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.
PAID FAMILY AND MEDICAL LEAVE: The House Labor Committee has voted 12-7 along party lines to recommend passage of SB 1, which would establish a system of paid family and medical leave insurance. The system would provide up to 12 weeks of paid leave for employees needing to take leave for themselves or to care of a family member. The program would provide employees with 60% wage replacement. It would be paid by .5% deduction of an employee’s wage. Employers could decide to deduct all from an employees pay or share the cost in some manner. Employers with 15 or more employees would have to return the worker to their position once they return to work or to a “similar” position. The full House will vote on the bill next week. If it passes, it would soon go to Governor Sununu who has vowed to veto it. There are not enough votes in the legislature to override his veto. The legislature could then decide to incorporate the bill into the State Budget complicating things at the end of the Session. Stay tuned….
MANDATING CHANGING STATIONS IN PUBLIC BATHROOMS: The House Commerce Committee is recommending passage of two bills that would mandate the installation of changing stations in public bathrooms. HB 520 requires public accommodations built after January 1, 2021 to install and maintain at least one diaper changing station that is accessible to all genders. It also requires a similar installation for existing public buildings renovated at a cost exceeding $50,000 after January 1, 2025. HB 628 would require newly constructed public buildings with foot traffic of more than 1500 people per day or of more than 40,000 square feet, to have at least one universal changing station installed in a family restroom facility for persons of either sex who have a physical disability. The House will vote on both bills next week.
E-911 PHONE SYSTEMS FOR HOTELS AND MOTELS: The House Science, Technology & Energy Committee is unanimously recommending that the House kill HB 205. The bill would require hotels and motels to have multi-line telephone systems that are configured to either provide E-911 with the exact room number the person is calling from, or be able to provide the central desk at the hotel or motel with the exact room number the person is calling from. Some systems have this capability now, but others do not and the committee was concerned about the cost. The full House will vote on the bill next week.
VICKI CIMINO LEAVING NH DIVISION OF TRAVEL & TOURISM: Victoria Cimino has been hired as the new executive director and chief executive officer of the Williamsburg Tourism Council. She will start April 15.
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