(CONCORD) A bill giving New Hampshire auto dealers the ability to tear up their existing contracts with the factory could land the state back in court. SB 126 would not only strengthen the current Auto Dealers Bill of Rights to let local dealers ignore terms of their franchise agreements, but expand the law’s provisions to farm equipment franchises. That has prompted equipment manufacturers to threaten legal action if the Legislature tries to tear up its existing contracts.
The New Hampshire House will consider SB 126 tomorrow. The bill has already cleared the Senate on a vote of 21-2, and the House Commerce and Consumer Affairs Committee recommends the bill’s passage with some changes 15-2. Both versions would prevent auto manufacturers from forcing local dealers to remodel their showrooms more than once every 15 years, and limit other contract conditions already in the franchise agreements. Dealers contend they are unfairly forced to agree to onerous and expensive conditions in order to keep their franchises. Car makers argue they need to maintain a uniform brand identity across dealerships, and that existing law gives dealers plenty of leverage since manufacturers are barred from selling cars directly to the public.
SB 126 would also expand local franchise protections to farm equipment franchises, and the makers of those products say the state doesn’t have the legal right to abrogate its contracts with local dealers. Kevin Fitzgerald, an attorney at the Manchester firm Nixon-Peabody LLP, sent a letter last week to Governor Maggie Hassan on behalf of the Association of Equipment Manufacturers threatening to take the state to court if SB 126 passes.
FOR THE MONITOR
The left’s simmering disdain for free speech went public this week. The Obama Administration’s abuse of power finally turned much of the left-leaning press corps against this increasingly Nixonian White House.
The final straw was the revelation that the Justice Department secretly seized two months of phone records from 20 separate Associated Press phone lines. The seizure was part of a criminal investigation into leaks revealed in May 2012 AP story on the foiled Underwear Bomb plot.
(CONCORD, NH) Senator Jeanne Shaheen twice urged the Internal Revenue Service to investigate politically-active groups seeking tax-exempt status, even as the IRS was two years in an operation illegally targeting conservative organization.
The New Hampshire Democrat first joined six Senate colleagues in a February 16, 2012 letter to then-IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman, urging him to investigate groups seeking tax-exemption under Section 501(c)(4) of the federal tax code. This provision allows “Social Welfare Organizations” to avoid federal taxes, but prohibits them from intervening in political campaigns. Shaheen and company pushed Shulman to crack down on 501(c)(4) organizations funding politically-themed ads.
Congressman John Tierney wants Q Branch to make America safer. The Massachusetts Democrat is turning to James Bond gadgets for his latest gun control proposal, according to The Hill.
“In the most recent James Bond film, Bond escapes death when his handgun, which is equipped with technology that recognizes him as its owner, becomes inoperable when it gets into the wrong hands,” Tierney’s office said in a statement introducing the bill. “This technology, however, isn’t just for the movies — it’s a reality.”
Tierney said his Personalized Handgun Safety Act, H.R. 2005, would help prevent accidental deaths, like the case in New Jersey last month when a six-year old accidentally shot and killed a four-year-old child.
Tierney isn’t speculating about a time in the near future where sci-fi gizmos will make handguns safer. He wants to mandate iffy and expensive ID scanners on all new guns within two years, and retrofit all old guns sold after three years. Maybe tomorrow, Tierney and his loony colleagues will introduce the Invisible Car Act of 2013. And we’re long overdue for federal regulations on exploding pens.
This morning, Kevin Landrigan reported in the Nashua Telegraph on the recent report on the Medicaid Enhancement Tax, Meet the MET.
The report of the Josiah Bartlett Center for Public Policy issued Monday clearly sided with State Senate budget writers in concluding Hassan and House budget writers were too optimistic in their future forecast for MET payments.
NH grapples with the end of a 20-year old budget gimmick
The Josiah Bartlett Center for Public Policy, New Hampshire’s free-market think tank, today released a new study on the state’s twisted history under the Medicaid Program. Meet the MET: New Hampshire budget writers grapple with a brand new tax that’s been around for 20 years details the history of the Medicaid Enhancement Tax, how the current budget increased tax liability for New Hampshire hospitals, and how unrealistic revenue estimates could ruin Governor Maggie Hassan’s budget proposal.
“For the last two decades, the MET wasn’t a real tax, so budget writers didn’t pay close attention to how it worked,” said Grant Bosse, the study’s author. “By better understanding the mechanics of this complicated revenue stream, they can ensure that MET misunderstandings don’t blow a multimillion dollar hole in the state budget.”
Bob Sanders reports in New Hampshire Business Review that the New Hampshire Department of Revenue Administration has decided that tips received by restaurant employees must now be included as wages in calculating the Business Enterprise Tax.
Much like the amplifiers used by Spinal Tap, political discourse in New Hampshire this year has been turned up to 11. And just as an over-modulated sound system will distort your music, it’s been pretty hard to hear any reasonable discussion of politics over the din of partisans being outraged at each other.
Anger is a useful emotion when appropriate. It’s also far too easy to manipulate by political hacks looking for short-term advantage. Anger makes for great copy, snappy headlines, and effective fund-raising emails. Last week, it seemed like the only tool that either party knew how to use.
After 15 years trying to take a bite out of the internet, state tax collectors took a huge step closer this week. The U.S. Senate voted to advance legislation allowing states to force online retailers to collect sales taxes for them.
The 1992 U.S. Supreme Court decision Quill Corp. v North Dakota prevented states from drafting out-of-state businesses as tax agents unless they had a significant physical presence in that state. The internet sales tax bill, dubbed the Marketplace Fairness Act by some staffer who’d read Orwell, would force retailers to collect taxes based on the buyer’s address, even if the seller was in a state with no sales tax.
At issue isn’t the sales tax itself, but the little understood use tax. Massachusetts assesses the use tax on residents who buy cars in tax-free New Hampshire but register them in the Bay State. The law actually requires Massachusetts residents to keep track of everything they buy in New Hampshire that would be taxed if bought in Massachusetts. Few do so.
The Portsmouth Herald family of newspapers runs a editorial this morning at Seacoast Online urging support for SB 126, an expansion of the Auto Dealers Bill of Rights that would let local car dealers ignore parts of their contracts with auto manufacturers. What’s striking this editorial is not the usual complaints that the contracts are unduly onerous, but the notion that state government should provide preferential treatment for one class of business simply because we like them more than their business partners.