Legislative Update: April 27, 2018
House committees this week sent their remaining bills forward for floor action. Most Senate committees did likewise, with limited committee action scheduled for next week as the 2018 legislative year heads down the home stretch. The House and Senate both dealt with major legislation in their sessions on Thursday.
As the caissons go rolling along
The House overwhelmingly endorsed a proposal to use a temporary business tax exemption and a student loan forgiveness plan to help bring a new industry to the state. Well-known Manchester industrialist Dean Kamen formed the Advanced Regenerative Medicine Institute (ARMI) and has been working to attract businesses involved in the field of regenerative medicine. The goal is to make New Hampshire the Silicon Valley of what is poised to become a groundbreaking medical and industrial endeavor. The foundation of the futuristic idea is the commercialization of regenerating human organs and tissue from cells, with life-changing benefits for wounded service members and others suffering from catastrophic injury or illness. The bill already passed the Senate and has the support of Governor Chris Sununu.
Heeding arguments about a possible overreach, the House ended the effort to pass the proposed constitutional amendment on victims’ rights known as Marsy’s Law. The measure, which had easily passed the Senate by the three-fifths margin needed for a constitutional amendment, and which had the support of Governor Chris Sununu, brought out large crowds throughout its time in the legislative process.
The ultimate punishment
The state’s death penalty will remain an option for jurors in certain capital murder cases. House members, as they have several times in recent years, passed a repeal of the death penalty. But the action is moot, as Governor Sununu has firmly promised a veto, and the bill did not pass either the House or the Senate by margins large enough for an override. The death penalty provision has been narrowed over the years and now only applies in cases of the murder of certain law enforcement officials and judges, or murder during kidnapping, robbery or rape. No one has been executed since 1939 and only one person is currently on death row.
Dealing with one of the more high-visibility measures of the 2018 session, senators sent the proposed family and medical leave act to Interim Study after lengthy debate and a partisan 14-10 vote. Proponents of passing the bill argued that there had been enough study already, that the plan had been found viable and that it is needed by working families. The majority generally agreed with the intent, but said the plan as designed would soon be insolvent and needs to be redesigned in order to work.
Sharing is caring
The House on Thursday voted to pass legislation clarifying that transportation network drivers are independent contractors. The bill is seen as the final piece of regulatory efforts that began in 2016 as a way to provide more certainty for the growing ridesharing industry. Ridesharing services in New Hampshire have continued to expand and are in high demand by consumers. The measure now goes to Governor Sununu’s desk for signature.
Both the House and Senate will meet in session on Wednesday, May 2, and Thursday, May 3.