Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, out of an abundance of caution the General Court has suspended all legislative activities through May 4th. During this time, the State House will be closed to legislative members, legislative staff, and visitors.
No in-person caucus of Republican members is scheduled at this time. Republican members may receive information for conference call caucus by email.
House Republican Leader Dick Hinch (R-Merrimack) called on Democrat Speaker Steve Shurtleff (D-Concord) to scrap a proposed plan to purchase electronic voting equipment costing possibly “in excess of $200,000” for when the House reconvenes on June 11th, and seek to be reimbursed by CARES Act funds for that cost.
“I agree that the House should get back to work, but this proposed budget shows poor judgment given the tough times we are facing. We’re asking state and local governments to tighten their belts as we deal with revenue losses due to this crisis, and we have businesses, organizations, and families that need assistance. Spending in excess of $200,000 on handheld voting devices and other equipment for legislators instead of spending those dollars where it’s really needed seems insensitive, to say the least. The House operated for a century without any electronic voting gizmo, and spending this amount at this time is blatantly wasteful considering CARES Act money could go somewhere where it is needed more. We need to get back to work, and we need to pursue the safest, and most economical way to do the people’s business, not the flashiest.”
House Republican Leader Dick Hinch (R-Merrimack) issued a statement in response to a letter signed by Democrats members of the House to Governor Sununu demanding that he issue an emergency order requiring all citizens to wear face masks when in public.
“CDC and public health guidance we currently have in place are reasonable. New Hampshire citizens are being responsible in following them. Municipalities have the ability to take further steps if they feel it’s necessary. What Nashua believes is right for their community may not be right for Littleton or any other similar community, and we have to recognize that. It does not seem to be the New Hampshire Way to stop people on the street who choose not to wear a mask. It is unenforceable, and it will create more chaos. Business and individuals can currently make choices to avoid unnecessary contact with people, with or without masks, and to make this a government mandate goes too far.”
House Republican Leader Dick Hinch issued the following statement relative to Governor Sununu’s call for Democrat legislative leadership to repeal business tax rate hikes should the state’s revenues fall below a trigger point currently prescribed in law.
Democrats in the legislature insisted on establishing a trigger mechanism into the state budget so that if state revenues fell, business taxes would rise. But in the midst of an economic catastrophe, that’s the last thing our businesses need,“ Hinch said. “House Republicans will unequivocally support and move to fast track legislation that would repeal this dangerous tax trigger mechanism to help us support our small business community, rather than tax them into failure. If the goal is to get our economy back on track, and get people back to work, we need these prospective tax increases off the table as soon as possible, and start working on tax relief.”
“Republicans believed that only in the event of an unlikely economic catastrophe would revenue ever reach that trigger point. Unfortunately, the impossible has happened, and we now urgently need to delete the Democrat’s trigger that could break the backs of many businesses who will be struggling to get back to normal operation, and get people back to work.”
Background: HB4, the budget trailer bill, contained language that would raise the Business Enterprise Tax by 12.5% and the Business Profits Tax by 2.5% should state revenues fall 6% or more short of the revenue plan through the end of the fiscal year (June 30th, 2020). The tax increase would take effect on January 1, 2021.
The current rate for the BET is 0.6% and would increase to 0.675%.
The current rate for the BPT is 7.7% and would increase to 7.9%.
CONCORD – House Republican Leader Dick Hinch (R-Merrimack) and Republican member of the House Election Law committee, Rep. Katherine Prudhomme-O’Brien (R-Derry) issued statements following the passage of HB 1665, establishing an independent redistricting commission. The bill passed by a vote of 203-121.
“This is yet another legislative concept that for the most part resembles legislation from last year, that the governor vetoed, and the legislature sustained. I see nothing in this current bill that will change my mind or the governor’s mind should it reach his desk,” House Republican Leader Dick Hinch said. “The constitution is clear, this is a legislative responsibility. A non-binding commission will only cause confusion as to whose responsibility it really is. Any entity is welcome to work with the legislature to come up with a plan in 2021, and if Republicans are in the majority, I assure you that we will continue the tradition of a transparent process with plenty of opportunity for public input, without the need for a separate commission.”
“Any individual or group of concerned citizens are already able to share their opinion on redistricting with the legislature, or submit a redistricting plan for the legislature’s consideration. New legislation is not needed to allow this,” Rep. Katherine Prudhomme-O’Brien said. “If the people of New Hampshire believe their representatives have abused the redistricting process, they are free to seek other representation, as they have done in the past. This process must stay as close to the people as possible. This is the most effective and direct form of checks and balances upon this process available.”
Concord, NH – House Republican Leader Dick Hinch (R-Merrimack) and Republican member of the House Election Law committee, Rep. Barbara Griffin (R-Goffstown) issued statements following the passage of HB1279 and HB1653, which repeal common sense election laws. HB1279 passed by a vote of 189-133. HB1653 passed by a vote of 191-129.
“As the saying goes, ‘It’s déjà vu all over again.’ These bills were vetoed by the governor last summer and sustained by the House in the fall. Yet, we are going to continue this charade of rehearing the exact same bills as last year that will have the exact same outcome, and HB1279 and HB1653 are included in that,’ Rep. Dick Hinch said. ‘I don’t believe it is unreasonable for us to require that those who participate in our elections be residents of our state. What I do believe to be unreasonable is that we have had two classifications of voters in our state: those who abide by our statutes and laws as residents, and those who don’t. In a state where numerous elections have been decided by just a handful of votes, it is important to make sure that every ballot cast by an eligible voter is counted, and the domicile loophole is closed.”
“HB1279 would repeal a law and has been in effect with no known impact on voter participation. This law makes residence and domicile equivalent thus ending unequal treatment of voters. This makes us consistent with almost all other states in that a person needs to be a resident to vote in our state. The current law has been found constitutional by the NH Supreme Court which ruled the state has an interest in making sure that when residency is claimed by a person it should not be just for voting but for all purposes.’ said Rep. Barbara Griffin. ‘HB1653 proposes to eliminate the requirement that when a person registers to vote that there be proof of domicile. This requirement is consistent with other states and was a common sense reform to ensure confidence in the integrity of our elections. The law was used in 18 months of election and there is no evidence that voters did not vote as a result of the law; in fact some of the highest turnout ever occurred. We should let the court case on these two bills continue to their end and only consider changes as needed.”
CONCORD – House Republican Leader Dick Hinch (R-Merrimack) issued a statement following the passage of HB 1564, prohibiting the use of polystyrene foam.
“Democrats’ various bans on so-called one-time-use materials, such as polystyrene, are leading us down a road with less and less options for businesses and consumers. At what point will we have to bring our own tupperware out to dinner? It’s time for the government to get out of my constituents’ leftovers.”
CONCORD – House Republican Leader Dick Hinch (R-Merrimack) and Republican Member of the Commerce Committee, Rep. Mark Warden (R-Manchester), issued statements following the passage of HB 1472, restricting the distribution of plastic straws. The bill passed by a vote of 197-135.
“The day has come when Democrats in state government want to regulate how you deliver a beverage from a cup to your mouth,” Rep. Dick Hinch said. “The Senate is not receptive to this type of bill, having tabled a similar one last year, and consumers definitely won’t enjoy their choices being restricted. I hope this is the final straw, and we can move on from straw legislation.”
“The bill makes it illegal for a food service business to provide a single-use plastic straw to a customer unless the customer explicitly requests it, or if the customer selects the straw from a self-service dispenser,” Rep. Mark Warden said. “Republicans believe this is unnecessary legislation that limits consumer choice, micro-manages business practices, and does nothing meaningful to address solid waste disposal in this state.”
CONCORD – House Republican Leader Dick Hinch (R-Merrimack) issued a statement following the House vote to pass HB1699, relative to a tax on electronic cigarettes. The bill passed by a vote of 172-142. Just last year, updated provisions on the taxation of e-cigarette products were adopted as part of the bi-partisan budget, and were enacted on January 1 of this year.
“Just about 60 days ago, a new law went into effect regarding the taxation of vaping products, and now we’re already talking about changing it. Republicans are saying we should give it some time. Democrats would like to raise the tax from 8% to 40% right away, and toss aside the provisions we all agreed to less than 6 months ago,” Hinch stated. “Just imagine if you’re a retailer trying to follow the ever changing parameters, and trying to update your business in order to stay afloat and remain competitive. We believe an increase of this nature will simply drive customers to the internet, which will cost New Hampshire jobs, and that’s why all Republicans opposed this bill.”
CONCORD – House Republican Leader Dick Hinch (R-Merrimack) issued a statement following the House votes to defeat HB1652, including ski area ticket sales under the meals and rooms tax, and HB1492, establishing a tax on the retail sale of certain electronic devices.
“Although these proposals failed, folks need to realize that this is just the tip of the iceberg. If Democrats had their way, we would have already seen a slew of higher taxes, including an income tax, a dramatic increase in business taxes, and an $800 million carbon tax,” said Rep. Hinch. “The ski tax, and the electronics tax are examples of the nickel-and-dime approach Democrats would like to take to make more of our economy taxable, and ruining the New Hampshire advantage in the process. Governor Sununu and Republicans in the House and Senate have worked to prevent taxes, both small and large, from being enacted. We can only imagine what our aggregate tax bills would look like if Democrats had control of the state government.”
CONCORD – House Republican Leader Dick Hinch (R-Merrimack) issued a statement following the House vote on HB1379, requiring a background check for commercial firearms sales. The bill passed by a vote of 196-152. 100% of Republicans voted in opposition to the bill, along with 11 Democrats.
“This is the second time this term that we see this legislation, and I suspect this bill will meet the same fate. Republicans have the votes to sustain the governor’s veto on this bill just as we did last year,” Hinch stated. ”In prior terms, this legislation has been defeated by a bipartisan majority vote. Democrats’ broken record approach, repeating the same failed anti-second amendment legislation each year needs to stop.”