April 21, 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 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. 

Joint House Committee Recommends Passage Of Gas Tax Bill (SB 367)

On Tuesday, the joint House committee that has been reviewing SB 367, the gas tax increase legislation, met for a final time to vote on the bill.  The committee voted to recommend the approval of SB 367 with no amendments. 


The "with no amendments" part of this is important.  There were several amendments proposed before the final vote on the bill, most notably an amendment to remove the section of the bill that eliminates the Merrimack tolls at Exit 12.  You may remember from last week's Advocate that this is a big deal, because SB 367 prime sponsor Senator Jim Rausch had told the committee that the elimination of this section might threaten the successful passage of this bill when it got back to the Senate.


So before the Merrimack amendment was voted on, committee chair Representative David Campbell urged the members of the joint committee to vote against the removal of the Merrimack piece of the bill.  As Representative Campbell memorably put it, the Merrimack piece may be "an orange on the apple tree, but it doesn't justify cutting down the whole apple tree."  That amendment failed by just one vote, 15-16.  Given Senator Rausch's assessment of the situation in the Senate, we think that it was a wise choice by Representative Campbell to urge the committee to pass the version of the bill that came out of the Senate, thus ensuring that, if the bill comes out of the House as recommended by the joint committee, it will go straight to the Governor's desk without the need for it to return to the Senate for further review.  Kudos to Representative Campbell and to the slim majority of the joint committee for doing the right thing here and recommending ought to pass.


The next (and hopefully the last) legislative step will be taken this week when the full House votes on the bill.  We hope that all Nashua area members of the House will support the decision of the joint committee and vote "ought to pass" on SB 367.


No Vote On Casino Gaming (SB 366)

The House Ways & Means Committee met last week to discuss SB 366, the casino gaming legislation, but after nearly three hours the only decision made was to delay the Committee vote until this week.  It looks like the margin of the vote probably will be quite close.  The fact that state revenue sharing with cities and towns is being reinstated in the legislation is really changing the dialogue, given the need for revenue for municipalities. The other big potential game changer was the decision issued last Friday by the Merrimack County Superior Court declaring the State's Medicaid Enhancement Tax unconstitutional, which might create a $340 million revenue hole in the state budget. 


The Chamber continues to support SB 366 and encourages all of our delegation to support a non-tax revenue source. 

 In Other News ...

Thursday, the Senate passed HB 1360, the "distracted driving" bill. This bill as passed generally forbids the use of hand-held cell phones in vehicles, but it also includes language that allows people to make cell phone calls if they are pulled off the road and stopped.  This was important language, especially for businesses that have vehicles that are on the road and who have drivers who need to have communications with a central office or dispatcher. 


The House voted on Wednesday to pass SB 295, the bill to limit employer credit checks.  As we reported last week, the House Labor Committee had removed the exemption inserted by the Senate that would allow businesses to conduct checks if the employer reasonably believes that a check is necessary for the business.  As Committee member Representative J. Tracy Emerick said in his minority report on the bill, "employers, especially small business, should be allowed whatever resources that are available to protect the business and the businesses' customers."  We hope that when this amendment goes back to the Senate for review the Senate will not budge from its prior position.

Sponsored by
Devine Millimet

In This Issue
Quick Links
Find your State Representative

Search for Legislation
Find Your Local State Senator
Read Past Issues
March 28, 2014
A Special Edition - March 25, 2014
March 14, 2014
February 21, 2014
February 14, 2014
January 24, 2014
January 17, 2014
January 13, 2014
Greater Nashua Chamber of Commerce | (603) 881-8333
142 Main St.
5th Floor
Nashua, NH 03060