This is the 21st 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 the center of attention was the House and Senate general sessions held on Thursday (May 30) to consider different versions of the same bill. This occurs when different versions of the same bill pass each chamber, the originating chamber has the option to accept changes to their text. If it does, the bill goes to the Governor’s desk for consideration, where he signs it into law, vetoes it, or allows it to become law without a signature. If the originating chamber opts to not accept the changes, it may kill the bill, or it can seek a ”committee of conference” to negotiate a different version. If a committee of conference fails to negotiate a compromise, the bill dies. If a chamber seeks a committee of conference and the second chamber refuses to negotiate, the bill dies.

Several bills of interest to the NHTOA saw this activity. They are noted on the spreadsheet.

If a bill survives a committee of conference process, both chambers must still vote on the new negotiated version. After all of this, the bill, and every other bill must still go to the Governor’s desk for consideration.

If a bill is vetoed, the House and Senate will hold a special session in the fall to vote on each vetoed bill. A two-thirds majority in both chambers is required to override a veto.

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

Senate Bill 504 (line 7 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 pushed through an amendment to 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 under current law.

Status: On May 15 the House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee passed this bill after they attached a non-germane amendment to it. Yesterday (May 30) the Senate voted to not concur with the House recommendation and the Senate refused to participate in a committee of conference. The bill is dead.

House Bill 1018 (line 8 on the spreadsheet)

Background: This bill originally dealt with on-premise and off-premise liquor licenses. In retaliation to the non-germane amendment being attached to Senate Bill 504 (line 7 on this spreadsheet), the full Senate approved a non-germane amendment to this bill; they attached the language from Senate Bill 504 (Current Use posting) to it.

NHTOA Position: Although the NHTOA is not supporting the Current Use language, we will be monitoring this bill to ensure it is not modified to negatively impact the law.

Status: Yesterday (May 30) the House agreed to participate in a committee of conference. They will be meeting next week to try to negotiate a compromise. If successful, the compromise language will go back to the full House and Senate on June 13 for an up or down vote.

House Bill 1697 (line 13 on the spreadsheet)

Background: This is a forest-carbon credit bill that passed the House and Senate.  It was originally 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). While in the Senate it was further amended to adjust the report due date for timber tax study.

NHTOA Position: The NHTOA supports these changes. 

Status: Yesterday (May 30) the full House agreed with the Senate changes. The amended bill now goes to the Governor’s desk for consideration.

House Bill 1202 (line 11 on the spreadsheet)

Background: This bill would establish a 30-day time limit for N.H. Department of Transportation’s (NHDOT) review of driveway permits along state highways. It passed the full House. It applies to residential driveway installations, and it includes a $750,000 annual appropriation for four staff members to expedite the permit review process.

Currently, the driveway permitting process varies among NHDOT district offices in terms of review periods and conditions. Standardizing this will improve the planning process for foresters and loggers scheduling timber harvests.

Last week, on the floor of the Senate the full Senate approved a non-germane amendment to this bill by attaching language related to a childcare scholarship program.

NHTOA Position: At the hearing for this bill in the House, the NHTOA supported it and raised our concerns about the existing permitting process for temporary driveway permits for logging operations. We also recommended landowners, loggers, or foresters obtain these permits through an online permitting process. Although the committee’s primary concern with the permitting process was obtaining timely permits for residential developments, our concerns were well received and got the NHDOT’s attention. Since the House hearing, the NHTOA has obtained assurances from the NHDOT that they will have an online permitting process in place this summer and the process will include temporary logging driveway permits.

Status: Yesterday (May 30) the House agreed to participate in a committee of conference. They will be meeting next week to try to negotiate a compromise. If successful, the compromise language will go back to the full House and Seante on June 13 for an up or down vote.

House Bill 1215 (non-germane amendment) (line 22 on the spreadsheet)

Background: The original House Bill 1215 deals with zoning/planning board approvals. A group of Hampton residents/development agencies convinced their senator to introduce a non-germane amendment to this bill that would allow the selectboard to discontinue a road without a town vote and subsequently lease the road to a private entity for 99 years. The town’s motivation is to assist a developer (The Hampton casino and ballroom). Although the project has been in the works for years, the developer is claiming they need to expedite the road discontinuance process and are seeking legislative approval to avoid a town meeting vote.

Because this proposal was made after the bill crossed over, the House of Representatives never saw it nor had the opportunity to host a public hearing.

Despite the NHTOA’s objections, the full Senate passed HB 1215 with the non-germane Hampton road amendment.

NHTOA Position: Although the bill does not directly deal with timber, as it is specific to a public street in Hampton, the NHTOA came out opposed because of the precedent it sets. Specifically, it avoids the established process for road discontinuance (a vote at town meeting) and the taking of a property right for abutting landowners (public access). As drafted, this bill will extinguish all rights of access along this road to any abutter. This right is currently retained by the abutters, unless it is forfeited in writing, under current law. Moreover, this bill establishes a legal precedent for an alternative means of road closure. In the future developers and selectboards could use this process to discontinue a road.

As the NHTOA lobbied against this bill, some unexpected political forces pushing for the non-germane Hampton road amendment have become evident. Despite these, the NHTOA remains committed to advocating against the non-germane Hampton road amendment.

Status: Anticipating a vote to concur with the Senate’s amendment (which includes the non-germane Hampton road amendment) yesterday, we were pleasantly surprised when the full House, by an 8-vote margin, voted to not concur and instead seek a committee of conference. The conferees along with those House members who did not support the concurrence vote will be under intense pressure to support the non-germane Hampton road amendment. The conferees will be meeting on June 5 to negotiate.

We are asking members to send emails to the conferees, those House members who supported the amendment (by voting to concur) and Senate and House leadership, asking them to reconsider their support for the non-germane Hampton road amendment and remove it from the bill during the committee of conference.

In your email,

  • Introduce yourself
  • Thank them for the opportunity to voice your concern on the non-germane Hampton road amendment to House Bill 1215 and urge them to seek a committee of conference to remove it.
  • Your opposition is the precedent this proposal will establish and implications for property rights.

The Hampton Road amendment,

  • Codifies an alternative means of road closure outside an official town meeting. N.H. law is very specific that Town residents are the local legislative body empowered to discontinue roads, not the selectmen. With this bill the selectboard seizes local authorityfrom town meeting.  
  • Ignores existing ways to expedite the town meeting process to facilitate road closure votes (special town meetings),
  • Ignores that N.H.’s road law has been evolving for hundreds of years balancing private property rights, public access, and municipal/citizen authority. To begin upsetting this balance with one-off bills for specific projects is poor policy and sets a bad precedent.
  • Supporters argue this amendment is needed to benefit the private project which will create economic activity and tax revenue. This is a slippery slope that could be employed across the state for many private projects and is not a good argument for modifying the law and impacting property rights.
  • Supporters will also say this is just a one-time use of state law in this manner and the Hampton Selectboard’s authority to discontinue and lease the road will expire within the year. Although true, this bill still establishes a precedent and creates a road map for future developers and selectboards to use in the future.  
  • Here is a list of the conferees and Senate/House leadership and their email addresses.

Senate President, Jeb Bradley (Mt. Washington area)

Jeb.Bradley@leg.state.nh.us

Senate Democratic Leader, Donna Soucy (Manchester)

Donna.Soucy@leg.state.nh.us

Speaker of the N.H. House of Representatives, Sherman Packard

sherman.packard@leg.state.nh.us

Deputy Speaker of the N.H. House of Representatives, Steve Smith

Steven.Smith@leg.state.nh.us

Senator Daryl Abbas (Atkinson, Pelham, Plaistow, and Salem)
Daryl.Abbas@leg.state.nh.us

Senator Daniel Innis (Alexandria, Andover, Boscawen, Bradford, Bridgewater, Bristol, Danbury, Franklin, Goshen, Grafton, Hebron, Henniker, Hill, Hillsborough, Newbury, Orange, Salisbury, Sutton, Tilton, Warner, Webster, and Wilmot)
Daniel.Innis@leg.state.nh.us

Senator Debra Altschiller (Exeter, Greenland, Hampton, Hampton Falls, North Hampton, Rye and Stratham)
Debra.Altschiller@leg.state.nh.us

Representative Joe Alexander (Goffstown)

Joe.Alexander@leg.state.nh.us

Representative Diane Pauer (Brookline, Greenville and Mason)

Diane.Pauer@leg.state.nh.us

Representative Scott Wallace (Danville)

Scott.Wallace@leg.state.nh.us

Representative Charlotte DiLorenzo (Newmarket and Newfields)

Charlotte.DiLorenzo@leg.state.nh.us

Here is a partial list of the representatives and their couty/district number who supported the non-germane Hampton  road amendment and their email addresses.

Abare, Kimberly Hills. 1, Kimberly.Abare@leg.state.nh.us

Ammon, Keith Hills. 42, Keith.Ammon@leg.state.nh.us

Ball, Lorie Rock. 25, Lorie.Ball@leg.state.nh.us

Bordes, Mike Belk. 5, mike.bordes@leg.state.nh.us

Buco, Thomas Carr. 1, Tom.Buco@leg.state.nh.us

Cordelli, Glenn Carr. 7, glenn.cordelli@leg.state.nh.us

Cloutier, John Sull. 6, jocloutier@comcast.net

Damon, Hope Sull. 8, Hope.Damon@leg.state.nh.us

Dolan, Tom Rock. 16, Tom.Dolan@leg.state.nh.us

Donnelly, Tanya Rock. 25, Tanya.Donnelly@leg.state.nh.us

Doucette, Fred Rock. 25, Fred.Doucette@leg.state.nh.us

Faulkner, Barry Ches. 10, fbfaulkner@outlook.com

Granger, Michael Straf. 2, Michael.Granger@leg.state.nh.us

Harvey, Cathryn Ches. 6, Cathryn.Harvey@leg.state.nh.us

Healey, Robert Hills. 12, rvhealey@aol.com

Hobson, Deb Rock. 14, Deborah.Hobson@leg.state.nh.us

Janigian, John Rock. 25, John.Janigian@leg.state.nh.us

Katsakiores, Phyllis Rock. 13, pkatsakiores@comcast.net

Kelley, Eamon Coos 7, eamon@kelleyforberlin.org

Khan, Aboul Rock. 30, Aboul.Khan@leg.state.nh.us

King, Bill Hills. 43, king4nh@gmail.com

King, Seth Coos 4, Seth.King@leg.state.nh.us

Ladd, Rick Graf. 5, rick.ladd@leg.state.nh.us

Leavitt, John Merr. 10, John.Leavitt@leg.state.nh.us

Lundgren, David Rock. 16, Qtipnh@aol.com

Lynn, Bob Rock. 17, rjlynn4@gmail.com

MacDonald, Wayne Rock. 16, elephantsmarching@msn.com

McConkey, Mark Carr. 8, mrkmcconkey@gmail.com

McGuire, Dan Merr. 14, Dan.McGuire@leg.state.nh.us

Mooney, Maureen Hills. 12, maureen.mooney@leg.state.nh.us

Murphy, Michael Coos 6, michael.murphy@leg.state.nh.us

Osborne, Jason Rock. 2, Jason@Osborne4NH.com

Parshall, Lucius Ches. 8, Lucius.Parshall@leg.state.nh.us

Piemonte, Tony Rock. 9, Tony.Piemonte@leg.state.nh.us

Proulx, Mark Hills. 15, Mark.Proulx@leg.state.nh.us

Stapleton, Walter Sull. 6, Walt.Stapleton@leg.state.nh.us

Stone, Jonathan Sull. 8, Jonathan.Stone@leg.state.nh.us

Sweeney, Joe Rock. 25, Joe.Sweeney@leg.state.nh.us

Terry, Paul Belk. 7, Paul.Terry@leg.state.nh.us

Wilhelm, Matthew Hills. 40, Matt.Wilhelm@leg.state.nh.us

Yokela, Josh Rock. 32, Josh.Yokela@leg.state.nh.us

If you receive any feedback, please pass it along to me at jstock@nhtoa.org.

House Bill 1059 (line 56 on the spreadsheet)

 Background: This bill seeks to update the building codes with the new ones that will permit 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.

NHTOA Position: The NHTOA supports House Bill 1059.

Status: While in the Senate, this bill was amended with minor several technical changes. Yesterday (May 30) the full House concurred with those changes and the new bill (Senate version) now goes to the Governor for consideration.