House to vote on a raft of business legislation

So many high-profile pieces of legislation are being considered during Wednesday’s New Hampshire House session — from medical marijuana to whether to expand Medicaid — that many bills affecting businesses might pass unnoticed. Here are some of the measures the House is expected to vote on: • Senate Bill 1, which would double the research and development credit — a big priority of groups like the Business and Industry Association of New Hampshire. The bill would double the aggregate cap on the credit and make it permanent. It would not change the $50,000 per-business credit that is currently allowed. SB 1 already flew through the Senate and has the unanimous support of the House Ways and Means Committee as well as Governor Hassan. • Under House Bill 598, business owners would be able to pay themselves more without being audited by the state Department of Revenue Administration. The measure increases the “safe harbor” threshold governing “reasonable compensation,” from $50,000 to $75,000. The House Ways and Means Committee also endorsed this one, 18-0. • HB 526, which would essentially eliminate the high-risk health insurance pools operated by the nonprofit New Hampshire Health Plan. The pools – one federal and one state – were created to help individuals who couldn’t get health insurance because of a preexisting condition . However, under the Affordable Care Act, such individuals would be able to obtain insurance through the newly created federal exchange, so the pools are no longer needed. HB 526 directs that participants should be notified by Nov. 1 that they must go to the exchange and all policies must expire at the end of the year. • Under HB 393, New Hampshire retailers would no longer be able to sell fertilizer with too much nitrogen and phosphorus. Supporters say the bill conforms to standards recently set in other states and would help lower tax rates in community spending on wastewater projects to remove those pollutants. It also allows municipalities to pass even stricter standards. There’s a chance the bill could be pulled from the consent calendar and be debated. • Under HB 379, employers won’t be able to require employees to provide access to their private social media accounts (or insist that employees “friend” them) as long as the workers are not accessing the accounts on company-owned equipment. But companies can check their employees’ public posts and use an employee’s social media information if engaged in an investigation to ensure compliance with various regulatory requirements. The Labor Committee endorsed this one, 19-1. • Under HB 373, workers would be able to use the tool of discovery to obtain information out of insurance carriers who are investigating their claims. And under HB546, carriers’ medical examinations would be called “employer-required,” as opposed to “independent,” to make the purpose of the examination clear. • Under HB 154, industrial hemp could legally be grown and harvested. Hemp was once a legitimate agricultural product used to make rope and textiles, but law enforcement authorities worry it could be used as a cover for marijuana production. The measure was endorsed by the Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee, 17-2, but it is on the regular calendar, which means it will definitely receive a separate vote. – BOB SANDERS/NEW HAMPSHIRE BUSINESS REVIEW

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