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.
CONCORD – House Republican Leader Dick Hinch (R-Merrimack) offered statements following House Rules Committee Action on Wednesday where House Democrats denied the ability for a Republican bill to come forward that would eliminate the possibility of business tax increases in the coming year. The committee also voted along party lines for a Democrat supported timeline for completion of House business, which Republicans said lacked clarity and bipartisan input.
On disagreements on a timeline moving forward, Hinch offered the following assessment.
“Republicans have a roadmap forward. We have a realistic and comprehensive set of dates for deadlines that we believe meets the needs of a thorough legislative process,” Hinch said. “We are not here to obstruct and we agree that the people’s work needs to be addressed. But we are here to ensure the spirit of bipartisan cooperation, the spirit of the rule the House adopted in March, is not pushed aside during this pandemic.”
Hinch continued, “Republicans have a number of concerns about the proposed schedule in the Democrat plan, such as a very quick time frame for public hearings on Senate bills, when the House has little experience in running virtual public hearings. The House held its first remote public hearing on a bill yesterday, and there were several concerns brought to my attention about its function and execution. Asking us to process dozens of bills on this platform in a matter of a week or two seems like it would cause problems. In addition it skips long established steps in the process including committees of conference.”
Pertaining to Democrats’ rejection of Republicans’ business tax relief proposal Hinch offered the following remarks.
“By not allowing this simple modification to have an up or down vote by the House is the same thing as Democrats saying that they are OK with increasing taxes on our struggling small businesses by as much as 12.5% during a global pandemic and economic recovery,” Hinch said. “By rejecting this proposal, Democrats may have decreased our economy’s ability to bounce back quickly, and prolonged the time it will take for our small businesses to recover.”
“The Speaker and Majority Leader said that they believe this is not urgent, and can wait until 20201. My message is that we cannot wait. Our businesses cannot wait, “ Hinch continued. “The rate is scheduled to change on January 1, well before legislation could be fast-tracked through the House and Senate. Businesses are making decisions now and will be through the rest of this year based on the prospect of that rate change. This affects their hiring decisions this year. This affects their ability to purchase capital equipment this year. To ask businesses to ‘wait and see’ if the legislature does something in 7 months doesn’t make sense,” Hinch concluded.
“Democrats love taxes. This is a demonstration that they are willing to pursue higher taxes even in the worst of times for many businesses. It’s like kicking them when they’re down.”
The motion to recommend the Democrats’ schedule passed by a party line vote of 5-4.
The motion to deny introduction of Republicans’ business tax relief proposal passed by a party line vote of 6-4.
CONCORD – A group of over 130 House Republicans sent a letter to House Speaker Steve Shurtleff today asking him to support and help expedite legislation that would prevent business taxes from increasing by as much as 12.5%.
House Republican Leader Dick Hinch (R-Merrimack) will present the proposal to the House Rules Committee on Wednesday, and ask for the committee to allow the legislation to be drafted and acted on by the legislature prior to the conclusion of the current legislative session.
“This proposed legislation is a Republican response to the COVID crisis. We worked with our members of the House Ways and Means Committee to come up with a reasonable way to help protect our job creators at this very critical time,” Hinch said. “The last thing we should be doing is kicking our small businesses when they are down. This legislation provides certainty to our business community that our economic recovery will not be hampered by increased taxes.”
Hinch continued, “There is an urgent and compelling need for the legislature to take positive steps to aid our small businesses. This is a necessary first step. When the trigger mechanism in current law was adopted, the legislature could not have foreseen the economic catastrophe caused by a pandemic. This is not an issue we can kick down the road to next year. We need to act now.”
“I hope Speaker Shurtleff and House Democrats do not block this legislation. This needs to be a bipartisan effort. Our businesses cannot afford a 12.5% tax increase. Every small business owner or employee in New Hampshire should call or email their Democrat legislators and urge them to support this concept.” Hinch said.
The letter was emailed to Speaker Shurtleff on Friday. The proposed legislation is included in the letter.
The House Republican Office will continue to collect signatures from House members in support of the legislation.
House Republican Leader Dick Hinch (R-Merrimack) announced Tuesday that House Republicans have been largely boxed out of discussions on planning and scheduling for the upcoming House session, and setting policy priorities at the House committee level.
“Back in March, the Speaker set up a bipartisan committee to work on planning for the continuity of House business and legislative operations during this crisis. That committee held one conference call months ago, and has not met since. We are just being informed at what the Democrats have already decided to do. That’s not bipartisan cooperation,” Hinch said. “Republicans are being denied a seat at the table.”
In addition, the Speaker has made statements suggesting he instructed his policy committee chairs to reach out to the ranking Republican members of House committees to get their input on bills of priority.
“Despite the Speakers’ statements,” Hinch said, “I’m hearing very little from ranking members about two-way communication between Democrat and Republican members. In some cases there has been no communication, and in other cases, it has been one-way communication, with Democrats providing a list of their priorities to Republicans with no chance for discussion or input.”
“Given the lack of communication and cooperation we’re experiencing, you’d think that the Speaker has deemed most of the 160 member House Republican Caucus non-essential, and sent us home on furlough,” Hinch said.
Hinch continued, “‘We could have spent the last two months working on a bipartisan plan to get the people’s business done, and work on solutions to ensure House business is able to move forward safely. We could have spent the last two months discussing shared policy priorities for the remainder of the term. Instead we have mostly a one-party decision making process.”
“We don’t know if House Democrats have a plan to help manage our future budget shortfalls. We don’t know if they have a plan to help our small business community stay afloat. We don’t know if the Democrats plan on ramming through their income tax proposal yet again. We don’t know what the Speaker has in store for the House aside from a June 11th session. That is not leadership during a crisis. I’m not seeing a clear plan, or a plan at all, frankly.”
“House Republicans met via teleconference today to discuss these concerns. We absolutely agree that the House needs to get back to work, and we want to get back to work. But the consensus opinion was that unless the Democrat leadership team in the House opens up their closed decision making process, Republicans will be reluctant to enable the rule changes needed to move forward. Democrats have politicized this crisis on a regular basis, and without transparency, we can only assume they are not acting in good faith.”
Background: In March, the House voted to amend House Rule 65 to allow for the modification of deadlines in the event business was suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic and require concurrence with the Republican leadership. If Republican leadership does not concur with the proposed modifications, there would need to be a ⅔ majority vote on the House floor to suspend House Rule 65(b) for any business to move forward.
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.”