The Advocate Recap: 2/24/17

Nashua Bulletin – 2/24/17

House Transportation Committee Decides To Keep Rail Transit Authority Bill for Further Study (HB 267)

Late on Tuesday, the House Transportation Committee took a vote to retain HB 267, the bill that was filed to abolish the New Hampshire Rail Transportation Authority. The Chamber, of course, opposed this bill.

What does it mean to retain a bill?

  • A committee’s decision to retain a bill is essentially a decision to expand the amount of time that the committee has available to study the bill.
  • When a bill is retained, it remains in the possession of that committee for further study through the summer and the fall.
  • The committee then makes its recommendation to the full House in the late fall, and the House votes on the recommendation in early January.

Since there seemed to be a number of members of the Transportation Committee who supported the concept of abolishing the RTA, the retain vote is far from the worst outcome that could have been reached on this bill.

The motion to retain was made by Representative Steve Smith, the chair of the Committee. He said that his impetus for making the motion to retain came from having attended a meeting of the Rail Transit Authority last week, at which the Committee discussed items not involving the Capital Corridor Project. That prompted him to think that the Rail Transit Authority might be a useful body for consideration of transportation projects that are not limited to rail alone.

As he put it, it might be possible for the RTA to consider some smaller types of projects and technologies. One of the examples he gave was “a municipality out west” (we don’t think he meant Cheshire County) where they are using solar powered trollies.

So it looks like we’ll be doing further work on this bill between now and November, and at least for now the Rail Transit Authority lives.

On a related and somewhat sadder note… The Senate yesterday voted to kill SB 100, the bill to make a general fund appropriation for continuation of the work on the Capital Corridor project. Our thanks go to prime sponsor Senator Bette Lasky and to local co-sponsors Representatives Mariellen Mackay, Don LeBrun, Mike O’Brien, Martin Jack, and Cindy Rosenwald for trying to push this one along once again.

Senate Ways and Means Committee Considers BPT and BET Reductions (SB 1 and SB 2)

On Wednesday, we registered our support for SB 1 and SB2, bills that would lower rates of the business profits tax and the business enterprise tax.

  • SB 1 would reduce the BPT from 8.2 percent to 7.7 percent for taxable periods ending on or after June 30, 2018, and from 7.7 percent to 7.5 percent for taxable periods ending on or after June 30, 2021.
  • SB 2 would reduce the BPT from 8.2 percent to 7.5 percent and the BET from 0.72 percent to 0.50 percent for taxable periods ending on or after December 31, 2018.

Intuitively, one effective way to increase tax revenue is to increase the state’s tax base by attracting new businesses to New Hampshire and by retaining businesses that are already here.

Easier said than done, of course, but these bills have their hearts in the right place. We anticipate that the bills will get vetted further by the Ways and Means Committee (and the Finance Committee, if either or both of the bills come out of Ways and Means with a favorable vote), and that the Senators will do the necessary work in measuring out what the impacts on state revenues would be if the bills were to pass.

In the end it is going to be an assessment about what works as an incentive and what is going to have a positive impact on the state budget. We would not be surprised to see some of the provisions of at least one of these bills end up in HB 2, the budget trailer bill.

Next Week….

Next week, the Senate and most of the House will be taking their almost- annual and always well-deserved winter break that coincides with the New Hampshire school vacation week (a few House Committees are so swamped with work that they have to stay behind to continue their work.)

This means that the next issue of the Advocate will be two weeks from today…we know you will miss it!

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