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Executive Council To Vote On Special Session Requested By Sununu To Address SCOTUS Sales Tax Ruling

NHPR Staff

The Executive Council will vote Wednesday on Governor Chris Sununu’s request for a special legislative session this summer.

The call for a session stems from the Supreme Court’s recent decision in South Dakota v. Wayfair, in which the majority of justices ruled that states that impose a sales tax can require businesses in other states to collect and remit that tax on their behalf.

In practice, that could mean some New Hampshire companies that sell goods online will have to serve as tax collectors for other jurisdictions.

This isn’t sitting well with many local officials, including Sununu, who is asking the Executive Council to approve his request to call lawmakers in for a special session. He wants the legislature to pass a bill that would slow or block another state’s attempt at collecting from a Granite State business.

Some Democrats including Executive Councilor Chris Pappas support the special session, but also want lawmakers to tackle an unrelated issue: low Medicaid reimbursement rates for mental health and addiction treatment services.

“I think if our elected officials are called back, then they should deal with the most pressing issue facing New Hampshire, and that continues to be the opioid crisis and the mental health crisis that this state faces,” says Pappas.

Lawmakers recently agreed to extend the Medicaid expansion program in the state, but under a new system that will result in lower reimbursement rates for providers who serve people with mental illness and addiction issues.

“These facilities are very fragile. They don’t have a financial plan that allows them to have the stability that they need,” he says.

Pappas says he will vote to approve the governor’s request for a special session even if the reimbursement issue isn’t included in the agenda.

Executive Councilor Andru Volinsky, a Democrat, is on record saying he won’t vote for the special session. In an op-ed published last weekend on SeacoastOnline.com, Volinsky says that “new interstate trade barriers will invite litigation and won’t likely be effective.” He calls the session a “waste of taxpayer money.”  

Governor Sununu’s office didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on whether he will include Medicaid reimbursement in his proclamation for a special session. Republicans hold a 3-2 majority on the Executive Council, which will take up the issue Wednesday morning during its meeting at the Crotched Mountain School in Greenfield.

Todd started as a news correspondent with NHPR in 2009. He spent nearly a decade in the non-profit world, working with international development agencies and anti-poverty groups. He holds a master’s degree in public administration from Columbia University.

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