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Business Perspective: Business leaders to share top concerns at BIA’s Legislative Summit

Business Perspective: Business leaders to share top concerns at BIA’s Legislative Summit

Annual gathering in Whitefield Nov. 20-21

By Michael Skelton

New Hampshire voters this past Tuesday reelected Gov. Chris Sununu and gave Republicans a 14-10 Senate majority and 4-1 Executive Council majority. The GOP’s 203-197 House majority could change after recounts in several races. The campaigns are over and work for Granite State residents will soon begin for the 2023 legislative session with the House’s tight split emphasizing the need for bipartisanship.

The Business & Industry Association, New Hampshire's statewide chamber of commerce and leading non-partisan business advocate, will continue our work to give a voice to employers with our eighth annual Leadership Summit Nov. 20-21 at the Mountain View Grand Hotel in Whitefield. The summit brings together New Hampshire's top elected and appointed policy leaders with business leaders to discuss top legislative issues concerning the state's business community. This early opportunity for business leaders to share their concerns in one-on-one settings is incredibly valuable to the legislative process.

Three workshop discussions will focus on the most pressing issues employers are facing.

Lowering energy costs in the Granite State is essential to maintaining a competitive business climate. “The Rising Cost of Energy & Solutions for the Granite State” workshop will feature panelists Michael Licata, director of government affairs, Eversource; Marc Brown, vice president, state affairs, Consumer Energy Alliance; and Donald Kreis, consumer advocate, NH Office of the Consumer Advocate. Panelists will discuss factors contributing to rising energy costs in New England and explore short- and long-term energy solutions the Granite State needs to bring down energy costs. They also will share their concerns for the future of the region’s energy sources and explain what solutions they believe New Hampshire needs from policy makers.

Workforce availability is the top business challenge facing Granite State employers and a major hurdle for New Hampshire’s short- and long-term economic growth. The “All Hands on Deck: Critical Strategies to Strengthen NH’s Workforce” workshop will explore how educational programs, employer partnership opportunities and increasing the affordability and availability of housing, along with other key issues, are necessary for the state to develop and sustain the workforce employers need to grow and prosper. Panelists include Frank Edelblut, commissioner, N.H. Department of Education, and Mark Rubenstein, chancellor, Community College System of New Hampshire.

Healthcare and health insurance costs remain top of mind for many Granite State employers.

The Legislature enacted expanded Medicaid a decade ago, opening up healthcare to tens of thousands of residents. Employers supported the initiative, understanding the benefits of a healthy workforce and the reality that costs to provide services to the uninsured often cause higher health insurance costs. The time has come to reauthorize the state’s participation in this program, and it’s expected to be a top issue in the 2023 legislative session.

The “Permanent Reauthorization of Expanded Medicaid: Why Employers Care” workshop will review the benefits of expanded Medicaid, what permanent reauthorization means, and consequences to the state if the program is not renewed. Panelists are Matthew Houde, director of government affairs, Dartmouth Health; Henry Lipmann, NH Medicaid director, Department of Health & Human Services; and Jim Monahan, president, The Dupont Group.

BIA’s comprehensive advocacy process is tailored to emphasize issues currently impacting our members, other employers and community leaders. The process begins with our roundtable policy talks held in the summer before each statewide election. This year’s 10 roundtable talks around the state drew input from over 230 business and community leaders. This feedback informs BIA’s public policy priorities and gives employers a collective voice before lawmakers.

The soaring cost of energy and a mix of workforce issues, including the state’s limited labor pool and housing shortage, were consistently the top threats for employers. Health care costs had drifted back in priority as employers struggled to even find employees, but expanded Medicaid is vitally important to our members and employer community at large.

The Leadership Summit provides a tremendous opportunity for various stakeholders to meet and discuss issues in an informative and constructive way before the intensity of the legislative session begins. It’s a chance for these stakeholders to express how much they care about the Granite State, its economic prosperity and overall quality of life. The summit isn’t likely to produce agreement on every top issue, but industry and government collaboration is a staple of New Hampshire and often the key element of the best legislative efforts. BIA is proud to be part of that collaboration.

Michael Skelton is president and CEO of the Business & Industry Association. 

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