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Legislative Review

Business bans target landfills

This week, the House Environment and Agriculture Committee will hear a number of bills related to solid waste. Of most concern for BIA are two particularly anti-business proposals: HB 1145-FN, prohibiting the private ownership of landfills; and HB 1620-FN, relative to suspending the issuance of new landfill permits until 2031. HB 1145 would ban private ownership of any new landfill, requiring the state to own all new landfills in New Hampshire. This proposal is characteristically anti-business and unlikely to resolve environmental safety concerns. HB 1620 puts a moratorium on new landfill permits. We see this proposal as moving the goal post while putting business on hold. BIA will be advocating in opposition to both bills.

Business tax reduction bills get favorable review

The House Ways and Means Committee has given a "thumbs up" to two business tax reduction bills, HB 1533 FN and HB 1536 FN. HB 1533, which raises the "safe harbor" deduction against the business profits tax, will be especially helpful for New Hampshire's small business community. A safe harbor is an amount that can be taken as a deduction against the BPT with no questions asked. Small business owners can opt for a higher deduction, but would have to justify it in the event of a state Department of Revenue Administration audit. Increasing the safe harbor amount has been long overdue. HB 1536 increases the amount a business can deduct for capitol equipment expenses from the current $500,000 to $1 million. Both bills have minor fiscal impacts on state revenues, but even so, we believe both will pass the House when they come up for a vote and will be sent to the Senate for additional review.

The sky's the limit

We're keeping a close eye on SB 462, which, if passed, would eliminate caps on wrongful death loss of consortium (i.e. companionship) claims that have long been established at $150,000 for the surviving spouse. The reason these caps exist in the first place is to prevent runaway jury awards based on emotion. BIA and others testified that removing these caps will result in skyrocketing business liability insurance costs, medical malpractice insurance costs, and could lead to some insurance companies leaving the state. Following a public hearing last week, the Senate Judiciary Committee seemed to be leaning in the direction of increasing the cap amounts rather than eliminating them entirely. If they choose to do so, what the appropriate new cap should be will be open for debate. BIA will continue to monitor this bill closely.

Call to restrict 5G blocked by House committee

The House Science, Technology and Energy Committee last week unanimously voted to recommend inexpedient to legislate for HB 1487, relative to the health effects of 5G technology, and placed it on the Consent Calendar. The bill, which BIA opposes, was called unworkable in part because it requires new responsibilities for the state Department of Environmental Services and state School Board without identifying a funding source. The bill would require the School Board to develop a report on hard wiring all electronic devices used in schools. It also again seeks to ban new wireless antennae within 1,640 feet from residences, businesses and schools.

More privacy, but at what cost?

HB 1663-FN, relative to the confidentiality of medical records and patient information, faced strong opposition at a public hearing before the House Health, Human Services and Elderly Affairs Committee last week. The bill, which BIA opposes, seeks more stringent state requirements for medical privacy than the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. Various health care providers and agencies said unintended consequences of the bill include delaying patient care and patient discharges, restricting the ability to limit the spread of communicable diseases, and overburdening an already burdened health care system by requiring patient consent for every medical record transfer. Bill opponents testified that HIPPA and existing state laws protect patients and that the bill creates artificial and unnecessary barriers in the name of privacy.