Legislative Update August 11, 2020

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Legislative Update August 11, 2020

Dock bill; short-term rentals; broadband funds

Acting CEO and Vice President of Government Affairs

Here are a few items being explored in the New Hampshire state government that are of potential interest to the real estate community and being watched closely by your New Hampshire REALTORS government affairs team:

Dock bill finally floats

Last week the Governor signed into law House Bill 1245, an omnibus bill containing 35 different bills which had not had complete hearings due the legislative shut-down.

House Bill 1245 contains the language originally in Senate Bill 627, which allows an owner to voluntarily register an existing dock structure with New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services (DES) for a fee of $200. The registration will allow for the repair or replacement of legally existing docking facilities to be exempt from the permitting requirements for five years, at which time the owner can submit a new registration request.

The application will have to provide photographs of the existing dock, along with other information certifying it was constructed and maintained in compliance with statute and has been maintained in its current size, location, and configuration since January 1, 2000.

The intent of this voluntary program is to lessen disputes between neighbors which arise from repairs and replacement of certain docks. It is not clear at this point when the NH DES will be ready to accept applications.

Bill on short-term rental operators gets the short shrift 

House Bill 274 would have required “room facilitators,” meaning anyone who offers, arranges or books a rental property on behalf of the renter would be responsible to remit the rooms and meals tax to the state. The bill was targeted at online platforms such as Homeaway or VRBO. The state wanted those companies to take responsibility for collecting and remitting the tax, as opposed to leaving it up to the property owners. AirBnb has already entered into an agreement with the state to collect the rooms and meals tax on their bookings.

Toward the end of the shortened legislative session, HB 274 was incorporated into House Bill 1234, another omnibus piece of legislation containing dozens of unrelated bills. HB 1234 was vetoed by the Governor for reasons not related to the room facilitator language. The legislature will meet on Sept. 16 to take up all legislation which the Governor vetoed. With the state desperately looking for added revenues, expect this bill to return in 2021.

Broadband funds distributed to rural areas

Over $16 million in federal CARES Act funds have been approved or are pending to expand broadband access, which will impact over 5,500 properties in the state. Some of the communities where projects have had an application approved include Bristol, Danbury, Deering, Hillsborough, Mason, Stoddard and Washington. All monies are required to be spent by the end of year.

To learn more about the program, visit Connecting NH, here.

If you have questions regarding these or any other pieces of legislation from the 2020 New Hampshire legislative session, please contact New Hampshire REALTORS Acting CEO and Vice President of Government Affairs Bob Quinn at bob@nhar.com or 603-225-5549.

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