Legislative Update April 9, 2019
‘Occupancy fee’ passes House
By BOB QUINN
Vice President of Government Affairs
Here are a few items being explored in the New Hampshire legislature that are of potential interest to the real estate community and being watched closely by your New Hampshire REALTORS government affairs team:
House passes local ‘occupancy fee’ for hotels and vacation rentals
House Bill 641 allows municipalities to charge a fee of up to $2 a night on all hotel stays – including vacation or short-term rentals. The bill passed out of the House last week. NHAR opposes the bill.
The supporters of the bill argued that towns need additional dollars to offset the cost of services associated with tourism and transient traffic. However, vacation rentals already pay a 9 percent Meals and Rooms tax, which goes to the state – about 30 percent of that revenue goes back to cities and towns. Tourist visits to communities also increases the value of properties in those municipalities – such as hotels and vacation rentals – which pay property taxes to offset police and fire services.
The bill should be heard in the Senate later this month.
House overwhelmingly passes increases in certain DES permitting fees
HB 682 increases a number of fees associated with permit activities on wetlands, the protected shoreland as well as alteration of terrain. Total revenues from these fees are expected to result in a 74 percent increase in revenue to the Department of Environmental Services (DES). The last time many of these fees were adjusted in statute was in 2007. Advocates for the increase have argued that the lack of funding is resulting in delays in permit applications.
The original version of the bill more than doubled fees and allowed DES to set future fees through its rulemaking authority as opposed to legislative review. That part of the bill was removed.
The bill passed out of the Ways and Means Committee 20-0 and was approved on the House floor without opposition. NHAR took no position on the bill.
Planning board given more flexibility for procedures on plats
House Bill 245 allows a planning board to specify, in its rules, a shorter filing deadline for plan applications than the current 21 days before a meeting. Some municipalities have the staff to review the applications at a faster pace but cannot due to the 21-day requirement. The language in this legislation leaves it up to the individual municipality and gives planning boards the option of setting the time frame for what their particular board can handle.
NHAR supports the bill. HB 245 has passed the House and is expected to easily pass out of the Senate.
To view the most recent legislative chart, click here or open the attached document. If you have questions regarding these or any other pieces of legislation from the 2019 New Hampshire legislative session, please contact New Hampshire REALTORS Vice President of Government Affairs Bob Quinn at firstname.lastname@example.org or 603-225-5549.