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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A new  survey, conducted on behalf of the Nashua Chamber of Commerce, found growing support for the controversial Northern Pass project.

The poll, taken last month  by the UNH Survey Center for the Nashua Chamber, which backs Northern Pass,  showed 46 percent favor the proposal and 35 percent oppose  it.

The survey also found limited enthusiasm for requiring the burial of all Northern Pass Transmission lines.

Chris Williams is the Nashua Chamber's President.

    

On the Political Front, NHPR's Josh Rogers talks with Morning Edition host Rick Ganley about a proposal to increase New Hampshire's gas tax, Scott Brown ramping up his Senate campaign, and Vice President Joe Biden visiting Nashua on Tuesday.

When he served in the U.S. Senate,  Scott Brown often voted with President Obama.

In 2011, Congressional Quarterly found Brown voted in support of the president’s agenda 70 percent of the time  -- second only to Susan Collins of Maine among Republicans.  But when asked on New England Cable News about Brown’s possible run here, the President made clear he prefers the incumbent.

Tom Vagliery via Flickr CC

The bill was endorsed by its house committee as a way to protect the minors from skin damage that could contribute to cancer, but on the house floor it provoked a heated debate over parental rights and the proper role of government.  Steve Vaillancourt is a Republican from Manchester.

"A young women if this bill passes can get an abortion, but not a tan, an abortion would be legal but a tan would not, think of it."

Moments later the House voted 175-154 to both kill the bill and bar the issue from coming up again this year.

Josh Rogers

While technically, he’s still exploring a run for U.S. Senate in New Hampshire, Scott Brown acted very much the candidate at a St. Patrick’s Day lunch in Salem.  He worked the room, posed for pictures, and said voters across the country and here in his new home state of New Hampshire, want to toss Democrats from office for supporting  so-called Obamacare.

John Wardell via Flickr CC

The 173-144 voted showed house lawmakers remain skeptical of casino gambling.

This bill envisioned up to 5000 slot machines and 150 table games at one location, was touted as the product of study and hard-won experience.

Jaffrey Democrat Richard Ames was its lead sponsor.

"We took what we learned and make a New Hampshire plan."

But critics said the plan, which beefed up the regulations included in the proposal the House rejected last year, ceded too much power to a gambling authority.

The House of Representatives has voted 225-104 to repeal New Hampshire’s death penalty.

The state’s highest court has unanimously upheld a lower court ruling that scuttled  former House Speaker William O’Brien’s lawsuit against the N.H. Democratic Party over automated phone calls that targeted O’Brien without the proper disclosures.

At issue were 394 calls placed by Democrats in 2010.

Ken Teegarden via Flickr CC

The 173-163 vote mostly followed party lines, with Democrats opposing the bill and all but 9 Republicans supporting it.

The bill sought to lower the rate of the business enterprise tax  from .75 to .68 percent but require large nonprofits to pay it.

House Ways and Means Chair, Susan Almy (D-Lebanon) said the proposal would put what she called fragile charities at risk and said it would be wrong to keep the bill alive, even if only to study it.

"We can’t leave all of these organizations hanging in terror. Kill this"

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.

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