PAID FAMILY AND MEDICAL LEAVE: The House voted once again to advance HB 628 forward on a vote of 186-164. The House gave preliminary approval of the bill early last month on a vote of 183-151. The bill now goes to the House Finance Committee for review of the cost to set up the program. The bill would establish 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 be funded through a .67% deduction from employee’s wages which employers would remit to the NH Department of Employment Security on a quarterly basis. Employers would provide employees, upon hire, a form prepared by the Department that explains the program and provides an opportunity for employees to opt-out of the program. Employees would be 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 provide 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. After review by the House Finance Committee, the bill will have one more vote in the full House.
INCREASING THE MINIMUM WAGE: The Senate Commerce Committee has voted 3-2 to recommend that SB 554 be killed. The bill would increase 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. The full Senate will vote on the bill next Thursday, February 15. NHLRA opposes this bill.
ROOM REMARKETERS: The House Ways & Means Committee has voted 14-9 to recommend killing HB 1548, which would subject the full amount charged by room remarketers (like Travelocity, Airbnb, HomeAway, etc.) to the meals and rooms tax. These remarketers would become the licensed entity to collect and remit the tax due on rooms sold through their marketplaces. The trade association representing these room remarketers is lobbying against this bill. The full House had planned to vote on the bill this past Wednesday, but the snowstorm has pushed the vote to next Thursday, February 15. NHLRA urges members to email their local legislators to urge them to pass the bill. HB 1548 would ensure a level playing field between our industry and the online remarketers. You can find your local legislators by clicking here.
EMLIMINATION OF 3% MEALS AND ROOMS TAX COMMISSION: The House Ways & Means Committee has voted 20-3 to recommend killing HB 1710. The bill would eliminate 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 opposes this bill. The full House was scheduled to vote on this bill this past Wednesday, but the snow storm pushed the vote to next Thursday, February 15.
LIMITING THE TYPES OF BEVERAGES OFFERED WITH A CHILDREN’S MEAL: On Wednesday, February 14 at 2:00 p.m. the House Commerce Committee will hear HB 1668, which would limit the beverages offered with a children’s meal to milk or a non-dairy milk alternative, 100 percent juice or fruit juice combined with water or carbonated water with no added caloric sweetness, water, sparkling water, or flavored water with no added natural or artificial sweeteners. NHLRA opposes this bill.
SEPARATE BATHROOMS FOR EACH SEX: On Wednesday, February 14 at 1:15 p.m. the House Commerce Committee will hear HB1382, which would repeal the requirement that restaurants provide separate bathrooms for each sex.
REDUCING LABOR REGULATIONS: On Wednesday, February 14 at 11:00 a.m. the House Labor Committee will hear HB 1762. The bill would reduce and eliminate many state labor regulations. It would: prohibit fines from being imposed if the general intent of the law was met; written documentation would not be required to meet the intent of the law and paperwork discrepancies would not be fined; working hour restrictions for 16 and 17 year olds would be eliminated; employees could buy company clothing; the need for employee signing/documenting when leaving before 2-hour minimum on their own, when correcting hours to be paid due to their clock in errors, or when receiving pay increases would be eliminated; no random audits of employers would be allowed; employers would be allowed to have mandatory tip-sharing policies; opportunity for unpaid internships would be expanded; reduce record keeping from 4 to 3 years; warnings before fines by providing employers 30 days to fix violations; fines for not posting labor laws in “conspicuous” place would be eliminated; and it would eliminate need for written safety plan. A similar bill was tabled in the Senate.
INDEPENDENT EXAMINATIONS UNDER WORKERS COMPENSATION: The Senate Commerce Committee has voted 3-2 to recommend passage of SB 352, which would allow an injured employee covered under workers compensation who is dissatisfied with a determination by the employer’s insurance carrier to obtain an independent examination. This bill could increase workers compensation premiums. The full Senate will vote on the bill next Thursday, February 15.
Contact the NHLRA with your legislative questions or concerns at 603-228-9585 or firstname.lastname@example.org.