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Legislators study bills for next year

Sep 26, 2019

BY: Citizens Count

The New Hampshire legislative session ended in June, and most of the work on bills is done for this year. However, the New Hampshire House and Senate kept 230 bills in committee to work on through the fall. Gov. Sununu has also signed several bills to establish study commissions, which are tasked with recommending future legislation.

Here’s a snapshot of big issues getting studied for action in 2020.

Gas tax and road use fees

The House Public Works and Highways Committee is holding two bills over the summer related to road funding: HB 478 and HB 538.

HB 478 would establish a road usage fee – a surcharge on a car’s annual registration. The fee would go up to $111, based on a vehicle's miles per gallon.

HB 538 would increase the gas tax from $0.222 per gallon to $0.282.

The committee has held work sessions for both bills in September. They must make a recommendation on the bills for a full House vote in 2020.

Mandatory car insurance

New Hampshire does not require that motorists have insurance in order to register their cars. HB 613 would change that. The House Commerce and Consumer Affairs Committee is working on that bill over the summer. Their next work session is October 1.

Carbon tax

HB 735 would establish a fee on any carbon-based fuel imported, sold, or used in New Hampshire. The revenue from that fee would be split between greenhouse gas reduction programs, customer rebates, and administration costs.

The House Science, Technology and Energy Committee kept HB 735 for work over the summer. Their next work session is October 1.

Renewable energy

New Hampshire’s Renewable Portfolio Standard requires electricity providers to obtain a certain percentage of electricity from renewable energy sources each year, peaking at 25% in 2025. Now legislators are considering what should happen after 2025.

This fall the House Science, Technology and Energy Committee is working on SB 124, which would extend the Renewable Portfolio Standard goals to 60% renewable energy by 2040.

Plastic bans

This year the Senate shot down statewide bans on single-use carryout bags and plastic straws.

The issue isn’t dead yet, though. The House Municipal and County Government Committee is working on two related bills this fall: HB 102 and HB 559. Both bills would give cities and towns the power to limit single-use plastics, such as bags and straws.

On a related note, Gov. Chris Sununu signed HB 617 to form a committee to study recycling streams and solid waste management in New Hampshire. Recycling is becoming more and more costly for towns and cities. The committee of legislators has until November 1 to recommend any new laws on that subject.

Affordable housing

The topic of affordable housing is getting a look from many angles this year.

Gov. Sununu signed SB 154, which creates a committee to study tax incentives for development of dense workforce housing in community centers. That committee must recommend any future legislation by November 1, 2019.

Sununu also signed HB 312, which creates a committee to study tiny houses. That committee must also make a report by November 1, 2019.

SB 43, also signed by Sununu, would establish a commission to study barriers to increased density of land development in New Hampshire. That commission must make an interim report by November 1, 2019 and a final report by November 1, 2020.

Marijuana legalization

This year the New Hampshire House approved marijuana legalization through HB 481. In May the Senate voted to send that bill to the Judiciary Committee for more work. HB 481 will come up for another Senate vote in 2020.

Education funding

The compromise budget that passed in September includes a new commission to study school funding. There is a school funding lawsuit making its way through the courts, so the work of this commission is critical.

Make your voice heard

Are you interested in any of these issues? Legislators will vote on them in 2020, so find your elected officials now and contact them to share your opinion.

Some of these committees and commissions may also hold public hearings or accept written input from citizens. If you’re interested in a particular topic, reach out to officials or contact us here at Citizens Count to learn more.


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