The 2022 New Hampshire legislative session came to a close with votes on bills that had differences in the versions passed by each the Senate and House. For the N.H. Retail Lumber Association, it was a mostly positive year. Much of what we had determined to oppose as priority legislation was killed early on, and there were a number of bills that, though not requested by NHRLA, we were watching with interest.
SB 345, relative to youth employment laws, made a couple of changes to the youth labor laws of note. First, regarding hours worked while enrolled in school, the current statute (RSA 276-A:4, VI) limits 16 and 17 year olds to no more than 6 consecutive days and no more than 30 hours during a particular work week. SB 345 deleted the 6 consecutive day limit and increases the limitation on hours to 35. Other current provisions regarding a week in which school is in session less than 5 days in a given week were deleted.
SB 209, Relative to Electronic Wage Payments, after passing the Senate, was rejected by the House. As amended by the Senate, the bill would have made several changes to the way New Hampshire employers are allowed to pay employees. First, it would eliminate the need for employee consent to make employee wage payments by direct deposit and allow payment by payroll card if the employee has not furnished bank information for direct deposit, allowing the employee the option to move to direct deposit at any time. An attempt by the Senate to resurrect this language via amendment to a separate bill was also blocked by the House.
The House Commerce Committee also sent to “Interim Study” two measures aimed at stemming the rapid increases in small group health insurance. Failing to pass were SB 160, Relative to Multiple Employer Welfare Arrangements, sponsored by Sen. Jeb Bradley, and SB 286, Establishing An Association Health Plan Pilot Program, sponsored by Sen. Denise Ricciardi.
The legislature passed and sent to Governor Sununu for signature a policy establishing a “Preference for American Made Materials in State Contracts.” This new provision in state statute states, “any contract for construction, reconstruction, alteration, repair, improvement, or maintenance of a public building or public works with the state as a party shall contain a provision that for the permanently incorporated iron, structural steel, and fabricated structural steel used or supplied in the performance of the contract or any subcontract, strong consideration and preference shall be given for iron or steel fabricated in the United States.”
With the end of the session comes announcements from incumbent legislators who will not seek re-election. Each election cycle it is the norm for about one-third of the 24-member Senate to not return including as a result of the election. This time, however, a full third is guaranteed to turn over, before any elections have taken place. Eight have announced they will not seek their seat, including:
• Senate President Chuck Morse of Salem; running for re-election
• Sen. Tom Sherman of Rye; seeking the Democratic Party nomination for Governor
• Sen. Kevin Cavanaugh; his district (16) was changed radically, making it extremely difficult for a Democrat to win; he may run for Executive Council
Also not running are Senators Erin Hennessey (Dist. 1), Bob Giuda (Dist. 2), Harold French (Dist. 7), Jay Kahn (Dist. 10), and John Reagan (Dist. 17). The State Primary Election is in September.