- Associated Press - Friday, July 24, 2020

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) - Gov. Chris Sununu on Friday vetoed a bill that would have raised New Hampshire’s minimum wage, saying it creates negative unintended consequences that are only “exacerbated” by the economic situation caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Sununu said in his veto message that a law can force an employer to pay a minimum wage, but it cannot force an employer to hire or retain a worker at that wage, or to continue offering the same number of hours to that worker.

“This bill would have meant fewer jobs and fewer available hours for our workers who are unemployed or underemployed. It would mean our employers who are fighting for survival would have one more burden placed on their backs as they try to recover,” he said in a statement.

“In our current economic environment, the greatest burden would fall squarely on entry-level workers, who need job skills to advance in their careers. Raising the minimum wage would create a barrier for these new workers, as well as those re-entering the job market from the criminal justice system at a time when unemployment remains high,” Sununu said.

The bill would have raised the wage from $7.25 an hour to $10 an hour in 2021 and $12 in 2023. Sununu vetoed a similar bill last year.



Senate President Donna Soucy, a Democrat from Manchester, called the veto a disappointment, pointing out that neighboring states all have a minimum wage of $10.

“This disparity continues to drive away the workers we so desperately need,” she said in a statement.

Other coronavirus developments in New Hampshire:

MASK MATERIALS

A company that produces material used in protective respirator masks is planning to ramp up production in New Hampshire during the coronavirus pandemic.

Lydall, Inc., is expanding to house two new production lines in Rochester that will produce the part of N95 and surgical masks that traps bacteria, viruses, dust and other particles. A groundbreaking ceremony was held Friday.

The new lines are supported by a $13.5 million federal contract the company secured with departments of Defense and Health and Human Services, and funding provided through the federal CARES Act.

Once completed by May 2021, the company says this will be the largest U.S. site for what it refers to as meltblown filtration media production. It says it will produce enough of the material for 1.7 billion N95 respirators or 6.5 billion surgical masks per year.

Lydall is headquartered in Manchester, Connecticut.

THE NUMBERS

As of Friday, 6,375 people had tested positive for the virus in New Hampshire, an increase of 59 cases. Two new deaths were announced, for a total of 407.

The number of infections is thought to be far higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected with the virus without feeling sick.

For most people, the virus causes mild or moderate symptoms. For some, especially older adults and the infirm, it can cause more severe illness and can lead to death.

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