This is the 13th legislative/policy update for the 2024 New Hampshire Legislative session. I provide this update periodically (almost weekly) while the New Hampshire Legislature is in session to keep NHTOA members informed about what is happening in Concord. (If you do not wish to receive this update, please let me know and I will remove you from the distribution list.)

General Comments

This week only the House held a general session, and both chambers’ policy committees hosted public hearings, deliberated bills, and voted on recommendations. Next week only the Senate will have a general session. April 11 is “Crossover Day.” By this date all bills must be acted on by the chamber where they originated. By April 3 all the policy committees must complete their public hearings, deliberations, and vote on a recommendation. For bills needing amendments this deadline can be difficult to hit.   

In the attached spreadsheet (click here for spreadsheet) is the list of the bills the NHTOA is currently monitoring and working on. The bills the House and Senate killed last week when they met in general session have been removed.

Three notes on this spreadsheet:

  1. The legislative process is very fluid and moves quickly. The House and Senate Status/Actions are as of the day on the report is printed. Please note these are subject to change.
  2. The link to the bill text should take you directly to the N.H. General Court website’s link to the bill. Note that during the heat of committee meetings and debate over amendments, this link will sometimes not take you to the most current amendments.
  3. The Priority/Action column looks at the entire bill and weighs many factors. The NHTOA Executive Director analyzes each bill and makes a recommendation to the NHTOA Policy Committee. Where a question mark is present, we are still gathering information on the bill.

The summaries below are of the bills moving through the legislative process. In some cases, the NHTOA is seeking assistance from our membership in the lobbying process (i.e., asking you to call a local Representative or Senator, send a letter or email to a committee, or attend a hearing to sign-in or testify).

Again, please feel free to contact me if you have any questions about any of the bills listed.

Jasen

House Bill 1709 (line 6 on the spreadsheet)

Background: This is one of several bills dealing with forest-carbon credits the NHTOA is debating this session.

 NHTOA Position: Originally, House Bill 1709 attempted to establish a tax on carbon through the timber tax law. While in the House Resources, Recreation and Development Committee is was amended replace the carbon tax with language requiring the study of taxation and transparency issues related to forest-carbon contracts. Fortunately, the amendment removed most of the Current Use references, but the membership composition and study duties for the commission are still problematic. 

Status: The full House approved the amended bill with the study commission yesterday (March 21). The bill will now go to the Senate for consideration.

Senate Bill 514 (line 7 on the spreadsheet)

Background: State Sen. Howard Pearl submitted this bill on behalf of the NHTOA. It does three things:

  • Increases the volume of wood a landowner can harvest for personal use from 10,000 board feet and 20 cords of firewood to 15,000 board feet and 30 cords,
  • Increases the threshold for when an intent-to-cut needs to be filed and timber taxes paid from 10,000 board feet and 20 cords to 15,000 board feet and 30 cords, respectively, for land being converted to a non-forest use, and
  • Changes the whole-tree ton “equivalent language” in the land conversion exemption to allow the addition of 300 tons of whole-tree chips.

The purpose of this bill is to reduce the timber tax paperwork and time burden for very small timber harvests (i.e., 1-3 days; a half dozen loads).

Status: On March 11 the House Ways and Means Committee hosted a public hearing on the bill. It was evident several committee members did not understand timber taxation or how timber taxes are assessed. The NHTOA spoke in favor of the bill. Also speaking about the bill was the N.H. Department of Revenue Administration and the N.H. Municipal Association. Although neither organization endorsed nor opposed the bill, they provided technical information that did support the NHTOA’s rationale for the bill. No one opposed the bill. The committee is scheduled to vote on the bill Tuesday (March 26). 

NHTOA Position: The NHTOA supports this bill. While the committee deliberates, we are encouraging members who wish to support this bill by sending emails to the committee.

Address your email to:

Representative Janigian, chair

House Ways and Means Committee

Committee member email addresses:

John.Janigian@leg.state.nh.us

susan.almy@comcast.net

amesinjaffrey@gmail.com

Cyril.Aures@leg.state.nh.us

Bill.Bolton@leg.state.nh.us

Fred.Doucette@leg.state.nh.us

Susan.Elberger@leg.state.nh.us

Sallie.Fellows@leg.state.nh.us

Nicole.Leapley@leg.state.nh.us

dennis.malloy@leg.state.nh.us

Fred.Plett@leg.state.nh.us

David.Rochefort@leg.state.nh.us

repsanborn@gmail.com

Tom.Schamberg@leg.state.nh.us

Geoff.Smith@leg.state.nh.us

rep.jsoti@gmail.com

Thomas.Southworth@leg.state.nh.us

Walter.Spilsbury@leg.state.nh.us

repulery@comcast.net

In your email:

Introduce yourself, including:

  • Your name and company (if applicable)
  • Town(s) where you own land, where you operate, or where your business is located,

Ask them to support Senate Bill 514. Below are several talking points you can add to your email,

  • This bill will help streamline the timber tax process by exempting the smallest of timber sales from the paperwork and administrative review process (According to N.H. Department of Revenue Administration testimony, the total annual tax per town from these small timber harvests is less than $200/year)
  • In most cases, the value of the timber cut in these projects does not cover the operational costs and the landowner must pay the logger to cut and remove the timber. (Mobilization costs alone for a logging company can exceed $5,000.)
  • Removing the 300-ton “equivalent wood chip” language removes the need to convert board feet and cords to tons – a frequent area of confusion when calculating the tax.
  • Increasing the personal firewood and lumber exemption to match the land conversion exemption  maintains consistency between the two, making timber tax administration simpler.
  • SB 514 does not add a new exemption to the law. It just increases the volumes in the two existing exemptions.
  • Towns will still be aware of the land conversion harvests because existing law requires the landowner to obtain all the necessary permits before they can harvest (i.e., driveway building, etc.)
  • The wood harvested under the personal use exemption is only for the landowner’s use and in many instances the wood does not leave the property (firewood burned to heat homes, portably sawn lumber used for barn or shed construction).   



If you get any feedback from the committee members please pass that back to Jasen at jstock@nhtoa.org

House Bill 1709 (line 6 on the spreadsheet)

Background: This is one of several bills dealing with forest-carbon credits the NHTOA is debating this session.

 NHTOA Position: Originally, House Bill 1709 attempted to establish a tax on carbon through the timber tax law. While in the House Resources, Recreation and Development Committee this was amended to replace the carbon tax with language requiring the study of taxation and transparency issues related to forest-carbon contracts. Fortunately, the amendment removed most of the Current Use references, but the membership composition and study duties for the commission are still problematic. 

Status: The full House approved the amended bill with the study commission yesterday (March 21). The bill will now go to the Senate for consideration.

House Bill 1033 (line 12 on the spreadsheet)

Background: This bill would mandate that all lumber, logs, timber, or other wood products shall advertise their true dimensions and not a nominal size. The sponsor introduced this out of frustration that a 2-by-4’s actual dimension is smaller than 2-inches by 4-inches. As drafted, this bill goes far beyond the sale of framing lumber at a home improvement store.

NHTOA Position: Due to the potential disruption of this mandate to lumber, timber, firewood and log marketing (sales and purchases), the NHTOA is opposing it.

Status: This week the House Commerce and Consumer Affairs Committee unanimously voted to recommend the full House kill this bill.