State of Democracy

NHPR's reporting initiative focused on the impact of politics and public policy on the residents of New Hampshire, and the underlying forces that shape political decisions in the state. Learn more here.

Sarah Gibson / NHPR

Last week, the ConVal School District sued the state, claiming that lawmakers are failing to fund an "adequate education" and that local taxpayers are shouldering more than their fair share.

This isn’t the first time New Hampshire has seen an education funding lawsuit. Districts across the state - from Claremont to Pittsfield - made similar arguments in court decades ago. And they won.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

Right now, around 50,000 people in New Hampshire get their health insurance through expanded Medicaid. As a creation of the Affordable Care Act, the program is designed to cover people who make too much money to qualify for traditional Medicaid, but not enough to afford private health insurance.

Beginning later this year, for some of those 50,000 people, there is a new string attached to that health insurance: a requirement they work at least 100 hours each month.

justgrimes / Flickr Creative Commons

Battles over ballot access have been raging for decades at the New Hampshire State House, and this year is no exception.

Dan Tuohy / NHPR

When Gov. Chris Sununu outlined his budget proposal to lawmakers at the State House on Thursday, much of the speech centered on health care, including some proposed fixes to issues that have simmered for years.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

Governor Chris Sununu will deliver his budget address on Thursday. The address will take place in front of the newly Democratic-controlled New Hampshire House and Senate and will provide clues about where the governor and state lawmakers are likely to find consensus - and conflict - during this budget-building session, set to go through June. 

Chris Jensen for NHPR

Once every four years, for a brief moment, it seems the whole world turns its eyes to Dixville Notch.

Since 1960, voters in this tiny Coos County community have been casting their ballots just after the stroke of midnight to mark the official start of the New Hampshire presidential primary.

Ben Vihstadt

A law that passed the year he was elected made Chris Sununu the first New Hampshire governor required to disclose the activities of his inaugural committee. And to hear Sununu tell it, that committee - the Sununu Inaugural Celebration, Inc. - has more than delivered when it comes to transparency.

State of N.H.

Corporate subsidies are something of a taboo topic in New Hampshire. The state historically doesn’t offer them and, to hear most elected officials explain it, they wouldn’t even consider subsidies when courting new businesses. That was the case when Amazon was scouting potential sites for its new headquarters and 50,000 accompanying jobs.  

Casey McDermott

We’re still more than a year away from the official start of the 2020 presidential race, barring any schedule changes from the powers that set the date of New Hampshire’s “first-in-the-nation” presidential primary. But as more states move to expand early voting and absentee ballot options, New Hampshire's “first-in-the-nation” voters might be far from the first voters to cast ballots for president in 2020.

Facebook Ad Archive

The final weeks of last week’s midterm campaign saw a flurry of partisan activity: Last-minute Facebook ads touting Gov. Chris Sununu’s plan for paid family and medical leave. Fliers criticizing Republican lawmakers “who cozy up to big corporations and special interests.” Phone banks backed by a group called "Families First," encouraging voters to support Democrats on Election Day.

Casey McDermott, NHPR

The midterm elections might seem like a national event. But in reality, the election process is a decidedly local affair. That’s especially true in New Hampshire, where voting is run at the town level.

Britta Greene / NHPR

In politics today, it seems like everyone’s choosing sides. That can be particularly tough in small towns, where personal opinions often enter the public sphere. Now, there’s increasingly hard divisions along party lines, even on local issues that have little to do with national debates.

To get at some of these tensions, NHPR stopped recently in rural communities across the Upper Valley. We talked to voters about how things have changed for them since the last election, and how they’re feeling now, on the eve of the midterms.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

Election Day is Tuesday. Here's a primer on what you need to know before heading to the polls. Click here for a Spanish language version of this guide.

Lauren Chooljian / NHPR

Denise Bowdidge would like it to be known that she is a big fan of President Donald Trump.

 

“He’s not afraid, he’s a man of strength and encouragement and hope for people for the future,” she told an NHPR reporter one August afternoon.

Those same feelings propelled her to drive across the 1st Congressional District, from her home in Bedford, to Portsmouth, where Trump’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, was in town to endorse Republican Eddie Edwards.

At the time, Edwards was locked in a heated primary battle with opponent Andy Sanborn, and he was courting Trump supporters hard.

“The president is doing one hell of a job in Washington,” Edwards said. “One hell of a job.”

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

If you glance up at the balcony in the New Hampshire Senate chamber on the day of any big vote, you’ll see a crowd of lobbyists sitting shoulder to shoulder, carefully watching the outcome on behalf of their clients.

And if you turn to the campaign finance filings for the New Hampshire Senate, you’ll see many of the same names represented in that balcony — both lobbyists and their clients — listed as campaign donors. In fact, lobbying interests are among the most reliable sources of political fundraising for New Hampshire lawmakers. 

NHPR File Photo

Primary Day can simply be the day when voters choose who will represent their parties during the general elections.

But primaries can also shape - or reshape - a party, and sometimes in lasting ways. This year could be one of those times for the New Hampshire Democratic Party.

Joining All Things Considered host Peter Biello to talk about these particular primary politics is Josh Rogers.

Note: This transcript has been edited for clarity

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

The race for New Hampshire's 1st Congressional District has attracted about $1.2 million in outside spending so far, with most of it going to Democrats Maura Sullivan and Chris Pappas.

Logan Shannon/NHPR

A hearing that could decide the fate of the voter registration law known as Senate Bill 3 began Aug. 27 in Manchester and continued for nearly two full weeks, concluding Sept. 7.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

Voters in New Hampshire's 1st Congressional District have less than a week to choose from the pack of candidates running to replace retiring Rep. Carol Shea-Porter.

As with any election, candidates are racing around the state to knock on doors and shake as many hands as possible. But this mad dash to the finish is especially frantic for the 11 Democrats running for the seat, as the sheer number of candidates might cause results to split in interesting ways.

NHPR File Photo

Energy has become a focal point in the race to become New Hampshire's next governor.

The region’s high energy rates make it a key economic issue, and climate change make it a crucial environmental one.

Democrats Molly Kelly and Steve Marchand and Republican Governor Chris Sununu are all working to differentiate themselves on those challenges.

Marchand is a self-described energy wonk. He's gone all in on the details of what he calls "generational change."

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

All this week in Hillsborough County Superior Court in Manchester, a judge will hear arguments over whether a controversial voting law known as Senate Bill 3 should be allowed to stay in place for this fall’s elections.

Here’s a refresher on what that law does and why this week’s hearing is important.

A new report from the New Hampshire Women's Foundation finds slightly more women are seeking office in the state compared to two years ago. But there are significant differences in the number of women running based on political party and region.

Sara Plourde/NHPR

Item No. 4 on the agenda seemed routine, even dull: a vote on “Cash Control and Security 2-11 Large Volume Sales Policy Revision.”

But within months, that one policy tweak would bring major changes -- and lots of cash -- to one of New Hampshire's most important money makers: state-run liquor stores.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

Rep. Dan Eaton of Stoddard, one of the longest-serving Democrats in the New Hampshire Legislature, was reprimanded earlier this year after a State House employee reported that he had engaged in “a long pattern of behavior” that created a “hostile work environment.”

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

Earlier this summer, eight Democratic candidates sat shoulder to shoulder before about 70 voters in the library of Kennett Middle School in Conway.

But before they could even introduce themselves to the voters in the audience, New Hampshire

Democratic Party Chairman Ray Buckley had a special request: Play nice, please.

With six weeks to go until the primary, Congresswoman Annie Kuster’s campaign account is six times the size of the three Republicans who’ve lining up to challenge her — combined.

The fundraising narrative in New Hampshire’s 1st Congressional District has been consistent from the start of the race: There’s Democrat Maura Sullivan way out in the front of the pack, thanks largely to out-of-state donors and other powerful political allies, and then there’s everyone else.

JJBers via Flickr/Creative Commons

A major ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court last month means that states that impose a sales tax can now require businesses located outside of their borders to collect that tax and turn the money over. It’s a big deal for New Hampshire, one of the few states without a sales tax.

Joe Gratz / Flickr Creative Commons

The juvenile justice system in New Hampshire is built around the idea of rehabilitation. Instead of going to jail, young people who commit crimes gain access to services like counseling and substance abuse treatment to address the underlying causes of their behavior.

But a blind spot in the state’s juvenile justice system can keep some kids from getting the help they need.

Jason Moon for NHPR

This week’s Supreme Court ruling limiting the ability of public sector unions to collect "agency fees" from non-members has landed along predictably partisan lines in New Hampshire. 

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