This year, members of the NH House of Representatives were able to file bills for the 2022 legislative session between September 13 and September 17. House members provide information to professional staff at the State House who assist them in developing language for their legislation. Once the staff receives the request for drafting, a one sentence summary of their ideas are made public. While few specifics are available, you can get a sense of the topics on which the legislators will focus in the upcoming session. In addition, you can determine the volume of bills.
During this House filing period, over 800 bills were filed. The sheer volume of the bills surprised many. This is more than we typically see in the second year of a two-year session. Between now and when the bills are formally introduced, some may be withdrawn. Often, legislators will introduce similar ideas and rather than have numerous, redundant bills, they will combine efforts into a single bill. The Senate will have their opportunity to introduce bills in October. In addition to the new House and new Senate bills, there are bills which were retained from the 2021 session must still be acted upon by the Legislature. It is safe to assume they will be facing well over 1,000 bills for the 2022 session.
In reviewing the tiles, a major focus will be on the balance between employers and employees when considering COVID-19 policies. Based on the titles we have seen, many legislators appear concerned with the ability of employers to mandate employees receive a vaccine. There are varying proposals to ensure that employees are enabled to determine whether they would like to receive a vaccine or not. The proposals are inclusive of both public and private employers. Details will emerge as the bills are printed later this year. It is safe to assume that vaccine policy will be a major source of debate during the upcoming session.
Tying the vaccine debate to issues we follow for NAIFA, there is a proposal entitled “Relative to Life Insurance Discrimination Based On Vaccination Status”. Again, that is all the detail we have at this point. It will be interesting to see the details and the response to the proposal from the insurance industry and regulators. In addition to this legislation, there are several proposals to either repeal or amend the recently passed Family Leave Plan which was included in the most recent budget. Since the plan was part of the budget, the final votes for passage were not solely on the proposed policy. The 2022 debate may not be the same as the 2021 budget debate as the policy will stand alone, rather than as part of a much larger bill.
In September, the NH Insurance Department held an event to share insight regarding their proposals for the 2022 session. We attended the meeting and have shared the various proposals with NAIFA. One of the draft bills is the return of a proposal from 2020. Just prior to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Department introduced legislation to re-write the existing life insurance statutes. Department staff have indicated that the law is need of numerous updates, revisions, etc. Rather than attempt to address them all, their preference is to repeal the existing law, with all of its flaws, and replace it with an entirely new statute. At a high level, the concept appears to make sense but we will need to examine the details to ensure there is not an unintended consequence of the new language.
We will continue to plan for the upcoming session and review the Senate bill titles once they are released next month. We will provide another update at that time.
Adam Schmidt, NAIFA-NH Lobbyist
Grimbilas Strategic Solutions, LLC