Click on any issue to read Ruth Larson’s position.

Attracting Young Families to New Hampshire

New Hampshire has a serious workforce problem, resulting from an aging population and an inability to attract young people and young families to the state. These problems have numerous causes, but first and foremost are the unavailability of affordable housing, the lack of affordable daycare, and a shortage of well-paying jobs with opportunities for the future. High quality public schools are essential to the economy of the region, to the viability of local businesses, and to the future of our democracy.

The increasing diversion of taxpayer dollars from community schools also has a devastating impact on our state, in terms of increased local property taxes and decreased ability to educate our children. The ill-conceived voucher program has already mushroomed out of control, turning into an extraordinarily costly boondoggle that primarily benefits those least in need.

I view every policy question through the prism of its effect on children and families. What is good for the children of New Hampshire is good for New Hampshire. It’s that simple.

I plan to work towards a more equitable way to fund our schools, partly in order to relieve many of our communities from their heavy local tax burden, but also to insure a more level playing field in terms of educational opportunities.

To attract young families to New Hampshire, we also need to place more emphasis on protecting women’s rights, and LGBTQ+ rights, and reproductive rights. The negative effects of climate change need to be addressed now, rather than kicked down the road to when remedial measures will be unattainable or impossibly expensive. Protection of the environment is a health and safety issue, but it is also an economic one, especially in a state like New Hampshire that depends so much on tourism.

This is not the time to retrench and try to pull back to a bygone era. On the contrary, our approach towards the future needs to embrace the positive, with an expansion of the rights that make us a better and more equal state. When events transpire at the national level that seem to take us backwards, such as the overturning of Roe v. Wade, we need to find ways at the state level to continue forward. Let us be a state where young people want to live, and where young families will move or stay to raise their children.

I view every policy question through the prism of its effect on children and families. What is good for the children of New Hampshire is good for New Hampshire. It’s that simple.

Reproductive Rights

In 1973, the US Supreme Court ruled in Roe v. Wade that the right to privacy under the due process clause of the 14th Amendment extended to a woman seeking an abortion. With the overruling of Roe v. Wade by the current Supreme Court, women are now dependent on state legislatures to protect their reproductive rights and their privacy.

Although in New Hampshire, a woman is still legally able to obtain an abortion up to 24 weeks, that right has been and continues to be under threat. The first abortion ban in over 40 years was recently signed into law through the back door, as part of a large budget bill, and numerous additional restrictions have been proposed.

Here’s a 3-word summary of my view on reproductive rights: I trust women.

A woman’s choice to use birth control, to have or not have a child, to carry a fetus to term or to terminate a pregnancy are all decisions that should be hers alone, without interference from the State. Restrictions on women’s reproductive rights have far-reaching consequences in terms of gender equality, bodily autonomy, equal participation in the economy, and the health of the woman and the fetus or child.

In New Hampshire, if the term “Live Free or Die” is to mean anything, it must include a woman’s right to make her own reproductive decisions.
In my view, truly “pro-life” policies are those that support and nurture children after their birth, with emphasis on health, education, clean air and water, and safety from violence. It is my goal for those areas to be common ground that we can all agree on.

Here’s a 3-word summary of my view on reproductive rights: I TRUST WOMEN.

Education and Education Funding

Our public schools are the bedrock of our communities, providing opportunities for all children to learn, to play, and to advance in life. A quality education is every student’s right, and I reject efforts to divert funds away from community schools into private schools and home schooling.

We need to support our teachers and let them teach children how to view the world and our history openly. I have faith in our educators to exercise sound judgment, and I have confidence in our children. If teachers and students are all allowed their liberty, without censorship or threats of retaliation, then our communities will benefit. Our young people are strong, and they are capable of learning about our history, including the most problematic aspects of our history, without flinching.

The public school system should be an equalizer in NH, with students from poorer and students from richer communities all receiving equally good academic training, with similar facilities. The excessive dependence on local property taxes results in the wealth gap increasing, and it makes it much harder for less advantages students to catch up to their more fortunate peers. Funding of our community schools needs to be reformed at the state level, with the state contributing more towards the constitutionally mandated “adequate education.”

We have seen in municipal elections that the people of New Hampshire support their schools and their teachers, and this support is across the board and nonpartisan. This support needs to be reflected in our state policies and at the local level.

The recent moves to divert taxpayer funds to expensive voucher programs will result in making it more difficult for schools in property poor communities to survive. The fact that most of the private school students receiving vouchers were already in private schools shows that the so-called “Education Freedom Accounts” are really just a scholarship program for the wealthy. These scholarships are not based on need; on the contrary. The fact that the private schools that benefit can discriminate at will also means that needier students will be left in the dwindling community schools with fewer resources. Finally, the lack of oversight for home schooling may result in home schooled children never learning the basics of a sound education.

In recent years, NH has seen a variety of attacks on our community schools, which are largely fueled by the preference of those in leadership for private schools and home schooling. I want the emphasis to be on public schools, on the theory that good public schools benefit the entire community.

If we want businesses to come to our communities and survive, we need good schools to train the future workforce, and we need good public schools for the business owners and the employees to want to live there. We have seen in municipal elections that the people of NH support their schools and their teachers, and this support is across the board and nonpartisan. This support needs to be reflected in our state policies and at the local level.

Cannabis Legalization

I support legalization of cannabis, and if elected to the NH Senate, I will vote in favor of legalization. The vast majority of NH residents favor legalization, and in my view the issue should be how to legalize, not whether to legalize. Unfortunately, although the NH House voted in favor of legalization in the spring of 2022, the NH Senate rejected both bills.

New Hampshire is now the only New England state that does not have legal marijuana. New Hampshire is, therefore, the only state in New England that gets no revenues from cannabis sales. We watch as our neighboring states all derive large profits from this commerce.

The vast majority of New Hampshire residents favor legalization, and in my view the issue should be how to legalize, not whether to legalize.

In my view, New Hampshire is overdue for change. One form of legalization under consideration has been to incorporate cannabis sales into liquor sales in state stores. I would instead favor private retail outlets, similar to what has been done in other states where cannabis is legal. In addition to encouraging competition likely to result in favorable pricing, this model would keep the cannabis supply chain in the hands of those with the most expertise. It would avoid the issue of having the state itself, and state employees, involved in sales that are still illegal under federal law.

Gun Rights & Safety

New Hampshire has a long tradition of hunting, and a long tradition of protecting gun ownership rights. I support those traditions.

To date, New Hampshire has not had a mass shooting, in a school or elsewhere. We have been very lucky. So far. But that luck could run out any day or year, and some town in NH could become a Sandy Hook or a Uvalde and suddenly get in the headlines as a new site of horror.

New Hampshire has a long tradition of hunting, and a long tradition of protecting gun ownership rights. I support those traditions.

I consider myself a responsible gun owner, and someone who sees the need to balance the rights of individual gun owners with public safety and protection of children. The safety measures I would support include:

  • closing background-check loopholes,
  • establishing a short waiting period between purchase and delivery of a firearm,
  • prohibiting guns in schools and state legislature, and
  • establishing extreme risk protection orders (so-called red flag laws).

Climate Change & the Environment

Although New Hampshire has not, or has not yet, seen the most extreme weather patterns some other states have experienced, such as devastating fires and flooding and severe drought. Yet even in NH we see increasing temperatures year round, with fewer periods below freezing in the winter, and more periods of excessive heat in the summer. Rainy winters and summer drought warnings are becoming standard.

These weather patterns result in widespread effects on our economy: inadequate rainfall in the summer making farming more difficult and more expensive, excessive rainfall in other months overburdened our storm water systems, reduced snowfall in the winter impacting snow sports and winter recreation, and increased energy costs to consumers and businesses throughout the year.

The measures I support not only benefit the environment, but they benefit the taxpayers of New Hampshire. Energy efficiency saves money. Public transportation saves money. Reducing dependence on fossil fuels saves money. Understanding that is key to the changes we need.

Scientists agree that excessive reliance on fossil fuels is the primary cause of climate change, so we need to take measures to change that. Local communities can make important and benefit changes, but action at the state level is crucial. New Hampshire needs to join our neighboring New England states in having a statutory mandate for greenhouse gas reductions. New Hampshire also has the lowest renewable energy requirements in the region. The state’s most recent climate action plan is from 2009.

One area that has seen improvement but needs more is net metering, under which solar energy producers get credit for the energy they produce. The allowable limits for municipalities were increased, but not for individual consumers. That needs to change. More charging stations are needed for electric vehicles, and statewide subsidies for those stations are needed. If the stations are readily available, more people will switch to electric or hybrid cars.
Increased investments need to be made in wind and solar power to reap the economic benefits of energy efficiency.

The measures I support not only benefit the environment, but they benefit the taxpayers of NH. Energy efficiency saves money. Public transportation saves money. Reducing dependence on fossil fuels saves money. Understanding that is key to the changes we need.