House Democrats, Republicans Continue Standoff Over Whether To Freeze Business Taxes

Jun 3, 2020

The halls of the New Hampshire State House have been largely quiet since lawmakers suspended the session due to concerns over the coronavirus pandemic.
Credit NHPR Photo

The Rules Committee of the New Hampshire House of Representatives has blocked a push by Republicans to propose a freeze on business tax rates, setting the stage for a potential standoff over whether the House can act on any bills when it meets June 11th.

House Democrats need Republicans to have any hope of acting on bills remaining since lawmakers suspended the session in March due to the coronavirus pandemic. House Republicans, in turn, need Democrats to have any hope of changing the law that would increase state business tax rates if the revenues fail to hit targets later this year.

That neither side is inclined to budge was on full display in Wednesday’s House rules committee hearing. House Majority Leader Doug Ley rebuffed claims by Republicans that House Democrats were trying to act unilaterally.

“The notion that there has been no consultation is a false claim,” Ley said.

House Minority Leader Dick Hinch took aim at Democrats’ view that it would be premature to freeze tax rates given the economic uncertainty the state is facing.

“Failure to act on this will be on the backs of the businesses that will definitely go out of business from out lack of action on this,” Hinch said.

GOP assent on rules is essential if the House is to take any action in the waning days of the legislative session. A two-thirds majority vote is needed to move House deadlines and act on bills next week. House leaders have booked the Whittemore Center at the University of New Hampshire to host the session, to ensure lawmakers can keep sufficient distance while doing their work.