NASHUA BULLETIN                                 May 8, 2015


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 Rate Reduction Financing Still Under Review (SB 221)  

On Tuesday, the House Science, Technology & Energy Committee held a work session on SB 221 (the electric rate reduction financing bill). Typically, work sessions in the House are done in a small subcommittee that is appointed by the committee chair, but this one was done in the full ST&E Committee - a sign of the importance the Committee rightly attaches to this bill.


Work sessions are opportunities for a committee to dive deeper into a bill than is possible during the first public hearing in the committee. So it was not surprising that the first person that the ST&E Committee wanted to hear from was Bill Quinlan, the President of Eversource NH.


But that is where the "not surprisingly" part of this ended, because the work session got off to an interesting start. The first legislator to be recognized for questions, Rep. Howard Moffett of Concord, handed Mr. Quinlan some documents and then proceeded to embark on a 30-minute inquiry period that for all the world appeared much like a cross- examination (albeit a very respectful and dignified one) directed at the question of whether Eversource should have given the state earlier notice concerning cost overruns with respect to the Merrimack Scrubber. Although that style of questioning is what we are used to seeing in Congressional hearings at the US Capitol, it is something we almost never see in legislative hearings in Concord (this too is a sign of the heightened attention that this bill is receiving up there). In any event, Mr. Quinlan's answers obviously were on point, because when the Committee members took a straw poll a few hours later there was a strong consensus in favor of passing SB 221.


This one still has a ways to go. A potential vote on the bill yesterday was postponed, and the word is that there will be no vote until later in the month. We will let you know next week if there is anything up with this beyond just the feeling that there is a need for more time for consideration of this important bill. It is clear that there are still many people with reservations about the bill, and many of those reservations seem to be born out of frustration with how we got here as a state. From our Chamber's perspective, however, we think there needs to be a focus on the simple fact of whether this bill will result in energy rates that are lower than the ones we will be paying if this bill does not become law. Any object lessons arising out of the state's energy-related actions over the past decade or so can be drawn and acted upon in the future.


By the way, this is not the only energy bill that is still waiting for a committee vote. On Wednesday, the Senate Energy Committee discussed but did not vote on HB 572, the gas pipeline bill we reported on last week. The members of that Committee are still trying to finalize some amendment language, and Senator Jeb Bradley, the Committee Chair, said that a vote on this will not be happening until after next week. 


Big New Redevelopment Initiative Passes House (SB 30)

A major New Hampshire economic development bill passed the House on Wednesday. SB 30 would allow a county to establish a redevelopment district in an unincorporated area (while we don't often think about this down here in the southern tier, there are parts of New Hampshire up north which do not belong to any city or town). The bill also increases for the first time in over 20 years the bonding capacity of the NH Business Finance Authority for revenue bonds to support redevelopment. These sorts of BFA bonds previously have been used for things like Manchester-Boston Regional Airport and the Pease Redevelopment Authority. This bill is critical toward redevelopment of The Balsams, a project that is hugely important to our friends in the North Country (not to mention the rest of us in New Hampshire, who will benefit from increased tax revenues and from the people who are passing through as they head up north - they don't call us the Gateway City for nothing!)


A special tip of the cap to DRED Commissioner Jeff Rose and Devine Strategies President Teresa Rosenberger, two people with long ties to this Chamber, who were instrumental in making this landmark achievement happen.


Senate Finance Committee Holds Hearing On State Budget (HB 1 and HB 2)   

If you think that what happens in the state budget does not affect very many people, you obviously were not at the State House on Tuesday. The Senate Finance Committee held a public hearing on HB 1 and HB 2, the proposed state budget and its accompanying trailer bill. The hearing was held in Representatives Hall, and the attendees packed the House floor (400 seats) AND the House gallery (another couple of hundred seats there). At one point, the line to sign up for a speaking slot stretched out of Rep's Hall, out of the House lobby, and around the corner toward the Governor's Office. The hearing began at 3PM and did not conclude until 12:30 AM. The Committee may begin voting on the budget as early as next week, so we will be able to give you more information in the coming weeks concerning how the Senate will amend what was sent over from the House.


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May 1st, 2015 
April 24th, 2015 
April 17th, 2015 
April 13th, 2015
April 3rd, 2015 
March 27th, 2015
March 20th, 2015
March 13th, 2015 
March 6th, 2015 
February 20th, 2015
February 6th, 2015 
January 30th, 2015 
January 26th, 2015
November 5, 2014
Read Last Session's Updates
And to those who hold the most eminent of all titles, Happy Mothers' Day!
Greater Nashua Chamber of Commerce | (603) 881-8333 |
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