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Legislative sessions end, bills await governor’s consideration

Republican Gov. Chris Sununu vetoed many of the Democratic House and Senate’s legislative priorities this 2019 legislation session. While the issues around the budget remain unresolved, Sununu did sign one of PIANH’s priorities—increasing the limit of rebating for insurance producers. The legislation, H.B.338, raises the rebating limit to $100 from the previous limit of $25 and will take effect Saturday, Aug. 24, 2019.

Legislation based on the National Association of Insurance Commissioners’ Data Security Model Law passed both the House and Senate with several amendments. The amendments to the bill, S.B.194, which includes a statement that complies with New York’s 23 N.Y.C.R.R. 500, is sufficient to comply with the proposed law. Although it is waiting for the governor’s signature on the bill before it takes action, the New Hampshire Insurance Department proposed the legislation and it has been active in the discussions around the amendments. If Sununu signs the bill into law, it will take effect Wednesday, Jan. 1, 2020.

A bill that concerns the state’s auto insurers passed the Legislature and awaits a decision by Sununu. H.B.664 would require auto insurers to pay claims on vehicle repairs necessary for the mechanic to meet or exceed the manufacturer’s specifications or procedures for the vehicle. Ahead of the governor’s decision, auto insurers have strongly opposed this bill.

Sununu vetoed Paid Family Medical Leave—the top priority of Senate Democrats this session.  The plan put forward by the Senate in S.B.1 would have automatically covered every employee in the state. The governor offered his own proposal, which would have created a voluntary program with Vermont and offered half the amount of leave for fewer reasons. His plan did not pass in either the House or Senate. Instead, the Legislature passed S.B.1 and Sununu vetoed it—later referring to the decision as “the greatest veto of all time,” as reported by New Hampshire Public Radio.  The governor also vetoed other bills, including one that would prevent employers from inquiring about an applicant’s salary history or conducting a credit check on applicants. Similar legislation has been passed in other states, including New York and New Jersey, and both were high priorities for Democrats. On July 30, Sununu vetoed two bills that would have repealed 2018 changes to New Hampshire election law regarding definitions of resident, residence and residency, and who can register to vote in elections. 

Although the House and Senate have completed the bulk of their work for 2019, Sununu still has time to decide whether to sign or veto a number of bills. Sununu and the legislative leadership still must negotiate a budget after he vetoed the budget package passed by the House and Senate.  While the two-year budget is being negotiated, a continuing resolution keeps all funding at the levels of the 2017-19 budget. That may avoid a crisis or the closure of state parks, but it is hardly a long-term solution to the disagreements that will set up another contentious legislative session in 2020.

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