The Ultimate Economic Guide To The 2012 NH Legislative Session


Ben McLeod / Flickr

We’ll be keeping track of some of the big economic issues working their way through the statehouse

As the New Hampshire legislature begins whittling down a bevy of economy-related bills, we thought it would be helpful to offer you a brief, on-going roundup of what we believe are some key economic issues the General Court will be looking at, and why.  We’ve also included resources if you’d like to research and track these issues on your own, or get in touch with the governor or your legislator.

This is not a comprehensive list of business- and economy-related legislation.  But unlike most of our posts, this piece will be a living document.  We’ll be keeping track of some key legislation, adding things to watch for, and otherwise updating the post as needed.

Any reporting or aggregating we’ve done–or related topics pages we’ve created–will be added to the bottom of this post for your perusal.

Key Issues

Expanded Gaming: From legalizing poker parlors and Keno to opening new casinos, the legislature is considering gambling as a potential revenue stream–especially if the new funds could be use to slash taxes.

LLudo / Flickr

Expanded gaming is one of a number of hot topics this session

HB 0593: Would allow two casinos (“video lottery facilities” with table games).  Revenues would go to offsetting business taxes and supplementing the highway fund.  Floor Date:  February 8, 2012.

HB 1678: Would allow three casinos (“video lottery facilities” with table games), and create a State Police gaming enforcement division.  Municipalities could decide if they wanted the facilities at Town Meeting. Revenues would go to the general fund, host municipalities, and state gambling addiction assistance fund.  Floor Date:  Undetermined.  Next Committee Hearing: February 23, 2012.

HB 1697: Would legalize Keno, which would be regulated by the Racing and Charitable Gaming Commission.  Floor Date:  Undetermined.  Next Committee Hearing:  February 9, 2012.

Labor: Last year, the House failed to override Governor Lynch’s veto of Right To Work legislation.  For the 2012 session, a number of labor bills–including bits and pieces of Right To Work–are under consideration.


Although the main Right To Work legislation was ultimately defeated, other bills are offering variations on that theme in 2012

HB 1163: A short variation on the Right To Work theme.  Would forbid employers from withholding union dues from workers’ checks.  Floor Date: Undetermined.  Due Out Of Committee: February 23, 2012.

HB 1645: Would strip public employees of collective bargaining rights.  As the Concord Monitor reports, one of the bill’s co-sponsors noted that it “went further than intended,” and would work on amending it. Floor Date: Undetermined.  Due Out of Committee: February 23, 2012.

HB 1574: Would abolish the requirement that workers get a half-hour lunch break after 5 1/2 consecutive hours of work.  Floor Date: Undetermined.  Next Committee Hearing: February 7, 2012.

HB 1323: Would require employers who offer benefits to full-time employees to also offer them pro-rated to part-time (non-seasonal) employees.  Floor Date: Undetermined. Next Committee Hearing: February 7, 2012.

HB 1282: Would allow municipalities to decide whether they to offer workforce housing, rather than following current requirements.  Floor Date: Undetermined.  Next Committee Hearing: January 31, 2012.

Regulation And Deregulation: One of the dominant theme’s of this year’s session.  The Republican-dominated House, in particular, is pushing for a number of regulatory cuts in the hopes of making the Granite State a more attractive to businesses.

StripeyAnne / Flickr

Cutting the red tape is a big priority for the legislature this session

HB 1263: Would allow absentee landlords to not tell municipalities where they can be served for housing violation lawsuits.  Floor Date: Undetermined.  Next Committee Hearing: February 2, 2012.

HB 1252: Would require banks to provide copies of property deeds before foreclosure sales could go forward.  Floor Date: Undetermined.  Next Committee Hearing: January 31, 2012.

SB 213: Would require state agencies to issue warnings for employer violations before levying fines. (According to the New Hampshire Business Review, this restriction has already been placed on the Department of Labor.  Now it would extend to other executive agencies, including the Department of Environmental Services.)  Floor Date: Undetermined.

Taxes: House and Senate leadership are pushing for a number of minor tweaks and even a major credit to draw more businesses.

Dave Dugdale / Flickr

Business taxes are a perennial issue in the legislature. But this session, a couple of bills stand out.

HB 1418: Would allow small businesses to make greater gross receipts or wages before they had to pay the Business Enterprise Tax.  The gross business receipts threshold would increase from $100,000 to $150,000.  The gross employee tax base (basically, their wages) threshold would increase from $75,000 to $100,000. Floor Date: Undetermined.  Due Out Of Committee: February 23, 2012. 

SB 295: Would increase the total available funds for the Research and Development Business Profits Tax credit from $1 million to $2 million.  Floor Date: Undetermined.  Next Committee Hearing: January 31, 2012.

Utilities, Northern Pass, And Eminent Domain: Whether it’s continuing the long-abandoned process of utility deregulation, dealing with phone pole taxes, or using legislation to kill Northern Pass, utilities are a central focus this session.


A legislative block of Northern Pass is one of the big bills under consideration this session

HB 648: This is a legislative block of the Northern Pass project.  The bill would only allow utilities to invoke eminent domain if the project were essential to the reliability of the power grid.  Amended versions passed both the House and the Senate.  Ultimately, to pass the bill, both bodies must agree on common amended language. (And there are various legislative mechanisms by which they could do this as the session progresses.)  Should both bodies pass the bill with agreed upon amendments, it would go to the governor, who has not yet commented on whether he would sign it if it passed.  Further Action:  To be determined as session progresses.

HB 1238: Would require PSNH to quickly sell-off its energy generation assets.  Floor Date: Undetermined.  Next Committee Hearing: February 2, 2012.

HB 1305: Would prevent municipalities from levying property taxes on telecoms for phone poles.  Floor Date: Undetermined.  Next Committee Hearing: January 31, 2012.

Our Previous Coverage


Getting Involved

Latest Posts

New Nanobrew Law Brings More Craft Beer To N.H.

A new law that went into effect in August made New Hampshire the first state in the country to recognize “nanobreweries” as a separate category of brewery. Now, nanobreweries can be licensed at a much reduced rate of $240, rather than the microbrewery license of $1200. According to the Union Leader, this has facilitated the opening of […]

USNH Seeks Deal With Lawmakers To Restore Funding

The University System of New Hampshire’s board of trustees is requesting that the legislature restore its state funding. At a board meeting Tuesday the board approved a budget request re-appropriating the nearly $50 million that was cut by the legislature last year. In exchange for the funds, the USNH is offering to freeze in-state tuition […]

Three Reasons Why It’s Boom Time For NH Manufacturers

Although tourism is something of a signature industry for New Hampshire, the largest sector of the state’s economy–by far–is advanced manufacturing.  So-called “SMHT” (Smart Manufacturing/High Technology). Looking back on the exodus of shoe and textile factories, the slow death of the wood products industry, and the decline of high-tech in the 1990’s, you’d be forgiven […]

NH House Mulls Deregulating Phone Service

Fairpoint’s struggles since taking over Verizon’s northern New England land line network in 2007 have been well-documented in the media with varying levels of snark.  A running theme the company’s cited over the years has been competition-stifling state regulations.  Now, SB 48, a bill Fairpoint believes will help remedy the situation, is making its way […]

What A Small Firm’s Challenge To PSNH Could Mean For The Future Of The Electricity Market

More than a decade ago, the New Hampshire legislature partially deregulated its electricity market.  The move was supposed to allow residential customers the chance to buy power from companies other than Public Service of New Hampshire, which dominates the state’s electricity market.  But for a long time, nothing really happened. Now, NHPR’s Sam Evans-Brown reports […]

Senate Votes To Overhaul Business Laws

A pair of bills overhauling statutes governing LLC’s and corporations have been working their way through the New Hampshire Senate.  The AP reports the amended SB 205 passed on a vote of 22-2: “It includes provisions for electronic communication, conflicts of interest and provides an easier path for corporations to move to New Hampshire. Supporters […]

House To (Potentially) Consider Overturning State Liquor Monopoly

A modified bill that would allow businesses to sell hard liquor has cleared committee and is ready for debate by the full House.  As the Concord Monitor‘s Matt Spolar reports, HB 1251 began as a standard-issue Legalize Private Liquor Sales initiative–which promptly deadlocked the Commerce committee.  So rather than kill the bill, the committee rewrote […]

State Senate Weighs Tax Credits for Workforce Development

The New Hampshire Senate is considering a bill aimed at helping the Community College System reduce the so-called “skills gap.” The problem the manufacturing sector faces is that while there are numerous skilled jobs available, there aren’t enough people qualified to fill them. To help bridge that gap, the Senate bill would offer tax credits […]

About StateImpact

StateImpact seeks to inform and engage local communities with broadcast and online news focused on how state government decisions affect your lives.
Learn More »