Your Voice: Rochester Chamber CEO urges businesses to weigh in on costly unemployment expansion bill

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Rochester Chamber of Commerce president and CEO

I want to make you aware of a public hearing on Thursday morning before the Senate Commerce Committee on an amendment that makes drastic and expensive changes to New Hampshire's unemployment insurance program.

The underlying bill is HB 1166. The amendment number 2020-1349s replaces the entire bill and adds the new unemployment benefit language.

If this Amendment passes, businesses, large or small, will likely see increases to their Unemployment Insurance Tax Liability. I encourage you to make your voices heard regarding the proposed enhancements as it could impact your business and every businesses in NH. See how you can testify or submit comments below.

Taken together, the proposals will potentially add tens of millions of dollars in costs to the UI system that employers will have to pay for in the form of higher unemployment insurance taxes.

  • The amendment increases unemployment benefits by $100 per week.
  • It extends unemployment eligibility to individuals who are taking federal family medical leave time away from work, (a backdoor way to provide employer-paid mandatory paid family leave).
  • It expands unemployment eligibility by allowing individuals to apply and collect unemployment benefits if they have anxiety about returning to work when called back by an employer. It also codifies COVID-19 related reasons for being eligible for unemployment benefits in perpetuity (currently the COVID-19 related UI expansions would end when the existing pandemic state of emergency has expired).
  • It sends $50 million in federal CARES Act money for "upgrading" the Employment Security Department computer system although the Department did not request this funding, nor does it believe that computer upgrades are needed.

Senate Commerce Committee. 9:05 a.m. Hearing on proposed Amendment 1349s, relative to unemployment compensation, and extending the federal Family and Medical Leave Act for certain COVID-19 protections.

Members of the public may attend using the following links:

  1. To sign-in and/or speak in support or opposition, please register in advance by using this link:

  1. To submit your testimony to the committee, please send all documents via email to

  1. To listen via telephone: Dial (for higher quality, dial a number based on your current location): 301-715-8592, or 312-626-6799, or 929-205-6099, or 253-215-8782, or 346- 248-7799, or 669-900-6833 4 Or iPhone one-tap: 13017158592,94072646718# or 13126266799,94072646718# 5. Webinar ID: 940 7264 6718 6.
  2. To view/listen to this hearing on YouTube, use this link:

The following email will be monitored throughout the meeting by someone who can assist with and alert the committee to any technical issues: or call 603-271-3043.

If this bill passes and becomes law, businesses may be facing higher unemployment insurance taxes. Again, you may wish to express your opposition to this amendment.

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