Legislative Update March 30, 2021

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Legislative Update March 30, 2021

Merged lot statute may become permanent

Chief Executive Officer

A decade ago, the legislature created a process whereby lots that were involuntarily merged prior to September 18, 2010, by any municipality, must be restored to their pre-merger status if an owner requested it. The statute (RSA 674:39-aa) does allow for the town to deny if any owner in the chain of title voluntarily merged the lots. However, the municipality has the burden of proof to show that any previous owner agreed to the merger.

The deadline for a property owner to make such a request to merge lots is set to expire on December 31, 2021. House Bill 284 would have extended the deadline another two years. However, the House Municipal and County Committee voted to extend the deadline indefinitely, making the process to undue involuntarily merged lots permanent.

The amended version of the legislation will go to the House floor in April. NHAR supports this change.

Bill would create option for remote local public hearings

Under the Governor’s existing Emergency Order, municipalities have been able to hold meetings remotely, through Zoom and other platforms, as long as the public was also able to participate electronically. Many towns and their residents have found the process has worked well and expanded participation.

Senate Bill 95 would codify the practice and permit, but not mandate, a local governing body to allow one or more of its members to participate in a meeting by electronic means. If a meeting has no physical location, public access must be provided to the public by telephone, and additional access may be provided by video or other electronic means. Any member participating by electronic means is considered present and able to vote.

The Senate has passed the bill, and it will be taken up by the House in April.

Health insurance expansion under American Rescue Plan

About 22,900 uninsured New Hampshire residents are newly eligible for premium tax credits under the new American Rescue Plan, and 1,000 uninsured residents are now eligible for $0 silver benchmark plans. Survey’s have shown about 15 to 20 percent of REALTORS do not have health insurance.

In addition, many people who already have health plans purchased through Healthcare.gov will qualify for enhanced premium tax credit amounts and reduced out-of-pocket costs. Premium assistance will also increase for individuals above 400 percent of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL), because the law has decreased the percentage of household income that must be contributed toward a health plan.

If you need assistance with the enrollment process, you can get free help from an insurance agent, federal Navigator, or enrollment assister using the Find Local Help tool on Healthcare.gov or by contacting NH Navigator by phone (877-211-NAVI) or at their website.

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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