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What does 2024 legislative session hold for employers?

What does 2024 legislative session hold for employers?

Shortly after the first of the year, New Hampshire’s House and Senate will reconvene for the 2024 session. The House remains closely divided with a nearly equal number of Democrats and Republicans. This dynamic creates an environment where majorities can fluctuate, almost day to day, and where bipartisan cooperation is required for any legislative proposal to move forward. We saw this most dramatically last session when a coalition of House Republicans and Democrats coalesced to support the Senate-passed budget with no conference committee negotiations, something that has never happened in recent memory.

Last year was a good session for employers. The budget included many employer-friendly programs designed to increase workforce housing availability as well as child care affordability. There were no new or increased business taxes. In fact, legislation that decoupled New Hampshire from unfavorable federal tax regulations could translate into big savings for employers on their state business tax returns. On the energy front, legislation passed allowing electric distribution utilities to enter long-term purchase power agreements to help stabilize energy costs, and BIA was successful in defeating several bills that would have increased electricity costs, especially for large consumers like manufacturers and hospitals.

So, what’s left to be addressed in 2024? Many things. On the first session day in January, the House and Senate will vote on recommendations for the numerous bills policy committees retained from 2023 for extra work. The Business & Industry Association kept watch on many of these bills, including efforts to increase online consumer privacy (SB 255); prohibiting employers from moving a case from the Commission for Human Rights to the courts (HB 362); revamping the Site Evaluation Committee to facilitate new energy infrastructure (HB 609); and prohibiting employers from discriminating against individuals participating in New Hampshire’s medical cannabis program.

In addition, over 800 legislative service requests were submitted in late 2023 and all will be drafted into bills to be considered by the House and Senate. These drafting requests often provide only the title and prime sponsor, but we can draw a few conclusions. It looks like it will be a relatively quiet year for taxes, which is not uncommon in an “off-budget” session. All the same, there are several bills that, if passed, would help many business owners, especially those who may be depreciating business expenses. There are also several interesting titles relating to establishing some form of employer tax credits relating to child care. More details to follow.

Although significant legislation was passed last session related to housing, the severe shortage of affordable rental and single-family home stock for young families remains a persistent problem. There is no shortage of proposals seeking to incrementally pave the way for more housing development. One would develop a new tax credit to incentivize the development of housing in underused or abandoned historic structures like old mills and warehouses. Another seeks to redefine “abutters” to hopefully reduce the NIMBY (Not in my backyard) factor in local land use decision making.

For employment law, BIA is expecting to play a lot of defense on proposals ranging from across-the-board increases in minimum wage, moving to a four-day work week, and prohibiting employers from utilizing “lie detectors” for hiring decisions.

The number of energy proposals is down compared to last year when energy prices spiked. With prices more stable due to a variety of worldly factors, legislators filed fewer energy-related bills for 2024. Although, there are some proposals on our radar with the potential to lower costs using the “all-above-approach” to energy resources.

Legislators have filed dozens of environmentally related proposals for the 2024 session. We are concerned some may seem well-intentioned on the surface, but ultimately suggest new standards based on arbitrary requirements crafted with one goal: telling businesses, “Not in my back yard.” Proposals include a moratorium on landfill permits, new solid waste disposal requirements, and rule changes to regulated chemical limits. While protecting the health, safety and natural beauty of the Granite State is top of mind, proposals like these, if passed, would surely have detrimental effects on New Hampshire’s business climate.

The 2024 session will again see a bill concerning alleged health effects of 5G technology, and there are several proposals related to the fast-developing field of artificial intelligence.

Since it’s a non-budget year, one could be lulled into believing it will be a quiet legislative session. The long list of bills that could impact employers, positively and negatively, proves otherwise.

Kirsten Koch is vice president of public policy for the Business & Industry Association. Visit for more information. *This column first ran in Business NH magazine's January edition.

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