Lauren Chooljian

Reporter, Politics & Policy

Credit Lucy Hewett / lucyhewett.com

Lauren is NHPR’s Politics and Policy reporter for the State of Democracy project.

Before joining NHPR in 2017, Lauren spent nearly six years as a reporter, producer and fill-in host for WBEZ in Chicago. Most recently, she covered City Hall and Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s administration.

Her reporting has earned her awards from the Associated Press and a regional Murrow Award. In 2014, her voice was featured on a best-of list in the Chicago Tribune culture section for its “unpretentious, Peppermint Patty scratchiness,” which her family especially appreciated.

Lauren graduated with a BA in History from Saint Anselm College and has a Master of Science in Journalism from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University, where she was also an adjunct lecturer. Her work as been featured on NPR, Marketplace, Here and Now, and in The Washington Post, among others.

Lauren is a proud New Hampshire native, born and raised in Hampstead.   

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Andru Volinsky, Letter to Governor and Attorney General

Executive Councilor Andru Volinsky is calling for an investigation into the New Hampshire Liquor Commission, alleging that the state’s liquor stores are engaging in business practices that could “unquestionably facilitate money laundering related to criminal activities.”

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

Gun laws are always divisive in the Live Free or Die state, but Tuesday, lawmakers are taking up a bill that is dividing a normally united front in the Republican-controlled state house: Gun rights groups.

Dan Tuohy / NHPR

Governor Chris Sununu is backing a bill that he says will reform how New Hampshire’s state government works

Regulatory reform has been on Sununu’s to-do list since running for office. He once called New Hampshire a “regulatory police state.”

Last year, he pulled together an all-male group of lawmakers and business owners to figure out the best ways to cut red tape.

On Monday, they sent him a nearly 50-page list of suggestions that include processing permits faster and making fire marshals solely responsible for the fire codes in foster homes.

Courtesy photo

Joel Storella’s “Cash Only Vintage” is about the last thing visitors to Littleton, New Hampshire expect to find while strolling along Main Street.

The quintessential New England town is known for being home to the world’s longest candy counter and the author of Pollyanna...but vintage Ralph Lauren sweatshirts and highlighter colored ski suits? Not so much. But those are just two of the many 80s and 90s gems you’ll find at Storella’s vintage clothing store.

File photo

St. Paul’s School in Concord is settling a civil lawsuit brought by the family of a former student, Chessy Prout, who was a 15-year-old freshman at the elite boarding school when she accused then senior Owen Labrie of sexually assaulting her.

Courtesy of St. Paul's School's Website

Long before the #MeToo movement took down politicians, movie moguls and powerful media personalities, St. Paul’s School in Concord was grappling with its own history of sexual misconduct.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu has a long to-do list for this year’s legislative session.

Sununu gathered Republican lawmakers together for a press conference early Tuesday morning that had the feel of a GOP pep rally. 

The New Hampshire Republican Party has sometimes struggled to unite, even with control of the Statehouse. But Tuesday, Sununu praised lawmakers for their work last year, expressed confidence in what’s ahead and tried to normalize potential splits.

 

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

Both New Hampshire’s U.S. senators said Monday they will not hold up a budget deal as leverage for immigration reform.

 

President Donald Trump ended the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program - or DACA - last year.  The program protected tens of thousands of kids who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children. Trump gave Congress until March to find a fix, but so far, it hasn’t been resolved.

St. Paul's School

The head of the elite St. Paul’s School in Concord is resigning.

Michael Hirschfeld has been part of the prestigious prep school’s faculty since 1994, and has led the institution for the past seven years. Like many administrators, he is also an alumni, and he sent both his children to St Paul’s.

Hirschfeld made the announcement at the school’s Chapel assembly Thursday and in a letter to the greater St Paul’s community. He didn’t explain why he was leaving the school, just that “the time is right for new leadership.”

The 2018 -2019 school year will be his last.

Wikimedia commons

New Hampshire House lawmakers are expected to vote Wednesday on a bill that would legalize home liquor distilling.

Booze enthusiasts are currently allowed to make up to 200 gallons of beer and wine at home - depending on the size of their household.

But distilling liquor at home is against state law.

That doesn’t make sense to Representative Scott Wallace of Danville.

"The natural progression of the hobby is you make some wine, if you’d like to turn that into brandy, that’s not currently lawful. So this bill would allow for that."

Bev Newton via Flickr CC / https://flic.kr/p/7cf8Yk

There are thousands of historic cemeteries and burial grounds all over the state of New Hampshire, and a state lawmaker wants to make it easier to keep track of them.

Senator David Watters of Dover has been fascinated by old gravestones and cemeteries since he was in high school - he also researched them while teaching at UNH.

He says burial grounds reflect New Hampshire's history and tradition.

"In many towns they didn't have a local or central cemetery established you know sometimes into the 1800s."

Courtesy photo

Researchers at the University of New Hampshire now have a new way of measuring snow totals this winter that could help them learn more about climate change.

The new scales function almost like a scale you might have in your bathroom. They lie flat on the ground and constantly measure the amount of water in the snow as it piles up or melts down.

Elizabeth Burakowski is a researcher at UNH. She says the scales share data in real time, which will help scientists understand how potentially warmer winters could impact New Hampshire's ecosystem.

Paige Sutherland/NHPR

A handful of New Hampshire House Democrats are in Alabama for the much-talked about special U.S. Senate election between Republican Roy Moore and Democrat Doug Jones.

House Minority Leader Steve Shurtleff says he organized the trip a few months ago, after Moore won the Republican primary for the Senate seat left vacant by Jeff Sessions, now Attorney General.

 

Gene Chandler is back as Speaker of the New Hampshire House.

After two rounds of secret ballots and one caucus meeting Thursday, Chandler won the majority of votes cast by his House colleagues. The Bartlett Republican beat Democrat Steve Shurtleff of Penacook and Libertarian Jim McConnell of North Swanzey.

Chandler is in his 18th term in the NH house.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

  The country's largest legislative body is set to choose its new leader. 

 

The 400-member New Hampshire House will vote Thursday morning to replace Shawn Jasper, who left the post after three years to become Agriculture Commissioner. 

 

Lauren Chooljian for NHPR

  It wasn't gold, money or skeletons.

But the newly-found items, including old ledgers, now-vintage fans and Civil War bonds, locked for decades in an old safe in a first floor committee room, were still exciting to a few curious minds at the New Hampshire State House. 

Thanksgiving - or any time families gather together - often includes some intense political debate at the dinner table. 

It's the first Thanksgiving with President Donald Trump in office, and in a purple state that was nearly split between candidates during the election, there are bound to be some uncomfortable conversations. 

A new poll from the University of New Hampshire says many New Hampshire residents don't think voter fraud has an impact on local elections.

The latest Granite State Poll tackles a topic that's been front of mind for many New Hampshire residents lately, especially Republicans. 

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

 

A handful of Republican lawmakers and one Democrat are expected to square off at a forum in Concord in hopes of becoming the next Speaker of the New Hampshire House.

Governor Chris Sununu has nominated the current Speaker, Shawn Jasper, to be his Commissioner of Agriculture. Jasper has yet to be confirmed by the Executive Council, but in the meantime, a number of his colleagues have been lining up to be his potential replacement.

 

Lauren Chooljian / NHPR

 

George and Maxine Maynard have what you might call a complicated relationship with New Hampshire's state motto.

And when the U.S. Supreme Court takes up a controversial free speech case next month, the Maynards' decades-old legal battle over the state’s ubiquitous “Live Free or Die” will be back in the spotlight.

 

The national chairwoman of the Republican Party will be visiting the Seacoast tonight to raise money for the state GOP.  

Ronna McDaniel will first speak at a reception in Hampton hosted by the Seacoast Republican Women. 

Then she plans to visit former U.S. Senator John Sununu's home in Rye for a second fundraiser.  

McDaniel's visit comes three weeks before Election Day in the Manchester mayoral race between former Alderman, Democrat Joyce Craig and incumbent Republican Mayor Ted Gatsas.  

Lauren Chooljian for NHPR

Evan Bennett has wanted to be in a pig scramble since he was four years old. And now that he’s nine, it feels like he’s been waiting pretty much forever.

He’s watched two of his older brothers get in a pen at the Deerfield Fair, chasing piglets in front of big crowds, trying to shove them into burlap sacks.

This year, Evan finally got his chance. But while he and five other kids scrambled after black, spotted piglets, protesters from around New England greeted fair visitors with signs that called the event “torture” and “animal abuse.”

Youtuber Nadia Anne

For many New England families, the official signs of fall include foliage, apple cider donuts and a trip to the Deerfield Fair. But one Chester resident is hoping that she can convince people to think a little differently about one of the fair’s long-standing traditions: The Pig Scramble.

NPR

Both New Hampshire US Senators are criticizing Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price for reportedly taking private jets around the country for official government business.

 

Lauren Chooljian for NHPR

It’s not exactly election season, but there’s been a lot of talk in New Hampshire lately about the voting process.

President Trump's commission on voter integrity met at Saint Anselm College in Manchester on Tuesday, just as a controversial New Hampshire election law got its first test in a special election in the Lakes Region.