Legislative Preview: The week ahead for NH lawmakers

Vaccinations, housing and a gas tax holiday among measures to be considered

This week is the first week after crossover, when each chamber in the NH Legislature considers the other’s bills, and the hearings are coming fast and furious – many on major legislation concerning vaccination, housing, energy and a gas tax holiday.

 

Tuesday, April 5

On Tuesday, there will be hearings on a number of bills concerning net metering. The Senate Energy and Natural Resource Committee will consider two House measures, House Bills 1599 and 1629, which would cut the rate that utilities pay those who participate in the program for any excess energy they send to the grid.

The House Science Technology and Energy Committee will consider Senate Bill 262, which would expand the size of commercial projects receiving favorable net metering rates from 100 kilowatts to 500 kilowatts, and larger-scale projects of 1 to 5 megawatts would join municipalities and other government entities in being eligible to sell excess energy. The House committee will also consider two offshore wind bills – SB 440 and SB 259 – which are attempting to set the legal framework to attract such development.

Also on Tuesday morning, the Senate Commerce Committee plans to look at what was once a key vaccine bill. HB 1089 would have originally invalidated noncompete agreements if workers leave their job because of a vaccine mandate, but it has been amended to make it more universal by adding an undefined phrase, “material change in employment,” as a reason make such agreements null and void. And that has worried the Business & Industry Association.

Wednesday, April 6

Vaccination hearings will continue on Wednesday, when the Senate Health and Human Services Committee will look at HB 1495, which would prohibit the state from mandating that businesses require vaccine documentation, and HB 1606, which would make the state vaccine registry an opt-in program.

On the House side, they will be considering SB 319, which would allow insurers to give vaccination incentives, similar to the ones they offer members who quit smoking or lose weight.

But the biggest hearing of the day likely will be an amendment to place a moratorium on the state’s gas tax for two months this summer. The proposal, attached to HB 1221, will be heard by the Senate Ways and Means Committee. HB 1221 also proposes a cut in the business profits tax rate to 7.5 percent.

The Senate Executive Department and Administration Committee will also be considering HB 1337, which would tie the duration of unemployment benefits (how many weeks a worker can receive) to the unemployment rate, with the hope of cutting benefits to save employers money.

And the House Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing in the afternoon on SB 217, which would double to 60 days the amount of notice tenants get if they are to be evicted as a result of renovation or sale of property.

Thursday, April 7

On Thursday, the Senate will hold hearings on some key more housing bills.

The House Municipal Committee will consider SB 249, which would ban municipal ordinances that ban short-term rentals but would also step up their regulation and SB 400, a key workforce housing bill that provides some incentives, as well as some restrictions aimed to encourage and speed up affordable housing developments.

Meanwhile, the House Commerce Committee will consider SB 210, which would make it easier for manufactured home park residents to vote on whether to buy their parks, it but would not require a vote of the majority of all residents – which was originally in the bill – just a majority of those casting votes.

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