Legislative Update July 28, 2020

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Legislative Update July 28, 2020

Court appoints Appeals Board members 

By BOB QUINN
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::

Court appoints first Housing Appeal Board members

It has been a long and winding road in establishing a NH Housing Appeal Board, including three bills this session designed to eliminate the Board before it ever got off the ground. Last summer, New Hampshire REALTORS sent more than 4,000 emails asking legislators to include funding for the Housing Appeals Board, which is designed to provide a quicker and less expensive alternative for property owners to appeal local land use decisions. It was one of the last items to be included in the state’s 2019 budget debate.

The NH Supreme Court has now appointed three members to Housing Appeals Board:

  • Gregory Michael, attorney, Bernstein Shur (five-year term)
  • Marc Stevens, land surveyor, private practice (four-year term)
  • Elizabeth Fischer, real estate broker (three-year term)

There is no word as to when this appellate body will be ready to hear cases.

Governor signs bill establishing strictest PFAS water standards; creates loan program

House Bill 1264 sets new maximum contaminants levels for certain PFAS chemicals (PFOA 12 parts per trillion; PFOS 15 ppt; PFHxS 18 ppt; and PFNA at 11 ppt) in “community water systems.” In addition to municipal water supplies, the definition of community water systems include most condo associations, HOAs and some businesses.

The state acknowledges that the costs to remediate to the new limits will be very expensive and has therefore set aside $50 million for PFAS issues. Those dollars will be used by the Department of Environmental Services to make low interest loans to community water systems for remediation efforts. The DES estimates that total costs to resolve the problem are likely in the hundreds of millions of dollars.

The state is currently engaged in a lawsuit with the manufacturers of these chemicals, and HB 1264 requires any judgement or settlement to be used to grant partial loan forgiveness to any loan recipients, up to 50 percent of the loan principal.

Governor signs broadband legislation into law

House Bill 1111 would allow municipalities to join together by formal agreement to create separate “Communications districts.” These districts would allow towns to use bonding authority for broadband infrastructure as well as for contracting with service providers. Both the Senate and House passed the legislation with broad bipartisan support, and the Governor signed the bill into law last week.

In addition, Governor Sununu authorized $50 million from the CARES Act Coronavirus Relief Fund to address the increased need for internet connectivity due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Planned and permitted projects that have not commenced construction may be eligible. All expenditures under this program will end by December 30, 2020, and the projects must be complete as early as possible, and no later than December 15, 2020. Click here for more info the Connecting NH Fund.

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

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