Legislative preview: The week ahead for New Hampshire lawmakers

Vaccinations take center stage at House committee hearings

Row Of Coronavirus Vaccine Flasks. Shallow Depth Of Field.

There will be lots of action in the NH Legislature this week on bills that would tell business what to do when it comes to vaccinations as well as other ways to treat their employees. Lawmakers also will be looking at whether they can reduce businesses taxes. Here are the details.

Tuesday, Jan. 25

Local control meets homeowner rights in the Senate Commerce Committee Tuesday morning, when Senate Bill 249, which would ban local ordinances that ban short-term rentals, will be heard.

Also on Tuesday morning, the House Science Technology and Energy Committee will hear HB 1459, which is aimed at the solar energy industry and would require that they set up a recycling program for their panels. Expect protests from energy advocates who will point out that most other industries have no such requirement.

After lunch, the committee will hear HB 1250, which would require the Public Utilities Commission to consider climate change, not just ratepayer costs, in its energy decisions.

Wednesday, Jan. 26

On Wednesday morning, the House Judiciary Committee will hold the first of many hearings on restricting an employer’s ability to require vaccinations among its employees. HB 1260 would make immunization status a protected class, which could result in a business being sued for insisting that workers be protected, followed by HB 1490, which would prevent businesses with public accommodations (everything from restaurants and hotels to doctor’s offices and day care centers) from requiring vaccinations or wearing a medical device. Whether that includes a mask is not spelled out in the bill.

The House Ways and Means Committee will be holding work sessions on a number of bills affecting business taxes: HB 1097 seeks to protect New Hampshire residents who are working remotely from home for out-of-state employers to be taxed; HB 1204 would reduce the rate of the rooms and meals tax but increase the amount going to municipalities; HB 1221 would cut the rates of the business profits tax and the business enterprise tax; HB 1430 would repeal the car rental tax; HB 1500 would reduce and then eventually repeal the communications tax; and HB 1541, which had a hearing last week, would waive filing fees, defer the BPT and eliminate the BET for very small limited liability companies during their first five years.

The Senate Election Law and Municipal Affairs Committee will hold hearings on two bills related to broadband – Senate Bill 247 on bonding it, and SB 395 on grants that presumably come from the federal government.

Thursday, Jan. 26

The House Labor Committee will be dealing with more vaccination bills. First, it will vote on HB 1351, which would prohibit requiring one as a condition of employment. Then it will hold hearings on HB 1088, preventing discrimination against employees who do get vaccinated; HB 1210, prohibiting an employer from requiring any “experimental” vaccinations and granting exceptions to approved vaccinations based on conscience; HB 1351,

prohibiting businesses from receiving public funds if they require a Covid-19 vaccination at the workplace; HB 1352, which provides for eligibility for workers’ compensation for an adverse reaction to a mandatory Covid-19 vaccination; HB 1358, requiring public and private employers to establish procedures and exceptions for the use of mandatory intrusive testing as a condition of new or continued employment; and HB1377, which would allow unemployment benefits for employees terminated for refusing to comply with a vaccine mandate.

The Labor Committee won’t be all about vaccination on Thursday. In the morning, it will vote on HB 1053, requiring that employees get paid overtime if they have to work hours that were not previously scheduled, and HB 1207, which would require employers get paid time off for voting. At the end of the day, it will also hold a hearing HB 1538, requiring contractors on state-funded projects to pay prevailing wages.

Meanwhile, in the afternoon, the Senate Commerce Committee will hold hearings on two bills – SB 428, which would establish a scholarship for socially and/or economically disadvantaged businesses to cover entry costs when applying for a NH Business Finance Authority loan, and SB451, which would set up a $5 million fund to help technology startups.

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