2023 NHMA Legislative Bulletin 17
A (Relatively) Slow Week
As the Senate dives into its second week with the budget, little is scheduled in either the House or Senate next week other than budgetary matters. This week, highlights include the House Election Law committee recommending adoption of the amendment to SB 70 that we wrote about last week; the rereferral of HB 154, the health officer bill, to the Senate Election Law and Municipal Affairs Committee; and the only day of hearings for the House Municipal and County Government Committee post-crossover.
We started out the year following just under 400 bills and, of those, only around 100 remain with the legislature. (The rest were either killed or are now headed to the governor’s desk.) By and large, we are waiting for committees to take action on bills that have already had hearings. We are particularly eager to see what the Senate Judiciary Committee does with HB 307, the bill that would require municipalities to pay a plaintiff’s attorney’s fees in Right-to-Know Law cases, which we wrote about in Bulletin #13. Other important bills we oppose—both of which are awaiting executive sessions—are HB 74, requiring an employer to pay an employee’s unused vacation time, and SB 132, overriding municipal authority to adopt certain “sanctuary” policies.
We anticipate that policy committees will be scheduling their last executive sessions over the next few weeks, and the vast majority of the last month of session will be dedicated to negotiations on the budget.
Senate Finance Committee Budget Deliberations Next Wednesday
On Wednesday, April 26, at 2:00 p.m. in State House Room 103, the Senate Finance Committee will deliberate the biennial state operating budget (HB 1 and HB 2). We have highlighted state aid to municipalities as adopted by the House in past Legislative Bulletins which can be found here. If you haven’t already done so, now is the time to let your senator know the impact of the proposed budget on municipal operations and its impact on property taxpayers in your municipality.
Consider sharing the positive impacts that state aid has had in your municipality to reinforce with senators how important each dollar is in relieving the local tax burden. Has the increase in meals and rooms tax distribution allowed your municipality to advance local priorities? Money from the meals and rooms tax is coming in strong and is expected to continue doing so through 2025 based on revenue estimates. What about the effects of the recent one-time payment by the state equal to 7.5 percent (estimated $27 million) of the New Hampshire Retirement System (NHRS) employer contribution costs for Group I teachers and Group II police and firefighters? Let your senator know about the projects completed or planned with the one-time payment received this past fall for the repair and maintenance of municipally-owned bridges ($36 million) and the additional municipal highway block grants ($30 million).
What about water, PFAS remediation, and wastewater projects? We know there are many such projects that have proceeded in the past few years, and many more in the works that will continue to move forward. Talk with your senator about the longstanding (more than 50 years) state-local “partnership” for these vital infrastructure improvements, which provide not just local, but also regional and statewide health and economic benefits of clean water.
Please contact the members of Senate Finance Committee and your senator to express your support for the all the various state funding programs that strengthen the state’s partnership with its political subdivisions that work to promote municipal stability and statewide economic growth. Please remember to let us know about these conversations, so we can reinforce your message when we speak with senators during budget negotiations.
Please click here to find a list of hearings next week on bills that NHMA is tracking. Please note that the linked PDF only covers hearings scheduled for the next week. For the most up-to-date information on when bills are scheduled for a hearing, please use our live bill tracker.
NHMA Upcoming Member Events
Webinar: U.S. Customs and Border Protection – A National and Local Overview – 12:00 p.m.
Webinar: Embracing Technology to Overcome Common Budgeting Challenges – 12:00 p.m.
Webinar: Municipal Treasurer Training 101 – 6:00 p.m.
Webinar: Secure Your Operational Technologies with Government Funding – 12:00 p.m.
2023 Hard Road to Travel Workshop (Hybrid) – 9:00 a.m.
Please visit www.nhmunicipal.org for the most up-to-date information regarding our upcoming events. Click on the Events& Training tab to view the calendar.
For more information, please call NHMA’s Workshop registration line: (603) 230-3350.