BILL WATCH

NEW BILLS 2019-2020 SESSION

These bills have yet to be assigned a bill number. Bill with * are those related to the Governor’s housing plan.

LSR 2020-2912 (to become an SB) entitled “enabling municipalities to adopt a property tax exemption for densely-built workforce housing”. Sponsors: (Prime) Jeb Bradley (R)

ACTION: Oppose

*LSR 2020-2414 (to become an HB) entitled “relative to financial investments and incentives for affordable housing development”. Sponsors are (Prime) Joe Alexander (R), Erin Hennessey (D), Willis Griffith (D), Gates Lucas (R)

BILL TEXT

ACTION: Oppose

*LSR 2020-2552 (to become an HB) entitled “relative to training and procedures for zoning and planning boards”. Sponsors are (Prime) Willis Griffith (D), Erin Hennessey (D), Joe Alexander (R), Tom Loughman (D), Gates Lucas (R)

BILL TEXT

ACTION: Oppose

LSR 2020-2522 (to become an HB) entitled “establishing a standing affordable housing commission”.
Sponsors: (Prime) Casey Conley (D)

ACTION: Oppose

LSR 2020-2523 (to become an HB) entitled “establishing a committee to study affordable housing”.
Sponsors: (Prime) Casey Conley (D)

ACTION: Oppose

LSR 2020-2515 (to become an HB) entitled “establishing a committee to study outdated non-regulatory boards, commissions, councils, advisory committees, and task forces”.
Sponsors: (Prime) Karen Ebel (D)

ACTION: Support

LSR 2020-2565 (to become an HB) entitled “prohibiting town employees and elected officials from profiting from businesses with which the town does business”.
Sponsors: (Prime) Terry Roy (R)

ACTION: Support

These bills need to be watched for actual intent.

LSR 20-2027 (to become an HB) entitled “relative to warrant articles in official ballot town, school district, or village district meetings” Sponsors: (Prime) William Marsh (R)

ACTION: Pending Content

LSR 020-2382 (to become an HB) entitled “relative to the powers of the zoning board of adjustment”.
Sponsors: (Prime) Scott Wallace (R)

ACTION: Pending Content

LSR 2020-2308 (to become an HB) entitled “relative to the use of an official ballot in towns”.
Sponsors: (Prime) Kat McGhee (D)

ACTION: Pending Content

THESE BILLS from 2019 NEED TO BE REPEALED – [SB 306**, SB 15, SB 241, SB 154, SB 43, SB 12, HB 415]

**Senator Regina Birdsell (R) has filed a bill to repeal SB 306 (Housing Appeals Board) which was included in the budget. It does not yet have a bill number, here is the LSR:

LSR 2020-2813 (to become an SB) entitled “repealing the housing appeals board”.
Sponsors: (Prime) Regina Birdsell (R)

Several others have agreed to co-sponsor:

Senator Dietsch (D)
Senator Sherman (D)
Rep. Camarata (R)
Rep. Edwards (R)
Rep. Gould (R)
Rep. Sylvia (R)

ACTION: Support

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.
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