ALLOWING TOWNS TO ADOPT A LOCAL ROOMS TAX: The Senate voted to lay HB 641 on the table. The bill would allow cities and towns to collect a daily charge of up to $2 per occupancy, 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. If the bill remains on the table after June 6 it will require a 2/3 vote of the Senate to pass. All 10 republicans oppose the bill so that will not happen.
MINIMUM WAGE: The Senate voted re-refer HB 186 back to committee for further review. HB 186 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. This vote to re-refer the bill means that there is ony one other bill still in play to raise the minimum wage. – SB 10. This Senate Bill would 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. It would also 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 House Labor Committee has voted to gut the Senate version and replace it with their House-passed HB 186 version (see above). The full House will likely go along with this next Thursday when they meet in Session. The differences between the House and Senate versions will have to be resolved in a committee of conference in a few weeks.
STATE BUDGET / TOURISM PROMOTION: The Senate Finance Committee voted to reduce from the House version the amount targeted to tourism promotion. Earlier this Session, the House proposed an increase of $3 million per year in the state budget to promote NH as a destination spot. A total of $10.8 million would be appropriated each year. This was the first time in a long time that a budget was approved in one body of the legislature with funding tourism promotion at the statutory amount equaling 3.15% of the rooms and meals taxes collecting in the prior year. This was a big victory for those in the tourism industry. Led by Senator Dan Feltes, the Senate Finance Committee voted to reduce the House-passed version by $1 million the first year, and by $500,000 in the second year. This would result in appropriation of $9.8 million in the first year, and $10.3 million in the second year. The full Senate will vote on their version of the budget next Thursday, June 6.
Contact the NHLRA with your legislative questions or concerns at 603-228-9585 or firstname.lastname@example.org.