From the New Hampshire Travel Council. For a list of all the bills the NH Travel Council is following, click here.
The New Hampshire Legislative session came to an unofficial close this past Wednesday. I say unofficial because the Legislature will most likely come back for a day to deal with veto messages from the Governor. That will take place either in early June or they may wait until late August/September.
On Wednesday the two chambers voted on the Committee of Conference (CoC) reports that were finalized last week. While most of the 60 bills that went to a CoC were passed by both chambers there were a few that did not pass.
Below is a summary of the final outcome of some of the key bills we were monitoring.
YOUTH EMPLOYMENT: SB 318 This bill originally dealt with repealing certain provisions of the youth employment law governing the employment of youths 16 and 17 years of age. The bill was amended several times throughout the legislative process and was eventually adopted by both chambers and it addresses other labor laws in addition to youth labor laws. The final version establishes criteria under which the commissioner of the Department of Labor may conduct a workplace inspection; amends certain notification and posting requirements; amends certain provisions of the youth employment law; and amends the requirements for employer retention of hour and wage records.
Regarding youth labor laws, the bill now allows 16 and 17 year olds to work 30 hours a week during a 5 day school week, 40 ¼ hours a week during a 4 day school week, and 48 hours during a school week with at least 1 but no more than 3 school days.
The bill also addressed an ongoing issue between employees and their employer concerning uniforms for the work place. The law now states (change is underlined): “Uniform” means a garment with a company logo or fashion of distinctive design, worn by one or more employees, and serving as a means of identification or distinction. No employer shall require an employee to wear a uniform unless the employer provides each employee with a uniform reasonably suited for the conditions in which the employee would be required to wear one, at no cost to the employee. An employee may purchase any other company garments or items if the employee chooses.
FAMILY MEDICAL LEAVE: HB 628 establishes a system of paid family and medical leave insurance. After passing the House by a slim margin, the full Senate voted along party lines to interim study this bill 14-10. An interim study vote is the polite way of killing a bill in the second year of the session. This bill would have created a paid medical leave program funded by and employee payroll reduction. The benefit would have been for 6 weeks and the program was optional in that you could opt-out at the time of being hired.
UNUSED VACATION TIME: HB 1201, relative to an employee’s earned but unused vacation time. This bill requires an employer to pay its employees for earned but unused vacation time. After passing the House by a slim margin this bill headed over to the Senate. The full Senate voted to kill the bill on a voice vote.
MEDICAID EXPANSION: SB 313 As drafted, the bill establishes the New Hampshire Granite Advantage Health Care Program which shall replace the current New Hampshire health protection program. Under this program, those individuals eligible to receive benefits under Medicaid and newly eligible adults will choose coverage offered by one of the managed care organizations contracted as vendors under the Medicaid program. For the first time, this measure would claim 5 percent of state liquor sales profits to serve as a taxpayer match for the New Hampshire Granite Care Advantage Health Care Program. This bill has passed both chambers and is going to the Governor’s office.
CAMPGROUNDS: SB 501, relative to immunity for campground owners. This bill provides immunity for campground owners, except for intentional acts or omissions which cause death or injury. The bill passed the Senate with an amendment by a voice vote. When the bill went over to the House it met strong head winds in the House Judiciary Committee, where it was recommended inexpedient to legislate (ITL). The full House adopted that recommendation by a vote of 170-101. There was a last ditch effort by the sponsor of the bill, Sen. Avard, to tack this bill onto to a House Bill which he succeeded to do in the Senate. Unfortunately, when it went back to the House Judiciary Committee, they recommended that the full House non-concur with the Senate change.
WORK SCHEDULES: SB 422, relative to advance notice of work schedules. This bill requires an employer to give 14 days’ advance notice of work schedules to its employees. This bill gained some Republican support on the Senate floor, but was ultimately tabled. A bill being tabled in effect kills the bill, but still needs monitoring as it can be taken off the table at any time (with a simple majority), but in this case I believe it went on the table to die.
MEALS AND ROOMS TAX : HB 1609 This bill allows towns and cities to adopt an additional surcharge under the meals and rooms tax on hotel occupancy within the town or city and deposit the funds collected by the department of revenue administration and paid to the town or city into a capital reserve fund, revolving fund, or other special revenue fund. This again had support from the City of Portsmouth as well as others from that area. The full committee voted to recommend this bill inexpedient to legislate (ITL) by a vote of 14-7. This bill was killed on the House floor this past week.
HIGHWAY SIGNS: SB 400, relative to traveler information signs on highways. This bill provides that the fee charged to a nonprofit organization for advertising space on a limited access highway shall be limited to the initial cost of the sign or its replacement. The full Senate voted to pass the bill. The bill was amended to provide that the fee for non-profits only be enough to cover the cost of the sign. Over on the House side the House Public Works and Highways Committee voted to recommend that this bill be killed 18-0. The full House killed this bill.
BUSINESS TAXES: HB 1292, relative to the effective dates of changes to the rates for the business profits tax and the business enterprise tax. This bill changes the effective dates of the rate reductions to the business profits tax and the business enterprise tax to the beginning of the respective calendar year. In essence it bumped up the start date for the next round of business tax cuts by 6 months. Starting January 1, 2019 the business profit tax will decrease from 7.9% to 7.7% and the business enterprise tax will decrease from .675% to .60%.