New Hampshire Retail Lumber Association Announces 2018 Legislative Priorities

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Mandated work scheduling requirements, and asbestos trust transparency top list of New Hampshire Retail Lumber Association legislative priorities for 2018.

Senate Minority Leader Jeff Woodburn shows off NHRLA’s legislative priorities during the Association’s 2018 Legislative Breakfast which brought together nearly 200 legislators.

Senate Minority Leader Jeff Woodburn shows off NHRLA’s legislative priorities during the Association’s 2018 Legislative Breakfast which brought together nearly 200 legislators.

Today, we’re here advocating, not just for the lumber and building material industry but, for all small businesses which hope to be successful in N.H.

The New Hampshire Retail Lumber Association (NHRLA) announced its 2018 legislative priorities during an annual breakfast at the New Hampshire State House, Tuesday morning.

A record attendance of nearly 200 state legislators came to the event where NHRLA members discussed concerns regarding mandated scheduling requirements and compensation for earned, but unused time. Additionally, NHRLA members advocated for the passage of asbestos trust transparency legislation – common sense legislation that will drastically help provide more disclosure between asbestos trusts claims and tort actions.

“For 90 years, the NHRLA has been advocating for independent lumber dealers, and associated businesses in New Hampshire,” explained Dan Keith, General Manager of Selectwood in Portsmouth, N.H. and NHRLA Legislative Committee Chair. “Today, we’re here advocating, not just for the lumber and building material industry but, for all small businesses which hope to be successful in N.H.”

NHRLA’s 68-member locations represent independent lumber and building material dealers, manufacturers, wholesalers, distributors, and other associated businesses in the state of New Hampshire. The lumber and building materials industry employs nearly 17,500 New Hampshire residents.

For more information contact Ashley Ranslow, Manager of Government Affairs, at aranslow(at)nrla(dot)org or 518-880-6350.

Founded in 1928, NHRLA is one of fourteen state and local associations across the Northeast associated with the Northeastern Retail Lumber Association (NRLA). The NRLA was established in New York in 1894 by a small group of pioneering lumbermen who recognized the value of cooperation. Today, the NRLA is an 1,100-member association representing independent lumber and building material suppliers and associated businesses in Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington, D.C.

About NHRLA’s Legislative Priorities

1. Cost of Doing Business
HOUSE & SENATE ACTION REQUESTED: That the House and Senate OPPOSE policies that will increase the cost of doing business in New Hampshire.
NHRLA members are local small businesses doing their best to provide their employees with benefits while also growing their businesses, providing more jobs, and improving the communities they serve. Legislation, such as required notice of work schedules and required rest periods (H.B. 1451 and S.B. 422) and mandated compensation for earned, but unused vacation and personal time (H.B. 1201 & H.B. 1393), greatly increases costs for small businesses. While large employers and big box stores have the resources available to absorb the costs of complying with additional regulations, our members do not and are often the ones to be audited or fined for noncompliance.

House Bill 1451 and Senate Bill 422 both require advanced notice of work schedules, which is extremely difficult to accurately predict in the construction industry. NHRLA understands the legislature’s attempt to prevent abusive scheduling practices; however, this legislation will only penalize small businesses across the state. Customers rely on NHRLA members to provide the services they need and to deliver materials, such as windows, siding, lumber, drywall, and roofing, to commercial and residential job sites in a timely manner. These products are essential to any building projects, and ensures that construction continues as scheduled. Unfortunately, construction projects and the timelines of these projects are unpredictable due to a wide range of factors, including weather, change orders, installation delays, etc. Because of the unpredictability in construction, it is nearly impossible for building materials suppliers to accurately schedule employees, especially drivers and yard workers, one or two weeks in advance. NHRLA members need flexibility in determining work schedules based on when and where a home builder or contractor needs their building materials. This legislation would put onerous burdens on our members, as they would surely have to pay the penalties for changed shifts.

House Bill 1201 and House Bill 1393 mandate that employers compensate employees for earned, but unused vacation and personal time. As family-owned and operated businesses, NHRLA members pride themselves on providing their employees with benefits and flexibility, including paid time off, in order to recruit and retain quality employees. More importantly, the benefit is offered to create a positive work environment where employees can take time for vacation or to care for themselves or a relative. The proposed legislation requires employers, regardless of size, to compensate employees for earned but unused vacation time and/or personal time. This will force our members to spend additional time tracking accrual of vacation time, establishing a new system to compensate their employees for unused time, and will significantly complicate their existing paid time off policies. Not only will this legislation add another layer of regulatory compliance and cost to small businesses, but it will create a less efficient, productive, and safe work environment.

NHRLA encourages the legislature to oppose legislation that increases the cost of doing business and puts small businesses at a disadvantage when trying to comply with additional and unnecessary burdensome mandates.

2. Asbestos Trust Transparency
HOUSE & SENATE ACTION REQUESTED: That the House and Senate SUPPORT Senate Bill 335, which would create greater transparency between asbestos trust claims and asbestos tort actions.

Senate Bill 335, an “act relative to disclosure of asbestos trust claims in civil actions” is common sense legislation that will drastically help provide more disclosure between asbestos trusts claims and tort actions. Unfortunately, our members are often dragged into asbestos related lawsuits as a way for plaintiffs to recover additional damages, even though former asbestos manufacturers established trusts to address and pay claims. These asbestos lawsuits are extremely expensive and difficult to defend against, especially for small businesses.

Currently, plaintiffs can file a trust claim to recover damages for asbestos related exposure and bring a lawsuit in the civil justice system, but there is little disclosure of payments or evidence between the two systems. As a result, some attorneys have taken advantage of the system to recover additional damages. Attorneys may submit evidence in a trust claim that conflicts with the tort claim, which could benefit the defendant’s case. Passage of Senate Bill 335 would allow these conflicting claims from the same plaintiff to be discovered with greater transparency. Furthermore, in no way does the legislation prevent plaintiffs from recovering damages, whether in trust claims or tort claims.

NHRLA supports this legislation as it simply provides desperately needed transparency and helps protect defendants from double dipping attorneys. Requiring plaintiffs to disclose their trust claims creates a fair system and helps to protect the State’s small businesses.

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Rob Totaro
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