The Competitiveness Coalition, in coordination with The Josiah Bartlett Center for Public Policy, find in a poll of 800 likely Republican primary voters, released Sept. 5,  that these voters want the federal government to focus on inflation, the cost of living and the economy, and not get distracted by attacking American tech companies.

On New Hampshire-specific issues, the poll shows huge support among Republican primary voters for ending the Interest & Dividends Tax, and little support for raising electricity costs to fight climate change. 

The key findings of the poll include:

  • More than 70% of GOP primary voters believe there is too much government regulation.
  • New Hampshire Republican presidential primary voters are focused on the economy: just under half (48%) of primary voters said either inflation and the cost of living (28%) or jobs and the economy (20%) were the most important issues.
  • At just 4%, breaking up large technology companies is a bottom-tier issue position for Republican presidential primary voters in New Hampshire.
  • Fully 72% of GOP primary voters are opposed to the Biden Administration establishing new regulations that would break up large technology companies such as Amazon, Apple, and Google, including 47% who are strongly opposed.
  • If these regulations were to go into place, these voters are concerned about the impact they would have on their own lives, including Google starting to charge for their services (34%), and Apple no longer being able to ensure the safety and security of downloaded apps (also 34%).
  • Supporting breaking up large technology companies has the potential to be electorally damaging for Republican candidates, especially when informed this could give the advantage to Chinese tech companies. Seventy-four percent (74%) of GOP primary voters are less likely to vote for a Republican candidate after hearing that, including 59% who are much less likely.
  • Fully 80% of GOP primary voters support eliminating the Interest & Dividends Tax to make New Hampshire truly income-tax-free. 
  • Asked how much more they’d be willing to pay per month in higher electricity costs to convert New Hampshire power plants from natural gas to renewables, 59% said they’d be willing to pay nothing more, 23% said $5 more, 9% said $25 more, 4% said $50 more, and 3% said $100 more.

“It’s clear that Republican voters in the First In The Nation state oppose the misguided Biden antitrust agenda and believe it will exacerbate the challenges of Bidenomics,” said Scott Brown, a New Hampshire resident, former U.S. Senator and Ambassador and chair of the Competitiveness Coalition. “The candidates competing in the Granite State would be wise to take heed and advocate for policies that will bring economic relief rather than additional pain. We have far too much regulation on our innovators already, and breaking up successful American success stories to the benefit of the Chinese Communist Party is the exact wrong approach.”

Andrew Cline, president of the Josiah Bartlett Center for Public Policy, added that the poll reinforces that New Hampshire voters are looking for basic good governance, not more government activism. “The message from Republican primary voters in New Hampshire is simple. They’d prefer to restrain the federal government, not American businesses,” Cline said.  

Additionally, the poll, which was conducted after the first Republican presidential debate, shows Donald Trump with a significant lead on the Republican presidential primary ballot. The former President currently garners 47% on the primary ballot, giving him a more than 30-point lead over his closest challengers (Ron DeSantis and Nikki Haley, both at 10%).  Chris Christie and Vivek Ramaswamy both sit at 8%, with no other candidate receiving more than 5% of the vote.

  • Trump: 47%
  • Ron DeSantis: 10%
  • Nikki Haley: 10%
  • Vivek Ramaswamy: 8%
  • Chris Christie: 8%
  • Tim Scott: 5%
  • Mike Pence: 4%
  • Doug Burgum: 2%
  • Will Hurd: 1%
  • Asa Hutchison: 1%
  • Larry Elder: 1%
  • Undecided: 4%

On behalf of the Competitiveness Coalition and The Josiah Bartlett Center for Public Policy,  NMB Research conducted a statewide survey of N=800 likely Republican presidential primary voters in New Hampshire. The survey was conducted August 25-31, 2023 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.46%.  All surveys were conducted by live interviewers, with 78% of interviews conducted with cell phone respondents (N=623) and 22% of interviews conducted with landline respondents (N=177).

Launched in April 2022, the Competitiveness Coalition is a first-of-its-kind group educating the public and advocating for policies that put consumers first while fostering innovation and attracting new investment. For more information, please visit Members of the press can contact the coalition at [email protected]. The Josiah Bartlett Center for Public Policy is New Hampshire’s free-market think tank.

The devastating wildfires on the Hawaiian island Maui have triggered a debate over a protectionist shipping law that’s hindering relief efforts. Even some who typically support government intervention in the economy are speaking out against the century-old law. 

The Merchant Marine Act of 1920, or the Jones Act, is a federal law that restricts shipping between U.S. ports to ships that are U.S.-owned, U.S.-built, and U.S.-crewed only. Those restrictions make it harder for mainlanders to help their fellow Americans, such as Puerto Ricans and Hawaiians, after serious disasters. Seeing this, The Boston Globe has called for the act’s full repeal, citing the increased costs of cargo and shipping and the delayed arrival of relief aid. 

Relief efforts for Americans who happen to live on islands are hampered by a century-old shipping law that delays the arrival of short-term aid and makes long-term recovery more difficult and costly…. One not so small suggestion, Mr. President: Ask Congress to repeal the Jones Act, which continues to be a hindrance every time disaster strikes islands.

By connecting the Maui tragedy to the Jones Act, The Boston Globe has again put itself on the side of long overdue free-market reform in this policy area.

Foreign shipbuilding long ago outstripped that being done in the US — and it’s far less expensive. A recently constructed container ship built to serve Hawaii from the mainland carried a price tag of more than $225 million, according to the CATO Institute, compared to $41 million for a similar South Korean-built ship. Operating costs of American vessels, that same study noted, are roughly three times that of their international counterparts.

Thus, the protectionist Jones Act simply adds to the cost of everything carried on those US vessels. A 2020 study by the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii estimated that the Jones Act cost the average Hawaiian family some $1,800 a year and cost the islands overall some $1.2 billion a year. So, yes, it will constitute a substantial burden on Maui’s recovery.

After Hurricane Fiona struck Puerto Rico last September, The Globe pointed out that the Jones Act hindered relief efforts and subsequently called for its repeal

Once again, Puerto Ricans are paying the price for an antiquated shipping law that makes food and other goods more expensive on the island. The law is inexcusable in ordinary times — and downright scandalous now, when the island is reeling from yet another natural disaster. 

One hundred years of protectionism in U.S. shipping has artificially inflated the price of goods for all Americans, as well as the cost of shipping itself. And by shielding U.S. shipbuilders from foreign competition, the Jones Act has stunted U.S. shipbuilding while the rest of the world has thrived in a competitive global market. 

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, the United States has only 99 ships that are Jones Act-compliant for domestic transports. Meanwhile, there are more than 60,000 commercial vessels in the ocean around the world.

Whether it be wildfires in Hawaii or hurricanes in Puerto Rico, this anti-free-market law burdens the shipping of crucial aid to U.S. islands and their people. And while the Jones Act’s ramifications are on full display when places like Hawaii and Puerto Rico need emergency relief, the adverse effects of the federal law reach New Hampshire consumers as well. 

High energy costs have been hurting Granite Staters for years, and the Jones Act plays a supporting role. New England’s limited access to pipelines and minimal pipeline capacity make its entire energy grid more dependent upon shipping oil and natural gas from other states when demand heightens during the winter months.

For New Hampshire to access the bulk of U.S.-produced oil and gas, though, would involve transporting fuel on tankers from domestic producers like Texas or Pennsylvania.

There’s just one problem: The United States doesn’t have any liquid natural gas (LNG) tankers that are Jones Act-compliant to ship oil and gas from Texas or Pennsylvania to New England. And foreign-made tankers are prohibited from shipping oil and gas between U.S. states because of the Jones Act. The results include higher energy costs for Granite Staters, a greater reliance on imported fuel, and higher odds that New Hampshire suffers blackouts during periods of peak energy demand. 

The best option for Granite State consumers would be to allow any tanker to make deliveries directly between U.S. ports. (New England governors have repeatedly sought Jones Act waivers to allow that.) 

This would help open New Hampshire’s energy grid to domestic fuel, doing so at a lower price than imports. In fact, a J.P. Morgan analysis finds that merely suspending the Jones Act could save consumers 10 cents per gallon of gas just by allowing more inexpensive foreign ships to transport domestic gas between U.S. ports.

The Jones Act even contributes to New England’s traffic troubles. Because the law effectively prevents transporting domestic cargo over coastal waters, the freight that otherwise would be shipped is instead hauled by truckers, further clogging the interstates surrounding New York City and Boston. 

It shouldn’t take a natural disaster for the Jones Act to face this kind of scrutiny. But The Globe deserves credit for taking these periodic opportunities to educate the public on the law’s harmful effects and argue forcefully for its repeal.

The new state occupational licensing overhaul (House Bill 409) passed this session and signed by Gov. Chris Sununu on August 8 eliminated a little-known, triple-license requirement for barbers and others in the beauty and grooming industry, serving as a perfect example of how license requirements can easily get out of hand. 

Both barbers and barbershops have to be licensed in New Hampshire, a common practice nationally. But for years New Hampshire also required a “booth license” for independent barbers who rented a booth in a licensed barbershop.

Like hair stylists, barbers can be either employees or independent contractors. It’s not uncommon for salons and barbershops to rent booths to stylists and barbers who work for themselves. 

In these situations, the state required three licenses: 1. The barber had to obtain a barber’s license; 2. The barbershop had to be licensed; 3. The barber who rented a booth inside the already licensed barbershop also had to get a separate booth license. 

This booth license applied to all barbers, cosmetologists, manicurists, and estheticians in New Hampshire looking to rent space.

These independent practitioners had to pay a two-year, $75 fee and subject their individual booth to a state inspection—even though the shop itself was already subject to licensure and inspection.

House Bill 409 lifted that unnecessary triple licensure, among many other changes. HB 409 reorganized the Office of Professional Licensure and Certification (OPLC) and streamlined the state’s regulatory regime for occupations in the beauty and grooming industry.

Since the governor signed the bill earlier this month, licensed beauty and grooming professionals renting a space in a licensed shop no longer have to get a separate booth license. 

The Keene Sentinel reported that practitioners are already expressing gratitude for the change. Jeanne Chappell, Keene Beauty Academy president and chair of the state board that regulates barbers, cosmetologists, and estheticians, said the booth license was duplicative.

“This will save time and money, and also you won’t have to hold two licenses to be a booth renter,” she told The Keene Sentinel. 

Eliminating unnecessary and repetitive licensing paperwork was the goal of HB 409, and immediately after passage the bill is already providing relief.

This regulatory unburdening comes on the heels of HB 594, which allowed the OPLC to recognize out-of-state occupational licenses. Barbers, cosmetologists, manicurists, and estheticians are among the many practitioners who can quickly get licensed in New Hampshire if they hold a valid, current, and substantially similar license in another state. 

Occupational licensing requirements are sold as a necessary health and safety measure. Often, though, they create obstacles to employment without providing any measurable health or safety benefit. The now eliminated booth license was a perfect example of how these regulations can generate costs and burdens without improving health or safety.

The saga of the Elizabeth Gurley Flynn state historical marker drags on. Flynn—a labor leader, feminist, founding member of the American Civil Liberties Union, and an avowed member and chairperson of the Communist Party USA—was recognized this spring with a historical highway marker in her hometown of Concord.

Facing immediate backlash, the state removed “the rebel girl’s” marker soon after erecting it. The state now faces a lawsuit claiming it didn’t follow the rules for removal.

As state leaders debate whether or not to recognize a Communist who left the Granite State when she was about 10 years old, led the Communist Party USA, and received a Soviet state funeral in 1964, let’s not overlook the Concord capitalists who built companies and invented products that improved lives. 

Putting their own ingenuity to use, these inventors and entrepreneurs made a lasting impact on the New Hampshire and American economies. Comrade Gurley Flynn became a celebrity through her writing and organizing. These capitalists, on the other hand, received far less attention while helping to build the New Hampshire and U.S. economies, create jobs, and advance their fields.  

Levi Hutchins

If you set an alarm to help wake up at a certain time this morning, you can thank Levi Hutchins. Born in 1761, Hutchins lived in Concord from 1772 to 1777 and 1780 to 1855. And it was in Concord where Hutchins invented the first American alarm clock. 

Trained as clockmakers, Hutchins and his brother Abel opened their clockmaking shop on Main Street in Concord in 1786 and were successful businessmen. Hutchins understood the need for many to wake up on time for work, including himself. While alarm clocks were already in Europe, Hutchins was determined to bring one to America. 

In 1787, Hutchins designed and built the first American alarm clock. It was constructed in a 29-inch by 14-inch wooden cabinet, and each clock could only be set for one specific time (in Hutchins’s case, 4 a.m.). Hutchins never bothered to patent his clock or mass produce it. But he did wake up on time for the rest of his life and tinker his way into the history books. 

Sylvester Marsh

A stalwart of New Hampshire’s significant tourist economy, the Mount Washington Cog Railway was the first of its kind in the world when Sylvester Marsh designed and built it.

Marsh was born in 1803 and lived in Concord for the last five years of his life. An American entrepreneur, Marsh’s inspiration for the railway came from his near-death experience hiking Mount Washington in 1852 during a storm. Locomotives at the time weren’t able to climb Washington’s steep incline, so Marsh had to invent a new railway—the cog rail.

Though some state lawmakers laughed at Marsh, the Legislature gave him exclusive rights to a Mount Washington railway in 1858. And since 1869, the Cog has made regular trips year-round to the top of the tallest mountain in the Northeast as one of the Granite State’s oldest, most popular attractions and a boon to its economy. (Marsh is mentioned in the Cog Railway’s historical marker in the White Mountains but doesn’t have one of his own.)

Benjamin Ames Kimball

Northeastern railroad giant and Concord resident from 1854 to 1920, Benjamin Ames Kimball, born in 1833, was a railroad engineer, mechanic, and manufacturer, as well as a consequential figure in railroad expansion in New England.

Starting as a draftsman in the shops of the Concord Railroad, Kimball worked his way up to designing locomotives and running the locomotive department. He left to found his own manufacturing company and later returned as a director of the Concord Railroad. In 1879, Kimball led the merger of the Concord Railroad with the Boston, Concord, and Montreal Railroad, forming the Concord and Montreal Railroad in 1889. Serving as its president from 1895 to 1920, the Concord and Montreal Railroad was the principal railroad in the state under Kimball’s leadership.

The leading railroad figure in New Hampshire, Kimball is credited with overseeing a booming system that accelerated the state’s economy and facilitated increased tourism to the Lakes Region and White Mountains. 

Benjamin Holt

Go to any construction site in the country, and chances are you’ll see Caterpillar Inc. equipment on the job. The origins of both the company and the machinery can be traced back to one man: Benjamin Holt. 

Born in 1849 in Concord, Holt was an inventor who owned more than 45 patents. He’s best known, however, for inventing in 1904 the first successful track-type tractor—called the “Caterpillar”—a product that Caterpillar Inc. still uses. 

Determined to create a vehicle to help farmers, Holt and his company, Holt Manufacturing, designed a track-laying system that would allow heavy tractors to move over soft soil and mud. With his track-type tractor, Holt became the father of mechanized farming. 

During World War I, Holt even supplied treads for U.S. and British tanks. 

Holt Manufacturing later merged with a competitor to form Caterpillar Tractor Co., which eventually became Caterpillar Inc., the largest manufacturer of earth-moving equipment in the world. 

Though Holt did not receive a state funeral in Moscow, he fed more Soviets than Concord-born Communist hero Gurley Flynn ever did. During the Great Depression, the Soviet government needed agricultural equipment that its socialist, command economy couldn’t produce. So, they bought American tractors and combines from Caterpillar. 


Announcing her run for governor, former U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte said she’d fight to prevent New Hampshire from becoming Massachusetts. It was as if she had insulted Bill Belichick’s mother.

Lowell’s city manager demanded an apology for Ayotte’s factual assertion that his city has long been a source of illegal drugs entering New Hampshire. Boston Globe columnist Yvonne Abraham compared New Hampshire Republicans, along with all other Republicans, to the patrons of the Mos Eisley cantina in Star Wars, though she lost points for calling the cantina a “bar.”

“In New Hampshire, as in the rest of the country, the GOP has become the bar scene from ‘Star Wars,’ dominated by extremists, conspiracy theorists, culture war obsessives, and cultish devotees of former president Donald Trump,” Abraham wrote.

How offensive. Not to Republicans, but to all other Granite Staters who were so rudely and unfairly excluded.

Let’s face it, the bouncer at the Mos Eisley cantina would let most of New Hampshire in.

To the rest of New England, New Hampshire is a libertarian-ish hive of scum and villainy. It’s a land of Yankee hillbillies, anti-tax zealots, bearded weirdos, flannel-wrapped survivalists, home-brewing crypto farmers and gun-toting charity gamblers.

And to be honest, there’s some truth to that. But it’s not for the reasons New England progressives think. They think we’re just backwards rednecks. In reality, New Hampshire is a refuge in the region that attracts people who value freedom over order.

Eccentrics and frontiersmen are drawn to freedom like goth cosplayers are drawn to sites of unspeakable evil.

Granite Staters have created a “live free or die” culture in which citizens are trusted with immense amounts of power, and government is rather tightly constrained. Here, 424 legislators are held accountable to voters in small, compact districts, governors are weak, and you can open carry into some bars (and cantinas) as long as you’re not drinking.

Massachusetts is a very different place. The most obvious difference is the preference for order over liberty. But it goes further than that.

“Apparently, our state is a freedom-hating, high-tax hell scape, teeming with drug dealers from Lawrence and Lowell who prey on the decent citizens to the north,” Abraham wrote in mock summary of Ayotte’s remarks.


Massachusetts does have:

If New Hampshire is the Mos Eisley cantina, Massachusetts is the Empire. Consider the similarities.

The Empire is run by a small group of elites who seek to consolidate power and impose order on the universe. If that’s not the progressive ideal, what is?

Massachusetts is effectively a one-party state where the primary political disagreements are over how much money to tax from the people and spend on behalf of favored constituencies, thus further consolidating the ruling party’s power.

One-party rule has created such political dysfunction that Beacon Hill has devolved into non-stop insider power plays that look a little like the constant infighting among imperial brass.

But most importantly, Massachusetts has for decades attempted to colonize New Hampshire by overrunning our state with its revenue agents.

From placing state police in N.H. liquor store parking lots to taxing the income of remote workers, Massachusetts has sought to leave no dime uncollected from anyone who lives, works, or has ever set foot in the Bay State.

Massachusetts literally sent troopers to New Hampshire to search for tax scofflaws, for crying out loud.

And the Bay State uses policy to maintain control and punish groups that constitute a challenge to its power. Last year it raised taxes on incomes of $1 million or more by 80%, successfully singling out both an opposing power base and an unpopular minority for financial exploitation and domination.

Massachusetts charges an estate tax (it’s one of only 17 states to do that). So even death is no escape from Massachusetts’ imperial reach.

The state even punishes owners of some businesses with an additional “stinger tax” on top of the regular taxes they have to pay.

On the whole, Massachusetts ranks 34th in business tax climate, while New Hampshire ranks sixth.

Massachusetts ranks 7th in state tax collections per capita. New Hampshire ranks 47th.

Government power in Massachusetts is protected through taxation, regulation, and propaganda. The state and local governments take aggressive positions on one side of divisive culture war issues.

When reforms do slip through the system, the establishment does its best to crush them. The state allowed chartered public schools 30 years ago. But it quickly capped the number of charter schools, and in 2016 establishment forces defeated a parent-led effort to lift the cap. Charter school funding is limited by a law that sets it at a tiny percentage of what district public schools get, to ensure that charters never become a competitor at scale. Larger reforms, such as Education Savings Accounts, remain illegal.

Now, obviously, Massachusetts no longer employs the level of violence it once used to enforce conformity. Its ruling elite now use policy and social pressure to satisfy the Puritanical impulse to purge heretics and reinforce orthodox views.

That’s progress. But it’s unmistakable that Massachusetts values order and orthodoxy over freedom and individualism, and this preference feeds the growth of an imperial state.

All states need to establish social order, and all cultures develop social norms. Some lean more toward order, some toward liberty. New Hampshire has always held freedom to be its core value, even when it hasn’t lived up to its own ideals.

It’s not an accident that no accused witch was ever executed in New Hampshire.

Given the choice, we’ll take the place that elevates liberty as its core value every time. And we’re not alone. More than 100,000 Bay Staters moved out of the state from April 2020-July 2022.

And in a sure sign of flight from power, the top two destinations for Massachusetts refugees are Florida and New Hampshire, states that have no income tax and rank high in individual freedom.

A survey by a travel website found in January that most Massachusetts residents said they’d move to New Hampshire if they could “have a clean break and move somewhere else.”

Given the choice, people tend to move from oppressive states to free ones. That’s why people generally move from Massachusetts to New Hampshire and not vice versa.

So when New Hampshire politicians say they don’t want our state to become Massachusetts, it’s not frivolous political rhetoric. It’s not a gratuitous insult. We know we’re the last hope for New Englanders who want to live free from domineering government. And we want to keep it that way. Forever.

Jason Sorens at the American Institute for Economic Research has posted a provocative essay connecting young people’s affinity for heavy-handed government economic intervention to overly restrictive land use regulations.

Restrictive land use regulations play a significant role in driving housing costs higher. That’s very well documented.

Government zoning regulations that limit homebuilding are a big factor in housing costs over the long run. A lot of research has shown this, but so does common sense. Look at the populations of Boston, Houston, Miami, and San Francisco over time. Between 2010 and 2020, Boston’s county (Suffolk) grew 2 percent, Houston’s county (Harris) grew 16 percent, Miami-Dade grew 7 percent, and San Francisco County grew 8 percent. Clearly, San Francisco’s huge expense is not solely a result of hot demand; otherwise, its population growth rates would be much higher than those of the others. Boston also looks pretty bad when you compare rents to population growth, while Houston looks amazing. It has accommodated rapid growth at moderate rents.

What’s less well known is that persistently high housing costs, caused by a long-term supply shortage, price younger adults out of the housing market, and in their frustration they demand government remedies. The longer the shortage persists, the more extreme their proposed remedies become.

Right now, left-of-center states and localities are experimenting with rent control and public housing, would-be solutions to the problem of rising rents that economists know are incredibly costly. Simply reforming zoning would be a better solution.

Not only do artificial restrictions on the housing supply turn people toward radical economic interventions, but they also tend to make communities more left-leaning over time.

A standard-deviation increase in housing regulation makes a place shift toward the Democrats about three percentage points over the next eight years, because noncollege voters, who are becoming the Republican base, move out.

“But won’t building apartment high-rises bring in more Democrats than Republicans?” I often hear. Yes, usually, but by increasing housing supply these high rises will make single-family homes cheaper in the suburbs, keeping blue-collar families from moving to Texas or Florida. And building tract subdivisions in the suburbs directly helps blue-collar families stay put.

Many Democrats and progressives are at least somewhat free-market on housing, because they want to keep rents down. That’s admirable. On the other hand, democratic socialist types insist on harmful “solutions” like rent control and public housing. Republicans and conservatives have largely sat on the sidelines of zoning reform so far. But the data strongly suggest that to fight the radical left, we need to build more homes.

A lot of Republicans and conservatives believe that strict zoning is a way to protect their communities politically right-of-center. The opposite tends to be true. It makes them more left-of-center over time and causes people, particularly the young, to seek more government economic interventions.



Lost amid all the political and economic news this month was an important bit of data that’s particularly noteworthy as the 2024 governor’s race gets under way. (Yes, already.)

The state’s fiscal year ended in June. When it did, the state posted a General and Education Trust Fund surplus of $538.9 million. 

When revenues exceed budgeted expenses by more than half a billion dollars, that’s notable. Large budget surpluses have so commonplace, though, that they barely prompt a blurb anymore. 

And this is after multiple rounds of business tax cuts that critics said would devastate the state budget and leave New Hampshire with too little revenue to fund basic services.

The surge in business tax revenues (which we documented last year) is one of New Hampshire’s most important economic (and political) stories of the last decade.

It hasn’t stopped. Business tax revenues for the 2022 fiscal year were $323.2 million (or 33.7%) above plan and $68 million (5.6%) above the prior fiscal year.

Looking back to 2012, it’s remarkable how state General and Education Fund revenues have grown. Total revenues for both funds were $3.23 billion in the 2022 fiscal year. In 2012, they were $2.16 billion. 

Inflation (using the national Consumer Price Index) can account for $663 million of that $1.068 billion revenue increase. The rest, about $404 million, is new money.

The other big economic news this month was the achievement of a new record-low unemployment rate of 1.8%. New Hampshire’s economy is churning out jobs and revenue. This isn’t all because of the business tax cuts that have occurred since 2015, but they’ve helped. And the phase out of the Interest & Dividends Tax by 2025 will help more. 

While New Hampshire is enjoying these successes, other states are showing why punishing successful residents with high tax rates is a bad idea.

In Massachusetts, the new 9% income tax rate for millionaires helped to push Celtics star Grant Williams to seek a trade to low-tax Texas.

In April, a new 4% surtax on homes worth more than $5 million took effect in Los Angeles. Movie stars including Mark Wahlberg and Brad Pitt rushed to sell homes before the tax took effect, and since April 1 the supply of homes worth more than $5 million has plunged as owners pulled their listings, according to The Hollywood Reporter. 

California legislators in June had to cover a $32 billion budget shortfall caused by rising spending and falling revenues. Massachusetts is dealing with declining revenues, and current spending proposals for the new fiscal year exceed revenues by about $500 million

Keeping taxes and spending low is paying off for New Hampshire’s economy and the state budget. Having the latest state data confirm that fact yet again, as poster-child progressive states spend beyond their means and send rich residents fleeing, is a good starting point for the governor’s race.

It just got a lot easier to grow a home-based food operation in New Hampshire.

It’s long been legal to make what the state defines as non-dangerous food products in your kitchen and sell them to the public, under certain conditions. One of those conditions has been a cap on total sales revenue. If you sell no more than $35,000 worth of food, no state license is needed. A penny more, and you’re subject to state licensing and inspection.

Until July 1, that is.

House Bill 119, adopted on Thursday, removes revenue as a condition that would trigger state licensure. 

As introduced, HB 119 would have doubled the sales cap to $70,000. But the House struck the income threshold entirely, and senators agreed to the change. Restrictions on food types and sales locations remain in place.

This might sound like a controversial change, but the bill sailed through the Legislature, passing the House in March and the Senate in May, both on voice votes. Fifty-three people signed up to testify on the bill during its Senate hearing, none in opposition. A veto is not expected from the governor. 

The sales threshold had just been raised from $20,000 to $35,000 last year. Legislators’ efforts to rapidly expand and then eliminate that threshold are a testament to the growth of home-based food businesses in recent years and the general acknowledgement in Concord that the sales limits have served no valid public health purpose. 

That’s probably because you can’t sell just anything you make in your kitchen. RSA 143-A:12 defines a homestead food operation as one in which food is prepared entirely in a residential kitchen, but the law prohibits these small businesses from selling foods that require temperature control (think dairy products or anything else that must be frozen or refrigerated) and certain canned foods. Sales locations are also limited to residences, farm stands, farmer’s markets, and retail locations. A home-based food business that meets those conditions is exempt from state regulations that apply to food service establishments and retail food stores.

There was bipartisan agreement in both the House and Senate that eliminating the sales threshold would eliminate a needless burden for home cooks, bakers, jam makers, and similar food vendors who sell non-hazardous food products prepared in a residential kitchen. 

A small, home-based food business, for example, will be able to scale up without having to worry about becoming subject to state licensure after a few successful fall fairs. 

The House Environment and Agriculture Committee “heard in testimony that the current annual gross sales threshold is not even tracked or reported by DHHS Food Safety Division, and there is no violation penalty for going over the current threshold, so there is no real reason to have it in current statute,” according to the committee report. “Also, the one size fits all approach on annual gross sales makes no sense due to the varying sale price of goods offered for sale, and this bill will also eliminate that issue,” the committee further noted. 

Non-potentially hazardous foods that home-based entrepreneurs will be able to sell more freely include breads, baked goods, candy, fudge, packaged dried products, dried herbs, roasted whole bean coffee or ground coffee, and jams and jellies, among others. 

Examples of potentially hazardous foods that homestead food operations are prohibited from selling include “processed acidified and low-acid canned foods” like pickles, salsa, and relish. Others include meat, poultry, fish, eggs, milk and other dairy products, cut fruit and vegetables, baked potatoes, mushrooms, and more. 

By removing the maximum sales cap, HB 119 would improve New Hampshire’s standing amongst other states’ homestead food laws. According to a survey by the Institute for Justice of homemade food laws across the 50 states, New Hampshire has an overall C grade and a C+ for its homestead license laws (before HB 119).

Massachusetts and New York have similar grades of C and C+, respectively, while Florida has a B-, Tennessee has a B+, and Maine has a B+ in cities and counties with their own food sovereignty ordinances. 

While the bill removes a state-level regulatory hurdle, New Hampshire will still have 15 self-inspecting cities and towns with their own licensing requirements for homestead food operations within their borders. 

The only drama involved with this bill came when legislators tacked on an amendment allowing the sale of uninspected elk and red deer meat in addition to bison.

The bill exempts farms that raise elk or red deer for human consumption, as well as their direct sale, from licensing and inspection requirements, provided the animals are slaughtered and processed in accordance with state law. The slaughtering of these animals and their preparation for sale are also exempt from inspection.

HB 119 adds elk and red deer to the labeling and purchasing rules that already exist for uninspected bison. 

The legislation itself sunsets these changes regarding elk and red deer meat. Unless reauthorized by the Legislature, these food service and meat inspection exemptions will automatically end in 2025. This allows the state a two-year period in which to test whether eliminating regulations causes any public health issues. 

The easy passage of HB 119 is an encouraging sign that legislators are paying closer attention to unnecessary food regulations that burden residents without improving public health. 

Legislators have approved two relatively small but significant improvements to New Hampshire’s existing school choice options. 

The 2024–25 state budget increases per-pupil funding for public charter schools, and a separate bill expands eligibility for the Education Freedom Account (EFA) program. Both changes will offer Granite State students more educational options starting this fall.

Charter schools

Because charter schools don’t receive direct subsidies from local property taxpayers, as district public schools do, they receive an additional state grant per pupil on top of the per-pupil adequate education grant. 

The new state budget increases the base adequacy grant for charter school students from $3,561 to $4,100 and the supplemental charter school grant from $3,411 to $4,900, bringing the total per-pupil amount to $9,000—a 29% increase from the 2022–23 budget. The result is about $121.5 million in charter school funding.

New Hampshire charter schools are public schools operated by a nonprofit organization under a state-approved charter. A new national study shows that they can be extremely effective.

Stanford University’s Center for Research on Education Outcomes released a landmark study this month finding that “the typical charter school student in our national sample had reading and math gains that outpaced their peers in the traditional public schools (TPS) they otherwise would have attended.” Black, Hispanic, low-income, and English-language-learner students attending charter schools also posted larger academic gains than did their counterparts who attended traditional public schools.

Charter schools have become a popular option for New Hampshire families seeking an alternative to traditional public schools. Enrollment in charter schools for the 22–23 school year was a record 5,530 in New Hampshire, a 12% increase from 21–22 enrollment and a nearly 164% increase from 13–14 enrollment. 

Charter schools typically supplement their state education grants through private fundraising. The increased state aid will reduce the reliance on outside donations and put the state’s dozens of charter schools on somewhat better financial footing.

Education Freedom Accounts

House Bill 367 expands eligibility for an Education Freedom Account (EFA) from households making no more than 300% of the federal poverty level to households with income at or below 350% of the federal poverty level. That’s a 16.7% increase in income eligibility. 

This expansion increases the EFA eligibility level for a two-person household by $9,860, for a three-person household by $12,430, and for a four-person household by $15,000, providing many additional families with the ability to pursue alternative educational options best-suited to their children’s needs.

For context, a family of four making no more than $105,000 will be eligible to apply for an EFA under the new cap. 

EFAs are government-approved savings accounts that can be used by families to access a wide range of educational opportunities outside of their government-assigned public school district. The funds can be used for tuition at private and public schools, or for other state-approved education expenses, including supplies and tutoring services. 

The student’s per-pupil adequacy dollars ($4,857 on average as of 2022) are put into an Education Freedom Account from which families can draw for approved expenses.

Like charter schools, EFAs have also become increasingly popular since their adoption in the state, with current enrollment around 3,300. About half of those enrolled are students eligible for free or reduced-price meals.

Among those benefiting from expanded eligibility are single parents. Under the original income cap at 300% of the federal poverty level, a single parent making $60,000 a year would not have been eligible for an EFA. Now a single parent making less than $69,020 is eligible under the new income cap.

Expanded EFA eligibility and increased charter school funding offer a smaller advance of market forces into the provision of public educational services than supporters had hoped for this year. But the small gains will make a big difference to those families who now have access to an alternative education for their children. 

The Portsmouth Planning Board did something remarkable last week. It ever so slightly loosened its iron grip on a small portion of the city’s iconic downtown. And in the loosening, a lesson fell out. 

Local investors want to create at 238 Deer St. a mixed-use building with 21 micro apartments. These units would be no more than 500 square feet and would have no on-site parking. 

Though the location is a short walk from the city’s $26 million Foundry Place parking garage—built specifically to facilitate additional commercial activity downtown—the developers needed permission from the Planning Board, in the form of a Conditional Use Permit (CUP), to build those tiny apartments without on-site parking spaces.

A dispute over the need for private parking dragged on for two years, and last week the board voted, despite some member misgivings, to grant the CUP. 

That’s a huge decision, for many reasons. Among them, it separates housing from parking not just for this project but possibly for others in the future. Planning boards typically insist on maintaining minimum parking requirements that raise housing costs and occupy real estate that could be turned to more productive uses. 

It also allows tiny apartments to fill a huge market need in Portsmouth, where astronomical housing prices are driving away lower-and middle-income people.

During the board meeting, members kept asking about the rental price of the apartments. The developer’s attorney at one point answered, “…it’s going to be market rate, it’s not going to be affordable, that’s really all we can tell you at this point.”

This comment might not sound off to a lot of people, but it would be a strange thing to say about most products.

Why should there be a difference between “market rate” and “affordable?”

We don’t think of most other consumer goods in these terms. 

No one says, “the bananas are going to be market rate, not affordable,” or “are you pricing those chainsaws at market rate, or are they ‘affordable?’”

Sure, we browse clearance racks, wait for sales, clip coupons, buy generics or store brands, ransack the corner drugstore in protest of systemic oppression. (OK, maybe you do only some of these things.) But for most consumer goods, we don’t conceive of there being a market price and a separate “affordable” price. 

That’s because the market, if allowed to, will provide a gazillion options of most products at a wide range of prices.

If you need toilet paper, the market offers everything from wafer-thin sandpaper to quilted, pillow-soft rolls that smell like a flowering Alpine meadow in spring. 

If you need a car, you can pick up a no-frills Nissan Versa (MSRP: $15,700) or save up a little longer and spring for the slightly flashier Bugatti Chiron Super Sport (MRSP: $3.4 million).

If you need a cell phone, you can get a Nokia flip phone for $19 (less than the price of a 12 piece KFC bucket) or a Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 for around $1,800.

Sure, housing prices have a range, too. But in housing, government regulations have literally outlawed the construction of many options at the lower end of the range. So builders can’t offer the lower-price fare that manufacturers are able to offer in most other industries. 

And so we talk of “market rate” housing and “affordable” housing. That’s not because the market doesn’t want to provide less-expensive options. It’s because governments don’t want the market to provide those options. 

As Mark Perry has demonstrated, markets tend to lower prices and improve quality unless government gets in the way. Industries in which government regulations have prevented robust competition (health care, education, housing, child care) have experienced steady price increases, while less regulated industries have experienced price declines. 

Remove the regulatory barriers, and the market will be happy to provide micro apartments, tiny homes, duplexes, in-law apartments, single-family homes on half-acre lots and any number of other less-expensive options for people who want them. 

Once the supply catches up with demand, “market rate” will become “affordable” in housing just as in most other markets.