NASHUA BULLETIN                 May 6, 2016
Bulletin No. 16
Welcome to the Chamber's weekly legislative newsletter, The Advocate!  This newsletter is our recap of what happened in Concord each week during the legislative session, and a preview of what is coming up in the following week that pertains to various business interests. Although we will be letting you know about legislation that we think is of note, don't hesitate to tell us about bills that you may be familiar with and which you think are worth our review. We exist to serve you, our members.

Senate Transportation Committee Disappoints On Rail Vote (HB 2016)  
We are sorry to have to report this week that on Tuesday, the Senate Transportation Committee voted 3-2 against the inclusion in HB 2016 of $4 million in federal funds to continue preliminary work on the Capital Corridor Rail Project.  The committee votes in favor of the amendment (proposed by Nashua Senators Bette Lasky and Kevin Avard) to put the money back in the bill were cast by Senator Dan Feltes and Senator David Watters.  The votes against the amendment came from Transportation Committee Chair Senator Nancy Stiles and from Senators Gary Daniels of Milford and Regina Birdsell of Hampstead. 

While this is a setback, it is not the last word.  HB 2016 will be voted on by the full Senate on this coming Thursday, May 12, and we are working to try to garner the necessary votes to pass a floor amendment that would restore the money.  We are very close - of the 24 members of the Senate, 11 (including our own Senators Lasky and Avard, of course) are committed to voting for the rail amendment.  This means that just two more votes will get this done on the Senate side. 

On Wednesday, we sent out an alert to our members with contact information for the members of the Senate.  We urge Chamber members to contact all of our State Senators to try to convince them of the necessity of continuing with the rail project. 

What To Do With The Surplus?
For the first time in a long time, New Hampshire is looking at a state budget surplus coming into the final weeks of the state fiscal year, which ends on June 30th. At present, it looks like state revenues are running about $80 million in the black, and there are some projections out there that say the number could turn out to be as high as $100 million before the fiscal year ends. Although there are a lot of differences of opinion between legislators on each side of the aisle concerning what should be done with the surplus funds, one point of consensus is that the State's Rainy Day Fund needs to be beefed up. Rating agencies apparently would like to see at least $150 million sitting in that Fund, and legislators would like to get the fund into that neighborhood because that would bolster the State's bond rating and therefore serve to reduce what it costs the State to borrow money over the long term. That obviously would be good news for taxpayers (and since businesses provide a major chunk of the State's revenue stream, this would naturally be a boon on the business side).
During yesterday's Senate session, Senate President Chuck Morse proposed an amendment to HB 1527 that would remove a cap on the amount that can be placed in the Rainy Day Fund in any given year (currently the law allows only 5% of general fund revenue to go into the Rainy Day Fund in a single year). The cap was put in the law at least several years back, but it seems to have gone largely unnoticed until this year (which tells you something about the state of the revenue situation during the intervening years).
Yesterday's proposal had bi-partisan support. Not only did Republicans and Democrats alike take the floor to praise the amendment, but the Senate then took the rather unusual step of conducting a full roll call on a bill that would be passing unanimously ((typically, bills that are going to be passed unanimously or by a large margin are voted on simply by a general voice vote that does not reveal which way individual Senators vote; the roll call on this bill gave each Senator the chance to be individually recorded as being in favor). The Governor then issued a press release applauding the Senate vote.         
We don't expect to see a conclusion to these discussions until we get closer to June 30th. But it is a refreshing change to have the State looking at what to do with a surplus, rather than trying to figure out what needs to be done to address a looming deficit.  

Tracy Hatch
President & CEO
Greater Nashua Chamber of Commerce 
Sponsored by
Devine Millimet

In This Issue
Quick Links
Find your State Representative

Search for Legislation
Find Your Local State Senator
Read Past Issues
April 29th, 2016 
April 22nd, 2016
April 15th, 2016
April 8th, 2016 
April 1st, 2016
March 23rd, 2016 
March 11th, 2016
March 4th, 2016 
February 12th, 2016
February 5th, 2016 
January 29th, 2016 
January 22nd, 2016 
January 15th, 2016
January 11th, 2016
Read Last Session's Updates
Greater Nashua Chamber of Commerce | (603) 881-8333 |
142 Main St., 5th Floor
Nashua, NH 03060