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.

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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!

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 vetoes sex ed bill

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On Friday, June 26 Gov. Maggie Hassan (D) vetoed HB 332, a bill that would require schools to notify parents at least two weeks before "course material involving discussion of human sexuality or human sexual education."

Gov. Hassan vetoed the bill in part because of the broad language.

"This bill would make it more difficult for young people to receive critical public health education and it could affect a wide range of curricula – including science and the study of important literature, ranging from Mark Twain to Shakespeare," Hassan wrote in her veto message.

Speaking in favor of the bill, Rep. Victoria Sullivan (R-Manchester) wrote HB 332 would "open communication between schools and parents, resulting in greater parental engagement and necessary conversations with their children regarding these sensitive issues."

Do you have an opinion on Gov. Hassan's veto?  CLICK HERE to post your thoughts on our site.

CLICK HERE to read Gov. Hassan's veto message.

Population changes in NH

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According to the latest data from the U.S. Census Bureau, the New Hampshire population is growing in Hillsborough, Rockingham and Strafford counties.

Much of that growth is due to people migrating into the Granite State.  Migration to New Hampshire dropped sharply after the 2008 recession, but rebounded in the past two years.

On the other hand, the population is rapidly decreasing in Northern New Hampshire, and residents age 65 and older are the fastest growing age group in the state. 

There are many public policy challenges related to an aging population, such as a shrinking labor pool and increasing demand for state assistance. Conversely, an aging population may help New Hampshire attract businesses that offer services to older residents, from medical device technologies to driverless cars.

As for the population decrease in the North Country, the New Hampshire government has greenlighted several projects aimed at stimulating the Northern economy.  Most recently, the 2015 legislature authorized a $28 million loan for redevelopment of the Balsams Resort, pending approval from the Business Finance Authority.

"The state does have concern about aging population, but I think New Hampshire is doing a little bit better right now," said Ken Johnson, a senior demographer at the University of New Hampshire’s Carsey School of Public Policy. "I wouldn’t break out the champagne, but it looks like things are getting a little better with reference to migration."

Do you have an opinion on how state government should respond to New Hampshire's population changes?  CLICK HERE to post your thoughts on our site.

CLICK HERE to learn more about New Hampshire's changing population.

CLICK HERE to read coverage from the Nashua Telegraph.

Sup. Court upholds subsidies in NH

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On Thursday the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that states do not have to set up their own health insurance exchanges for residents to receive federal health insurance subsidies.

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) provides a tax subsidy for any individual who purchases health insurance through an online health insurance exchange "established by the state." 

Opponents of the ACA argued that this language meant subsidies were only available in states that established their own health insurance exchanges.  Over half of states - including New Hampshire - instead use the health insurance website built by the federal government.

Thursday's Supreme Court ruling affirms that Congress intended the subsidies to be available to all residents, whether they buy insurance through a state exchange or the federal exchange.

According to an analysis from the Kaiser Family Foundation, this ruling upholds tax breaks for roughly 30,000 low-income New Hampshire residents.

Justice Antonin Scalia argued that the majority of the Court was using "jiggery-pokery" to change the meaning of the phrase "established by the state."

"We really should start calling the law SCOTUScare," Scalia said.  SCOTUS is the acronym for the Supreme Court of the United States.

Do you have an opinion on the Supreme Court ruling?  CLICK HERE to post your thoughts on our site.

CLICK HERE
to learn more about the Affordable Care Act in New Hampshire.

CLICK HERE
to read coverage from the Union Leader.

Commuter rail studies continue

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UNH tuition freeze ends

Hassan vetoes sex ed bill

Population changes in NH

Sup. Court upholds subsidies in NH

Political Tracker

Ayotte highlights bipartisan record; pushes back against Democratic attacks
NH1 — 7/01/2015
Kelly Ayotte says she’s “one of the most bipartisan senators in the United States Senate.”
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Hassan signs bill to study commuter rail funding
LFDA Virtual Town Hall — 7/01/2015

Gov. Maggie Hassan has signed a bill that could help pave the way for public-private funding of commuter rail.

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Issue Tracker
Gun Laws  
Gun Laws 

At a recent event in New Hampshire, presidential hopeful George Pataki said he does not believe the federal government should have more control over Second Amendment rights, but that there should be a greater focus on mental health treatments.
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Demographics Shift  
Demographics Shift 

New population models from the state's community college system that predict future trends show that Rockingham County will have 30 percent fewer school-aged children in 2030; the state as a whole will have 20 percent fewer school-aged children.
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Family Planning in NH  
Family Planning in NH 

The House and Senate failed to agree on the language of a controversial fetal homicide bill, sponsored by Rep. Leon Rideout, that would define an unborn fetus as a person under criminal law. Thirty-eight other states have similar legislation.
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Joe Maguire
Have you seen his interviews? He's calling it like it is. He's like Ron Paul last election campaign. For that alone I can't wait to see his debates.
Pam Currie- Pantelakos
I don't think he could get elected as a crossing guard in the state of New Hampshire. We set the bar a little higher here.
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