The unofficial halftime of each legislative session is referred to as “Crossover”. This is the date by which the House must complete their work on Senate bills and the Senate must complete their work on House bills. Those bills which were passed by either the House or Senate crossover to the other body. The crossover date this year is March 31. The Legislature is scheduled to complete their work prior to Memorial Day. The second half of the legislative session will have a brisk pace since there will be a lot of issues remaining with not that much time to work.
One of the significant issues on which we have been focused is 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. NAIFA-NH Government Relations Chair Hal Sullivan and I met with the leadership of the Department to share concerns about the pending change in rules. Generally, our question was what protection would be left for consumers once the caps on premium increases were repealed? After our meeting, the Department held a panel discussion to provide additional information about LTC rate increases. In case you were unable to monitor the meeting, it is available at the following address: New Hampshire Insurance Department webinar on Long Term Care (LTC) insurance premium rate increases - YouTube The next step for the proposal is a review by a legislative committee called the Joint Legislative Committee on Administrative Rules (JLCAR). Their review will occur later this spring or in early summer.
Various levels of government have been attempting to determine how, or if, to regulate various forms of cryptocurrency. Earlier this year, Governor Sununu created a Commission on Cryptocurrency and Digital Assets. He recently started naming members to serve on the 12-member Commission. They are expected to issue a report in late summer or early fall. In March, the House passed HB 1503 which would provide clarity for how the state would regulate “blockchain tokens”. The first portion of the bill outlines the requirements for blockchain tokens not to be considered securities. Generally, if tokens are not sold as financial investments and various registration/disclosure requirements are met, the sales would not be subject to existing NH securities laws. The second portion of the bill updates the Uniform Commercial Code to include references to blockchain technologies. The bill includes a provision which requires the NH Secretary of State, in consultation with the NH Banking Department, to submit a report to the Legislature regarding the implementation of the law and updates relative to additional UCC revisions. The report is required to be completed by November 1, 2022. From a process perspective, the bill has been referred to the Senate Commerce Committee. It has not yet been scheduled for a hearing.
In Mid-March, the House passed HB 1165. The bill would repeal the voluntary state-run program to provide paid family leave. The program was passed as part of the 2021 budget and uses state employees to create a risk pool while enabling private employers to purchase coverage through the state program. The Department of Insurance has been working on developing the structure for the program and is working toward implementation. Similar to the HB 1503, it has not yet been heard in the Senate but has also been assigned to the Commerce Committee. Since the bill would repeal a program the Sununu administration developed and supported within the State House, it would seem very unlikely that the Governor would sign the bill into law. Especially since various state agencies are currently engaged to get the program up and running.
As we head into spring in a state election year, there will be more focus on campaign issues for the fall. This year, the Legislature is working toward completing a redistricting plan. Every 10 years, all the districts for US House of Representatives, the Executive Council, NH State Senate, and NH House Representatives must be redrawn and the plan to alter the districts must pass as a piece of legislation. To date, the NH House redistricting plan has been signed into in law. Governor Sununu has vowed to veto the Congressional map drawn by the Republicans in the Legislature. Generally, their plan was to make one of the districts lean Republican while the other would favor Democrats. Sununu indicated he felt the changes required to implement the proposed maps went too far since numerous communities would switch from one district to another. The plans for NH Senate and Executive Council have not yet completed the legislative process. In addition to focus on the various redistricting plans, it Is the time of year where legislators decide whether to seek re-election or run for a separate office. There are usually surprises during this time of year, but the addition of the changing of various districts compounds the intrigue. It is clear that the second half of the legislative session will full of activity on both political and policy fronts.