We learned that it can take a very long time to get everyone greeted and seated when our friends from the Senate Chamber next door come over for a joint session in the House. We spent a good portion of the morning on 200th State House Anniversary “Old Home Day” festivities punctuated by a lovely boxed lunch on the front lawn where legislators past and present came to gather and reminisce. We even got a nice photograph taken of all of us together. It was a nice celebration, and we did get through 13 bills during the rest of the day, and we also commemorated the 75th anniversary of D-Day.
We learned that the Majority Party Democrats are working on the railroad. They approved the project development phase of the Capitol Corridor Rail Project (SB241-FN-A) that will produce an engineering plan, environmental permitting and project costs for a rail line from Boston to Concord. It is claimed that this project will alleviate traffic on our highways and expand business, although there is no real proof of those claims. What we do know is that it will be expensive for NH taxpayers and will end up being a taxpayer subsidized mode of transportation. All of the hoopla about this project reminded me of the Simpson’s Monorail episode (Season 4 Episode 12) with House Democrats played by Lyle Lanley and House Republicans played by Marge Simpson who opposed the plan in favor of fixing the pot holes on Main Street.
We learned that House Majority Democrats want to continue to interfere in the energy marketplace in New Hampshire by tinkering with the Renewable Portfolio Standard (SB168). By controlling the energy mix (fossil fuel, solar, wind, coal, oil, etc.) in the NH energy marketplace they opted to raise class II renewable (new solar) from the current 0.6% to 5.4% by 2025. So this means that our state will have to find and use at least 2300 acres of land for solar panels to produce that much energy. Energy consumers in NH would have to pay about $30 million more in energy costs as a result. Forcing NH ratepayers to buy energy created from certain sources will not lower energy costs, but it sure will make solar panel makers very rich. Now that’s a green deal!
We learned that the House Majority Democrats yet again passed legislation that was poorly written and could cause all sorts of problems for the NH Dept. of Transportation (SB218). This bill deals with drones and other unmanned aircraft. One requirement of the bill makes it a violation to be out of compliance with federal code but at the same time includes definitions that do not match federal code! This was yet another bill that should have been tabled or retained in order to make it right. We can deem this one an Unidentified Flying Ought to Pass.
We learned that charity gaming will have to live without historical racing (SB41-FN) as House Majority Democrats struck down this bill. It would have allowed 16 establishments serving 584 charities to install historic racing terminals. Some called them slot machines, and others said they were not slot machines at all. At the end of the day all bets were off in giving charitable gaming another means of revenue.
We learned that The House Majority Democrats happily increased real estate document fees by 40% in order to bring more money to the Land and Community Heritage and Investment Program (LCHIP) with SB74-FN-A. The same people who cry that buying a home is financially out of reach for many people now made it an even more expensive proposition.
We learned that the NH House and Senate worked together to craft a bill to combat the misguided Wayfair decision handed down by the Supreme Court (SB242-FN). The SCOTUS overturned a 50 year precedent that had required physical presence in a state of a retailer before the state could impose a sales tax collection requirement. Time will tell to see if this bill creates more Constitutional problems then it tries to fix. 25 legislators believe that this bill was in and of itself unconstitutional. The fact is that NH retailers should NOT have to pay taxes to other states and taxing authorities for items sold over the internet in other states. We do not collect a sales tax here in this NH and our retailers should not be forced to collect sales taxes for other taxing authorities either. See Part 1 Article 28 of the NH Constitution. Rest assured that this issue will probably make many lawyers very rich in the coming years.
Finally, we learned that the House had been informed that House Chambers will be getting air conditioning installed next month. This will not be for the comfort of legislators, but for climate control. Apparently the paint on the ceiling is peeling and our historic paintings are being damaged by condensation in the room from all of the hot air. I kid you not.
Stay tuned: There’s more House bills with Senate changes and all sorts of State budget mayhem in the pipeline plus a vetoed bill by the Governor to deal with! (HB365 – Relative to Net Energy Metering Limits for Customer Generators)