Josh Rogers

Senior Political Reporter and Editor

Josh has worked at NHPR since 2000 and serves as NHPR’s State House reporter. Before joining the staff, he lived in New York, where he worked for a number of different magazines.

Josh’s award winning reporting can be heard locally but also regularly airs on national broadcasts of NPR’s Morning Edition and All Things Considered. Josh is also a frequent analyst on political talk shows in the state. He grew up in Concord, and holds a Bachelor of Arts in American Studies from Reed College.

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Cathy Provencher has been the State Treasurer since 2007. Before that she led the audit division of the Legislative Budget Assistant.

Her familiarity with the state’s finances should helper in her new job:  Vice Chancellor for Financial Affairs and Treasurer for the University system.

Provencher was approved for her new post by the USNH Board of Trustees Executive Committee Thursday.

Gov. Maggie Hassan says she expects those eligible for insurance under a Medicaid expansion plan backed by a bipartisan group of State Senators will be covered in July.

The plan to insure as many as 50,000 low income residents by using federal money to pay for private coverage cleared a key committee last week.

The plan is expected to win full approval by lawmakers, but those votes have yet to be scheduled.  

Governor Hassan says she’s optimistic that will happen with enough time for the plan’s two-month enrollment period to begin May 1.

On the Political Front this morning, NHPR's Josh Rogers talks about what the political implications of the looming Medicaid expansion deal could be for Republicans and news of another Republican considering a run for governor.     

Four Republicans --  Jeb Bradley, Bob Odell, Nancy Stiles and John Reagan -- joined all eleven Democrats to back the 25-foot buffer zone.

The GOP-led Health Committee had recommended the bill be killed, and Republicans could not muster the majority needed to table the measure when it reached the floor.

Lead sponsor, Manchester Democrat, Donna Soucy, argued the bill strikes a delicate balance.

Twelve towns have passed ordinances to limit where sex offenders can live --  barring offenders from living near schools, or child-care centers.

But law enforcement oppose such bans.  Renny Cushing of Hampton, a Democrat, told House colleagues that police know restrictions make monitoring offenders harder.

"The chiefs of police do not want to have a situation where you take away one of the tools they have which is to track where sex offenders are. And that’s also why the coalition against sexual and domestic violence is in support of this legislation."

Things started to go bad for Monsignor Edward Arsenault in May, when he stepped down as President of the St. Luke Institute, a priest treatment center in Maryland.

Arsenault quit the job – and its $170,000 salary -- when prosecutors announced an investigation into misuse of church finds and an improper adult relationship.

Prosecutors say between 2005 and March of last year, Edward Arsenault stole thousands of dollars from the Manchester diocese, the Catholic Medical Center and the estate of another priest.

Sara Plourde / NHPR

New Hampshire's House has voted to allow electronic keno games to be played in bars and restaurants that serve alcohol.  


Chris Hunkeler / Flickr Creative Commons

The state’s House of Representatives has voted 194-148 to kill a bill that would have established a moratorium on wind farms and new transmission line projects, including Northern Pass.

This vote fell along party lines, with Democrats largely voting against blocking all projects, and Republicans, like Skip Reilly of Hill arguing that now is the time to wait -- for the state to complete its forthcoming energy plan.

"Remember we are elected by our constituents to serve them, not some power company."

NHPR Staff

  The Ways and Means Committee passed this casino bill as soon as the public testimony ended, but the full Senate is expected to slow things down by tabling the bill until the House considers a proposal allowing one casino with a beefed up regulatory scheme.

Prior to voting in favor of the senate plan, Derry Republican Jim Rausch observed what’s obvious to anyone who’s watched N.H.’s casino debate: without movement in the House gambling goes nowhere.    

NHPR Staff

The complaints, all stemming from former Senate President Peter Bragdon's hire by the former Local Government Center (LGC), were brought by Concord Democrat Rick Watrous.

The committee made short work of most of them -- dismissing charges that Senator Bragdon knew he was being hired to help the LGC because of  his position in the Senate, that he used his status to get his job, and that appointed fellow Senator Jeannie Forrester to a committee studying the LGC to curry favor with his future employer.

Josh Rogers / NHPR

Marilinda Garcia’s voting record during her four terms in the N.H. House is staunchly conservative.

Flanked by several dozen GOP house colleagues, she said if she unseats Congresswoman Annie Kuster, she’d hope to “dismantle” so-called Obamacare and make Washington shrink.

"The continuous flow of government mandates, regulations and taxes are literally making it impossible for local governments to solve local problems."

The 30-year old Garcia faces former NashuaState Senator Gary Lambert in the GOP primary.

Gage Skidmore via Flickr CC

Matt Mowers, the executive director of the New Hampshire Republican Party, is one of 17 people being subpoenaed tonight by a panel of the New Jersey state Assembly.

The latest development in the controversy surrounding New Jersey Governor Chris Christie comes a week after revelations that political associates of Christie, a possible presidential contender in 2016, may have ordered the closure of lanes on the George Washington Bridge last September as an act of political retribution.

Mowers has worked as the New Hampshire GOP’s top staffer since November.

orangesparrow via Flickr CC

Former Attorney Generals Phil McLaughlin and Greg Smith both told the House Criminal Justice Committee they’d prosecuted dozens of murders in their careers, and had they’ve come to believe the death penalty is wrong.

McLaughlin said the very rarity of capital punishment in N.H. is an argument for its basic unfairness.

"If punishment supposed to be neither cruel nor unusual, how do you take 1 in a 1000 over 75 years and persuade people that’s not unusual?"

Greg Smith went even further.

The House not only rejected allowing police to use license plate scanners, it then took the extra step of voting 214-135 to forbid that the issue be revisited in any form this year.

While supporters argued that plates information would be retained in the scanners for just 3 minutes, and might help solve crimes, critics like Manchester Democrat Joel Winters argued they erode privacy and embolden police to improperly conduct surveillance on the innocent.

This bill wouldn’t change any existing laws but would groups them together in  new section of the criminal statutes.

According to backers like, Earl Sweeney, the state’s Assistant Safety Commissioner, such a re-codification could save lives.

“This is very important bill. The majority of murders that occur in the state every year are the result of a domestic violence situation, many times something that’s been festering for many many years.”

NH is one of just 15 states without that doesn’t consider domestic violence a specific crime.

The bill aims to make it harder for New Hampshire residents with mental problems to acquire guns, and its dividing gun rights groups.

The proposal sponsored by Dover democratic Senator David Watters doesn’t tighten any gun laws.

Instead, it forces the state to share information regarding people who have been deemed incompetent by a court with the federal government.

N.H. is currently one of more than a dozen states that doesn’t share such mental health information with the National Instant Criminal Background Check index. 

A veteran state lawmaker wants large non-profits -- like hospitals and colleges -- to pay the state’s business enterprise tax.

Hooksett Republican David Hess says making large nonprofits like hospitals, private colleges and prep schools pay the business enterprise tax would allow that tax’s rate to drop for everyone else.

This week, the legislature returns and hears new bills. Up before the Senate judiciary committee are a proposal to establish domestic violence as a separate crime and one requiring certain persons with mental illness to be barred from owning guns and placed on a federal registry. On Thursday, the House holds its first hearing on a bill to repeal the death penalty.

Local Government Center
Amanda Loder / NHPR

The state’s highest court has upheld a regulators’ order forcing the Local Government Center to pay cities and towns $33 million in overpayments and to refund  $17 million it transferred from a health insurance pool to a workers comp pool.

NHPR Staff

The ruling hinges on the authority of a State Securities Bureau hearing officer, and if he had the power to impose precise operating standards for the former Local Government Center that aren’t specified in law.

The Local Government Center -- or LGC --  which provides insurance to cities and towns,  has argued that hearing officer Don Mitchell violated its rights in a 2012 order compelling it to return money to its members, and for its Property-Liability Trust to repay its HealthTrust $17.1 million.

Scott Brown still knows how to make an entrance.

The former Massachusetts senator — and a soon-to-be official resident of Rye, N.H. — arrived at the New Hampshire GOP's holiday party in his trademark pickup truck Thursday evening, and was greeted by more than 100 chanting protesters.

www.scottbrown.com

Scott Brown and his wife arrived in Nashua in his now-famous pickup truck.

The Browns were preceded by about a hundred protestors, mostly gun activists, who don’t like Brown's past support for a ban on assault weapons.

"It's clear why we are here: Scott Brown does not support New Hampshire values."

Media weren’t allowed inside the party, but on his way in the back door, Brown was asked if he plans to seek office here. He said he would "deal with that later," adding that his becoming a fulltime resident of Rye wasn’t driven by politics.

Senators Jeanne Shaheen and Kelly Ayotte were arguing their respective views of the budget deal at well-chosen venues. Shaheen was at BAE Systems a defense contractor that faced cutbacks after budget sequestration took effect last spring.

“One of the pieces that I think is critical about this budget is that it begins to addresses sequestration, those automatic cuts that I know you have experienced here, just as so many businesses that do business with the federal government have experienced.”

www.scottbrown.com

Part-time Rye resident and Former Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown has yet to decide if he’ll run for the U.S. Senate seat now held by Jeanne Shaheen, but the N.H. Democratic party isn’t waiting to go on the attack.

    

On the Political Front, NHPR's Josh Rogers discusses discussion in the Statehouse about expanded gambling and lack of funds for highway projects, as well as Republican Bob Smith, a former U.S. Senator, declaring his candidacy for his old seat.

The Granite State Coalition Against Expanded Gambling and Casino Free NH will be led by Concord businessman Steve Duprey,  former Chairman of the State Republican Party, and Harold Janeway,  former Democratic State Senator from Webster.

Duprey and Janeway were both active in the effort to kill the casino legislation backed by Governor Maggie Hassan earlier this year.  Janeway says their groups' new lobbying effort will focus on the N.H. House, which has never backed a casino bill.  He added that there is no time to waste.

Salem Republican Marilinda Garcia's voting record in the New Hampshire House is conservative – on fiscal and social issues -- and the 30 year-old conservatory-trained harpist says she wants to apply lessons she's learned in Concord in Congress. The big one, she says, is that the federal government needs to do less.

"In my four terms in the Legislature I’ve seen it cause the problem and be the problem that we as citizens have to solve and work around to get our state on the right track."

State prosecutors say Lorin C. Schneider of Carver, Massachusetts cast a ballot he shouldn't have in Manchester.

Assistant Attorney General Stephen Labonte says Schnieder once lived in Manchester, and came to the attention of authorities after he was seen voting in Ward 9 by someone who knew him, and knew he lived out of state.

According to Labonte, this wasn’t the first time Schneider wrongfully voted here.

"We also believe additional charges will be brought for voting in past elections, the 2012 presidential primary and the 2008 general election."

NHPR

The State Senate couldn’t pass the plan favored by GOP leaders, and then rejected a plan embraced by Democrats on party lines. Ultimately, the Senate adopted a second GOP proposal, before laying it on the table. Two hours later it rejected a Medicaid bill passed by Democrats in the N.H. House.

John Reagan is a Republican from Deerfield:

"I can contend with combinations of vagaries and certainties, but my friends to be steered and rushed is an invitation leading to rueful decisions."

Gov. Maggie Hassan has spent the last several days taking her push to expand Medicaid out side of Concord, and into the districts of GOP Senators.

Speaking at SNHU, in the home district of Republican David Boutin, Hassan said the GOP needs to bend.

"Every time we put forward a compromise, we are told that it’s no good, it’s still their original plan."

Back at the statehouse, Senate President Chuck Morse insisted that’s not true.

"We are open to suggestions.'

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