BIA sets 2012 legislative agenda

The Business and Industry Association of New Hampshire has released its 2012 public policy priorities, and as in past years, addressing high health care costs, the state’s tax structure and fostering economic growth top the list.Each year, the statewide chamber of commerce meets with business leaders across the state to determine what issues are of most concern to them.The BIA’s focus next year will be on policies and initiatives that encourage businesses in the state to expand and hire more workers, and encourage businesses elsewhere to relocate to New Hampshire, said Jim Roche, president of the BIA.That includes working to slow the growth of health care costs and advocating for a business-friendly tax structure, the group said. Other priorities on the table for next year include issues of infrastructure development, labor law, workforce housing, environmental regulations and energy costs.Among its fiscal policies, the group will support efforts to reform New Hampshire public employees’ retirement system and to pass a constitutional amendment to let the state target education aid to poorer communities. An effort to pass that amendment was unsuccessful in the state Legislature this year.On the economic development front, the group’s priorities include increasing the availability and affordability of workforce housing and supporting efforts to invest in public transportation systems.On the health care side, the business group said it will oppose any new or expanded health care benefit mandates, and support adequate funding to health care providers treating those on Medicaid. Ten hospitals are currently suing the state Hampshire over claims that it is in violation of the federal Medicaid Act by inadequately reimbursing them for the costs of treating Medicaid patients.The BIA also “opposes National Labor Relations Board rulemaking or congressional proposals that favor organized labor interests over those of business.” This year, the BIA supported the proposed Right to Work legislation, which would have barred unions from collecting dues from non-members. The measure was vetoed by Gov. John Lynch, which was sustained by a narrow vote in the House last month.For a complete list of the BIA’s 2012 public policy priorities, visit — KATHLEEN CALLAHAN/NEW HAMPSHIRE BUSINESS REVIEW

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