Business bills coming up this week

House Bills being voted on include vaccine mandates, family paid leave, real estate and more.

House lawmakers both in committee and in session will be voting on several vaccination bills repealing paid family and medical leave, and on a number of housings bills this week.

Vaccine mandates

The House Health and Human Service Committee will start this week by voting on a number of vaccination bills, including HB 1495, which would prevent any government contractors (from New Hampshire or another “government entity”) from requiring its workers to be vaccinated, with the exception of medical facilities “where a direct threat is determined to exist.”  If this passes, it’s bound to put some companies in a bind.  The federal government has mandated that all healthcare facilities that receive Medicare and Medicaid funding – nearly all of them – must require their workers get vaccinated, a mandate upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court.

The federal contractor has also required that larger contractors must vaccinate its workers, though that has been stayed by lower courts. If upheld, that would put the state mandate not to vaccinate in direct contradiction with the federal mandate to do so, particularly if “government entities” – which is undefined – includes the federal government.   But even if the bill is limited to the state government and its subdivisions, that would affect many state contractors that also do business with the federal government.   Not many businesses are requiring vaccination these days, but most business groups would oppose either mandate, thinking businesses should have the right to decide what’s best for its workers and customers.

On Wednesday, the House Labor Committee plans to vote on HB 1210.  The original bill would simply require employers to grant conscientious objector status for any vaccine mandate they may impose, but there will probably be an amendment that will include some elements of many other vaccination bills that the Committee killed to make way for this one.

The Committee also plans to vote on HB 1352, that require workers’ compensation to cover any adverse effects from a mandated vaccine.

Taxes and paid family leave

The Labor Committee also plans to vote on HB 1165, which would repeal the state’s Granite State Paid Family Leave program – that’s Governor Sununu’s voluntary program, which would piggyback on a taxpayer benefit for state employees.  Businesses would get a tax break for half of what they pay in premiums, and individuals workers can join at rates subsidized by an insurance tax.  The state plans to issue a Request for Proposal for an insurer at the end of the month.  This is the second bill – backed by Republicans – calling for repeals of Sununu’s program.   Last week the Commerce Committee recommended that the first bill – HB1582 – be sent to interim study.

“They are going to decide what they are going to do with it, so we keep ours alive, if we want,” explained Rep. John Hunt, R-Ridge, who chairs the Commerce committee.

All these bills are expected to be voted on by the full house next week, along with a couple of key tax bills that the Ways and Means Committee will also be voting on: HB 1097, which would prevent other states from levying an income tax on NH-based, stay-at-home employees of companies based in that other state. The other bill, HB1221, would further lower the state business profit and business enterprise tax, a move strongly endorsed by Sununu in his state of the state address.

Real estate and construction

This week, the full House will take up a number of real estate and construction bills. HB 1354 would make it easier for out-of-state realtors to sell real estate here, even if there is no reciprocity arrangement.   HB 1681 would update our building code to 2018 standards.   That may seem behind, but currently we are tied to 2015 code.   HB 1122 would allow municipalities to sell construction and demolition debris.  That could enable them to lower tipping fees for construction companies.

All of these are expected to pass.

The House will also be voting on two bills, HB 1216 and HB 1254, to repeal the Housing Appeal Board.  The board is widely supported by both the real estate and construction industry, and the Judiciary Committee recommended killing those bills by a wide margin.

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