Long menu of bills awaiting ‘crossover’ votes

This week is “crossover” week in the state Legislature, meaning that it’s the last chance for a bill to go from the House to the Senate, and vice versa, in order to survive this session. Those that are left at this point are usually the most controversial and expensive bills. Here are some that affect business:

• Look for the House to start off with a long debate Tuesday on a bill that would extend the ban on smoking to all restaurants and cocktail lounges. (It is currently allow in lounges and restaurants that seat fewer than 50 people.) A separate bill would give towns the right to ban smoking in public places.
• Look for a big debate for a bill allowing landlords to evict tenants without good cause after a lease has expired. • The House is expected to debate a constitutional amendment limited eminent-domain takings. A recent U.S. Supreme Court decision opened the possibility that a municipality could take someone’s property for a private business.
• There will probably be some heated discussion of a bill that would increase the setbacks for landfills from state-protected rivers and some more focus on a $1-a-ton solid waste disposal fee.
• A House Ways and Means Committee recommendation for a cut in the state insurance premium tax may have rough sledding as well, despite arguments that it will result in rate reductions that will help small businesses and retain insurance companies.
• House Bill 1474 would raise the taxable wage base on unemployment insurance from $8,000 to $9,000. Despite it being a tax increase, this should breeze through, since not passing it would drop the unemployment fund, causing the rates for most employers to be even higher.
• Look for the annual right-to-work debate. The bill – which would remove the requirement that all those covered under collective bargaining pay union dues – has repeatedly failed in the past, lambasted by labor organizations and large employers alike.
• Look for a discussion of a bill that would require employers to pay three hours’ wages for those called in to work as opposed to two.
• The House will vote on a measure giving the Pari-Mutuel Commission the authority to regulate charitable games of chance, such as the popular Texas Hold’Em tournaments, as well as limit winnings at such tournaments, to $300 a day. As previously reported in New Hampshire Business Review, such games are currently loosely regulated.
• Also on tap this week is a bill that would double certain business filing fees at the secretary of state’s office. – BOB SANDERS

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