Brian Wallstin

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Transportation Advocates Pin Hopes on Gas Tax Hike

In February, Transportation Commissioner Christopher Clement told a legislative committee that his agency was neither for nor against a House bill that would raise the state’s gas tax by 12 cents to pay for much-needed repairs to New Hampshire’s roads and bridges.

At the time, Clement could remain, as he put it, “revenue agnostic,” as long as income earmarked for his department from a proposed casino was still a possibility.

But the House swept the casino option off the table two weeks ago, leaving the gas tax increase as the only proposed alternative to address the state’s crumbling infrastructure.

Accordingly, at a gathering of business leaders in Concord on Monday, Clement assumed a less guarded position on the House proposal.

A gas tax hike, he said, would put the department on a “path to greatness.” The increase, which would bring in an estimated $817 million over the next 10 years, would allow for completion of I-93, double state aid for municipal bridge and highway repairs and fully fund the state’s 10-year transportation plan. Continue Reading

State’s Political-Spending Rules Fail To Make The Grade — Again

New Hampshire’s campaign-finance regulations are a jumble of contradictions, a fact that people who study the issue never fail to point out.

A year ago, a consortium of good-government types awarded the Granite State a “D” for political financing, citing how easy it is for donors to get around the dollar limits on contributions.

Last week, a campaign-finance watchdog group weighed in, and once again New Hampshire found itself at the bottom of the class.

In an analysis of disclosure requirements for PACs, non-profits and outside spending groups, the National Institute on Money on State Politics gave New Hampshire an “F.”

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Farm-To-Table Proposal Gets Mixed Review At Hearing

A legislative proposal to expand the production and sale of food grown in New Hampshire received a lukewarm reception at a public hearing at the State House this morning.

Senate Bill 141 calls for the creation of a farm-to-table program to promote the economic development of New Hampshire’s farming and fishing sectors, while increasing consumers’ access to locally grown and processed food. The program would be implemented by an advisory council of farmers, vendors and sustainability experts working closely with the state Department of Agriculture, Markets and Food.

The bill’s primary sponsor, Sen. Martha Fuller Clark, told the Senate Executive Department and Administration Committee that the program would help bring together the “disparate groups” who are already committed to the “grow-local, eat-local movement” in New Hampshire.

“There is an ongoing interest throughout all of New England, in fact throughout the country, to look at how we promote and coordinate what really is a major food revolution in this country” Clark said. “This bill is an effort to make sure NH is in the forefront as this food revolution moves forward.” Continue Reading

Lawmakers Propose Farm-To-Table Program To Promote Local Agriculture

New Hampshire lawmakers have introduced legislation that aims to expand the market for food grown in the Granite State.

Senate Bill 141 would establish a farm-to-table program to help bolster the state’s “food and farm economy” by increasing access to healthy food, promoting jobs and encouraging private and public investment in local agriculture.

A public hearing is scheduled for 10:15 Wednesday in Room 100 of the Statehouse.

The bill, sponsored by a half dozen legislators led by Sen. Martha Fuller Clark (D-Portsmouth), calls for creation of an advisory council to the New Hampshire Department of Agriculture, Markets and Food. Among its duties, the council would be charged with gathering data on the types of food produced in New Hampshire, “current and potential markets” for local farmers and the extent of land available for future food production. Continue Reading

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