BILL WATCH

NEW BILLS 2020 SESSION

Quick reference emails:

House of Reps (Republicans only) – HouseRepublicans@leg.state.nh.us
NH House of Reps (All) nhhouse@leg.state.nh.us
NH Senate (ALL) Senators@leg.state.nh.us

Bills are grouped according to the committee that is conducting the hearings. We will send out reminders when hearings and floor votes are scheduled. Even if you’ve missed the hearing date, you can still send your opinions as they often do not make a decision immediately.

On October 30, 2019 the Governor announced a plan to force towns to include more high-density/low-income housing by placing mandates on zoning and planning boards, force training in the area of ‘urbanism’ by unelected, unaccountable private interest lobbies, and at the same time, vowed to give massive rewards to developers who propose high-density projects in the form of subsidies and tax deferments. These tax deferments will only place a further tax burden on the single-family homeowners of a town.

Download this PDF with more information about the Governor’s plan.

The timeline of events concerning this matter:

HOUSING APPEALS BOARD

In 2018, a bill (SB 557) to create a Housing Appeals board failed. The board would have allowed developers to override any decision made by ANY board in a town (including zoning and planning boards, school boards, historic district commissions, and conservation commissions) regarding building projects.

In 2019, another similar bill (HB 104) to create an HAB was killed in committee. The HAB was seen as an egregious usurpation of local control.

Later in 2019, three Republicans in the NH Senate and the House minority leader slipped into the budget their own HAB bill (SB 306) which they knew would not pass the House. It is to take effect in July of 2020 IF NOT REPEALED and will be used to make decisions for towns under certain circumstances, such as if a timeline for approval is not met or a developer is not happy with a decision.

SB 735 is Senator Birdsell’s bill to repeal the Housing Appeals Board. It has bi-partisan support from the House and Senate. It should be SUPPORTED. There are others listed that could also be supported, but SB 735 is the only one with a simple repeal and no other strings attached. (see below)

TAKE ACTION ON HOUSING BILLS COMING UP FOR HEARINGS
THESE BILLS WILL BE HEARD BEFORE THE HOUSE MUNICIPAL AND COUNTY GOVERNMENT COMMITTEE
(*Bills are part of Governor’s Plan)

EMAIL HouseMunicipalandCountyGovt@leg.state.nh.us AND ASK THEM TO OPPOSE/ITL or SUPPORT/OTP THE FOLLOWING.

HB 1450: relative to the powers of the zoning board of adjustment. [Zoning Board members have told us they do not recommend this bill.]
(OPPOSE/ITL – HEARING ON 01/15/2020 10:00 AM)

*HB 1629: relative to training and procedures for zoning and planning boards. [Retraining” of zoning and planning boards in ‘new urbanism’ policies, mandating timelines for housing decisions with threat of sending to HAB, mandating types of housing, and more.]
(OPPOSE/ITL – HEARING ON 01/21/2020 09:30 AM)

*HB 1632: relative to financial investments and incentives for affordable housing development. [Perks and tax breaks for developers who build high-density.]
(OPPOSE/ITL – HEARING ON 01/21/2020 at 10:30 AM)

HB 1248: relative to community revitalization tax relief incentives. [Another bill promoting developer tax incentives.]
(OPPOSE/ITL – HEARING ON 01/21/2020 at11:30 AM)

HB 1309: relative to the effect of warrant articles. [Requires towns and school districts to be bound by votes on petitioned warrant articles.]
(SUPPORT/OTP – HEARING ON 02/18/2020 at 09:30 AM in LOB Room 301)

###

HOUSING BILLS TO BE HEARD BEFORE THE SENATE WAYS AND MEANS COMMITTEE
(Use drop-down menu on page to see bills currently assigned to this committee)

EMAIL THE SENATE WAYS AND MEANS COMMITTEE AND ASK THEM TO OPPOSE/ITL SB 475: (Dan.Feltes@leg.state.nh.us; Lou.Dallesandro@leg.state.nh.us; Chuck.Morse@leg.state.nh.us; Bob.Giuda@leg.state.nh.us; Jeanne.Dietsch@leg.state.nh.us; sonja.caldwell@leg.state.nh.us)

SB 475 – enabling municipalities to adopt a property tax credit for densely-built workforce housing.
(OPPOSE/ITL- HEARING ON 1/15/2020 at 9:45 AM in Senate Hearing Room 100)

###

HOUSING BILLS TO BE HEARD BEFORE THE SENATE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE
(Use drop-down menu on page to see bills currently assigned to this committee)

EMAIL THE SENATE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE AND ASK THEM TO OPPOSE/ITL or SUPPORT/OTP THESE BILLS.

(Martha.Hennessey@leg.state.nh.us; Shannon.Chandley@leg.state.nh.us; Melanie.Levesque@leg.state.nh.us; Sharon.Carson@leg.state.nh.us; Harold.French@leg.state.nh.us; jennifer.horgan@leg.state.nh.us)

SB 735: repealing the housing appeals board. [This is the ideal repeal bill with no strings attached.]
(SUPPORT/OTP HEARING ON 1/28/2020 at SH Rm 100)

SB 721: relative to court review of planning board decisions and making an appropriation therefor. This bill eliminates the housing appeals board and modifies the deadline for superior court action on appeals from the zoning board of adjustment.
(SUPPORT/OTP HEARING ON 1/28/2020 at SH Rm 100)

SB 487: repealing the housing appeals board and establishing a commission to advance affordable housing in New Hampshire.[Repeals the HAB but still seeks to advance high-density construction.]
(OPPOSE/ITL – HEARING ON 2/18/2020 at 09:45 AM in SH Room 100) (referred by Election Law and Municipal Affairs)

SB 536: establishing a committee to study the housing appeals board. [Should a repeal not pass, this committee could explore the issue more.]
(SUPPORT/OTP – HEARING ON 02/11/2020 at 09:50 AM in SH Room 100) (referred by Election Law and Municipal Affairs)

#########################################

THESE BILLS from 2019 NEED TO BE REPEALED – [SB 15, SB 241, SB 154, SB 43, SB 12, HB 415]

Here are some of the other bills’ descriptions from last session that need to be repealed.

SB 241 – OPPOSESB 241 Bill Status Page

SB 241 would allow federal grant money to start plans for a commuter rail system.

This is probably the MOST important bill to ask the Governor to VETO, and he will if he really is willing to stand by his “no new taxes Pledge”. To think that bringing the bankrupt ($10B), accident-prone (4 derailments in 2019 alone) MBTA up to Concord (at a cost of $1M per day paid to a Parisian company named Keolis) would help NH’s economy, is not only preposterous but would likely cause the need for new “broad-based” taxes. In addition, the installation of transit encourages artificially inflating ridership through Transit-Oriented Development (TOD), which translated means more “stack’n’pack” housing, also opposed by most towns in NH. See this information file for the full story on the commuter rail boondoggle.
###

SB 154 – OPPOSESB 154 Bill Status Page

Originally: This bill “enables” municipalities to adopt a credit against property taxes assessed on certain workforce housing according to “density”. It was amended to a study committee: This bill establishes a committee to “study” tax incentives for development of dense workforce housing in community centers.

Once again we cannot understand what Republicans are thinking with the sponsorship of this bill. It is crony capitalism — gives financial favors to private entities (developers), does not help renters — and is funded by YOU the taxpayers.
###

SB 43 – OPPOSESB 43 Bill Status Page

SB 43 would establish a commission to “study” barriers to increased density of land development in New Hampshire.

Clearly this bill would explore the benefits that could be bestowed to developers to encourage the building of “high-density” units whether the inhabitants of a town want it or not, using YOUR tax dollars. When you read the bill text, you will see that this “study” commission would be stacked with numerous UNACCOUNTABLE, UNELECTED, PRIVATE special interests, as is usually the case. It is not the State’s purview to force towns to build certain types of housing. Worse yet, there is no representation of the will of the voters. Once again it’s YOUR tax money, and THEIR agenda.
###

SB 12 – OPPOSESB 12 Bill Status Page

SB 12 would establish the New Hampshire college graduate retention incentive partnership (NH GRIP) to provide financial incentives to college graduates who are hired by participating employers and makes an appropriation to the department of business and economic affairs for that purpose.

Since when it is government’s purview to take our tax dollars to reward people for staying in the state? Just like the unconstitutional “workforce housing” bill, and other bills that attempt to mandate and control local matters, this bill has no place in our NH laws. It is not at all a function of government and is seen as a blatant attempt to change the political climate of an area.

The NHLA was correct when they stated:

“To take money from all NH residents in order to create another handout exclusively for students who attend college is unfair to other young adults who may choose other career options. The high business and property tax rates in NH are two of the main driving forces that make NH a less-attractive option for businesses and young working adults. The legislature would better serve residents by reducing spending and taxes, instead of spending even more tax money on creating new bureaucratic programs and band-aid fixes.”
###

HB 415 – OPPOSEHB 415 Bill Status Page

HB 415 would make the adoption of the SB2 ballot law (which allows the public to vote by ballot on certain questions before the town) even more difficult to institute by forcing people to attend the physical town meeting in order to consider SB2 in the first place. This is true “voter suppression” since towns with more than a few hundred people can no longer accommodate “in person” voting.
###

STEALTH BILLS IN BUDGET!
[SB 15, SB 306]

STEALTH BILLS are those that could not pass, were laid on table, and then were surreptitiously placed in a budget proposal in the hope that no one would notice.

While claiming he is against new taxes, the Governor is helping to promote the use of your tax dollars to create situations that would reward private interests while causing your local vote to be overridden, causing your taxes to increase and your property values to decrease.

Sadly, REPUBLICAN Senators Giuda, Bradley, Carson and Representative Hinch have their fingerprints all over these “stealth” low-income, high-density-enabling bills, in conjunction with Democrats.

Read our LTEs regarding some of the above issues: Legislation Letters. Check the Legislation section under Updates.

SB 15 – OPPOSESB 15 Bill Status Page

SB 15 would allocate $10 million up front for the Affordable Housing Fund, and, starting in October, $5 million a year from the real estate transfer tax, to go to a dedicated fund to support affordable housing projects. This function is not within the purview of state government! Once again, they are taking YOUR tax dollars to promote low-income, high-density housing.

Update: The amount suggested for the Affordable Housing Fund is more substantial. Over the years, the fund has only been given money sporadically.

The state seeded the revolving fund with $4 million in 1988 and waited 14 years to add an‐ other $5 million in 2002. It contributed $800,000 in both 2007 and 2015. It also appropriated $2 million and $2.5 million in 2016 and 2018, respectively. But that money was mainly targeted to people with substance use disorders and behavioral problems.

The governor has recommended adding $10 million to the fund and the House has recommended $5 million, but only as one-time appropriations. In SB 15, the Senate matched the governor’s $10 million and added a $5 million-a-year contribution from the real estate transfer tax, creating a dedicated fund.

But the House Finance Committee retained SB 15. The Senate Finance Committee then put it in the Senate’s proposed budget, though it reduced the one-time appropriation to $5 million and kept the $5 million-a-year transfer.
###

SB 306 – OPPOSESB 306 Bill Status Page

SB 306 would allow a 3-person state board to be formed that would make it easier for developers to override the local zoning laws of a town in a case where their projects were rejected. This is the Senate’s “companion” bill to the failed HB 104 proposed by Senator Bob Guida (R-02) The cost of this state board was increased from $400K/year to $850K.

EXTRA: Here is the AUDIO file of the hearing. At the beginning you can hear a Republican Senator from NH complaining about the lack of funds for workforce housing, and the restrictive density regulations imposed by towns.

Read more about it in Seacoast Online and in our own article HERE.
###

We will continue to list selected NH STATE bills that WILL affect the rights of residents in ALL NH TOWNS and town government. Most, if passed, would curtail the right of the residents to determine how their town is run or is developed, and/or additionally would raise taxes because the cost of funding would come from your tax dollars.

THE PROCESS

A Senate bill is “SB”, a House bill is “HB”. Each bill has to be approved by BOTH bodies.
You have five chances to have your say on these bills. First, you may testify in person at the two public committee hearings when they discuss the merits of the bills in each body (most simply send testimony by email). Next, you can write to the two full bodies to tell them how to vote on the committee recommendation. Finally you can ask the Governor to approve or veto a bill that passes both Houses.

To further clarify, if a bill leaves both the study committees of the NH House and NH Senate (with the recommendation of either “Ought to Pass” (OTP) or “Inexpedient to Legislate” (ITL),) you can still write to the full House and/or full Senate to let them know how you want them to vote on that recommendation. If a bill passes both houses, and is headed for the Governor’s desk for approval, you can still email Governor Sununu and ask that he sign or veto it.

When the full body votes, they vote for the recommendation, not for the bill itself. So for example, if you wanted a bill to pass and the committee voted it “ITL”, the full body should then be instructed to vote “NO” to “ITL”. Likewise, if a bad bill gets an “OTP” from a committee, the full body should be asked to vote “NO” to “OTP”.

Here is a helpful file that describes how to read Bill Status pages and what the terminology means.
###