The Advocate Recap: 2/17/17

NASHUA BULLETIN: February 17, 2017

NH House To Bill On Right- To- Work: You’re Fired (SB 11)

SB 11, the bill to make New Hampshire a right-to-work state, was one of the first bills passed by the Senate this year, and it was an issue that Governor Sununu touted in his campaign and has pushed hard on since his inauguration in January. Yesterday, however, the House voted the bill down by a vote of 200-177.

It was clear going into the vote that it would be a close call one way or another. Prior to the House session, the Governor himself visited the House Republican caucus meeting to make one final push for the bill (attendance by Governors at these caucuses are not common). In the end, though, 32 Republicans voted against the legislation.

The House then proceeded to pass a motion for indefinite postponement, a parliamentary maneuver to put off a vote on a question for the remainder of the legislature’s term. In New Hampshire, this motion has traditionally been used as an emphatic way to put a stake in the heart of a bill that the House has voted to kill and which the House does not want to see again during the remainder of the biennium. Since the House Rules would in any event have prohibited this issue from being taken up again next year, the motion for indefinite postponement was more of an exclamation point than a substantive action, but the fact that such motions rarely are made means that they always have a dramatic impact (old friend Kevin Landrigan said in a tweet yesterday that “indefinite postponement is the political equivalent of getting slapped in the face.”)

The Governor quickly moved beyond the vote on SB 11 and, although expressing his disappointment with the action of the House, he noted that there are many other initiatives which are being put forward and which he will be advocating for in order to improve the New Hampshire economy and to create jobs in the state.

UPDATE: House Stops Telecom Uniform Appraisal Repeal (HB 357)

The House yesterday also defeated HB 357, a bill that was filed to repeal the 2016 law which established a uniform method of appraisal for telecommunications poles and conduits around the state.

The theory behind the 2016 law was that municipalities should not be applying wildly different appraisal methodologies for telecom property which, by its very nature, is the same wherever it is located.

As you know, the Chamber has long been a supporter of uniformity in the way that municipalities value utility property, and so kudos to the House for making quick work of this one.

House Approves Increase In Filing Threshold For BPT (HB 531)

Another action taken yesterday by the House was the approval of an amended version of HB 531, a bill which would increase the filing threshold for a business profits tax return. As introduced, the legislation would have increased the filing threshold to $100,000, up from the $50,000 level where it has been since 1993.

As the House Ways and Means Committee considered the bill, though, it emerged that an increase to the $100,000 level would potentially mean a loss of more than $1.5 million in state revenue.

As a result, the Ways and Means Committee recommended an amendment that would lift the threshold just to $75,000 (the impact on state revenues from this change would be under $1 million). The bill passed the House with this amendment, and it now heads over to the Senate.

Next Week….

On Tuesday, the House Transportation Committee will be voting on what to do with HB 267, the bill to repeal the Rail Transit Authority. We’ll have the news on that for you next Friday.

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