Tech Council Legislative Review
Still keeping an eye on Concord budget talks
The legislative affairs work of the NH High Tech Council in the 2015 legislative session was a validation that the tech sector has an important role in public policy conversations in this state. The “Fix it Five” areas outlined by the Legislative Affairs Committee placed the council in the midst of what is turning out to be an extended budget writing session.
The council’s public policy agenda for the 2015 session was organized into five distinct areas:
• Better access to capital
• Access to state-level funding for innovation
• Workforce development, including through STEM initiatives
• Concern over taxes and business climate
• A workable regulatory environment.
While some of the bills that the council weighed in on in the areas of building capital avenues, innovation and STEM were waylaid through the session, the council did make a qualified policy statement regarding the business tax climate in our state and also contributed to a couple of pieces of important game-changing legislation in the area of regulations.
Based on input from members and validated by a survey of the membership, the council publicly stated its support for proposals that would reduce business tax rates. We became involved in the conversation and were solicited for opinion at high levels in the Legislature.
The council felt it necessary to elaborate on its policy by clarifying our position with a broader statement.
According to Ellen Scarponi, director of government relations and economic development for FairPoint Communications in New Hampshire and chair of the council’s Legislative Affairs Committee, “While the council strongly supports any initiative that lightens the burden on technology companies in this state, we also feel, unequivocally, that it should never be at the expanse of supporting workforce, capital and economic development initiatives. Just as tech business owners know that success is based on a multitude of important factors, we feel that the state of New Hampshire will be better off by supporting the tech sector through a multitude of initiatives, not on the back of one solitary area.”
Given that, the council is still closely watching the budget negotiations, and hopefully an acceptable outcome will emerge that is better than earlier proposals based on an increase in state revenues.
Also, partner organization Live, Free and Start worked hard in the areas of rolling back burdensome barriers to businesses, namely through the cleaning up of language in Senate Bill 223 (which makes the language around company naming much less subjective) and SB 266 (which was a broad and deep effort among many individuals to modernize our state’s securities law).
For businesses looking to incorporate and firm up capital in New Hampshire, these are both positive moves forward.
Michelline Dufort is the NH High Tech Council’s director of business affairs and legislative liaison, as well as the director of government affairs for Cookson Strategies, which oversees NHHTC’s operations.