Legislative Update Feb. 12, 2021

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Legislative Update Feb. 12, 2021

Legislation seeks to expedite development

By BOB QUINN
Chief Executive Officer

Senate Bill 129 seeks to rectify an issue which has hampered development projects around the state and is consequently increasing costs and time in bringing projects to market.

In 2019, the state Supreme Court ruled that the Departments of Environmental Services and Fish & Game were not properly enforcing the part of Alteration of Terrain (AoT) permits that accounts for the presence of threatened and endangered species. The new mandate has placed an administrative burden on the state, which they clearly do not have the personnel to handle. Developers have indicated that AoT permitting is now delayed by months as a result.

SB 129 legislation is a first step in a potentially lengthy legislative, regulatory and budgetary path to alleviate the requirements on both developers as well as state agencies. NHAR joined other advocates in support of the bill, and all agreed that environmental reviews were needed but that the state had to find a way to expedite the process.

This week, the Senate Natural Resources Committee voted 5-0 to approve a slightly amended version of the bill.

Housing legislation takes step forward

After an all-too-familiar debate, the House Municipal and County Affairs Committee voted 12-6 to recommend House Bill 586, relative to incentives to create more affordable housing, to the full House of Representatives. NHAR testified in favor of the bill, arguing that housing inventory is at historic lows and towns need to be incentivized to expand housing opportunities.

Opponents of the legislation argued that local control should be absolute and would oppose even minor attempts to incentivize housing opportunities for New Hampshire’s workers.

The legislation will be voted on by the full House of Representatives later this month.

“Room facilitators” required to collect Meals and Rooms tax

In 2019, Airbnb voluntarily entered into an agreement with New Hampshire’s Department of Revenue Administration to collect and remit all Meals and Room tax due from those utilizing their rental service. House Bill 15 is an attempt to require all rental platforms — those that arrange for or otherwise facilitate, in whole or in part, room rentals — to collect the tax from the occupant and remit the tax to the state. The property owner cannot be held accountable for the failure of a “room facilitator” to remit the tax.

NHAR supports the legislation. The House Ways and Means Committee is expected to take action on the bill this month.

If you have questions regarding these or any other pieces of legislation regarding the 2021 New Hampshire legislative session, please contact New Hampshire REALTORS Chief Executive Officer Bob Quinn by email (bob@nhar.com) or 603-225-5549.

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