House and Senate Bills Today, March 7th


March 7, 2019

Joe Sweeney

Concord, NH: NHGOP Chairman Stephen Stepanek released the following statements regarding multiple proposals before the New Hampshire House and Senate today:

CACR 6, relating to elections. Providing that any inhabitant who so desires may vote by absentee ballot in primary and general elections and HB 611-FN, allowing voters to vote by absentee ballot.

“This constitutional amendment and house bill seek the same outcome: voting by mail in any and all elections. Those who claim this will increase voter participation need only talk with Secretary Gardner, as he has seen other states who once competed with New Hampshire’s voter turnout see lower voter participation in each election cycle since implementing election law changes that seek to make it “easier” to vote. The truth remains that states with high levels of voter integrity also see high levels of voter participation. When voting becomes a casual practice of submitting a ballot in the mail, or when people believe they have all sorts of time to cast their ballot, they tend to forget and Election Day comes and goes without their participation. We must focus on getting everyone out to vote on one day set by statute, and we will continue to see high numbers of New Hampshire votes cast. We already allow for legitimate reasons for a voter to apply for an absentee ballot; we need not allow any reason to vote absentee to ruin our state’s strong culture of civic participation. This is another solution looking for a problem.”

HB 105-FN, relative to domicile residency, voter registration, and investigation of voter verification letters.

“This bill is a Democrat repeal of Senate Bill 3, signed into law by Governor Sununu in 2017. We have already operated our state elections under parts of this legislation, while the fine structure for violating the law remains suspended pending the outcome of the judicial review. Democrat and Republican turnout in the 2018 midterms were record highs, with Governor Sununu receiving the most votes of any Governor in a midterm election in Granite State history. There is no evidence Senate Bill 3 infringed on any New Hampshire voters’ right to vote, and state legislators should oppose repealing this common sense, pragmatic voter integrity law.”

HB 106, relative to the terms “resident,” “inhabitant,” “residence,” and “residency.”

“Similar to the repeal bill of Senate Bill 3, this bill seeks to repeal House Bill 1264 which was signed by Governor Sununu in 2018. Our Governor asked the New Hampshire Supreme Court to give a constitutional review of House Bill 1264 before he would sign it, and the New Hampshire Supreme Court, following their review, saw no provisions in the law that would infringe on anyone’s right to vote. Clarifying the terms utilized in statute regarding voting should be a goal of both parties; as the law stood for many years and as this bill would bring back, allowing the determination of domicile be subject to the intent of the voter on election day - and not the day before or the day after - opens up our system to be ripe for fraudulent abuse. We should all want to make sure that voters in New Hampshire, with our First-in-the-Nation primary less than a year away and the crucial decisions that are made at town and city elections this year, are in fact eligible voters under state law.”

HB 629-FN-LOCAL, establishing a state defined contribution retirement plan for state and political subdivision members of the retirement system.

“Our state government would do well to model state programs after successful free market counterparts. This bill seeks to establish a basic defined contribution retirement plan for state employees similar to the 401(k) plan most private companies utilize. The big benefit of HB 629 is that it would avoid the future possibility of creating massive unfunded liabilities, a position which the state and many municipalities find themselves. While we cannot correct the past errors that brought forward the current unfunded liability of the state retirement program, we can make this adjustment to ensure a brighter and more fiscally responsible future for the Granite State.”

HB 158-FN, relative to induced termination of pregnancy statistics.

“Democrats love to use statistics for pushing every big government program they can imagine, but they hate the concept of using statistics to analyze why abortion takes place. 47 other states currently collect and report abortion statistics in order to better shape public policy regarding abortion access in New Hampshire. We should be making informed decisions in New Hampshire, and HB 158 should pass so our legislators, policy crafters, and the public can be as informed as possible. Let’s lift the veil of secrecy.”

HB 157, relative to the class rate for biomass and HB 166, relative to funding energy efficiency programs.

“Governor Chris Sununu has put forth the most ambitious 10-year energy plan that our state has ever seen. Governor Sununu’s plan has ensured that cost-ineffective subsidies should not be utilized to fund our energy industry, and that ratepayers should not be nickled-and-dimed every time a liberal has a new energy efficiency program they would like to fund. We should stick with the vision and leadership that is on display in Governor Sununu’s 10-year energy plan, and legislators should utilize that document as the roadmap when crafting legislation that affects energy policy.”

CACR 11, relating to taxes. Providing that a broad-based sales tax shall be prohibited and CACR 12, relating to taxes. Providing that an income tax on personal income shall be prohibited.  

“These are simple proposals that seek to enshrine in our state constitution a tenant of New Hampshire that the people ought to support: a ban on broad-based sales taxes and a ban on an income tax on personal income. This constitutional amendment would bring the question forward to New Hampshire voters during the November 2020 election, but this really should pass the House and Senate unanimously. Our New Hampshire Advantage is based on us being low-taxed compared to our neighboring states; while Democrats have already passed a slew of new taxes and fees, they can stand with the people of the Granite State by passing these CACRs to allow the people of New Hampshire to decide.”

SB 68, relative to the centralized voter registration database.

“This bill would allow the use of New Hampshire’s voter registration database to be utilized in a judicial proceeding to determine if the right to vote is being infringed. Infringement of the right to vote cannot be assessed by examining the data of the state’s voter checklist. Our voter checklist changes constantly due to changes in registration, new voter registration, and moved voters who have notified their former clerk of their move. All that can be ascertained from such a review would be implied evidence, not direct evidence of infringement. Courts should only examine actually cases of those who claim their rights are infringed, as there is no statistical review of the voter checklist that can accurately say that voter rights have been affected by any law.”

SB 105-FN, relative to contributions to inaugural committees.

“Governor Sununu has had the most transparent inaugural committee in New Hampshire history. This partisan push to limit contributions to inaugural committees, contributions that help fund activities that otherwise would be funded by the taxpayers - is a misguided attempt to affect the operations of the Governor's office. This bill ought to be dismissed by all state legislators as political obstruction, and they should focus on countless other issues facing the Granite State.”

SB 57-FN, relative to phasing out and repealing the utility property tax.

“This might be the Democrat’s least favorite thing - phasing out and repealing a tax. However, by phasing out and repealing the utility property tax, we can actually provide essential relief to ratepayers who are left with the cost the utility property tax places on the energy industry. When the opportunity to repeal a tax comes before the legislature, with a plan in place to phase out the taxation over several years as SB 57 does, state legislators should be encouraged to vote to phase out and repeal said taxation. Lowering the tax burden for one industry in the Granite State, one that supplies and charges energy for the rest of the state, is a pro-business move and will only further show to business in and out of New Hampshire that we are a state worth investing in. As anyone can see by reading their electric bill, this is a tax directly passed on to ratepayers.”

SB 191-FN, relative to exemptions for the tax on interest and dividends.

“SB 191-FN increases the interest and dividends tax exemption from $1,200 to $2,400 if either or both taxpayers are over the age of 65, if they are blind, or if they are disabled and unable to work. This increase in the exemption will provide slight relief to those who need it most. This exemption has not been adjusted in decades, and would represent a calculated slight decrease in tax revenues based on 2017 numbers only if interest and dividend growth didn’t grow further upon passage of this exemption. The decrease in taxation, though, would only go to the mentioned groups, which were already established in state law to receive the exemption. Doubling the exemption this year is still a smaller increase then it would be if kept with the rate of inflation since the exemption was last established. Taxpayers over 65, the blind, and the disabled and unable to work deserve this tax relief. The State of New Hampshire is experiencing record revenues month after month; our economy is strong and this tax exemption increase can further increase economic growth, increase the ability to take risks, and eventually increase the receipts of the tax.”