Starting July 1, no cell phones in cars

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New Hampshire is in the middle of a public awareness campaign about the state's new distracted driving law.  Starting July 1, drivers face at least a $100 fine for using any electronic devices while driving.

Drivers over age eighteen may use hands-free devices.

Right now the state only prohibits texting while driving. 

At a press conference last week, state police Lt. Matthew Shapiro said that technology has outgrown the law against texting while driving.  Drivers are using phones not only to talk and text, but to check e-mail, select music, and look up directions.

"Our goal here is to save lives," he said.

Opponents of the new law argue that the state already has a sufficient law against distracted driving.  They say that the new law is an example of "nanny state" legislation, and that adults should be allowed to make their own decisions about the safety of cell phone use while driving.

Rep. Dan McGuire (R-Epsom) sponsored a 2015 bill to limit the prohibition on using cell phones to drivers under age 18, but the House killed that bill in March.

Do you have an opinion on the new law against cell phone use while driving?  CLICK HERE to post your thoughts on our site.

CLICK HERE to learn more about the debate over distracted driving laws in the state.

CLICK HERE to read coverage from the Concord Monitor.

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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!

Lakeview still open, for now

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After an investigation that confirmed "systemic" abuse and neglect at Lakeview Neurorehabilitation Center, the state has stopped new admissions - but current patients are still living at Lakeview.

The problem is a lack of alternatives for patients.  New Hampshire's community-based treatment system cannot accommodate all potential patients.  Lakeview is often a last chance for patients - from across the country - who may otherwise end up in jail or psychiatric hospitals.

The state Department of Health and Human Services is implementing all of the recommendations from the investigation and restructuring the department that licensed Lakeview.

Some advocates still argue that a lack of alternatives is no justification for keeping Lakeview open. 

"The Area Agencies and the state need to determine for how long they will allow inadequate care of their citizens to go on without measurable improvement. ... It is more difficult for New Hampshire to make an objective decision about Lakeview's future while it does not have sufficient community resources to fully respond to the needs of Lakeview's current residents," wrote Kathryn du Pree, the consultant that conducted the state investigation.

How do you think New Hampshire can best serve the patients at Lakeview - close the facility or try to improve it?  CLICK HERE to post your thoughts on our site.

CLICK HERE to read coverage from NHPR.

Supreme Ct hears voter registration case

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This week the New Hampshire Supreme Court heard arguments in a case challenging the affidavit citizens sign when registering to vote. 

For decades New Hampshire has required voters to sign a form that confirms they are domiciled in New Hampshire.  In 2012 the New Hampshire Legislature rewrote that affidavit to include the following sentence:

"In declaring New Hampshire as my domicile, I am subject to the laws of the state of New Hampshire which apply to all residents, including laws requiring a driver to register a motor vehicle and apply for a New Hampshire’s driver’s license within 60 days of becoming a resident."


Four out-of-state college students challenged the rewrite in court, arguing that the wording suggests citizens must register a car and apply for a driver's license in order to declare domicile and vote.  Neither registering a car nor obtaining a driver's license is required.

"The form clearly burdens fundamental rights in New Hampshire," said New Hampshire Civil Liberties Union lawyer Bill Christie. "It would impose a poll tax in the state of New Hampshire. It would impose a fee to vote."

Assistant Attorney General Stephen LaBonte argued the form merely reminds voters that they may also be subject to residency laws.

Former House Speaker Bill O'Brien (R), who oversaw the change of the form in 2012, said at the time, "Allowing non-residents into New Hampshire to dictate who will be our presidential choice, who shall be our governor, and who shall represent us in the Legislature takes away our voting rights."

The New Hampshire Supreme Court did not indicate when they will issue their ruling on the case.

Do you think the Supreme Court should rule for or against the affidavit?  CLICK HERE to post your thoughts on our site.

CLICK HERE to learn more about the student vote in New Hampshire.

CLICK HERE to read coverage from the Nashua Telegraph.

Hassan: 2 casinos is too many

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On Tuesday a House committee approved SB 113, a bill to license one large casino and one small casino in New Hampshire.  On Wednesday Gov. Maggie Hassan (D) said she does not think New Hampshire should have two casinos.

"I do not think the market supports a second casino," said Hassan.

Legislators who agree with Gov. Hassan may point to recent casino closings in New Jersey as evidence of a saturation of casinos on the east coast.

Sen. Lou D'Allesandro (D), the sponsor of SB 113, disagrees.  He notes that Maine has two casinos and is exploring adding more.

"It will be market driven," said D’Allesandro. "You got to mitigate this nonsense, if you only have one [casino] you favor one area of the state or favor one entity. Having two makes a great deal of sense."

The full House will vote on SB 113 in the coming weeks.  If the bill passes, it faces review from a second House committee before a final vote in the House.

Gov. Maggie Hassan generally supports expanded gambling in New Hampshire, but her recent comments cast doubt on whether should would sign SB 113 into law.

Do you think New Hampshire should authorize two casinos?  CLICK HERE to post your thoughts on our site.

CLICK HERE to learn more about the debate over expanded gambling in New Hampshire.

CLICK HERE to read coverage from the Union Leader.

NH ranked 7th most eco-friendly

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According to a recent study from Wallethub, New Hampshire is the seventh most eco-friendly state in the U.S.

Wallethub ranked states based on fourteen factors, such as air and water quality, carbon dioxide emissions, renewable energy consumption, and recycling.

Some New Hampshire policymakers may point to this ranking as evidence to support the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) and Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS). 

RGGI is a "cap and trade" program that requires carbon dioxide emitters to buy "allowances" for every ton of carbon dioxide.  RPS requires electricity suppliers to provide a certain percentage of electricity from renewable sources or pay the state a fee.  The proceeds from RGGI allowances and RPS fees are intended to fund energy efficiency and renewable energy projects.

In a recent letter, New Hampshire Gov. Maggie Hassan (D) credited RGGI with reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 40% over the last decade.

However, RGGI and RPS have many opponents. 

Both programs have contributed to higher electricity rates in New Hampshire.  According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, New Hampshire has the 6th highest residential electricity rates in the U.S.

Additionally, the funds from RGGI and RPS have been "raided" in past state budgets to cover costs unrelated to energy.  The New Hampshire House just passed a budget that uses the energy funds to cover transportation and education costs.  That practice of "raiding" arguably makes RGGI and RPS an indirect tax on electricity consumers.

What do you think of New Hampshire's eco-friendly ranking?  CLICK HERE to post your thoughts on our site.

CLICK HERE to learn more about RGGI.

CLICK HERE to see a summary of Wallethub's eco-friendly rankings.

Starting July 1, no cell phones in cars

Join Our Community

Lakeview still open, for now

Supreme Ct hears voter registration case

Hassan: 2 casinos is too many

NH ranked 7th most eco-friendly

Political Tracker

Campaign visits continue as presidential contenders stream into Granite State

Union Leader — 4/27/2015

With the 2016 presidential race so wide open on the Republican side, politicians are really pulling out all the stops.
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New rules: Youth skills workers need background checks

Concord Monitor — 4/27/2015

Anyone who works with children at youth skills programs in New Hampshire must undergo a criminal background check under new rules in effect this year.

Read More...


 
NH House Finance Committee talks budget battle
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Issue Tracker
Gambling  
Gambling 

The House Ways and Means committee has voted to recommend passage of a bill that would authorize two casinos in the state. Gov. Hassan indicated concern over whether New Hampshire could support two casinos but ultimately opted to back the bill.
Learn More About the Issue...

The Affordable Care Act and NH  
The Affordable Care Act and NH 

The Department of Health and Human Services reported that new estimates for the cost of Medicaid insurance, including the base cost for Medicaid managed care, show it is up about $12 per month, translating to $9.1 million for the state's 138,000 Medicaid clients.
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Minimum Wage  
Minimum Wage 

The House voted in favor of a bill that repeals a provision that allows employers to pay people with disabilities a rate lower than the minimum wage. The bill also bans "sheltered workshops." The Senate has already passed the bill; Gov. Hassan intends to sign it.
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Richard Verville
I'm all for it! Sexual assaults of any kind should be punished to the MAX!!!
Jeremiah Martel
What's the point their licenses will likely expire by the time they get out of jail if ever.
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