The public’s business: On the NH legislative agenda for the coming week

Minimum wage, energy, labor bills face key votes

The minimum wage and other energy and labor costs are some of the big issues on the New Hampshire legislative agenda this week. Also, look out for bills about regulations dealing with pollution and retail establishment (think dogs, plastic straws, bags and diaper-changing tables).

Tuesday, March 5

At 10 a.m., the Senate Energy and National Resources committee will hold hearings on:

 • SB204, which would include energy storage among the distribution costs ratepayers pay on their electric bill

 • SB205, which would remove the requirement for legislative approval of system benefits charge changes to increase energy efficiency

At 10:30 a.m., the House environment and Agricultural Committee will vote on HB459, which would establish an industrial hemp pilot program

At 10:30 a.m., the House environment and Agricultural Committee will vote on HB459, which would establish an industrial hemp pilot program

At 11 a.m., the House Judiciary Committee will vote on:

HB465, which would allow jury trials in consumer protection act cases

• HB584 which would require that those foreclosing on a property prove they actually hold the mortgage

HB661, which would give a private right of action for toxic exposure

At 1 a.m., the Senate Commerce Committee will hold hearing on:

SB10, 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

SB100, which would ban discrimination in criminal background checks

At 1:30 p.m., the House Commerce Committee will hold a hearing on HB 717, which would prohibit prescription drug manufacturers from offering coupons or discounts to cover insurance co-payments or deductibles. It will be voting on the measure on Friday.

Wednesday, March 6

At 10 a.m., the House Labor Committee will be voting on:

HB724, which would ban credit checks for any employment-related decision, require employers to allow a rest period between work shifts, give employees advance notice of work schedules, and increase the tipped minimum wage to the regular minimum wage

HB406, which would require that businesses report a worker’s injury or death to the state Labor Department, which would be required to investigate

SB1, which would provide for paid family and medical leave insurance, involving a half-percent workers payroll deduction and which also expand federal requirements unpaid leave job protection requirements from business with more than 50 workers to those with more than 20 workers

HB178, which would increase the minimum wage to $10;

HB186, which would increase it to $12 (and increases the percentage in determining the tipped wage)

HB731, which would increase the minimum wage to $15

At 10:30 a.m., the House Science Technology Committee will vote on a series of measures that could affect energy costs:

 • HB365, which would increase the maximum size a renewable energy project can be to take advantage of net metering from 1 to 5 megawatts. (This is similar to a bill that the governor vetoed last year)

 • HB466, which would increase the apportionment for net energy metering provisions from electrical facilities with total generating capacity of 100 kilowatts to 500 kilowatts. This allows more small to mid-sized businesses to take advantage of the law

• HB568 which would require the energy strategy of the state to include consideration of the effects of climate change

HB582, which would use all the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative residential proceeds on residential energy-saving programs and all commercial proceeds to be rebated to customers. (Currently a small portion of both proceeds go to energy efficiency, but the rest is rebated.) It also would make RGGI a permanent, non-lapsing program

HB614, which would double most air pollution penalties and make each day of violation a separate offense, increasing them even more

HB704, which would prohibit the transportation, storage and disposal of nuclear waste

• HB714, which would set a target of using storage to reduce peak demand by 2 percent, and possibly up it to 15 percent if the Public Utilities Commission finds it is in the best interest of ratepayers. The PUC can issue tariffs on ratepayers to pay for it.

The House Commerce and Consumer Affairs Committee will hold hearings on the following:

At 10:30, HB520, which would require newly constructed or renovated public accommodations to install and maintain at least one diaper-changing station that is accessible to all genders when the facility is open to the public

At 11 a.m., HB558, which would prohibit food service businesses from providing a single-use plastic straw to a customer unless specifically requested

• At 11:30, HB560 which would ban single-use plastic bags after using up inventory (exempting those on food stamps). And the charge for a reusable one couldn’t be more than 10 cents.

At 1:30 p.m., HB628, which would require public accommodations with the capacity to serve more than 1,500 people a day install universal changing stations for use by persons with physical disabilities.

Thursday, March 7

The full House and Senate will meet today.

Here is the what the House will be voting on:

HB249, which would permit restaurant owners to allow dogs in dining areas. The Consumers Affairs Committee recommended killing it, 14-6

• HB359, which would require warning labels on drugs containing opiates. The Commerce Committee recommended passing it, 12-6

HB552, which would have the Charitable Trusts Division of the Department of Justice evaluate mergers of healthcare nonprofits. The Commerce Committee recommended passing it, 16-4

HB622, commonly known as “right to work,” which would allow individuals to stop paying dues to the union that bargained for their contract. The Labor Committee recommended killing the bill, 13-7

HB157, which would lower the rate utilities pay to biomass facilities, reversing the increase the Legislature approved last year but was then vetoed by the governor’s. The House Science, Technology and Energy recommended killing the bill, 13-7

HB166, which would allow increases in the system benefits charges for things like energy efficiency. The House Science, Technology and Energy Committee recommended passing the bill, 10-9

HB477, which would rebate all RGGI proceeds. The House Science, Technology and Energy Committee recommended killing the bill,11-8.

Here is what the Senate will be voting on:

SB99, which would remove the caps on how long a worker can collect partial or total disability. The Commerce Committee recommended passage, 3-2

SB247, which would set up a “sunny day fund” of up to $15 million in the Department of Business and Economic Affairs to support research and development to help the state’s competitiveness if the rainy day fund is bloated. The Senate Commerce Committee recommended passage, 4-1

SB276, which would allocate $500,000 toward a career readiness credentials program for high school students starting in 10th grade. The training and certificates will include work-based learning and be done in conjunction with companies that could hire the students. The Commerce Committee unanimously recommended passage

SB76 , which would prohibit offshore oil and natural gas exploration. The Energy and Natural Resources Committee unanimously recommended passage

SB285, which would allow municipalities to form special tax districts in areas affected by climate change for infrastructure needs. The Energy and Natural Resources Committee unanimously recommended passage

SB310, which would authorize two casinos that also allow sports betting, The Senate Finance Committee recommended killing the bill, 4-2

SB41, which would allow and regulate historical racing. The Ways and Means unanimously recommended passage

SB57, which would phase out and repeal the utility property tax. The Ways and Means Committee recommended killing it, 3-2

SB191, which would double the size of exemptions for the elderly and disabled on interest and dividends and tax. The Senate Ways and Means Committee voted to kill the bill, 3-2.

• SB223, which would increase the minimum gross business income required for filing a business profits tax return from $50,000 to $100,000. The Ways and Means Committee wants to re-refer the bill back to committee, 3-2

Friday, March 8

At 1:30 p.m., the House Commerce and Consumer Affairs Committee will be voting:

• HB462, (called the “right to repair bill”), which would require manufacturers of digital electronic products to provide independent repair facilities with diagnostic and repair information for such product

HB619 which would only exempt transactions regulated by a authority that “expressly regulates unfair or deceptive acts” from the state’s Consumer Protection, putting many transactions currently regulated by state agencies under the CPA umbrella

• HB 658-FN , which would limit prescription drug increases to no more than double within a 90 day period

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

HB 671-FN, which would regulate pharmacy benefit manager business practices, licensure and transparency.

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