Legislative Update Jan. 25, 2022

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Legislative Update: Jan. 25, 2022

Lead remediation, OPLC, affordable housing

Here is a summary of a few of the bills NHAR is following as part of the 2022 legislative session in Concord:

Bill would provide more dollars to remediate lead 

In 2019, the NH Legislature established a Lead Paint Hazard Remediation Fund, designed to assist owners of residential properties to address lead paint hazards. The revolving loan fund, with zero percent interest loans, was originally funded with $3 million of general revenue funds.

The NH Housing Finance Authority, which administers the program, has utilized nearly all of the original $3 million, with loan repayments not due until the property eventually sells.

SB 371 would provide an additional $3 million for the revolving loan fund. NHAR supports the bill. Last week, the Senate Finance Committee unanimously passed the bill out of committee with an “Ought to Pass” recommendation, and it should be voted on by the full Senate later this week.

To recognize or not to recognize, that is the question

Senate Bill 330 would give wide latitude to the Office of Professional Licensure and Certification (OPLC) to “recognize” any professional license under its jurisdiction – including real estate agents and brokers – to those licensed in other states, “provided that the jurisdiction’s licensing requirements are substantially equivalent to New Hampshire’s licensing requirements, as determined by the executive director in consultation with the boards, commissions, and councils within the office.”

At the hearing, NHAR raised concern that there is no requirement that OPLC would make out-of-state licensees take the NH licensing exam. In fact, the law makes it pretty clear that OPLC can waive that requirement. NHAR testified that a licensee from out-of-state might be a knowledgeable agent in that state but have no familiarity with NH laws and regulations. Even the OPLC acknowledged that the bill may not work for all professions.

The Senate Executive Departments and Administrative Committee are expected to take action on the bill this month.

Housing bill hears no opposition in Senate hearing

Senate Bill 400 seeks to provide municipalities with financial investments and incentives for affordable housing development. A similar bill failed by a few votes in the House of Representatives last year.

At last week’s Senate hearing, NHAR was joined by homebuilders, business leaders, and housing advocacy groups in testifying in favor of the bill. The NH Municipal Association favorably called the bill a new partnership between the state and towns. No one spoke in opposition to the bill.

Among many other items, the bill creates a “New Hampshire Housing Champion Certification Program” for qualifying municipalities. A municipality could then receive preferential access to state resources, including state infrastructure funds. NHAR would be part of an advisory group that would review and approve proposed rules used by the NH Office of Planning and Development to administer the housing champion certification program.

One provision of the bill would require Superior Courts to decide appeals related to zoning and planning issues within 120 days. The NH Judicial system expressed concern that because each judge already has about 700 cases at a time, such a requirement could be problematic.

The Senate Election Law and Municipal Committee should offer its recommendation on the bill sometime in the next week or two.

For more information, contact New Hampshire Realtors CEO Bob Quinn: bob@nhar.com.

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