This year’s legislative session has been one of many firsts. There have been remote zoom hearings with call-in testimony, drive-in style House sessions at a UNH parking lot, and the unfortunate passing of the Speaker of the House-elect due to COVID just days before his election.
Both the Senate and House have begun meeting but with different approaches. For now, Senate President Chuck Morse (R-Salem) is having all Senate work done remotely away from the Statehouse. Speaker of The House of Representatives Sherman Packard (R-Londonderry) has adopted a hybrid model where Committee meetings are allowed to be held in person at the Legislative Office Building in double rooms with air purifiers. The only people allowed in the hearings are Representatives and staff. All public input is done remotely via zoom or the phone. Committee members who do not want to attend in person are allowed to do that and participate remotely; this is the option many are choosing.
In a typical first year of a legislative session, we usually see a little over 1,000 bills filed. We expected that Legislators would significantly rein that in this year due to the uncertainty of proceedings; however, since there are close to 875 bills filed, not all received that message.
NHADA has a few priority committees and priority bills. We have already begun spending a great deal of time with the Commerce, Transportation, Labor, and Science Technology and Energy Committees. We have done committee orientations to introduce ourselves, association offerings, members, and the industry as a whole to legislators, both old and new. Over the past few weeks, we have testified on bills as well, both in support and opposition. Of the 875 bills, NHADA has identified just short of 100 on our watch list, and we will actively monitor all of them. The Senate is taking a bit of a different tact, which was utilized in the spring in that they are creating omnibus bills and combing similar bills and their topics into one large piece of legislation.
Priority Legislation: A change to the annual vehicle safety inspection program. Unfortunately, Representative Peter Torosian (R-Atkinson) has filed a bill, HB 522, that will subject all new vehicles under warranty to every other year safety inspections. Technically, the bill has many flaws; more importantly, it has conceptual ones. New Hampshire and all of our neighbors have annual vehicle safety inspections. Due to our geography and climate, annual vehicle inspections make common sense and protect all users of our roadways. We typically hear, “I just got back from Florida, and they don’t inspect cars ever” to that, I say, “Well, they also don’t spray their roads with liquid brine saltwater that splashes on vehicles undercarriage or have frost heaves.” Data from the NH DMV shows that even with an annual inspection program, we have a failure rate of at least 15%, and the top two items are brakes and tires. That’s scary! We will fight HB 522 and all of its flaws with a data and safety-driven approach. Although not scheduled yet, when it is, we will ask for your voice to be heard, and we will need it. We will need your experience and expertise to let legislators’ know-how flawed a concept HB 522 is. Tell them the real-life stories and things that you, as experts, see in the field daily. So stay tuned, and when we ask for your grassroots voice, please lend it.
NHADA is also working on bills on reducing business taxes, OHRV’s, a zero-emissions vehicle mandate, motorcycle lighting, and workforce/career and technical education programs. This is to name but a few of the bills.
Remember: Our voice in Concord is only as loud and strong as yours at home. When we ask for you to use it, please answer the call so that we can all succeed.