April 25, 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. 

"Pot Holes, Not Pot:" Gas Tax Bill Finally Passes House (SB 367)

The long journey to the enactment of the gas tax legislation is almost at an end.  On Wednesday, the House passed SB 367 by a wide margin, and the bill now goes to the Governor for her certain signature.  As might have been expected with a piece of legislation that has been debated so extensively, there were still some fireworks even at the eleventh hour, with several amendments being proposed on the House floor, including a proposal to amend the bill by attaching to it the marijuana decriminalization bill that the House passed several weeks ago but which the Senate has refused to accept into the Senate because Senate Rules prohibit the consideration of a bill identical to one which the Senate already rejected in the first year of the session (last year).  Nashua Representative David Campbell, the tireless legislative guru behind SB 367, successfully led the effort to convince the House not to make any amendments to the bill and thereby risk possible problems when the amendments went back to the Senate.  When Representative Campbell told his colleagues that SB 367 is "about pot holes, not pot", the laughter and applause that came from the members of the House presaged which way the vote was going to go, and the marijuana amendment was soundly defeated just before the House passed SB 367 with no amendments. 


The Chamber has been proud to be an active supporter of the efforts to get this bill passed, and we appreciate Representative Campbell's mention of the Chamber's support of the bill in his SB 367 committee report to the full House.  We salute him and all of the legislators who worked on a bi-partisan basis to get this problem solved, in the best tradition of the New Hampshire legislature. 

House Passes Non-Compete Fix (SB 351)

Also on Wednesday, the House passed SB 351, the legislation supported by the Chamber that is intended to address some of the problems that businesses have had since last year's enactment of ambiguous legislation that severely impedes the ability of employers to use non-competes.  As we have been reporting over the last several months, Fidelity in particular has taken the lead in trying to get this problem fixed, and the legislation which has now passed the Senate and the House makes an important clarification in the new law so that non-compete agreements only need to be provided to new employees at the time of hire (the current law requires that non-compete agreements must be given to employees both at the time of hire and at various other points in the course of employment).  The House Labor Committee unanimously agreed with the course of action that was urged on them by Fidelity and by the Chamber that there should be no amendments to the bill in the House, so that the bill need not go back to the Senate and instead could go straight to the Governor's desk.  That is what the full House ultimately voted to do on Wednesday, and so we expect that this bill, along with the gas tax bill, will be among some of the first bills signed into law by the Governor this year. 

Snake Eyes On Casino Vote (SB 366)

Not all the news out of Concord this week was good, however.  The House Ways & Means Committee finally voted this week on SB 366, the Senate's casino gaming bill that is supported by the Chamber. The Committee voted 11-9 to recommend that the full House kill the bill (thanks go to our own Rep. Jack Kelley, who spoke eloquently to the Committee in support of SB 366).  Ironically, the Committee vote occurred on the same day that the State's S&P bond rating was downgraded from "stable" to "negative," due in part to the previous week's court decision declaring that the New Hampshire Medicaid Enhancement Tax (MET) paid by hospitals is unconstitutional.  The MET brings in several hundred million dollars a year to the State, and so one might have reasonably expected that one of the effects of a ruling that puts such a large revenue source into question would have been a renewed interest in identifying new potential sources of revenue. 


This bill goes to the House floor on Wednesday, and it will probably be the last chance for the House to pass casino gaming this biennium. Much is riding on this vote, not least of all the over $2 million per year that Nashua is expected to receive if the bill passes, the many new jobs that will be created, and the creation of a sorely needed revenue source for the State. The Chamber is urging all Nashua area representatives to join with Senators Lasky and Gilmour, and with Rep. Kelley, in support of SB 366. 

Big Retirements Announced

This is the time of year when we start to hear about legislators who have decided not to run for re-election. There was some major news on that front over the last few days.


On Monday, Speaker of the House Terie Norelli announced that after nine terms in the House she will not be running again.  This means that there will be a new Speaker of the House come January, regardless of which party is in the majority.  Although Representative Norelli is best known now for her work as Speaker, we would like to think back to when she was a new Democratic member of the House in the early 1990s, serving on a small subcommittee of the House Environment Committee that was reviewing what was at the time the controversial issue of motor vehicle emissions testing.  One of the other members of that subcommittee was Republican Jeb Bradley, who of course went on to become a member of Congress, and who now is the Majority Leader of the New Hampshire State Senate.  Although few probably have much memory of this now, at the time the Federal EPA was trying to get New Hampshire to build enhanced automotive emissions testing centers in the central and southeastern parts of the state, where drivers would have had to go and pay to have specific enhanced emissions testing done.  The fact that New Hampshire took its time in considering that issue ended up sparing New Hampshire from having to figure out what to do with those centers when the enhanced emissions rules were done away with by a new Congress. 


One of our favorite senators, Senator Bob Odell, also announced this week that he will not be running again. Senator Odell has served six terms as a member of the Senate, and prior to that he served one term in the House.  Although Senator Odell represents Sullivan County, members of this Chamber will be extremely familiar with his background because of the frequency with which we have worked with him on pro-business initiatives.  It was Senator Odell, for instance, who was the prime sponsor of the legislation proposed by this Chamber to create the mechanisms now referred to as "economic revitalization zones" in New Hampshire.  Senator Odell was also the champion of measures such as the doubling of the R&D tax credit.  We cannot possibly say enough about the debt that New Hampshire businesses owe to his work over the last 14 years.  We will miss his wise, genial and bipartisan presence in the State Senate.


And yesterday, we learned that Rep. David Campbell also has decided not to run. David has been a long and faithful supporter of the Chamber and the Nashua-area business community. Readers of the Advocate will recognize just how significant a role he has played as the Chair of the House Public Works Committee.


No matter their particular political views or their specific proposals along the way, these legislators indisputably have been dedicated public servants for the people of New Hampshire. We wish them well.

Sponsored by
Devine Millimet

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April 4, 2014

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Greater Nashua Chamber of Commerce | (603) 881-8333 
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