NASHUA BULLETIN                          February 202015

 

Welcome to the Chamber's weekly legislative newsletter, The Advocate!  With the start of the new year comes the start of NH's state legislative session.  For those of you who have been active with our Chamber for a while, you already know to expect this legislative newsletter in your inbox each week. It provides a recap of what happened in Concord each week, and previews what is coming up in the following week that pertains to various business interests. We hope you find this weekly publication informative, and a great way to stay attuned to what is happening in Concord that impacts southern NH's business community!

 

Electric Line Burial Bills (HB 431 and HB 626)

We come not to praise these bills, but to bury them (in a manner of speaking). The House Science, Technology &  Energy Committee held hearings yesterday on HB 431 and HB 626, two bills that yet again look to unnecessarily restrict the way that energy companies can construct and place new energy lines. HB 431 is identical to last year's HB 569, and establishes a "preference" for the burial of electric transmission lines. HB 626 would create "energy infrastructure corridors" and establish new criteria that the Site Evaluation Committee must follow in making decisions on energy projects. This bill also makes burial of lines one of the criteria to be used by the SEC.

 

In his letter to the House Science, Technology & Energy Committee, Chamber President/CEO Chris Williams registered the Chamber's opposition to HB 431 on several grounds.  First, the bill is clearly directed at the Northern Pass Project (indeed, at the hearing the prime sponsor of the bill and virtually everyone who testified in support of the bill spoke about the bill in that context), and as we have been saying since the anti-Northern Pass bills began to be filed several years ago, the Chamber does not believe that it is a good idea to pass legislation directed at one specific project that might have uncontemplated negative consequences on other, unrelated projects in the future.

 

The second problem is that, although the bill is couched in terms of establishing just a "preference" for burial, the Site Evaluation Commission obviously must adhere to that preference. From a practical standpoint, a legislative statement of "preference" will amount to the same thing as a mandate because that preference will be adopted in virtually every case.  The enactment of this bill probably would result in just what the sponsors want the bill to do: make it so that the lines are buried in almost every circumstance. We think the SEC instead should be able to make its decisions based on what is best in each particular situation.

 

Finally, burial of lines very likely means more difficulty and more expense for the companies that are doing these projects. It seems clear that these sorts of hurdles unquestionably would lead to higher energy costs for New Hampshire - not exactly what we need at this point in New Hampshire's economic history.    

 

Just last year, the legislature passed a law revamping the SEC and how the SEC reviews projects.

Can't we wait to see how that law works before changing things yet again? At the very time that we need more energy in this state, these sorts of bills, year in and year out, can hardly be making New Hampshire an attractive place for companies that might be looking to build new energy projects. We need to keep in mind what was said at the Chamber's legislative symposium this year: it is time to turn the focus on the need to get more energy into New Hampshire. 


Senate Approves R&D Tax Credit Increase (SB 6)

Yesterday's Senate session saw a vote to approve SB 6, the bill to increase from $2 million to $7 million the cap on the R&D tax credit. This bill is one of the Chamber's priority bills for 2015. The vote was 24-0, and to make clear the degree of the Senate's support for this they took the unusual step of conducting a roll call on a bill that would pass unanimously, just so that each Senator could individually vote yes. As we expected, the Senate approved the bill and then voted to table it. This puts the bill into suspended animation, with the intention that the language in this bill will be included in HB 2, the budget trailer bill which (along with the budget, naturally) will be the last item passed by the legislature this session.  This maneuver helps ensure that the intent of the bill will be preserved through the legislative session rather than falling victim along the way to any legislative antics or competing interests.


In Other News...

The Chamber also registered its opposition this week to HB 673 (a bill to create a Sales & Use tax in New Hampshire) and HB 600 (requiring businesses to provide certain levels of paid sick leave to employees). We were happy that the House HHS Committee voted to recommend the defeat of HB 389, which would have ended the Certificate Of Need moratorium on nursing home and rehab beds (there were some who wanted to use this bill to move up the prospective repeal of CON, and as our readers know the Chamber believes that all this would be a bad idea). We were also pleased that the Senate Ways & Means Committee voted this week to recommend the passage of SB 1 and SB 2, the bills to reduce the rates of the business profits tax and the business enterprise tax. These bills (which were the first two bills supported by the Chamber this year) will be on the Senate floor on March 5.

                            

Next week is the legislature's annual winter break, as our legislators get a well-deserved breather. This means that the next issue of The Advocate will be on March 7. In the meantime, for those of you who are going to be on vacation next week, have fun. And for all of us, let us collectively give thanks that pitchers and catchers reported for training just a few hours ago. 

 

Sponsored by
Devine Millimet

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Febraury 6th, 2015 
January 30th, 2015 
January 26th, 2015
November 5, 2014
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Greater Nashua Chamber of Commerce | (603) 881-8333 | http://www.nashuachamber.com
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Nashua, NH 03060