April 4, 2014

     Thank you for your interest in one of our most proud efforts- business advocacy during the legislative session.Our Chamber is very proud of its efforts to represent you and all of our members in Concord. Our work would not be possible without the strong support of our friends at Devine, Millimet & Branch, whose lobbying team serves as our "boots on the ground" in Concord on a daily basis. We thank them for their unyielding support of our advocacy efforts, particularly through the sponsorship of this newsletter.

This weekly newsletter is intended to give you an overview of what has happened at the State House over the past week. Read this every Friday to learn about our Chamber's lobbying efforts relating to those activities, and to preview what we are doing on behalf of our Chamber members. 

No Competition For Non-Compete Bill (SB 351)

The House Labor Committee held a public hearing this past Wednesday on SB 351, the legislation that seeks to fix the problem created by last year's passage of legislation that severely restricted how employers may utilize non-compete agreements.  As you know, the Chamber supports SB 351, and we testified in support of the bill in the Committee this week.  There was no testimony in opposition to the bill, and the Committee seemed to be receptive to what was being proposed.


The amended bill that came out of the Senate is the result of some excellent discussions between some of the primary stakeholders, in particular Fidelity Investments and Representative Keith Murphy, the sponsor of last year's legislation.  One of the problems with the existing law is that it seems to apply even to existing employees who are simply starting up new jobs within the same company, and that piece has proven to be one of the more confusing problems in terms of how it is to be applied.  As SB 351 now stands, it would make the law applicable only to non-compete agreements that are being presented to employees that are new employees, and not employees who are merely changing jobs within the company.    Thus, if SB 351 passes, it will remove from the law the confusing provision dealing with non-compete agreements given to existing employees, but continue to require employers to notify prospective employees of a non-compete requirement that might exist.  This is a fair outcome, because it gives reasonable protections to employees who might otherwise be giving up one job to accept a position in a new company that, unbeknownst to the employee, has a non-compete requirement. Since the business is going to present the non-compete agreement to the employee anyway, it is no great burden for that to be done at the time of making the offer to hire.


As we told the Committee, we salute the efforts of Fidelity and BAE Systems to fix this problem and we especially give a tip of the Chamber's cap to them for the manner in which they were able to accomplish this.  It is not easy to convince the sponsor of a piece of legislation to agree to changes in that legislation only one year after a bill was passed, but that is what has happened here.  Hopefully, the House Labor Committee will agree and will vote to pass this amended version of SB 351 when they vote on it next week.  

Senate Credit Check Bill Goes To House (SB 295)

Also on Wednesday, the House Labor Committee held a public hearing on SB 295, the Senate version of the bill designed to limit the ability of employers to conduct credit checks of employees.  Similar bills were filed in the House and the Senate. The Chamber opposed both of these credit check bills because we believe that it should be left to the reasonable discretion of the employers to make the decision whether a credit check is something that is necessary.  It is unlikely that an employer is going to go to the time and expense of conducting a credit check unless that is something which is really connected to the job.  The Senate bill (SB 295) which was amended by the Senate and is now being considered by the House Labor Committee is not perfect, but it's better than the original version of the Senate bill (or the House bill for that matter) because it allows any type of employer to perform a credit check on an incoming employee if the employer reasonably believes that a credit check is necessary (as the bill was introduced, it only allowed checks to be done by certain specified employers, such as banks).

Put Down Those Cell Phones (HB 1360)

Distracted driving has become a major issue around the country, and the New Hampshire Legislature has attempted to address that problem in the past by passing a general distracted driving law that is on the books right now.  However, HB 1360 was filed in order to provide a more specific prohibition on use of hand-held cell phones while driving, and at the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the bill on Tuesday, Assistant Safety Commissioner Earl Sweeney called this bill "one of the most necessary bills" that he has ever seen.  According to Assistant Commissioner Sweeney, if this legislation passes, New Hampshire will have the most comprehensive anti-distracted driving law in the country. 


The bill would make it unlawful to use hand-held cell phones for any purpose while driving or while stopped in traffic or at a traffic light. The bill permits the use of hands-free Blue Tooth-type devices.  The House addressed an issue raised by businesses that have emergency vehicles on the roads by including a provision that allows the use of two-way radios and which also permits cell phone use if the vehicle is pulled over to the side of the road and is at a complete stop. 


A vote on this one could come as early as next week.

Next Week...

Two big hearings are up for next week. The Chamber will be there to testify in support of SB 367 (the gas tax bill) on Tuesday in front of a combined panel made up of the House Public Works Committee and the House Ways and Means Committee. We will also be testifying on Wednesday before the House Public Works Committee in favor of SB 326, the bill to permit motorist service signs on highways.

Sponsored by
Devine Millimet

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March 28, 2014
A Special Edition - March 25, 2014
March 14, 2014
February 21, 2014
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January 24, 2014
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