House passes worker, voting bills related to coronavirus | St. Louis business news

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The New Hampshire House passed legislation Tuesday aimed at protecting both workers and voters during the coronavirus pandemic.

The House voted 178-154 in favor of a bill that would permanently implement changes made to the state’s unemployment system during the state of emergency and would extend the federal Family Medical Leave Act to allow workers to take time off for virus-related reasons. It also would require paid leave for virus testing and state-provided personal protective equipment for small businesses.

“This is a bill about getting people back to work, but back to work in safe conditions,” said House Majority Leader Rep. Doug Ley, D-Jaffrey.

The House also passed a bill to streamline the absentee voting process amid concerns about the coronavirus. Based on the recommendations of a recent task force, the bill would create a new box to check that specifies the virus as the reason for not voting in person.

It also would allow voters to use one application to receive absentee ballots for both the Sept. 8 state primary and Nov. 3 general election. And it would allow town officials to begin processing ballots several days before the election, though they could not view them or tally the votes until Election Day.

“Voters should not be forced to risk their physical health to participate in the most fundamental right of a U.S. citizen, the right to vote,” Ley said.

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