Legislative Update June 2, 2020
Legislature set to resume
By BOB QUINN
Vice President of Government Affairs
Over the past two months, virtually all activity in the NH legislature has ceased, including public hearings and legislative sessions. However, the 400-member New Hampshire House of Representatives plans to resume next week in Durham at the Whittemore Center, on the campus of UNH. The Senate is also expected to meet in full session next week – their session will be held in Representatives Hall at the State House.
It is not clear at this point what bills either legislative body will choose to take up for a final vote. The Senate President and Speaker of the House have indicated bills directly related to the COVID-19 outbreak, as well as those fundamental to the operation of state government, will be prioritized. However, NHAR expects other non-COVID-related bills to find their way through the shortened process.
NHAR has provided Senate leaders with concerns over several pieces of legislation which have passed the House but have not had a public hearing in the Senate.
Those bills include HB 667, relative to testing private wells; HB 1160, municipal authority to tax lodgings; HB 1124, definition of prime wetlands; HB 1247, notice of rent increases; HB 1535, overriding deed restrictions for solar panels; and HB 1539, relocation of tenants in lead abatements.
NHAR weighed in on $1.25 billion NH relief plan
The Governor’s Office for Emergency Relief and Recovery (GOFERR) have been meeting for over a month to look at allocation and disbursement of federal CARES Act emergency relief funds to COVID-19 pandemic impacted communities, organizations, and businesses.
NHAR was invited both to submit written responses (page 34) to the Stakeholder Advisory Committee’s questions and to present our recommendations to the Advisory Group last month. NHAR Public Policy Chair Chris Norwood, Broker/Owner of NAI Norwood Group in Bedford, made the presentation.
Many of the suggestions made by Chris mirrored what became the $400 million Main Street Relief Fund, which the Governor announced on May 15.
NH Senate to alter drinking water standard
n PFAS chemicals; offer loan program
An amendment to House Bill 1264 in the Senate Health and Human Services Committee will lower maximum containment levels (MCL) for so-called PFAS chemicals in drinking water. The MCL’s will match previously approved regulations through the NH Department of Environmental Services.
The legislation authorizes low interest loans to community water systems and non-profit, non-transient public water systems whose testing of untreated source water shows confirmed exceedance of the state maximum contaminant level for PFAS, for remediation efforts begun after September 30, 2019.
Some condominium associations, homeowners associations and small businesses have privately owned “community water systems” which will be impacted by the new standards. They will also now be eligible of low-interest loans.
The amended bill has bi-partisan support and is expected to move forward.
U.S. House of Representatives passes changes
to Paycheck Protection Program
The House of Representatives just passed the “Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act,” which makes several amendments to the CARES Act to make PPP loans more helpful to small businesses by increasing flexibility. The changes include:
- Extending the program sunset to December 31, 2020;
- Extending the length of time businesses can use the loans from 8 to 24 weeks, or until the end of the year (whichever is earlier) (note: businesses that have used it in 8 will not be penalized);
- Removal of the requirement that 75 percent of the loan go toward payroll costs;
- Makes PPP recipient businesses eligible for the delayed payment of employer payroll taxes in the CARES Act; and
- Creates an exception to the rehire requirement for employees that were let go due to COVID-19 if a business can show that they are unable to return to normal operations due to compliance with federal government rules or guidelines based on maintaining sanitation, social distancing, or worker/customer safety requirements related to COVID-19.
NAR sent a letter of support for the bill, which you can read here. The Senate is expected to consider similar legislation next week, although there may be some differences in its legislation.
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 email@example.com or 603-225-5549.