The 2018 Session of the Legislature finished on May 23. Here is a short summary of the final status of bills of interest to our industry:
LABOR LAW CHANGES: The Legislature passed SB 318. This bill increases the number of hours 16 or 17 year olds can work during shortened school weeks. Current law limits the number of hours during any school week to no more than 6 consecutive days or more than 30 hours. This new law keeps the 30 hour limit on regular school work weeks, but loosens it as follows: no more than 6 consecutive days or more than 40 hours if school is in session for 4 days that week; and no more than 6 consecutive days or more than 48 hours if school is in session from 1 to 4 days. The bill further makes it clear that employees can purchase company garments beyond any uniform that is purchased for the employee by the employer. It also makes it clear that there will be no penalty for failure of an employer to provide notification to an employee concerning changes to their wage when the minimum wage is increased by statute. In addition, it eliminates the requirement to post in a conspicuous place on the premises a list of employees that are required to work on Sundays. Employers will now only have to “make the list available” to employees. An email will suffice. All of these changes will take effect as soon as the Governor signs the bill, which could be as soon as the third week in June. NHLRA supported the bill.
DISCRIMINATION OF TRANSGENDER: The Legislature passed HB 1319. This new law makes it illegal to discriminate against people who are transgender. The most commonly cited issue that comes up with public accommodations is the choice of bathrooms. This new law takes effect July 8, 2018.
SERVICE OF ALCOHOL AT BEVERAGE MANUFACTURERS: The legislature passed SB 418. This bill will allow beverage manufacturers to serve one pint of their product in lieu of 4 oz samples, and two full pints if food is available. It will also allow wineries to sell up to one 5-ounce glass in lieu of 2-ounce samples, or if food is made available, to sell 2-five ounce glasses. NHLRA lobbied to establish a stronger food requirement. This new law will take effect as soon as the Governor signs it, which could be the third week of June.
ENTERTAINERS CONSUMING ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES WHILE PERFORMING: The legislature passed HB 1285, which will allow entertainers and “dancers” in establishments that are licensed to serve alcoholic beverages to drink alcohol while performing. This law will take effect on August 7, 2018.
ALLOWING LIQUOR LICENSEES TO PAY FEES ON DELINQEUNT ACCOUNTS BY CREDIT OR DEBIT CARD: The legislature passed HB 1660, which will allow liquor licensees to pay fees on delinquent accounts by credit or debit card. This law becomes effective on July 24, 2018.
LIQUOR LICENSE RENEWAL DATE: The legislature passed HB 1692, which will allow a liquor licensee to select an anniversary for the renewal of his or her license. The law becomes effective on January 1, 2019.
BILLS THAT DID NOT PASS
PAID FAMILY AND MEDICAL LEAVE: Legislation that would have established a paid family and medical leave program passed the House but was set aside by the Senate. HB 628 would have established a paid family and medical leave insurance program for employees taking time away from work because of the birth of a child of the employee; because of a serious health condition of a family member; or because of a serious health condition of the employee. The insurance pool would have been funded through a .67% deduction from employee’s wages which employers would have remitted to the NH Department of Employment Security on a quarterly basis. Employers would have provided employees, upon hire, a form prepared by the Department that would have explained the program and provided an opportunity for employees to opt-out of the program. Employees would have been given an opportunity to opt in on January 1 of each year. Participating employees would have to invest into the fund for 6 months prior to taking leave. The benefit would have provided a participating employee 60 percent of their average weekly wages in the highest quarter of the year prior to the benefit year payable up to 6 weeks leave. Proponents of this bill have already said they will bring it back in the 2019 Session.
PAYMENT FOR UNUSED VACATION OR PERSONAL TIME: The Senate killed HB 1201. The bill would have required employers to pay employees earned but unused vacation time. NHLRA opposed the bill
LOCAL SURCHARGE ON OCCUPANCY UNDER THE MEALS AND ROOMS TAX: The House killed HB 1609. The bill would have allowed cities and towns to add an additional surcharge not to exceed $2 per occupancy per 24-hour period on rentals within that city or town. This surcharge would have been in addition to the state’s 9 percent meals and rooms tax. The licensee would have remitted the surcharge to the state along with the 9 percent state tax. The state would then have sent those funds collected back to the city or town. NHLRA opposed the bill.
INCREASE IN TIPPED EMPLOYEE WAGE: The House killed HB 1246. The bill would have increased the tip wage from $3.27 to the full minimum hourly wage by January 1, 2020. NHLRA opposed the bill.
ADVANCE NOTICE OF WORK SCHEDULE: The House voted to kill HB 1451. The bill would have required employers with 10 or more employees or 2 or more locations to provide an employee with a work schedule in writing at least 7 days before the first day of the work schedule. The employer would have had to post the written work schedule in a conspicuous and accessible location. If the employer would have requested changes to the written work schedule the employer would have had to provide the employee with timely notice of the change and the employee would have been entitled to decline any work shifts not included in the original noticed work schedule. Meanwhile, the Senate voted to table a similar bill, SB 422. NHLRA opposed these bills.
INCREASING THE MINIMUM WAGE: The Senate killed SB 554. The bill would have increased the minimum wage as follows: on July 1, 2018, $7.50 an hour if the employer offers health insurance to its employees and $9.00 if the employer does not offer health insurance; on July 1, 2019, $9.00 an hour if the employer offers health insurance and $11.00 if the employer does not offer health insurance; on July 1, 2020, $10.50 an hour if the employer offers health insurance and $13.00 if the employer does not offer insurance; on July 2021, $12.00 an hour if an employer offers health insurance and $15.00 if the employer does not offer health insurance. NHLRA opposed this bill.
EMLIMINATION OF 3% MEALS AND ROOMS TAX COMMISSION: The House killed HB 1710. The bill would have eliminated the 3% commission meals and rooms tax licensees are allowed to retain for collecting and remitting the meals and rooms tax in a timely manner and replace it with a flat 100 maximum per month commission. NHLRA strongly opposed this bill.
Contact the NHLRA with your legislative questions or concerns at 603-228-9585 or firstname.lastname@example.org