BIA sets legislative agenda for ’06

Health-care and energy costs, workforce housing, economic growth and environmental regulations will be among the issues atop the agenda of the Business & Industry Association of New Hampshire during the 2006 legislative session.

Selection of the issues came about after a series of “listening sessions” with businesspeople across the state, members and non-members of the BIA.

The five “priority issues” to be targeted by the BIA are:

o Addressing the rising cost of health care and health insurance.

o Working to improve the availability and affordability of workforce housing.

o Fostering economic growth.

o Striving to alleviate the rising cost of electricity and fuels

o Making environmental laws and regulations more effective and business friendly.

According to BIA President Jim Roche, among the steps the organization will take during the session, will be:

o To push for a bill to re-establish a research and development tax credit

o A bill requiring communities to consider adequate housing for area workers in their master plans

o Exploring alternatives to regional proposals that unfairly disadvantage New Hampshire businesses.

o Promoting transparency of health-care costs and quality of care

o Working cooperatively with the Department of Environmental Services to assess its funding needs, requirements and services.

“We have listened to the voices of business, and the message is loud and clear-these issues need to be addressed,” said George Gantz, chair of BIA’s board of directors and senior vice president of Unitil Corp.

Gantz said the unprecedented move by the BIA to set an agenda before the legislative session shows that the organization “is raising the bar with the state’s elected leaders and regulators this year.”

He said the organization “will be aggressive in pursuing a proactive legislative and regulatory agenda on these issues.”

Mike Donahue, chair of the BIA’s executive committee and principal engineer of Aries Engineering Inc., said in the past the BIA had done “a good job of reacting to legislative and regulatory challenges” but the organization is “stepping forward with our own, hands-on agenda set by the broader business community of New Hampshire.” – JEFF FEINGOLD

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