Legislative Update June 17, 2021

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Legislative Update June 17, 2021

Remote notarization gets thumbs up;
remote meetings given thumbs down

By BOB QUINN
Chief Executive Officer

This is the time of the year when House and Senate members create Committees of Conference for the purpose of reconciling differences in legislation that has passed both chambers.

One Committee of Conference with which REALTORS were actively engaged was for Senate Bill 134, which among other things would grant permanent authorization for a notarial act to occur electronically. This remote notarization process was authorized by the Governor’s Emergency Order last spring, but that authority ended this past Monday when the Emergency Order was not extended.

The House of Representatives had defined “electronic signature” in such a way that it would have made remote notarizations virtually impossible in New Hampshire. And prior to the Committee of Conference meeting, the House made it known that it refused to alter its position.

However, NHAR, the Mortgage Bankers and Brokers, NH Bankers Association and the NH Credit Union Association were able to prevail by demonstrating that the definition was too narrow to allow businesses and consumers to utilize remote notarizations. The final version of the bill, with the Realtor-supported language, should be on the Governor’s desk in July.

The story was not the same for House Bill 108, relative to remote public meetings. Again, under one of the Governor’s Emergency Orders, state and municipal governmental public bodies had been authorized to meet without a physical location for the last 15 months. Many towns noted that this had led to increased participation without any notable issues.

The Senate wanted to give towns and other government entities the ability to continue to meet remotely. However, the House would only agree to study the issue. Since they could not agree, the legislation dies, which means fully remote public meetings will no longer be permitted.

The existing statute, RSA 91-A:2, does allow a public body to allow one or more members to participate remotely if in-person attendance is not reasonably practical; however, in order to meet quorum requirements, the public entity needs to have a majority present at the physical location.

Look for this issue to resurface in 2022.

Towns authorized to offer tax credit to rehab older housing

Senate Bill 102 expands existing town authority under RSA 79-E to offer property tax incentives for rehabilitation of certain older homes. The bill has now passed out of both the House and Senate is awaiting the Governor’s signature.

Under the new law, a city or town can establish a tax relief program for the owners of residential property with not more than four units and which is at least 40 years old, if the owner significantly improves the quality, condition, and/or use of an existing residential structure in a “designated residential property revitalization zone.”

A municipality will need to establish and designate the boundaries of a “residential property revitalization zone” within the community. Towns are granted authority to establish additional measures that will determine the eligibility of qualifying structures for tax relief located within a designated residential property revitalization zone.

The bill will go into effect this fall.

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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