The Exchange

One year after a white nationalist rally turned deadly in Virginia, we sit down with Granite Staters who watch these movements and reflect on the state of civil discourse in our state and our country.

Josh Rogers for NHPR

Gubernatorial candidate Steve Marchand will appear on NHPR's The Exchange Tuesday, Aug. 14, as part of the show's coverage of the 2018 primary elections.

Marchand, the former mayor of Portsmouth, is running for the Democratic nomination for governor. Also running is former state Senator Molly Kelly. Kelly was given the opportunity to appear with Marchand, but declined the show's invitation.

The winner of the Democratic primary on Tuesday, Sept. 11 will take on Republican Gov. Chris Sununu, who is running unopposed.

Public Domain Pictures/ Alex Grichenko

This year, New Hampshire is experiencing a 22 percent increase in traffic fatalities. With the relatively recent introduction of a hands-free driving law, and vehicle safety features increasing every year, it raises the question: What is driving this increase in traffic deaths? We check in with some of the people on the front lines of New Hampshire's highway safety, and ask what we can do to prevent more fatalities on our roads and highways. 

For the first time since 1996, the Libertarian Party has major party status and will be on the ballot. There's also a primary battle brewing between two Libertarian candidates for governor. On Tuesday, we sit down with Aaron Day of Bedford and Jilletta Jarvis of Sandown to talk about the issues facing New Hampshire -- and find out how they would address them if they were elected governor. 

GUESTS:

A Check-Up For The Affordable Care Act

Jul 27, 2018
NHPR

This controversial health care law has undergone some changes since it was signed eight years ago, particularly under the Trump Administration.  We find what that means for the Granite State and what's in store for the Affordable Care Act in the months ahead. 

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By August 13, New Hampshire must submit its application for $23 million in federal funds to help fight the opioid crisis.   It's far from a blank check, however. The 81-page application includes numerous requirements and focuses on medication-assisted treatment for opioid addiction, as well as prevention and recovery services.  Whether that includes mental health services and other approaches that address underlying causes of addiction is unclear.  Also, even as opioids continue to get much of the attention, methamphetamine has emerged as the new lethal drug.  Still, the influx of millions in funding is heartening for many on the frontlines of this opioid crisis. 

Call Me American: A Memoir by Abdi Nor Iftin

Jul 16, 2018

As a child in Somalia, Abdi Nor Iftin learned English by watching American action-hero films and listening to American pop stars.  His love of all things American  earned him the nickname Abdi American. But when the radical Islamist group al-Shabaab rose to power in 2006, familiarity with Western culture became something to hide.  Abdi began sending secret dispatches to NPR about worsening conditions in Somalia. After a long and arduous journey, Abdi found his way from Mogadishu to Maine, where he works as an interpreter while attending college.  

We'll talk with Abdi about his life here in the United States and about life in Somalia, one of the countries covered under the travel ban recently upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court.  Most of his family remains in Somalia. 

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Last week, the city of Dover became the first New Hampshire municipality to raise their smoking age from 18 to 21. The new city ordinance prohibits anyone under 21 from buying, using or possessing tobacco products, including e-cigarettes and vaping devices. We look at what kind of impact this law may have on the Dover community, and the state as a whole, and look at similar legislation in Maine and Massachusetts. 

Later in the hour, an update on marijuana legalization across New England. 

Studies have shown that reading over summer vacation keeps kids' brains active and reduces stagnation or setbacks in reading levels (known as the "summer slide"). But how often do kids and teenagers read for pleasure these days? We talk with educators, librarians and authors about why independent reading is so important, what books appeal to kids nowadays, and what strategies help encouraage kids to open a book this summer.

A Review of Recent SCOTUS Rulings

Jun 24, 2018
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It's been a busy few weeks at the U.S. Supreme Court. We'll focus on several recent decisions  addressing online business, digital privacy, religious freedom, and sports betting.  The online-sales ruling in particular has made big waves here in New Hampshire. 

Weekly N.H. News Roundup: June 22, 2018

Jun 22, 2018

Governor Sununu issues several vetoes, including a long-promised veto of the death penalty repeal that passed this spring. An immigration checkpoint on I 93 results in five arrests -- and more controversy.

And data released by the federal government suggests chemicals known as PFAS may be risky at lower levels than regulated by New Hampshire.

This week's Roundup is hosted by Lauren Chooljian, politics and policy reporter for NHPR's State of Democracy project.

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This smoking alternative is sweeping schools nationwide and causing concern.  JUULs are small and easy to hide; they look like a flash drive and come in delicious-smelling flavors.  But manufacturers say their product is squarely aimed at adult smokers, to help them quit.  We look at the arguments. 

This is a rebroadcast of a show that originally aired live on April 25, 2018. 

PxHere

There are at least 50 species of non-native insects established in the state, including the Emerald Ash Borer, which has devastated the local ash tree population. Poised to join this list is another wood-boring bug, which could have a similar impact on more of New Hampshire’s trees: the Southern Pine Beetle.

“In New Hampshire, we live in a global hotspot of non-native forest insects,” said Matthew Ayres, Professor of Biological Sciences at Dartmouth.

Dan Tuohy / NHPR

Former state senator Molly Kelly explains why she's running for governor and addresses the big issues facing the state, including the opioid epidemic, public education funding, and New Hampshire's energy future.

Kelly is running against former Portsmouth mayor Steve Marchand in the Democratic primary.  The winner will face Governor Chris Sununu. 

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Since moving into the state in 2013, the invasive Emerald Ash Borer has been diminishing local ash tree poplations. Now, New Hampshire's forrests face a threat from another non-native insect: The Southern Pine Beetle. On Monday, June 18, the Exchange discusses the these two wood-boring beetles and their impact on New Hampshire, how they got here, and what we can do to fight back.

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Several high-profile suicides have been the focus of a national conversation, and recent numbers show that the rate in New Hampshire is up nearly 50 percent over the past 20 years. The Exchange on Thursday, June 14, will examine what's causing this rise in suicide deaths, and how N.H. is approaching this difficult topic. 

Mental health professionals urge people suffering from suicidal thoughts to seek help by contacting the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, which is available 24 hours a day at (800) 273-8255.

GUESTS:

  • Todd Donovan -   Firefighter and paramedic for the Derry Fire Department and Data Specialist for the Division of Fire Standards and Training and Emergency Medical Services. He has survived several suicide attempts and experienced lifelong depression before receiving treatment as an adult that helped alleviate his illness. He shares his story with first responders and other groups to help spread awareness about treatment and to help prevent suicide. 
  • Ken Norton - Executive Director of  NAMI-NH.  He serves on the steering committee for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and on the N.H. Suicide Prevention Council. He also led devlopment of NAMI- NH's Connect Program,  a national best practice approach to training professionals and communities on suicide prevention and response. 
  • Jennifer Schirmer -  Disaster Behavioral Health Coordinator with N.H. Department of Health and Human Services. She is a licensed mental health counselor and oversees statewide efforts to help those affected by suicide. 

On Thursday, June 14, we're discussing suicide in New Hampshire and efforts underway to prevent it.

Suicide rates were up 48.3 percent from 1999 - 2016 in the Granite State, according to a recent report from the CDC.  We'll examine what might be contributing to this, as well as the latest thinking on how to discuss and prevent suicide.  Submit your questions below. 

Mental health professionals urge people suffering from suicidal thoughts to seek help by contacting the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, which is available 24 hours a day at (800) 273-8255.

Dan Tuohy / NHPR

New Hampshire Department of Corrections Commissioner Helen Hanks says only patients whose mental illness drives them to extreme violence end up in the state prison’s secure psychiatric unit, and it’s a small group -- on average occupying about 10 of the unit’s 66 beds every year.  

NHPR File Photo

It's been called one of the toughest jobs in the state: Commissioner of the Department of Corrections. Since last November, Helen Hanks has held the position, overseeing three prisons, probation offices, and transitional housing units.  Also on her watch:  The opening of a new women's prison after a long legal battle over equal treatment for female prisoners, and protests over the practice of housing non-criminal patients in the state prison's secure psychiatric unit.

NH DHHS

New Hampshire residents have long known the risks of contracting diseases like Lyme and West Nile from a tick or mosquito bite, but a recent report from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says there’s even more to worry about.

The CDC is now tracking 16 of these “vector-borne diseases” and says the number of cases has tripled between 2004 and 2016.

Annie Roepik/NHPR

Neighbors at the Coakley Landfill Superfund site in Greenland met privately with top EPA officials on Monday to discuss a long-standing concern: high levels of potentially toxic PFAS chemicals in a brook that runs alongside the landfill. 

Local residents handed New England EPA Administrator Alexandra Dunn a petition asking the agency to compell the group responnsible for the site's contamination to take several actions, including expanding testing of residential wells and installing water filters at homes and schools around the landfill. 

We get an update on the Coakley site, as well as other areas dealing with drinking-water contamination, from NHPR's Energy and Environment reporter Annie Ropeik. 

NHPR File Photo

The opioid crisis has forced physicians to rethink their prescribing practices, and many are providing fewer opioid prescriptions, potentially leaving some patients without proper pain management.

Tighter regulations and insurance requirements have reduced overprescribing, but many say this makes it difficult for patients with both acute and chronic pain to find the help they need.

Dan Tuohy / NHPR

In the first of our four-day In-Depth series, The Exchange explored whether mental health care in New Hampshire has improved since the state agreed to invest more in the system  — part of a 2014 legal settlement. All agreed there's been progress. There's more help for people in crisis and more transitional housing.

But there's still plenty of room for improvement, including on permanent-housing arrrangements and reimbursement rates for struggling community mental health centers.  

Jessica Hunt / NHPR

Jeffrey Meyers, Commissioner of the N.H. Department of Health and Human Services, says his agency is beefing up oversight of substance use disorder treatment centers that have been struggling to stay afloat or that have closed altogether after financial struggles – a situation the state can ill afford in the midst of the opioid crisis.  

Speaking on The Exchange, Meyers said the state is auditing these organizations regularly.

NHPR

Jeffrey Meyers, Commissioner of the Dept. of Health and Human Services oversees some of the state's most challenging issues: the opioid crisis and a struggling treatment network, a child protection system with high caseloads and under scrutiny, and a Medicaid expansion program under review.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

We talk with Republican and Democratic lawmakers about some major votes coming up at the Statehouse this session, including Medicaid expansion, now in the House;  a family and medical leave bill, under scrutiny in the senate; and a proposed Constitutional amendment on victims' rights, called Marsy's Law.

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Relief and Reconstruction in the Caribbean. A Catholic archbishop and bishop are visiting the state from Puerto Rico and the Virgin islands, a region hard hit by last September's hurricanes, to raise awareness about the suffering that continues there. Recovery has been slow, with thousands still lacking power and living in makeshift dwellings.  The bishops are here at the invitation of Bishop Peter A. Libasci, of Manchester, for an initiative called Through the Storm: Helping Our Brothers and Sisters in the Caribbean. For more information on the event, visit here

The Latest Thinking on Substance Abuse Prevention

Mar 23, 2018
Randy Robertson via flickr/CC

Scare tactics and catchy slogans don't work, many experts now say.  But if that's the case, then how best to keep people from becoming addicted to drugs or alcohol?  We find out what works, what doesn't, and where most efforts take place: While many look to schools, our guests say it requires a much broader approach.

This program is part of NHPR's Crossroad project, a station-wide look at the addiction crisis and its impact on the state. 

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There have long been complaints that the state's extensive training and certification requirements for some fields have led to workforce shortages, and the House recently passed a bill for a less restrictive approach. But opponents say caution is warranted - to protect the public and professional integrity.

Weekly N.H. News Roundup: March 16, 2018

Mar 16, 2018

New Hampshire students join thousands around the country in walking out of their classrooms to protest school shootings and NRA influence. The New Hampshire Attorney General finds that a state trooper was justified in shooting and killing an unarmed Enfield man.  And Secretary of State Bill Gardner, with 42 years on the job, faces a rare re-election challenge -- this time, from former Democratic gubernatorial candidate Colin Van Ostern.

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