CONCORD — The House and Senate have now both passed bills raising the minimum wage, but with differences that will have to be resolved before the bill gets to Gov. Chris Sununu, who has said he believes minimum wage policies are a federal and not a state issue.
The House on Wednesday passed Senate Bill 10, increasing the minimum wage, currently at the federal minimum of $7.25 an hour, to $10 in 2021 and $12 in 2022, but amended the bill to remove an exemption for employers offering at least 10 paid sick days per year.
The bill passed the House along party lines, 209-139, with only three Republican votes. It will now go back to the Senate, which can either concur with the House changes or ask for a committee of conference in the hope of working out a compromise.
The House has already seen its version of a minimum wage law held up in the Senate, which re-referred HB 186 to committee on May 30, leaving SB 10 as the only option left standing. Both bills share the goal of getting to $12 an hour by 2022, but differ in some details, such as treatment of tipped employees.
“It’s clear that this minimum wage hike will most negatively impact New Hampshire’s small businesses and will needlessly increase their cost of doing business,” said House Republican Leader Dick Hinch, R-Merrimack.
Democratic Senate President Donna Soucy, lead sponsor, applauded the House vote, suggesting some compromise is likely.
“I’m grateful for the strong support from my colleagues thus far and look forward to continuing to shepherd this bill through the legislative process and onto Gov. Sununu’s desk because it’s far past time to raise New Hampshire’s minimum wage,” she said.
Other House bills
• Anti-discrimination: The House approved for the second time a bill prohibiting any discrimination in public schools, SB 263, despite warnings from opponents about transgender students born as males participating in female sports.
The 214-141 vote was largely along party lines, with only two Republicans voting for the bill. It passed the Senate, 20-3, on March 28.
The bill came about as one of the recommendations of Governor’s Advisory Council on Adversity and Inclusion. Sununu has expressed support for the concept of the bill, but concern about some of the details.
• Election law: The House took action on two election-related bills that have already cleared the Senate.
SB 66, which would prohibit candidates for Secretary of State from donating to candidates for state office, failed in a 224-125 vote. The bill had passed the Democratically controlled Senate in a voice vote.
The House passed SB 156, in a vote of 212-139. The bill addresses what some have called “the LLC loophole,” by which individual donors create multiple limited liability corporations, each of which makes donations to an individual candidate. This enables the owner of multiple LLCs to skirt the state’s restrictions on individual campaign contributions.
• Sexual harassment: The House voted 207-139 to pass SB 235, authorizing an independent human resources professional to handle sexual harassment complaints in the Legislature.
“In addition to sending a powerful message that the (Legislature) takes complaints seriously, putting policy around sexual harassment into statute allows for a safer, more professional work environment that moves complaint investigations from political offices to a designated human resources professional,” said House Majority Leader Doug Ley, D-Jaffrey.