Legislative Update May 6, 2016

By May 6, 2016Advocacy

The Pen is Mightier Than the Saw

Governor Hassan vetoed her first bill of the session this week, striking down a building code measure that she said was a public safety issue. The bill was opposed by a broad coalition of stakeholders that included home builders, fire chiefs, municipal officials and planning and development entities. Governor Hassan’s veto pen will get more use soon. Along with other bills she is likely to veto, the governor has firmly promised to veto a bill that would repeal the requirement to get a permit to carry a concealed weapon.

Meanwhile, With the Other Pen

Governor Hassan probably used a different pen to sign into law two net metering bills, including one that doubles the state’s net metering cap from 50 to 100 megawatts. Under the law, smaller energy generating entities, mostly houses and small businesses, would benefit financially from the credits available for putting excess energy back onto the grid.

Flexibility

The House Labor Committee this week recommended passage of a bill that would outlaw employer retaliation against employees who ask for a flexible working schedule. The majority of the committee said they believed the bill was a fair compromise that is good for employees and employers alike. Opponents on the committee said the bill lacks a clear definition of “retaliation,” and that there may be potential negative effects for employers that cannot offer flexible schedules.

Hopefully Sooner, Rather Than Later

The legislature and Governor Hassan put a high priority this year on bills targeting the ongoing opioid crisis, with several fast-track measures signed into law early in the session and others nearing completion. Residents are hoping these steps will have some positive impact soon, in the face of grim news this week that there have already been dozens of confirmed opioid overdose deaths in 2016. Dozens more deaths are awaiting toxicological test results, with the likelihood that many of those will be confirmed as overdoses and added to the total.

The End is Nigh

The House will meet in session on Wednesday, May 11, and May 12, if necessary, to act on all bills remaining open from committee work. The House has also tabled 29 bills, including a measure decriminalizing small amounts of marijuana for personal use and a bill on a cash balance plan within the state retirement system. Many of these are expected to remain tabled, in which case they will die for the 2016 session. Additionally, there are some 47 House bills that have been amended by the Senate. The House must either concur with the Senate changes, reject the changes outright, thus killing the bill, or seek a committee of conference to attempt to work out differences. The House will meet on May 19 and June 1 to finalize action for 2016.

Senators will follow a similar track. The Senate will meet in session on Thursday, May 12, to finish with its committee bills. The Senate has tabled 28 bills, including a bill to authorize a single casino, a bill to suspend the death penalty and a bill permitting employers to pay wages either weekly or bi-weekly. Many, if not most, will end the session on the table. The Senate must act on bills amended by the House in the same manner as the other chamber, by way of concurrence, non-concurrence or committee of conference agreement, with June 2 as the deadline