2022 NH Legislative & Political Outlook
Politics related to the impending election and remaining COVID19 policies are the two issues that will overshadow the 2022 legislative session. Initially around 4-dozen bills related to vaccines were requested for drafting. They cover the policy areas from public education to private employers etc. That list has been whittled to about 30, but the subject is fluid. Much of the business community has taken the position of opposing both government mandates requiring vaccines and government prohibitions on employer-imposed mandates. Barring economic emergency, this is likely to be the foremost issue during the session.
Last year, the legislature passed and Governor Sununu signed legislation that adds the following to the state public health statutes:
141-C:1-a Medical Freedom in Immunizations.
I. Every person has the natural, essential, and inherent right to bodily integrity, free from any threat or compulsion by government to accept an immunization. Accordingly, no person may be compelled to receive an immunization for COVID-19 in order to secure, receive, or access any public facility, any public benefit, or any public service from the state of New Hampshire, or any political subdivision thereof, including but not limited to counties, cities, towns, precincts, water districts, school districts, school administrative units, or quasi-public entities
But this only applies to the relationship between government and an individual, not private entities.
Being the second year of the session and no state budget to deal with, the legislative schedule currently adopted has the Senate & House finishing most of their work by May 5th, with the next three weeks used to resolve differences between the versions and then adjourning before Memorial Day.
Politics – In November, Governor Chris Sununu (R) announced he’s seeking a 4th two-year term as Governor, putting to bed twelve months of speculation that he’d mount a challenge to U.S. Sen. Maggie Hassan, whose first term is up in ’22. As Governor he continues to enjoy 56% approval among undeclared voters and 52% overall. A recent slip could be attributed to a relentless attack in paid media by the Democrats over abortion restriction language that was contained in the state budget he signed in June, and a very vocal / active minority on the Republican side that are fervently anti-vaccine. On the D side speculation is that second-term Senator Tom Sherman, a retired physician, will run.
Sununu’s decision forced current Senate President Chuck Morse (R) to pivot; Morse recently announced he’d seek the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Maggie Hassan, whose term is up next year. Also in that race is Londonderry Town Manager Kevin Smith and 2020 candidate for Senate Gen. Don Bolduc (retired).
What We’re Watching – SB 345 Relative to Youth Employment makes several changes to the youth employment statute, including lowering the age threshold on some restrictions. We are assessing first the prospects for passage and then what impact the bill might have on NHRLA members ability to hire younger employees. Coincidentally, the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Erin Hennessey of Littleton, participated in the NHRLA Legislative Committee’s remote briefing in December.