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The Chamber's legislative priorities affecting your business
This legislative update, written on behalf of the Chamber's Government Affairs Committee, is designed to keep Chamber members posted on legislation affecting your business, your employees, and your quality of life. If you have any questions, please contact the Chamber at (603) 224-2508.
February 27, 2018
All in the Legislature are ready for the possibility of a week off. The Senate is taking a winter break, resting up for all the bills that are coming over from the House in late March after crossover. Many House Committees are also taking the week off; however, a few had so many bills or so many controversial bills, that they are having to meet during winter vacation week to finish up their work in order to meet the House deadlines..
SB 587 which would have allowed cities of 40,000, i.e. Concord, to collect an additional motor vehicle registration permit fee for the construction, operation and maintenance of parking facilities has died in a Senate Committee. The Committee asked Senator Feltes to present them with the dollars Concord is losing from the yellow bags placed over parking meters when the Legislature is in session, for consideration of an appropriation to pay for the Legislators free parking. Senator Feltes did his homework but as you can imagine, the State prefers free parking instead of reimbursing Concord. The full Senate will vote on this bill after winter vacation.
It will be a few weeks before the Senate Ways and Means Committee does anything on the BET/BPT tax exemption bill for regenerative tissue manufacturing companies, SB 564. Senator Feltes asked the Attorney General's office to provide an opinion by March 7 as to the constitutionality of these exemptions.
The Senate Ways and Means Committee passed SB 563 which creates a recovery-friendly workplace initiative tax credit against the BPT and the BET.
Governor Sununu presented his State of the State to a packed audience of members at last week's luncheon hosted annually by the Chamber. The Governor elaborated on many of the topics he presented in his State of the State to the Legislature and there was tremendous interaction between the Governor and the audience, particularly dealing with the issues of keeping our children safe in school, the opioid crisis and what the State and our communities can do, needed infrastructure improvements for the State and the money designated for those efforts, reduction in regulatory requirements and the business and tax environment. One of the key issues the Governor focused on is how to attract millennials into the workforce. Workforce and affordable housing are also key. SB 301, would temporarily reduce the real estate transfer tax for first time home buyers for houses valued at $300,000 or under; the bill passed the Senate's first hurdle and is headed to the Senate Finance Committee. The Governor is clear he wants to attract business and the workers needed for those businesses. In keeping with the continued reduction in regulations HB 1301 passed the House, which creates a committee to look at all non-regulatory boards and commissions, and make recommendations on which ones to eliminate.
Casino gambling, SB 586, raised its head again this year. It got killed in the Senate and will have to wait until 2019 to come back again.
Eliminating or reducing the interest and dividends tax seems to really have momentum this year. The Senate passed SB 404, which phases the tax out, and the House passed HB 1554 which increases the interest and dividends exemptions and reduces the cap on the research and development business tax credits. Not long ago the Legislature was focused on reducing business taxes and increasing the R/D tax credit and here we are in 2018 focusing on the interest and dividends tax.
Utility valuation is an issue the Chamber has watched for about five years now; first telecommunications poles, wires and conduits, and now water, gas and electric infrastructure valuation. As you may recall, the House Ways and Means Committee came up with a solution for telecommunications and now progress is being made on the other utilities. The House Ways and Means Committee passed HB 1381. This legislation creates a standard formula for utility valuation that will be able to be used statewide by municipalities. If HB 1381 makes it to the finish line, there will be no more cost-shifting from one town to another, no more lawsuits that ratepayers and taxpayers are paying for, and improved tax uniformity and predictability. The current system is both bad utility and tax policy that unfairly places the cost burden on NH citizens. Bravo to the House Ways and Means Committee for their hard work.
This session will, in all probability, move at lightning speed as it is an election year and the session is slated to be over by May 24. So hold on and speak up now if there is legislation you would like the Chamber to pay particular attention to or follow.