N.H. bill targets foreign outsourcing

If you’re a company planning on reducing your payroll by more than 50 employees, you will have to answer to the state, if a Keene state representative has his way.

Rep. Charles Weed, D-Keene, has filed a bill that would require companies with 50 fewer employees than the previous year to provide all sorts of information to the Department of Labor, including whether those jobs were outsourced out of the country. If the jobs were exported, then the company wouldn’t be able to do business with the state for seven years.

Weed acknowledged that some companies might have to lay off workers because of economic reasons having nothing to do with outsourcing, but those companies have nothing to fear from a state Department of Labor investigation into the matter.

“I’m not terrible sympathetic,” he said. “I really feel sorry for a big corporation that has to fill out some paperwork to make sure they aren’t trying to get rid of New Hampshire jobs while still taking money from the taxpayer.”

Companies laying off 50 workers or more have to identify any procurement contract, grants or loans they have with state and local government and have to say whether the jobs are outsourced.

If they violate or don’t answer truthfully, the contract would be void, and they would be forced to pay 20 percent of the value of the contract. The state would investigate to make sure the companies are telling the truth.

Such a law might run afoul of international trade agreements, “but we have a strong interest in protecting state sovereignty,” Weed said. “If we are forbidden to do that, than at least we are throwing down the gauntlet to the national government.” – BOB SANDERS

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