The public’s business: On the legislative agenda this week

Marijuana legalization, minimum wage sports betting hearings set

Legislators will be holding hearings this week on legalizing and commercializing marijuana, increasing the minimum wage, instituting association health plans and sports betting and increasing the cap on net metering projects fivefold. There also will be committee votes on requiring prevailing wages on state projects, cutting the unemployment insurance tax and using more money for job training and instituting a college retention program with the cooperation of businesses.

Tuesday, April 23

At 9:35 a.m., the Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on House Bill 481, which would legalize and commercialize recreational marijuana. The amended bill levies a tax at two levels: a 5% tax on the wholesale/cultivator sales price and a 9% tax on the retail cannabis store sale price. The proceeds would roughly be split a third for substance abuse treatment and enforcement, a third to aid municipalities and a third for the general fund.

At 9:45 a.m., the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will hear HB 326, which would include sections of less than 50 feet wide in the definition of a prime wetland if a municipality deemed it important to the integrity of the wetland, possibly allowing two smaller wetlands to become a prime wetland.

At 10:30 a.m., the committee will hear HB 459, which would allow industrial hemp if it can be showed to have a low limit of THC, the active ingredient in cannabis.

At 10 a.m., the House Finance Committee will hold a hearing on Senate Bill 15, which would appropriate $10 million from the NH Housing Finance Authority to the affordable housing fund, and then add another $5 million a year from the general fund.

The House Commerce and Consumer Affairs Committee will hold hearings:

  • At 10:15 a.m. on SB 279, which would require insures cover fertility treatment.
  • At 1 p.m. on SB 4, which would put much of the federal Affordable Care Act into state law.

At 2 p.m., the House Municipal and County Government Committee will hear SB 285, which would allow municipalities to form special tax districts in areas affected by climate change for infrastructure needs.

The Senate Commerce Committee will hold hearings:

  • At 1 p.m. on HB 664, which would require automobile insurance companies to pay for the cost of accident repairs that follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for repair processes.
  • At 1:15 p.m. on HB 670-FN, which would require that carriers maintain a record of any amounts due to the pharmacy from the covered member in the form of cost-sharing, such as co-payments, deductibles or co-insurance.

Wednesday, April 24

At 10 a.m., the Senate Ways and Means Committee will hear HB 480, which would have the Lottery Commission set up and run sports betting operations.

The House Commerce and Consumer Affairs Committee will hold hearings:

  • At 10 a.m., on SB 63, which would require insurers to certify on an annual basis to the NH Insurance Department that they are making a percentage of rebates available to their enrollees.
  • At 10:30 a.m. on SB 226, which would require registration of pharmacy benefit managers.
  • At 1 p.m. on SB 228-FN, which would allow association health plans but with strict restrictions ensuring that a the new alternative can’t force rates up in the individual market.
  • At 1:30 p.m. on SB 251, which would make it an unfair insurance practice to refuse to insure an applicant who has filled a prescription for certain medications.
  • At 2 p.m. on SB 272, which would require the state insurance commissioner to check whether insurers are following federal mental health parity laws, and allows the commissioner to enforce them.

The House Science, Technology and Energy Committee will hold hearings:

  • At 11 a.m. on SB 123, which would prohibit electric distribution companies from acquisition of natural gas capacity or supply or interests in natural gas infrastructure at ratepayers’ expense.
  • At 1 p.m. on SB 165, known as the “Low-Income Community Solar Act of 2019, which would require two low-income net metering solar projects in each utility service area, with more favorable metering terms.
  • At 2 p.m. on SB 166, which would require competitive electricity suppliers to credit electricity generation from net energy metering at the same rate as retail electricity bought from the competitive electricity supplier.
  • At 2:30 p.m. on SB 159, which would increase the size of projects eligible for net metering from 1 to 5 megawatts for renewable generation, and add clauses saying a utility should minimize costs in calculating net meeting rates.

The House Labor, Industrial and Rehabilitative Services Committee will hold hearings:

  • At 11 a.m. on SB 100, which would ban the box asking a potential employer whether they have been convicted of a crime.
  • At 1 p.m. on SB 146, which would eliminate the waiting period before eligibility to receive unemployment benefits.
  • At 2 p.m. on SB 10, which would increase the minimum wage to $10 at the start of next year, and $12 at the start of 2022, but if a company offers 10 paid sick days it will only have to pay $11 an hour

Thursday, April 25

Beginning at 10 a.m., the full Senate will vote on committee recommendations to pass the following bills:

  • HB 684, which would give manufactured housing tenants with the right to challenge a rent increase in mediation that the park owner will have to pay for.
  • HB 663, which would redefine agriculture and existing agricultural uses to more broadly permit agritourism.
  • HB 700, which would establish a methodology, phased in over a five-year period, for the property tax valuation of electric, gas, and water utility company distribution assets.

After the session, the Senate Commerce Committee will hold hearings:

  • At 2 p.m. on HB 268, which would allow a real estate broker to share a commission with an unlicensed entity.
  • At 2:15 p.m. on HB 657, which would require health plans offering prescription drug benefits under the managed care law to include on the formulary the drug with the lowest cost option.
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