Legislative Preview: The week ahead for New Hampshire lawmakers
Housing, energy and more Covid legislation up for hearings
This week, New Hampshire lawmakers will be dealing with legislation involving workforce housing, clean energy, employment and, yes, more bills about mandated Covid health measures.
Monday, Feb. 7
The housing bills will be heard first thing Monday morning, with two hearings by the House Municipal and County Government Committee. The first, House Bill 1177 would require municipalities to allow apartments with up to four units in residential zones, with no more restrictions than a single-family home when it comes to lot and yard standards, setbacks, parking requirements and lot coverage. The committee will also hear HB 1238, which prohibits local proscriptions on workforce housing.
As for energy, the House Science, Technology and Energy Committee will be voting on three clean energy bills. HB 1506 would establish a revolving loan fund at the state Department of Energy to provide low-interest and zero-interest loans to any school, municipal planning organization or nonprofit organization seeking financing for the acquisition of a zero-greenhouse gas emissions vehicle fleet. HB 1601 would change the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative formula to fund the NHSaves energy-efficiency program; and HB1621, which would also increase RGGI energy-efficiency support by reducing the rebate to customers.
In addition, the House Health and Human Services Committee will hear HB 1369 which would give performing arts venues the authority to establish their own Covid health and safety policies, such as masking and vaccine requirements during performances.
Tuesday, Feb. 8
On Tuesday morning, expect a lot of opposition at the Senate Commerce Committee’s hearing on Senate Bill 210, which would require a majority vote of all residents in order to form a cooperative to buy their manufactured housing park. This would torpedo such sales, say those who facilitate them, since it is very difficult to get a majority to attend meetings in the early stages of the process. Tenant cooperatives are one of the ways to keep this affordable housing option alive, they argue.
Also on Tuesday, the Senate Commerce Committee will hold a hearing on SB 203, Manchester Democratic Sen. Donna Soucy’s perennial bill on the minimum wage, raising it to $15 an hour.
Wednesday, Feb. 9
The House Municipal and County Government Committee will hold hearings on more housing bills. HB 1087 would limit the authority of local land use planning boards relating to ordinances governing lot sizes. HB 1098 would limit the number of parking spaces required per occupied dwelling. And HB 1122 would allow municipalities to collect and resell construction and demolition debris, a way to possibly lower construction costs.
Thursday, Feb. 10
The House Municipal and County Government Committee will hold hearings on several renewable energy bills dealing with net meeting. HB 1595 would increase the net energy metering limits for individual and business customers. HB 1629 would reduce reimbursement for those who net meter by defining default service as only the electrical energy portion of a bill; And HB1248 would also make net metering more difficult by requiring certain customer-generators to provide replacement power when they cannot meet their grid-export obligations. There is also HB 1599, which would lower net metering reimbursements to larger generators.
Also, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will hear two bills, SB 268 and SB 440, which would ease the approval of offshore wind energy projects.
And the House Labor Committee will continue a public hearing on HB 1363, which would make noncompete agreements unenforceable in areas with labor shortages. Also, HB 1514, which would require employers pay for employees unused vacation days.
In addition the committee will hold hearings on HB 1143, which would require an employer’s pay severance to workers who are let go because they refuse to get vaccinated against Covid, and HB 1410, which would allow a worker to sue his company over alleged side effects from vaccine should the employer mandate one as a work requirement.