Legislative preview: Taxes, marijuana and rent control on lawmakers’ agenda
Highlights of the week ahead in the NH House and Senate
Thanks to Monday’s snowstorm, New Hampshire lawmakers will kick off their week on Tuesday, when the House Ways and Means Committee will hold hearings on the most significant tax legislation being proposed this session, including House Bill 15, which would complete the a long-sought goal of cutting the rate of the business enterprise tax to 0.50 percent.
Rates have been going down on both the BET and the business profits tax for years, but last year lawmakers cut the BPT rate – mainly paid for by larger out-of-state businesses – to 7.5 percent, while the BET – shouldered primarily by the state’s small businesses – was untouched, with the rate remaining 0.55 percent.
Also on the Ways and Means Committee agenda is HB 133, proposed by House Majority Leader Jason Osborne, R-Auburn – to do away with the communications services tax – as well as two bills dealing with the interest and dividends tax, whose rate is currently 4 percent and is scheduled to be phased out by 2027.
HB 100 would speed the phaseout up, ending it by 2024. HB 192 would increase the rate to 5 percent but more than triple the investment income threshold to $7,500 when the tax kicks in. HB 100 would result in a revenue loss of over $100 million over the next two years, and HB 192 would result in about a $60 million gain.
The House Science Technology and Energy Committee will hold a hearing on HB 418, which would eliminate rebating the state’s Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative to ratepayers. Currently, only the first dollar from RGGI funds goes to energy-efficiency programs with the rest rebated. The bill would dedicate all of it to the utilities’ NHSaves program.
The panel also will examine HB 92, which would adopt the California car air emission standard in the hopes that it will help attract scarce electric vehicles to New Hampshire.
Also on Tuesday, the House Finance Committee will consider several bills that would increase the amount of state funding for local school construction, currently capped at $50 million. And food waste will be the focus of the House Environmental and Agricultural Committee. HB 300 would forbid any business generating a ton of food waste per week from disposing it in a landfill when other alternatives are nearby. HB 462 would appropriate $2 million to a solid waste management fund and targeting food waste reduction and diversion
Wednesday, Jan. 25
On Wednesday afternoon, the House Commerce Committee will look at HB 531, which sets the cigarette tax to 8 percent, lowest of the surrounding states. In the afternoon it will hold hearings on two bills – Republican-sponsored HB 639 and Democrats; HB 544. It will also hold hearings on a bill that would increase the penalty for on-premises licensees overserving alcohol, creates a private cause of action for consumers who are harmed under the provisions of the consumer protection act and restricting use of PFAS in many consumer products.
Also on Wednesday, the House Judiciary Committee will hold hearings on various tenant rights bills. HB 112 would require tenants be notified prior to sale of their apartment building to give them a chance to buy it. HB 261 would allow tenants to terminate their lease in instances of domestic violence or following a disabling illness or accident. HB 283 would forbid charging tenants more than a $35 application fee for a rental. HB 340 would restrict the acquisition of single-family and multi-family housing only to natural persons, HB 279 would give a poor tenant facing eviction the right to an attorney, and HB 401 would evictions caused by renovations.
Another bill, HB 261 would allow landlords to evict upon lease termination without good cause.
The House Municipal and County Government committee, meanwhile plans to vote on HB 95, which would allow municipalities to limit rent increases and HB 422, which would create a public county registry of the monthly rent charged by landlords for each owned unit.
Meanwhile, the full Senate will be voting on SB 20, which would eliminate a separate fee for licensees who sponsor keno.
Thursday, Jan. 26
On Thursday, the House Judiciary committee will hold hearings on a number of bills aimed at legalizing marijuana without regulating the industry, but first it will continue looking at tenant bills, including HB 469, which would prohibit discrimination against those with Section 8 vouchers, HB 467, which would require larger landlords to provide additional notice of a prospective rent increase. Also, any tenant who receives notice of a rent increase that exceeds 15 percent of their current rent shall have the right to terminate their existing lease.
The House Labor Committee would hear HB 190, which cuts the duration of unemployment benefits, and HB 125, which would restore some restrictions on youth workers that were removed last session.