Licensing Recognition Bill Signed

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July 6, 2023

Governor signs licensing recognition bill

House Bill 594 (Chapter Law 111) has been signed into law by the Governor. The bill states that the Office of Professional Licensing and Certification (OPLC) must issue licenses to professionals who present evidence of an active license in good standing from another state, provided that the jurisdiction’s licensing requirements are “substantially similar” to New Hampshire’s licensing requirements. 

What exactly constitutes “substantially similar” is not specified in the bill but will be defined through a future rulemaking process. Such licensing will ultimately be determined by the executive director of the OPLC in consultation with the boards or commissions. 

NHAR testified at the House and Senate hearings that real estate laws and regulations in other states are not the same as New Hampshire’s and therefore licensing requirements could not be “substantially similar.” The Executive Director of the OPLC agreed, saying she did not view New Hampshire’s real estate licensing as being substantially similar to other states. 

NHAR will closely follow the rulemaking process, which should begin in the fall. 

New law clarifies administrative authority 

House Bill 655 (Chapter Law 112) has been signed into law by the Governor. The bill consolidates all administrative authority for the office of professional licensure and certification (OPLC) in a new chapter of law. 

The new authority clarifies that OPLC has the ability to set fees for the licensing boards and commissions in the state as well as administer complaints and investigations – including for the real estate commission. 

All fees will be set by OPLC but with the advice and recommendations of the respective board. Fees will need to be reassessed, at a minimum, every five years. There had been confusion at the real estate commission as to who had authority to set fees. HB 655 clarifies that the authority rests solely with OPLC.

The OPLC is also mandated to provide licensees, at least two months before the date of expiration of their license, with notice of the need to complete their renewal applications. However, failure to receive notice will not relieve any licensee of the obligation to renew their license in a timely manner.

In terms of investigations of any allegation of professional misconduct, the OPLC will be responsible for determining whether the allegation states a viable claim.  If the office determines that the allegation is not viable, it must make a recommendation to the real estate commission for dismissal.  

The Commission then reviews the OPLC’s recommendation to determine if the allegation should be dismissed. If OPLC finds grounds for potential professional misconduct, those cases will be adjudicated by the Real Estate Commissioners.

Housing commission legislation killed despite support

Senate Bill 47 would have created a study commission to look at barriers to increased density of residential development in New Hampshire. NHAR was one of seven entities to have a seat on the commission. 

The bill passed easily out of the Senate, then was slightly amended by the House before passing that body easily. No problem, right? But when it comes to housing development and the New Hampshire legislature, nothing is ever easy.

Because the House and Senate had passed slightly different versions of SB 47, they had to meet and reconcile the different versions of the bill. A seven-member Committee of Conference met in late June. The head of the House delegation indicated that he felt the Commission was not needed and therefore would neither discuss the issue nor sign off on any Conference report – a requirement before the bill could move forward. 

So even though both the House and Senate had voted for the bill, it still failed to reach the Governor’s desk.

Quote of the Week 

“The purported ‘user fees’ were not disclosed to (the developer) during the approval process. … We have never encountered this level of obstruction when building affordable housing.” (Valley News 7/5/23)

–The developer of 42-unit apartment building in Newport, NH, commenting on over $100,000 in additional user fees imposed by the town only after permits were issued. The Valley News stated the fees were not even published until after the project was approved. Currently, Sullivan County’s rental vacancy is below 1 percent.

For more information, contact New Hampshire Realtors CEO Bob Quinn:

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