Legislative Update: February 25, 2020

Legislative Update: February 25, 2020

Legislative Update: February 25, 2020

DES changes stance on Shoreland Bill

Vice President of Government Affairs

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:

DES silence turns into loud protest on Shoreland Bill

After not testifying nor providing written testimony to the Senate Energy and Resource Committee during the hearing on Senate Bill 491, relative to the Shoreland Protection Act, the Department of Environmental Services (DES) has made a last-minute request for the Senate to reject an amendment brought forth by NHAR.

DES wants language in the bill to ban property owners from reconstructing existing nonconforming structures within 50 feet of the shoreline – something they are currently allowed to do. The NH Department of Environmental Services appears to oppose allowing a property owner to convert a shed or outbuilding into sleeping quarters, even if the total impervious surface is not altered. Since DES has not offered testimony, it is hard to assess what its specific concern might be.

During the hearing on SB 491, NHAR objected to the bill, and the Senate committee agreed with REALTOR concerns by voting 5-0 to remove the nonconforming structures language from SB 491. On the eve of the Senate vote, the DES asked for bill to pulled from the calendar, and the Senate agreed to push off the final vote until March 5.

Even the NH Lakes Association has said they are not in favor of the DES request. NHAR will continue to work with the Senate committee to protect private property rights on the shorefront while ensuring water quality.

Short-term rental operators targeted; House rejects legislation

NHAR testified in opposition to House Bill 1579 which would have modified the percentage an operator of a short-term rental could retain for administrative costs under the meals and rooms tax. The bill would have reduced the existing percentage an operator of a short-term rental could withhold from 3 percent to 1.5 percent. The legislation specifically targeted short-term rentals since hotels and inns would be allowed to keep the existing 3 percent.

The full House agreed with NHAR’s position and voted to kill the bill.

Funding for redevelopment of former Laconia State School moves forward

House Bill 1224 appropriates $500,000 to the Lakeshore Redevelopment Planning Commission, restricted for usage as matching funds for grants. The commission is charged with redevelopment of the state-owned facility in Laconia that was the former home of the Laconia State School.

The 247-acre site has 31 buildings and six support structures and is located between Lake Winnisquam and Opechee Bay. The Commission was established in 2017 and is looking at a redevelopment plan which could include up to 225 homes and 120 market-rate apartments or townhomes as well as retail and other commercial development.

If you have questions regarding these or any other pieces of legislation from the 2020 New Hampshire legislative session, please contact New Hampshire REALTORS Vice President of Government Affairs Bob Quinn at bob@nhar.com or 603-225-5549.

"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."

Joanie McIntire, 2024 President, New Hampshire REALTORS