Legislative Update: May 3, 2022

Legislative Update: May 3, 2022

Legislative session winds down

By BOB QUINN
Chief Executive Officer

The 2022 legislative session is in its final weeks. Here are a few bills NHAR has been watching.

House Committee vote undercuts bipartisan housing bill;
Call for Action by NHAR

Last week, the House Municipal and County Committee added several unrelated amendments to Senate Bill 400, which considerably weakens the bill's intended effect and may wreck the bill's chances of passage. Yesterday, NHAR issued a Call for Action to support an amendment to the legislation which removes the problematic language.

Senate Bill 400 is designed to expedite and expand housing opportunities throughout the state, and it has broad bipartisan support, including from the Governor and both the Senate Majority and Minority leaders. NHAR testified in favor of the bill in both the House and Senate hearings.

Among other items in the bill, as passed by the state Senate, the legislation would require that if a municipality allows incentives for over-55 housing and similar developments, then it must grant the same incentives for workforce housing projects; would require local land use boards to include written findings of fact to support its decision; would create new timelines for Zoning Board of Adjustment and Planning Boards; and would require appeals of land use decisions to Superior Court and Supreme Court to issue decisions in an expedited timeframe.

The Committee’s amendment added unrelated language on school district budget caps, as well as expanding town authority over septic systems and private wells. Neither have anything to do with expanding housing in the state but seem designed to make it harder to get a majority of the vote in the House of Representatives.

Just as troubling, the amendment weakens an existing statutory requirement (RSA 674:59) that towns must"provide reasonable and realistic opportunities for the development of workforce housing” by exempting areas not served by town water and sewer, meaning rural communities would no longer have to provide for workforce housing. That language would turn the intent of SB 400 on its head. Instead of making housing more available, it would make it less likely to occur in certain areas of the state.

Please respond to the Call for Action, which you will find in yesterday's email from New Hampshire Realtors.

More dollars to help get the lead out

The House Finance Committee last week approved $3 million in additional dollars for the state’s lead paint hazard remediation fund. NHAR supports the bill. 

The fund was created in 2019 in order to make loans to owners of properties for the costs of remediation of lead paint hazards. The NH Housing Finance Authority has loaned almost all of the initial $3 million appropriation, while the demand for the loan assistance remains high. Loans are below market interest rates and deferred until the sale of the property. 

Contact the NH Housing Finance Authority for more information.

And more dollars for broadband expansion

Senate Bill 445 authorizes up to $122,100,000 of federal funding, authorized by the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, to be transferred to New Hampshire’s Broadband Matching Grant Fund (RSA 12-O:63). The bill also changes the town/state matching grant from 50 percent to 75 percent of the total development cost, making it more affordable for towns to participate. 

NHAR supports the bill.

The intent of the legislation is to bring broadband to more rural areas of the state. The grant program is operated out of the NH Office of Business and Economic Affairs.

For more information, contact New Hampshire Realtors CEO Bob Quinn: bob@nhar.com.

"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."

Adam Gaudet, 2022 President, New Hampshire REALTORS