House takes on sanctuary cities, Daylight Savings Day and business taxes

Monitor staff
Published: 2/28/2019 11:07:44 AM

A long-held Republican effort to reduce the state’s business profits tax was rebuked by House Democrats on Thursday, when the chamber voted to partially reverse the reductions.

House Bill 623 would maintain the business profits tax – which falls on businesses that make at least $50,000 a year – at 7.9 percent, the level it was before it dropped to 7.7 percent in 2018.

That move would partially reverse an intended four-year plan.

In 2017, the Republican Legislature ushered in a reduction in the BPT from 8.2 percent down to 7.5 percent by 2021. This Jan. 1, the rate dropped from 7.9 percent to 7.7, although no business has yet paid that latest rate. But HB 623, proposed by Democratic Ways and Means Chairwoman Susan Almy, would keep the rate at the 2018 level.

Republicans said the move would have a chilling effect on businesses who had structured their operations around the expectation of the coming tax cuts and discourage others from moving in.

Rep. Patrick Abrami, R-Stratham, said the tax cuts had had a “significant stimulative impact on business growth,” pointing to high revenues seen by the state in recent years, and argued that businesses are relying on the future decreases.

“The reversal of the future scheduled business tax cuts, cuts that companies across New Hampshire, small and large, have (relied on), us a betrayal to the business community by this legislature.”

But Almy and other Democrats said the bill would help the state put more money into state programs ahead of a potential future economic downturn.

And House Majority Leader Doug Ley of Jaffrey argued it would allow the state to make investments in schools that could alleviate property tax loads.

Letting the tax cuts go forward, he said, “will only result in skyrocketing property taxes for our businesses.”

The bill heads next to the Finance Committee. But it runs up against a hard reality: Gov. Chris Sununu has been clear that he will oppose a reversal cuts that he helped secure and has indicated his openness to veto a budget that didn’t include them.

Anti-sanctuary city bill falls flat

The House also moved to kill a bill seeking to ban “sanctuary cities” in a 211-132 vote. HB 232 would compel local law enforcement to cooperate with Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainer requests for suspected undocumented immigrants.

Supporters of the bill pointed to municipalities that have directing officials to ignore detainer requests and argued that the practice has led to offenses being ignored. Opponents, however, said the bill would take the decision making away from law enforcement, encourage racial profiling and divert them from pursuing more worthwhile crimes.

The bill comes as a handful of Granite State cities and towns have passed warrant articles preventing local police from holding onto suspected unauthorized people until ICE officers can arrive.

Visitation centers

A push to dramatically expand visitation centers around the state got a green light Thursday, when the House voted 244-92 in favor of House Bill 565. That bill would create a network of supervised centers, allowing separated family members to visit children in a safe environment.

Presently, only Boscawen, Dover and Lebanon provide visitation services and monitored exchanges of children the services; many have shuttered due to federal funding reductions.

HB 565 would direct the Department of Health and Human Services to put out bids to create centers in each of New Hampshire’s counties.




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