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.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

Rep. Joe Alexander, a first-term Republican from Goffstown, used to think he was “an expert on time management.”

“Then,” he said, “I joined the Legislature.” 

Dan Tuohy / NHPR

The Legislative Ethics Committee voted on Monday to pursue a preliminary investigation into a complaint against New Hampshire House Majority Leader Doug Ley, a Democrat from Jaffrey who also leads one of the state’s largest teachers unions.

Sara Plourde / NHPR

As a new work requirement for beneficiaries of New Hampshire’s expanded Medicaid program takes effect this month, some in the healthcare industry say early signs are pointing to a bumpy road ahead.

Sara Plourde for NHPR

NHPR reports on the New Hampshire Presidential Primary every four years, but this time around we're trying something a little different.

We're inviting you to weigh in on how we should cover this campaign. 

Josh Rogers, NHPR

House Majority Leader Doug Ley is adamant that he hasn’t broken any ethics rules by engaging in legislative advocacy as president of the New Hampshire chapter of the American Federation of Teachers while serving in the Legislature.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

New Hampshire's Legislative Ethics Committee is reviewing a complaint against House Majority Leader Doug Ley, which alleges he violated ethics guidelines by testifying and voting on legislation that could affect the teachers union that employs him as its president.

New Hampshire Campaign Finance System

Candidates running for office in New Hampshire can run up a tab on all kinds of expenses: lawn signs, postage, snacks for fundraisers, radio ads, print ads, digital ads and more.

But some lawmakers lean on campaign donations to cover other, less obvious expenses that pile up on the campaign trail, or even while they’re in office: things like car repairs, dry cleaning bills and floral arrangements.

When faced with questions earlier this year about the thousands of dollars paid out from his inaugural committee to his sister and top political advisor, Gov. Chris Sununu’s team said those payments followed state and federal regulations, and “the organization’s bylaws and conflict of interest policy.”

But when NHPR asked to see those bylaws and conflict of interest policy, Sununu’s team declined.

Sarah Gibson for NHPR

 

For schools across New Hampshire, special education is a growing need and a growing cost. Nowhere is that more apparent than in Manchester, the state’s largest district, where special ed expenditures have nearly tripled in the last twenty years.  

Legislative Ethics Committee website

Back in February, New Hampshire’s Legislative Ethics Committee started its first, and thus far only, meeting of the year with cause for celebration: For the first time since anyone on the committee could remember, all 424 legislators submitted their mandatory financial disclosure forms on time.

But making a deadline is only one part of the equation when it comes to New Hampshire’s financial disclosure process. Making sure that paperwork is filled out correctly and completely — that’s quite another.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

New Hampshire lawmakers only get paid $100 a year — not exactly enough to feed a family — so it’s no surprise that many of them rely on other sources of income to get by.

As a result, state lawmakers end up dealing with all kinds of proposals that can directly impact their family finances, the taxes they pay, the companies where they work, or the boards on which they serve.

Sarah Gibson for NHPR

Teacher salaries make up a big chunk of school budgets in New Hampshire. Pittsfield has never been able to offer high salaries, but with creative projects in the past few years, it’s attracted good teachers and high praise. With recent state cuts, though, many say that’s become impossible to sustain.

Sarah Gibson for NHPR

The city of Berlin has been making some tough decisions lately. As state aid for education declines, Berlin is struggling to keep its schools open. And it’s not alone. Some towns have brought lawsuits against the state, claiming it isn’t covering enough education costs. 

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.

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