Legislative preview: Tax, energy measures to face NH House committee hearings
Full Senate, House to meet in Thursday sessions
Bills related to business taxes, landlord-tenant issues and energy top a busy agenda this week for the NH House and Senate, both of which of which meet to vote on bills Thursday.
Tuesday, March 7
On Tuesday, the House Science Technology and Energy Committee will open up with public hearings on two energy bills proposed by its chair, Rep. Michael Vose, R-Epping. House Bill 609 would eliminate the Site Evaluation Committee, leaving it up to the Public Utilities Commission to decide on siting larger power generators. and HB 142 would allow the PUC to amend its orders as necessary to protect the continued operation of the Burgess Biopower plant, which involves hundreds of jobs in the North Country and is important to the state’s timber industry.
Wednesday, March 8
Wednesday will start off with what is expected to be a heated debate and vote by the House Education Committee on HB 61, which would repeal a controversial law included in the last budget package that prevents teaching “divisive concepts “in schools, replacing it with protections for those who teach about diversity.
Also, the House Ways and Means Committee is expected to vote on HB 15, which would cut the rate of the business enterprise tax to 0.5 percent from its current 0.55 percent, as well as HB 100, which would accelerate repeal of the interest and dividends tax, eliminating it for next year instead of 2026, and HB 133 which would repeal the communication tax.
The committee will also vote on HB 192, the Democratic alternative to eliminating the I&D tax. It would roll back last year’s cuts but greatly increase exemptions, meaning the tax would remain but only the largest investors would have to pay it.
The panel is also scheduled to vote on HB 450, which would remove the net operating loss deductions limit under the business profits tax. This could be a big deal to larger companies, which wish to invest more in their companies the House Commerce Committee will be voting on a variety of business bills, including HB 544, one of the major cannabis bills, which would legalize it for retail sale to be regulated by the Liquor Commission. It will vote on HB 173, which removes the requirement for restaurants to provide separate toilet rooms for each sex, and another restaurant-related bill, HB 249, which actually started as a bill to regulate the pet insurance industry but now allows a restaurant owner to bring their companion dog to the premises and removes the option for restaurants to allow patrons to bring dogs to outdoor dining areas.
That committee will also vote on HB 414, which would mandate that health insurance policies cover preventive PFAS care, and HB 242, which would ban PFAS from food packaging. There are several other health bills, among them HB 303, which would mandate insurance coverage for pain management services, and HB 389, which would prohibit a hospital from pursuing a collection action for services provided if the hospital was not in compliance with certain federal price transparency laws.
Thursday, March 9
Since the House is so tightly split, the big test for Thursday will be who shows up for the full session.
That day, representative will consider landlord-tenants bills, including HB 117, which that would allow landlords to terminate a lease without cause. The bill was passed without recommendation by the Judiciary Committee, which voted, 10-10. The panel also split on HB 469, which would require landlords to accept Section 8 vouchers, and HB 567, which would require giving tenants a 60-day notice of a rent increase and six months’ notice if the rent increase exceeds 15 percent. HB 401 which also asks for a 60-day notice if the owner plans to evict a tenant because they are renovating the property or removing it from the market. The committee did vote, 11-9, to recommend HB 112, which would give tenants extra notice if a landlord plans to sell the building.
The House will also take up a number of split recommendations from the Science, Technology and Energy Committee, including HB 92, which as introduced would adapt California’s tough vehicle emission standards. Proponents backed off in committee and now want to introduce a floor amendment that would create a study commission, but opponents want to kill the bill outright.
There was also no agreement on HB 161, which would allow individuals who use net metering to join a group net metering arrangement for the portion of electricity that is not produced by their solar panels. Opponents of the bill call that double-dipping, whereas proponents said that it is just correcting a technical oversight.
The House also is scheduled to vote on HB 251, which the committee voted 11-9 to recommend to disclose in dollar terms the cost of the renewable portfolio standard on ratepayers. Opponents argue that the bill should also disclose the economic benefits of the RPS by reducing demand peaks.
The Senate will be meeting Thursday as well and is expected to pass HB 263, which would make Medicare expansion permanent. The bill is not only supported by healthcare providers, but is a key priority of the Business & Industry Association.