ALLOWING TOWNS TO ADOPT A LOCAL ROOMS TAX: The House Ways & Means Committee has voted 12-8 to recommend passage of HB 641, which would allow cities and towns to collect a daily charge of up to $2 per room containing occupied beds, or as a percentage of the price of the room, provided that the rate doesn’t exceed $2 per occupancy per 24-hour period. The full House gave initial approval to the bill earlier this month on a vote of 194-151. It plans to vote on it next Thursday, April 4. NHLRA opposes this bill.
ADVANCE NOTICE OF SCHEDULING: The Senate voted re-refer SB 60 back to committee for further review. This effectively halts any further vote on the bill for the remainder of the 2019 Session. The bill would require employers with 15 or more employees to give hourly employees at least 2 weeks advance notice of their work schedules.
VAPING: On Tuesday, April 2 the Senate Commerce Committee will hear HB 511, which would include vaping under the indoor smoking ban.
TOURISM PROMOTION: A subcommittee of the House Finance Committee has recommended to the full Committee that it keep the Governor’s proposed increase of $3 million per year in the state budget to promote NH as a destination spot. $10.8 million would be appropriated each year. This is the first time in a long time that a Governor has proposed funding tourism promotion at the statutory amount equaling 3.15% of the rooms and meals taxes collecting in the prior year. This is a big victory for those in the tourism industry. The full Finance Committee will vote on the budget next week.
NHLRA GOES TO WASHINGTON: NHLRA members Tom Boucher, Bill Greiner and Jay Bolduc of Great NH Restaurants, Mike McDonough of Fratello’s, and Sim Willey of Harts Turkey Farm flew to our nation’s Capitol this past week to meet with our Congressional delegation. They covered topics such as restoring the 15-year depreciation schedule for qualifying restaurant property; the federal minimum wage; and immigration reform.
Contact the NHLRA with your legislative questions or concerns at 603-228-9585 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
HOUSE AND SENATE ACT ON MINIMUM WAGE: On a vote of 210-145 the House passed HB 186. The bill would increase the minimum wage to $9.50 on January 1, 2020; to $10.75 on January 1, 2021; and to $12.00 on January 1, 2022. It would also increase the wage for tipped employees from 45% of the minimum to 50% of the minimum. That would increase the tip wage from $3.27 to $4.75, then $5.38, then $6.00 over three years. Lastly, it would set a youth wage that would be $1 less than the minimum. The bill now goes to the Senate Meanwhile, the Senate Commerce Committee voted 3-2 on party line to recommend passage of SB 10. It would also raise the minimum wage to $12 over three years. It would go to $10.00 on January 1, 2020, and then on January 1, 2022 to $11.00 for employers that offer their employees at least 10 paid sick days, and $12 for employers who don’t offer their employees 10 paid sick days. Through help from Tom Boucher of Great NH Restaurants, an amendment was added to separate the tip wage from the minimum. Instead setting the tip wage to a percentage of the minimum (currently 45%), it would set it at $4.00. It would guarantee that tipped employees would earn at least $12.00/hour through tips and wages combined. If not, the employer would have to make up the difference. The full Senate will vote on the bill next Thursday, March 21. Attention will soon turn to Governor Chris Sununu to see what he will do when a bill to raise the minimum to $12.00 reaches his desk. If he vetoes it, there will not be the votes in the Senate to override his veto. Stay tuned………
PLASTIC BAGS AND STRAWS: Two House Committees have decided what to recommend the full House should do with 4 bills to regulate plastic bags and straws. The House Municipal & County Government Committee has voted to retain HB 559 and HB 102. Both of these bills would allow cities and towns to ban or regulate the use of single-use plastic bags. This would include single-use take-out bags from restaurants. Retaining the bills keeps them in committee for the remainder of 2019. Meanwhile, the House Commerce Committee has voted to recommend passage of HB 558 and HB 560. HB 558 would prohibit food service businesses from providing a plastic straw to a customer unless specifically requested. HB 560 would prohibit stores and restaurants from providing single-use plastic bags except to distribute their remaining 2018 inventory. It would allow stores and restaurants to provide reusable plastic or recycled paper bags to customers for 10 cents, to be retained by the business. The full House will vote on HB 558 and HB 560 next week.
INCREASING THE MINIMUM WAGE: A subcommittee of the House Labor Committee has voted 3-2 along party lines to recommend that HB 186 should pass with amendment. As amended, it would increase the minimum wage to $9.50 on January 1, 2020; to $10.75 on January 1, 2021; and to $12.00 on January 1, 2022. It would also increase the wage for tipped employees from 45% of the minimum to 50% of the minimum. Lastly, it would set a youth wage that would be $1 less than the minimum. The full committee will vote on the bill next Tuesday, March 5. The subcommittee will dispose of the two other minimum wage bills - HB 178, and HB 731. Meanwhile, next Tuesday, March 5 the Senate Commerce Committee will hear SB 10, which would increase the minimum wage to $10 on January 1, 2020. On January 1, 2022 it would increase to $11.00 if an employer offers at least 10 paid sick days to an employee, or $12.00 per hour if an employer does not offer at least 10 paid sick days to an employee. There was a drafting error in the bill that would eliminate the tip wage. The sponsor intends to ask the committee to strike that provision from the bill.
ALLOWING TOWNS TO ADOPT A LOCAL ROOMS TAX: On a vote of 194-151, the House gave initial approval to HB 641, which would allow cities and towns to collect a daily charge of up to $2 per room containing occupied beds, or as a percentage of the price of the room, provided that the rate doesn’t exceed $2 per occupancy per 24-hour period. NHLRA opposes this bill. It will be heard in the House Ways & Means Committee next Wednesday, March 6 at 11:30 a.m.
TRAINING FOR SERVERS OF ALCOHOL: The House Commerce Committee has voted 19-0 to recommend that HB 533 be killed. The bill would require any person serving alcohol to attend a Total Education in Alcohol Management training offered by the Liquor Commission within 30 days of hire. The full House will vote on the bill on March 7.