Legislative Update – May 10, 2019
Legislative committees continued to meet this week on remaining bills for 2019. And while it may be hard to see through the rain, June is just ahead. From a legislative perspective in a budget year, that means we are closing in on the time when lawmakers seek ways to deal with differences and put together a biennial budget. There will be a budget at some point in 2019, but agreement may be elusive in the short run. Governor Chris Sununu and legislative leadership remain at odds over key spending priorities as the session winds down.
A promise is a promise
Those differences were on display this week, as Governor Sununu on Thursday vetoed the legislature’s version of the family and medical leave program. The Governor has been critical of the legislature’s plan, which he says is an income tax. He has stood by his own family and medical leave proposal, which joins New Hampshire and Vermont state employees and allows for private sector buy-in.
As Time Goes by
The days are getting longer, and it’s a good thing for House members that they are. The House held a marathon session on Wednesday, dealing with more than 70 bills and working into the evening hours. Members passed a bill that would have the state vehicle fleet be zero-emission by the year 2039, with exceptions for certain vehicles. They also voted for a measure to transfer $4 million from the Unemployment Trust Fund to a job training fund at the Department of Business and Economic Affairs.
House members passed a Senate bill appropriating more than $3 million aimed at several high-profile health and human service issues. The bill sends $3 million to the Department of Health and Human Services in order to enhance provider rates, hopefully attracting more mental health and substance misuse providers to address those crises. The bill also appropriates $450,000 to DHHS for emergency shelter and stabilization services.
No betting…final answer
As it has done in the past, the House again said no to high stakes casino gaming. Legislators killed a proposal that would allow licenses for two video lottery and table games casinos. They followed that decision with a vote to require a two-thirds majority nod before the legislature can consider any casino language for the remainder of the biennium.
Skip the snacks
The House Commerce Committee unwrapped the controversial Snack Tax during a discussion of a bill on technical changes to the Rooms and Meals tax, but committee members decided that it had no appetite for trying to deal with snacks this session. On Wednesday the rest of the House agreed and passed a bill that merely clarifies certain provisions of the overall tax. The House action leaves people to wonder why that Twinkie from 7-11 is taxable even though it will still be edible 100 years from now.
The Senate will meet in session next Wednesday, May 15. The House holds its next full session on Thursday, May 23.