Happy Friday! If you're looking for conversation starters for this weekend's AFC playoff watch parties or you're looking for a distraction from sports, read on for some of the important or otherwise interesting stuff you might've missed this week. (And make sure to subscribe to our newsletters to stay in the loop every week.)
The Trump Era Begins Today
And maybe you’re not among the hundreds of thousands making the trek to Washington this weekend. But, whether you’re looking to party or protest, there’s plenty of inauguration-related activity on deck in New Hampshire. Get the details on an unofficial “Inaugural Ball,” several Women’s Marches and more right here.
Meanwhile, at least one of the members of New Hampshire’s Congressional delegation plans to sit out Friday’s inauguration ceremonies: Rep. Carol Shea-Porter joined a growing group of Democrats abstaining from the event, saying she plans to attend religious services and “pray for all of our leaders and people” instead.
- You can also hear from two Granite Staters, one in Washington attending inaugural festivities and another organizing a Women's March, on the meaning of the inauguration.
- Also, on The Exchange, two local party activists sat down for an hourlong conversation on their hopes and concerns as Trump begins his presidency. You can listen to the full discussion here.
Talkin' Trump... At the Dump
In the middle of campaign season last year, NHPR’s Sean Hurley paid a visit to the bellwether community of Sherburne – specifically, the Sherburne transfer station, otherwise known as the town dump, otherwise known as “the social center of town” – to take the political pulse of its residents.
In the last few weeks, Sean returned to that same dump to see how that same town was feeling ahead of President-Elect Trump’s inauguration.
150 minutes is the recommended amount of time elementary school students are supposed to spend engaging in some kind of physical education each week, but a recent survey found that a lot of New Hampshire public schools are falling short.
More than 2,000 patients are using medical marijuana in New Hampshire, ranging in age from 2 to 98 years old.
12 million pounds of food are distributed to families in need through the New Hampshire Food Bank each year, but its director is now hoping to make more nutritious options available through that haul.
35 years after one New Hampshire woman’s disappearance, local authorities plan to search her former Manchester home as part of a recently renewed criminal investigation.
A 2.5 percent tuition increase is the most that students in the state university system could see in the next two years, at least according to what university officials told lawmakers this week – but, if the schools get more state funding, those same officials promised to freeze in-state tuition entirely.
Almost 16,000 more N.H. residents had jobs at the end of 2016 than at the beginning, according to the latest in a long line of favorable state economic reports.
465 cases of gonorrhea were reported in New Hampshire in 2016 – the average, previously was about 130 cases per year – leading state officials to sound the alarm about a spike in the STD.
Gov. Chris Sununu Announced His First Big Cabinet Nomination
And it just happens to be the guy who almost stood in between him and the governor’s seat a few months back. Former Windham Rep. Frank Edelblut (who narrowly lost the gubernatorial primary by less than one percent of the vote) is now Sununu’s pick to lead the Department of Education. If confirmed, Edelblut — who’s a big fan of school choice and charter schools, and much less enthused by Common Core — would signal a major shift in the agency’s priorities under a Sununu administration. (Already, and perhaps unsurprisingly, the move’s prompting outcry from Democrats concerned about Edelblut's stances and lack of direct experience in the educational field.)
Education policy was a hot topic on the campaign trail last year. If you’re looking for clues about what a Commissioner Edelblut prescription for New Hampshire schools might look like, we recommend checking out…
- This overview of where Edelblut, Sununu and all of the gubernatorial candidates stand on Common Core, kindergarten, education funding and more.
- This look at his record in the House of Representatives, where he sponsored a few education-related bills.
- And this extended interview with Edelblut, where (if you click through to listen to the audio) he talks about several different aspects of education policy.
Senate Confirmation Hearings Put Hassan in Newfound Spotlight
One of Sen. Maggie Hassan’s first high-profile tasks in her new role has been vetting some of President-Elect Trump's cabinet picks. This week, that meant grilling Secretary of Education nominee Betsy DeVos.
Hassan got into politics in the first place as an outgrowth of the advocacy she did on behalf of her son, Ben, who has cerebral palsy – and she put that firsthand knowledge to use in a series of questions pressing DeVos to commit to upholding protections for students with disabilities. Their full exchange can be found in this video, published by Hassan’s staff. (And for more context on the specific policies referenced by Hassan and her Senate colleagues, this EdWeek blog is worth a read.)
New Hampshire is One Step Closer to Becoming a Right-to-Work State
As expected, a bill aimed at limiting the power of unions to charge non-members for representation (which you’ve probably heard referred to as a “Right-to-Work” law) passed the Senate — but, also as expected, it came with several hours of debate from both sides. From here, the bill heads to the House of Representatives, where its fate is a little less certain.
If you’re looking for more details on the issue — like, how many New Hampshire workers are actually members of a union, and where the term “Right-to-Work” actually came from in the first place — check out this handy explainer from NHPR’s Todd Bookman.
Buckley Touts State-Level Successes in DNC Bid
New Hampshire Democratic Party Chairman Ray Buckley is part of a crowded field of candidates vying to reshape the Democratic National Committee in the wake of the 2016 elections. And while other prospective DNC chairmen might have an edge in terms of national press attention and high-profile endorsements, Buckley seems more focused on building credibility among rank-and-file DNC members (who will actually have the final say on who gets to lead the party) by emphasizing his experience organizing grassroots campaigns from the ground up. (Hear him make that case, most recently, in this extended interview with the Huffington Post.)
To catch up on more in the race for DNC chair, you can check out this recent forum with the DNC candidates in Arizona and another debate held this week in Washington.
Meanwhile, at the Statehouse...
- Citing concerns about the state’s financial footing, Gov. Chris Sununu directed all agency heads not to hire anyone for the next six months without his approval.
- The New Hampshire Senate (voting along party lines) passed a bill that would let people carry a concealed weapon without a permit. Gov. Chris Sununu favors it, and it’s expected to become law.
- Another gun bill that would require a background check for commercial gun sales drew both tearful testimony and lots of pushback from opponents who worried it represents an encroachment on gun rights.
- Advocates, police and others packed into another hearing this week to argue against a proposal that would require corroborating evidence in sexual assault cases where the defendant has never before been convicted — or, as one of those opponents called it, a “rapist shield law.”
What's up with green burials? And why is it so hard to actually arrange one? This week, the team at Outside/In explores the (surprisingly complex) answers to these and other questions about this growing alternative to the traditional funeral.
Just because you saw The West Wing a decade ago, doesn't mean you actually understand the mechanics of the American government. But you don’t have to feel bad! Plenty of us forget the stuff we learn in social studies classes, or maybe you’ve come up with new questions that weren’t addressed there in the first place. Either way, Word of Mouth wants to help you better understand the institutions and individuals that make up our democracy. Find out more (and send in your questions) here.
Got questions about the Granite State? Send 'em our way!
We want to know what you’ve been wondering about the stuff that makes New Hampshire, well, New Hampshire. Maybe it’s something as simple as, “How did that one statue get there?” Or maybe it’s a little more complicated. Large, small, silly or serious — if you share your questions with us, we might be able to help track down an answer. Click here to get started.