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Business Debates You May Have Missed

Published Wednesday Aug 3, 2022

Author Anna Brown

Business Debates You May Have Missed

A review of headlines from the 2022 legislative session shows a focus on COVID-19, housing and schools. While these are important topics, they cover just a fraction of the 1,206 bills that received a vote in the NH General Court this year. Here’s a look at some of the 2022 legislative debates that flew under the radar but could affect NH businesses.

Meals and Rooms Tax Changes
In 2021, Gov. Chris Sununu signed a state budget that cut the meals and rooms tax from 9% to 8.5% and committed 30% of revenue from the tax to towns and cities. Some legislators wanted to build on these changes. For example, HB 1204 would have reduced the meals and rooms tax rate from 8.5% to 7.9% and increased the meals and rooms tax revenue shared with municipalities from 30% to 40%. The House voted to send HB 1204 to “interim study,” which is generally a polite way to kill a bill in an election year.

However, the meals and rooms tax has a long and storied history in NH, particularly regarding how much revenue is shared with municipalities. Given this history, legislators will almost certainly revisit the meals and rooms tax in 2023. In fact, another 2022 bill, SB 343, would have set up a committee to study the collection and distribution of meals and rooms tax revenue. In May, SB 343 was killed in the House.

New Establishment Licensing
There are usually dozens of bills related to occupational licensing each year in the state legislature, and 2022 was no exception. There was interest in adding licensing or registration for massage establishments (HB 1429), medical spas (HB 1444) and body art establishments (SB 230).

The Office of Professional Licensure and Certification (OPLC) requested SB 230. At the bill hearing, they noted that while body art practitioners are licensed, their establishments are not. Licensing the establishments would allow for proactive, routine inspections. The OPLC supported HB 1429 and HB 1444 for similar reasons.

The legislature sent all three bills to interim study. Legislators were concerned about the addition of a state inspector and questioned whether towns and cities should be responsible for regulating establishments. Since all three bills looked to address a similar issue, it is likely similar licensing proposals will come up in 2023.

Regulating Workplace Productivity
Echoing a new California law from 2021, this year the NH House considered HB 1076, a bill to regulate productivity quotas at large warehouse distribution centers. Amazon, in particular, has come under fire for using nontransparent algorithms, cameras and other strict productivity measures. There are reports of employees urinating in bottles to avoid discipline for “idle time.” Opponents of quota regulations argue that stricter enforcement of existing labor laws would address any problems with quotas.

HB 1076 was sponsored by five Democratic representatives, which meant the bill faced an uphill battle in the Republican-controlled House. However, HB 1076 came out of the House Industrial and Rehabilitative Services committee with a positive vote, and about a dozen Republicans supported the bill. The House ultimately let HB 1076 die on the table, but the concept may have legs next year.

Requiring American-Made Steel
SB 438 would require the use of American-made steel for public works projects over $1 million that are administered by the state. Foreign steel would be allowed if there is an excessive cost or burden to use American steel. Supporters argue this will give domestic steel fabricators a level playing field with foreign competitors. Opponents argue this protectionist legislation will unjustly raise costs for taxpayers. At the time of this article’s drafting, the bill has yet to get a final vote, but could pass on to Gov. Sununu’s desk.

Repeat Proposals
Some bills were similar to legislation that failed in previous years. For example, HB 1119 would have let towns regulate the distribution of single-use plastic and paper bags to consumers. The House let that bill die on the table. HB 1514 would have required an employer with 15 or more employees to pay any employee for unused vacation days at the end of employment.

The House narrowly voted to kill that bill. These repeat proposals are likely to come back again next year, or the year after that, especially if there are changes in party power after the 2022 elections.

Anna Brown is director of research and analysis at Citizens Count. For more information, visit

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