You can’t tell the players without a scorecard

BIA’s recap of last session sheds light on lawmakers’ votes

Back in the days before every game was televised and digital highlights were at your fingertips, barkers at the baseball stadium would shout out, “Get your scorecard here! You can’t tell the players without a scorecard!” Unless you memorized uniform numbers, it was certainly true.

In state government, scorecards are great for keeping tabs on the performance of legislators. With roughly 1,000 bills introduced each year on everything from speed limits to pasteurized milk, that’s a lot of at-bats. It’s not just about what bills ultimately make it into law, it’s also about legislation that didn’t make it. By keeping a scorecard focused on employer issues, we can keep a tally on how individual lawmakers voted on bills of particular importance to New Hampshire’s business community.

BIA recently published its annual Legislative Scorecard and annual Victories & Defeats for New Hampshire Businesses. You can find this companion publication on our website, BIAofNH.com. The two documents track how senators and House members voted on legislation of keen interest to the business community and summarizes the outcome of a wide variety of bills in a mix of policy areas. The document runs through more than two dozen key bills that were considered by the House and/or Senate in the 2019 session.

 

In some cases, lawmakers considered bills that would harm our climate for job creation and economy and voted them down. These include efforts to change employee leasing practices, require differential pay for overnight shift workers, and restrict siting of liquefied natural gas storage facilities. Despite efforts to increase business taxes by freezing and rolling back rate reductions already in law, a bill to do so died on the table.

Other legislation that was rejected or tabled found its way into law through the budget process. Language from these bills were added to the state’s biennial budget trailer bill. Pro-business measures that passed along with the budget include increases to the Job Training Fund to help employers upskill their current workforce, increases in Medicaid reimbursement rates to help tamp down cost-shifting to the business community and creation of a state-level administrative housing appeals board for developers to appeal unfair or unconstitutional decisions to block increases in affordable housing stock for working men and women throughout the state.

Our Victories & Defeats document lists a great number of bills that would have been marked as “defeats,” were it not for vetoes by the governor. In fact, Governor Sununu vetoed a record 57 bills last session, and many of them pertained to legislation that would have adversely affected businesses.

 

Among the measures that appropriately fell to the veto pen were prohibitions on using credit history or salary history in employment decisions, mandatory paid family leave, costly changes to the state’s renewable energy portfolio standard, expensive changes to workers’ compensation definitions and changes to net energy metering policy that would have resulted in cost-shifting to other ratepayers. It’s unfortunate that so many bills with clearly detrimental effects on New Hampshire businesses made it through both chambers, requiring the vetoes in the first place.

Legislators have returned to the State House and already some have filed repeat versions of the same bills from last session. Nevertheless, BIA hopes fewer lawmakers will support legislation harmful to New Hampshire’s climate for job creation and economy this time around.

BIA will publish its 2020 scorecard next fall, just in time for the next state election. We hope voters will take the time to check precisely where their local senator and representatives came down on key issues during the 2019 legislative session. Because like at the ballgame, you can’t tell the players apart without a scorecard.

Jim Roche is president of the Business and Industry Association of New Hampshire.

Categories: Opinion

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