Legislative Update: April 3, 2018
By BOB QUINN
Government Affairs Director
Here are a few items being explored in the New Hampshire legislature that are of potential interest to the real estate community and being watched closely by your New Hampshire REALTORS government affairs team:
Have Realtors earned some shelter from the occupation licensing storm? Maybe.
Over 1,300 Realtors have responded to NHAR’s Call for Action in opposition to bills which are designed to significantly lower or potentially eliminate occupational licensing. Realtor voices – more than 10,000 emails to state legislators – are being heard loud and clear, but we are still not out of the woods.
Last week, NHAR testified in opposition to Senate Bill 334, which would allow a temporary license of up to 120 days for persons from other states. The bill had already passed the Senate, and the Governor has said he would sign the bill, so the House is the only potential brake on this legislation.
At the hearing, the Chair of the House Executive Departments and Administrative (ED&A) Committee offered an amendment which would, in effect, remove the real estate industry, among others, from the temporary license requirement. A final committee vote is not expected until later this month.
Meanwhile, House Bill 1685, which would set up a committee to look at licensing as well as mandate the Real Estate Commission develop a process to allow a non-licensee to practice as long as he or she notifies the consumer of that fact, should get a final vote on the Senate floor this week. The Senate ED&A Committee has recommended the bill be killed.
While things have shifted in a positive direction over the past week, there is still a long way to go before these legislative efforts to eliminate licensing laws are over.
A hard rain’s gonna fall. Who has storm water authority?
Senate Bill 450 would create a study commission to review delegating authority from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to New Hampshire’s Department of Environmental Services (DES) to oversee storm water permitting. The bill received a thumbs up from a House Committee last week.
The debate will be over the program’s cost and who will pay for permits. At this point, some in the business community are concerned that the benefits of having the DES oversee the program would not be worth the new permitting fees. In contrast, some communities are arguing DES oversight would provide an easier appeal process and save costs. New EPA rules on stormwater will go into effect this summer.
NHAR has a seat on the Commission, which could begin its work this summer.
It's been a slow train coming, but help may be on the way for RE Commission.
Under RSA 332-G, The NH Real Estate Commission must raise enough revenue through fees to produce estimated revenues equal to 125 percent of its operating expenses. However, over the past several years, the Commission has raised well in excess of that amount – over 215 percent – with the surplus flowing to the state general revenues.
Senate Bill 531 would allow the Office of Professional Licensure and Certification (OPLC), which oversees the RE Commission, greater flexibility to adjust licensing fees to better match the 125 percent budgetary requirement. The hope is to either reduce fees or increase services.
Meanwhile, Senate Bill 372 would create three new license clerks at the OPLC to assist in processing applications. Both bills will need final approval of the House Finance Committee before they can be sent to the Governor for his signature.
For the most recent legislative chart, click here.
For more information, please contact Bob Quinn at 603-225-5549 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Amidst the sea of change to which the New Hampshire Association of REALTORS has played witness in its 85 years, one thing that has remained constant is the Realtor 'R' and the value we bring to every real estate transaction in which we take part. We are part of a unique community where our familial cooperation transcends our business competition. These are not mere platitudes, but our living ideals, and they are, in fact, the foundation on which we conduct ourselves in our day-to-day affairs.”
Gerry O'Connell, 2018 President, New Hampshire REALTORS