New Hampshire is One Step Closer to Buying American

By Elizabeth Brotherton-Bunch
Apr 21 2022 |
New Hampshire state capital building in Concord, N.H. Getty Images

The state House of Representatives passed Buy America legislation in a vote on Thursday.

Momentum is building in New Hampshire to buy American, as the state’s House of Representatives on Thursday approved legislation to ensure taxpayer money spent on construction projects goes to American-made products.

The measure, SB 438, now heads to the House Finance Committee, which will offer a recommendation on the bill. If it advances from there, it will head back to the House floor for a full vote, and then need to be reconciled with the Senate, which previously passed a similar version.

While the federal government and more than two dozen states already abide by Buy America preferences, there are no similar guardrails in place in New Hampshire. That means that even when there American workers and businesses ready to compete for government-funded contracts, that money can still be spent on imports from places like China.

Stephen Chasse, president of local steel fabricator SL Chasse Steel, wrote in a piece for the New Hampshire Union Leader on Thursday that SB 438 would give companies like his “a better shot at the procurement markets governed by New Hampshire than companies that don’t pay taxes here, hire people here, or contribute to the state economy.” 

And while opponents of Buy America often point to cost, that just doesn’t pass muster, Chasse writes:

“It’s this kind of thinking that has closed thousands of American factories, laid off a lot of well-paid workers and has populated our landscape with big box stores stocked almost exclusively with cheaply made imported goods.

“It also ignores the ‘economic multiplier’ effect we enjoy when we keep the work in the United States. When a contract is awarded to a local or American company, it creates work for skilled American employees to meet the contract’s requirements. Those employees in turn purchase groceries, eat at local restaurants, have their cars repaired, pay for child care and spend their money in thousands of other ways — all of which is economic activity that ripples through other local businesses and workers.”

New Hampshire lawmakers made the right move on Thursday in advancing the bill. Now the House Finance Committee should advance it, both chambers should work to reconcile it, and the governor should sign it into law.

Live in New Hampshire? You can help. Tell your state lawmakers to pass SB 438.