda Garcia looks to take Ann Kuster's U.S. House seat.
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Medicinal Marijuana  
Medicinal Marijuana 

Planning officials in the town of Salem are looking at a series of proposed zoning amendments regarding medicinal marijuana dispensaries, as inquiries have been coming in about opening facilities. Voters will consider the regulations in March.
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Minimum Wage  
Minimum Wage 

The AFL-CIO is urging an increase for the state's minimum wage and asking the state Senate, House, and Executive Council candidates that it has endorsed to sign a pledge to support policies to improve jobs, wages, and public education.
Learn More About the Issue...

In The NH News

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Daniel Ware
I thought prison was a place where you lost your rights. It is not a place where you demand to be coddled. You are there to pay for a crime.
Rhonda Paul
If they let people have the Bible, they need to let people have any religious text
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