This is the 14th 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. Thursday, 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 had to have completed 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 and 1697 (lines 6 and 13 on the spreadsheet)

Background: These are the two forest-carbon credit bills the House passed. Originally, HB 1709 attempted to establish a tax on carbon through the timber tax law. When they recognized the tax was not going to pass, the sponsor successful amended it to study the tax and transparency aspects of forest-carbon contracts. Unfortunately, the study commission’s membership and duties are problematic and the NHTOA plans to work on this in the Senate.

HB 1697 originally proposed a two-year moratorium on any forest-carbon credit sales. While in the House it was amended to remove the moratorium and replace it with language to address two of the primary concerns raised regarding forest-carbon credit projects, transparency and taxation. The new bill directs the N.H. Department of Revenue Administration to study the interaction of timber taxation with forest carbon-carbon credit management and sales, and it establishes a registry of forest carbon projects at the N.H. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources (because these contracts do not necessarily run with the land, a real estate interest recording at the registry of deeds is inappropriate). The NHTOA supports these changes. 

Status: The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will hold a public hearing on both bills next Tuesday (April 9) morning.

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 26, the House Ways and Means Committee voted to recommend the full House pass this bill. The full House will  vote on this bill next Thursday (April 11).

Senate Bill 504 (line 8 on the spreadsheet)

Background: This bill would modify the Current Use law to create a method of posting land to allow “public recreational use.” The bill would also modify the criminal trespass law by adding this new method of posting. This bill was introduced on behalf of the Governor to help law enforcement agents deal with illegal border crossings in northern New Hampshire.

We do not understand how this bill changes the regulatory authority of law enforcement to apprehend individuals entering the U.S. illegally. The NHTOA’s primary concern is to protect Current Use and to avoid confusion in the recreation community over what types of recreation are permitted on lands enrolled in Current Use.

NHTOA Position: The NHTOA successfully amended the bill in the Senate to clarify what recreational uses are permitted by replacing the generic term “recreational use” with the list of uses allowed in current law.

Status: Earlier this month the full Senate passed this bill. Due to the snow storm this week, the House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee will now host their public hearing and vote on the bill next Wednesday (April 10).

House Bills 1059 and 1387 (lines 57 and 60 on the spreadsheet)

 Background: Both bills deal with the state building codes. House Bill 1059 seeks to update the codes to allow the use of cross-laminated timber (a.k.a. mass timber) in multi-story buildings. This new building technology has been used in Europe for years and is just beginning to catch on in the U.S. It creates new market opportunities for softwood lumber. House Bill 1387 makes a technical “housekeeping” change to the building codes for log structures and biomass boilers.

At the hearing before the Executive Departments and Administration Committee on House Bill 1387, the NHTOA learned log structures and biomass boilers were to be removed from statute because these provisions are now a permanent part of the state building codes. Having old building codes in statute is redundant, unnecessary and causes confusion, especially after the State Building Codes get updated. The passage of House Bill 1387 will ensure builders, designers, and code enforcement officers have only one place to look for wood boiler and log home codes, the State Building Codes.

NHTOA Position: The NHTOA supports House Bill 1059 and is monitoring House Bill 1387.

Status: On Wednesday (April 3) the Senate Executive Departments and Administration Committee held a public hearing on HB 1387 where no one spoke in opposition to the bill. This committee will be having a public hearing on HB 1059 next Wednesday (April 10).