Legislative preview: Tax, energy, housing and gambling measures up for hearings

A look at the week ahead in the NH House and Senate
Statehouse With Seal

(Dave Cummings/New Hampshire Bulletin)

Tuesday is for tax and energy legislation, Wednesday for housing and gambling and Thursday is for labor, as the first week when state legislators kick off their session in earnest.

Tuesday, Jan. 17

The Senate Energy and National Resources Committee will begin with a hearing on Senate Bill 54, which would allow the state to procure renewable energy, similar to but different from the way Massachusetts does, by putting out a request for proposals and signing long term contracts with providers. The bill, proposed by Sen. Kevin Avard, R-Nashua, is about the purchase of renewable energy, though Senate President Jeb Bradley, R-Wolfeboro, said he is interested in expanding that to all types of energy.

Also, The Senate Transportation committee will look at SB 52, which calls for regulation of electric vehicle charging stations.

In the House, the Ways and Means Committee will take a look at House Bill 121, proposed by Rep. Thomas Schamberg, D-Wilmot. That bill would change the method by which to determine how to tax out-of-state companies, basically denying them the right to deduct intangibles – something small business is not able to do as easily.

The panel will also look at HB 145, which would let businesses ignore other states that attempt to collect a sales tax on internet orders made in New Hampshire, defying a decision by the U.S. Supreme Court. The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Michael Harrington, R-Stratford, is hoping that the court – whose membership has changed since the ruling – will reverse itself.

Wednesday, Jan. 18

Local rent control will be the big topic for the House Municipal and County Government Committee on Wednesday morning. HB 95 would enable municipalities to limit rent increases. Landlords strongly oppose the bill, saying it would add to the shortage of housing, but the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Ellen Read, D-Newmarket, says it would help keep apartments affordable on the Seacoast and other areas – and, besides, it’s a matter of local control. The committee will also look at HB 422, which would create a county register of the monthly rent charged by landlords.

Meanwhile, at the Senate Ways and Means Committee, members will look at a number of gambling bills, including SB 20, which would eliminate a separate license fee for Keno, and SB 51 which would place a moratorium on licensed historical horse racing facilities, while studying it.

Thursday, Jan. 19

On Thursday, the House Labor Committee will have its hands fill. It will start with HB 57, which would raise the minimum hourly wage to $15 an hour by 2025, and also increase the minimum wage for tipped employees from 45 to 50 percent of the minimum. New Hampshire’s minimum wage is still tied to the federal at $7.25 an hour. Massachusetts just went up to $15, Vermont is at $13.18 and Maine is at $13,80. The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Kristina Schultz, D-Concord, is also scheduled to introduce HB 58, which would require that businesses pay tipped workers the minimum wage. They currently only have to pay $3.27 an hour.

In addition, the committee will hold hearings on HB 48, which protects a worker’s right to wear a mask and get vaccinated against Covid-19; HB 74, which would require employers to pay workers unused earned time (vacation time) if they lose their job because of a change of ownership or if they are laid off (as opposed to being fired with good cause); and HB 118, which prohibits employers from engaging in anti-union activities.

That afternoon, the House Municipal and County Government Committee will examine another key housing bill, HB 44, which would require municipalities to permit up to four units on a residential lot now zoned for only one unit, if that lot is served by municipal water and sewer.

Categories: Government, News