On Thursday, May 26, the House and Senate met to vote on Committee of Conference reports. The Committee of Conference process is used to reconcile differences between differing version of the same bill. For example, if the House passes a bill. The Senate must hold a hearing on the same bill. If they amend the bill, there would now be two differing versions of the same piece of legislation. Committees of Conference allow for Representatives and Senators to discuss their separate versions and determine if a compromise can be reached. If a compromise is reached, the entire House and Senate must separately vote to approve the compromise. Once a Committee of Conference report is approved by both bodies, the bill heads to the Governor. If either body does not approve the compromise, the bill is defeated.
One of the bills on which we had been providing updates went through the committee of conference process. HB 1503 was originally introduced provide clarity for how the state would regulate “blockchain tokens”. Supporters want to provide clarity on how the industry should be regulated in the state and ensure, where appropriate, they would exempt from existing state securities regulations. Originally, the bill was about 1 page in length. However, as the legislative process moved along, the bill was amended to use the existing Uniform Commercial Code (UCC) as the basis for regulatory structure. This required numerous revisions to the existing statutes which incorporate the UCC. The bill grew to over 50 pages in length when these changes were made. The House and Senate both endorsed this concept. The reason for the Committee of Conference was due to the inclusion of a Senate amendment relative to the use of domestic steel in state procurement projects. The House had rejected a similar proposal earlier in the session. Earlier in May, the Senate added the language relative to steel, which then created the need for the committee of conference. Ultimately, a compromise was developed and it was approved by the House and Senate. We will have to see what Governor Sununu decides to do with the bill once it reaches his desk.
We had also been keeping NAIFA members updated regarding the New Hampshire Insurance Department’s proposed rules to repeal existing rate caps on long term care policies. The genesis for the rules is a NH Supreme Court decision which stated that the rules which enabled a cap were no longer enforceable. It appears those rules will go before the Joint Legislative Committee on Administrative Rules (JLCAR) in June. Unfortunately, the technical nature of the rulemaking process and NH Supreme Court limit JLCAR’s ability to do anything other than approve the rules. Moving forward, it will be interesting to see how carriers respond to the repeal of the existing caps. If you did not have a chance to review the previous webinar regarding the rules, we have included the link again: New Hampshire Insurance Department webinar on Long Term Care (LTC) insurance premium rate increases - YouTube
Throughout the legislative session, it was clear there were portions of the House Republican Majority who wanted to repeal the voluntary state-run program to provide family leave. The State of NH has received responses to an RFP to move forward with implementation after the parameters of the plan were passed in the 2021 session. The House passed legislation (HB 1165) which would have repealed the program. The Senate ended up sending the bill to “interim study”. This essentially kills the bill for the session. Moving forward, we will monitor the implementation process and future attempts to amend or repeal the program.
2022 is a state election year. It was also a year in which the Legislature must update the districts for Congress, Executive Council, State Senate, and State House of Representatives. To date, the new districts for Executive Council, State Senate and State House have been signed into law. Governor Sununu and Republican Leadership in the House and Senate were unable to agree on redrawn districts for the 2 Congressional seats. Sununu stated he did not want any map to create changes which could be viewed as too partisan. He vowed to veto plans which did not meet his standard. As such, the redistricting for Congress will now be drawn by the NH Supreme Court. The final version will be developed outside of the legislative process. For the 2022 election, the filing period runs from June 1 to June 10. To date, 8 of the 24 State Senators will not be seeking re-election. That means before any ballots are cast in fall, there will be at least 1/3 of the Senate will be new. Also, there are numerous long term House members of both parties that have indicated they will not be seeking to return. The Legislature could look very different next session.