NH Senate Committee Votes to Approve Governor’s Paid Leave Plan

New Hampshire Business Review

Published: 04/30/2022 18:35:50

Modified: 04/30/2022 18:34:16

The NH Senate Commerce Committee voted on Tuesday to give Granite State’s family leave program a chance to work, meaning the bill to repeal it is likely to fail next week.

The committee also unanimously recommended sending an anti-vaccination bill for consideration.

The voluntary program, which would allow employers and private employees to piggyback on a taxpayer-funded benefit given to 11,000 state workers, was brought into the budget last year and is now ready to tender with a response deadline May 9. It would pay 60% of salary for six weeks to participants who leave work to care for loved ones or themselves, subsidized by tax breaks for businesses and insurance tax proceeds for individuals.

House Republicans voted overwhelmingly to repeal the program by passing House Bill 1065, even though the program was proposed by Gov. Chris Sununu as an alternative to a Democratic paid leave plan paid by a payroll deduction, which Sununu vetoed and called an income tax. It was mostly House Democrats who voted to save the governor’s plan.

But in the Senate, the program has more Republican support.

“A lot of work has gone into putting this program in place, and I see no reason why we should just repeal it,” said Sen. Jeb Bradley, R-Wolfeboro, who offered to send the repeal bill pending.

“I voted against this family leave plan and other family leave plans, but we put it in our budget, so I’m going to give it a shot,” said Sen. Harold French, R-Franklin.

Only Senator Bill Gannon, R-Sandown, opposed it, without comment, although at the public hearing last week he said he was “a little mad at myself for passed last year” as the cost of the program will not be known until the offers arrive.

Non-competition agreements

As for HB 1089, an anti-vaccination bill, senators voted to recommend remand to interim study.

HB 1089 would have initially invalidated non-competition agreements if workers quit their jobs due to a vaccination mandate, but was amended to make it more universal by adding an indefinite phrase, “material change in employment” , as a reason to make such agreements null and void

“The version passed by the House was a disaster, a complete disaster,” David Juvet, senior vice president of the Business & Industry Association, told the committee shortly before the vote.

“This bill needs work, and we don’t have the time,” said French, who backed a decision to study it. It will be placed on the consent calendar, meaning it will pass next week unless a senator removes it from the calendar to vote on separately.

These articles are shared by partners of The Granite State News Collaborative. For more information, visit collaborativenh.org.

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