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:
Occupational Licensing: It ain’t over till it’s over.
The Senate voted 15 to 7 to kill House Bill 1685, which would have set up a legislative Commission to review and weaken licensing laws as well as mandate that the Real Estate Commission develop a process to allow a non-licensee to practice if they notify the consumer of that fact.
In less than a week, nearly 1,400 REALTORS responded to NHAR’s Call for Action on the bill, distributing more than 10,000 emails to legislators. It clearly made a difference, and the bill has been defeated.
While the final vote was a big victory, some in the Senate attempted to table the bill at the last minute – meaning put the bill aside so an amendment could be developed. Ultimately, that effort was not successful, but it showed that the battle against weakening licensing laws is far from over. NHAR will be watching closely over the next six weeks to ensure that the language is not attached to another bill.
First-time Homebuyer Credit: When you come to a fork in the road, take it.
Senate Bill 301 was an attempt to provide first-time homebuyers a credit against the Real Estate Transfer Tax to attract younger buyers to the state. The median age of first-time buyer is 33 years old – the demographic needed in the state to meet workforce demands. NHAR testified in favor of the bill.
The bill passed the Senate but has stalled in the House. The House debate had something for everyone to dislike. The arguments ranged from the credit costing the state too much in revenues to the credit was not being big enough to incentivize buyers; from the inability to know who a first-time buyer was to defining the cap should be on the maximum sale price. It was even inexplicably argued that no one knew about the RETT and therefore did not mind paying it.
The House chose to study the issue this summer and leave it up to the next legislature to decide how best to proceed.
Health Care Purchasing Alliances: It's tough to make predictions, especially about the future.
Senate Bill 546 was designed to allow trade associations a greater opportunity to create a health care purchasing alliance to offer members access to health insurance. NHAR supported the final Senate version and had assisted in crafting an amendment. However, the New Hampshire Insurance Department and the state’s largest insurance companies indicated that regardless of what state law may stipulate, federal rules would likely prevent them from offering association health insurance.
Some pointed out that the U.S. Department of Labor might be close to finalizing a rule which would provide greater flexibility for association health plans, and they suggested waiting until those rules are finalized so state law does not conflict with federal law.
Earlier this year, NHAR weighed in to support the proposed federal rules. You can read the letter here.
For more information, please contact Bob Quinn at 603-225-5549 or firstname.lastname@example.org.