State House Live: N.H. House passes bill aimed for pay equity between men, women
2:50 P.M.: A bill aimed at increasing pay equity between men and women passed the House this afternoon, 187-134.
The bill, which passed the Republican-led Senate unanimously, will now go to the House Criminal Justice Committee before coming back to the full House floor. Gov. Maggie Hassan will sign the bill if it comes to her desk.
“Receiving the same pay for the same work, not on the basis of gender, is an issue of fundamental fairness,” Rep. Linda Tanner, a Sunapee Democrat, said. “It’s the right thing to do.”
Under this bill, employers couldn’t stop their employees from talking about wages with each other. It’s already illegal in New Hampshire to pay men and women with the same qualifications different pay for the same work. But supporters of the bill argue it is impossible for women to know if employers are following the rules if they can’t discuss their pay.
The bill also extends the time period for people to bring complaints against their employers from one to three years, and more clearly outlines what differences do allow employers to pay different wages, such as hours worked, job duties or educational background.
Rep. William Infantine, a Manchester Republican, argued on the floor that this bill wouldn’t solve gender discrimination problems if New Hampshire even has them. Men often make more money because they take more dangerous jobs or are more willing to work overtime, among other things, Infantine said.
12:30 P.M.: A 4.2-cent increase to the gas tax passed through the House, 193-141. It will now go to Gov. Maggie Hassan, who plans to sign it.
“Today’s vote represents an important step toward addressing our transportation needs. I look forward to signing this bipartisan legislation into law so we can keep New Hampshire’s economy moving forward by advancing critical road and bridge projects and finishing the long-overdue expansion of I-93,” Hassan said in a statement after the vote.
The bill will increase the gas tax from 18 to 22.2 cents, the first increase since 1991. All of the money from the increase is dedicated to state road and bridge repairs. The increase will take effect on July 1.
“This Legislature has failed in its financial responsibility to properly invest in our highway system and in our state’s economic future,” said Rep. David Campbell, a Nashua Democrat and co-sponsor of the legislation. “Every dollar, every penny in this is (for) construction and repair of municipal and state roads and bridges.”
The bill sends 42 percent of the new revenue toward bonding for the widening of Interstate-93 from Salem to Manchester and eliminates the toll at Exit 12 in Merrimack on the Everett Turnpike, which were keys to getting some Senate Republicans on board with the legislation. Of the rest of the new money, 33 percent will go to municipalities for local road and bridge repairs, and 25 percent will go to repairs of secondary state roads in fiscal years 2015 and 2016.
Four Republican amendments to the bill failed. One would’ve removed language about basing the 4.2-cent increase off a calculation using the Consumer Price Index. Rep. JR Hoell, a Dunbarton Republican, said that language could allow for future increases. Two other amendments dealt with toll removals on the Everett Turnpike, with one eliminating the toll at Exit 11 instead of Exit 12 and the other eliminating all three tolls on that road.
Rep. Adam Schroadter, a Newmarket Republican, offered the fourth amendment, which would have added his marijuana decriminalization bill onto the legislation. But several representatives, even ones who support decriminalization, said tacking on the pot legislation could jeopardize the bill. The amendment failed, 72-260.
“This is not the bill to attack it to,” said Rep. Joel Winters, a Nashua Democrat. “I don’t want to pass down broken infrastructure to my kids. I think we need to pass SB367 as it came over from the Senate.”
10:28 a.m.: With no debate, the House passed a bill to reorganize the juvenile justice system, sending it to the House Finance Committee. That committee will evaluate the bill’s costs then send it back to the House floor with a recommendation.
The bill would revive a long-dormant juvenile justice advisory board and expand its scope. Under the bill, the juvenile justice system would also become a standalone division outside the purview of the Division of Children, Youth and Family Services.
More information on this bill is available here: http://www.concordmonitor.com/home/11685372-95/nh-house-to-vote-on-reviving-juvenile-justice-advisory-board
The House will continue its work today on bills that have been sent over from the Senate. House members will vote on a bill to reform the juvenile justice advisory board, a 4-cent increase in the gas tax, a pay equity bill and a bill regarding the site evaluation committee, which approves energy projects, among other bills.