Final Bulletin, 2019 Session

LEGISLATIVE BULLETIN

Peaks, Valleys, and a Few Months in Limbo


The 2019 legislative session was, on balance, about an average year for local governments, with several rousing successes, a few stinging losses, and some significant compromises. (We use the past tense loosely, because as of the publication date of this Bulletin, the session is not over.)

NHMA’s top non-budget priority for 2019 was to resolve the two-year-old debate about postponing town meetings in the event of severe weather or other emergency, without surrendering authority for that decision to state officials. That goal was achieved in SB 104 (chapter 192). It was particularly satisfying that this bill passed with no floor debate and with strong bipartisan support.

Another contentious issue, much older than two years—utility valuation—was resolved, at least for the time being, with the passage of HB 700 (chapter 117). This was not the total victory we might have liked, but most assessors and other local officials seemed satisfied; and, as with the town meeting bill, no blood was spilled in the process.

Several NHMA policies were achieved quietly. HB 415 (chapter 131) changes the method for a town to adopt the SB 2 form of town meeting. Under the new law, the question will be voted on at the annual meeting’s business session, rather than on the official ballot. SB 103 (chapter 231) authorizes municipalities to issue joint bonds or notes. SB 285 (chapter 318), among other things, clarifies that two or more municipalities may jointly establish a tax increment financing district. HB 562 (chapter 250) updates the state building code to the 2015 edition. HB 443 (chapter 213) expands municipal authority on restricting lawn watering during a drought to include non-residential lawns.

Three other NHMA policy bills passed the legislature but, unfortunately, were vetoed by the governor: HB 365, which would increase the capacity limit for net metering projects to five megawatts; HB 409, which would increase the maximum municipal transportation improvement fee a municipality could charge (by legislative body vote); and HB 706, which would establish an independent redistricting commission. The legislature is scheduled to meet on September 18 and 19 to consider override votes on those bills, along with some 50 others that were vetoed. We will publish a special edition of the Legislative Bulletin addressing those bills in early September.

On the negative side, the legislature passed HB 616, a cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) for members of the New Hampshire Retirement System directly financed by municipal and other NHRS employers. This new benefit creates an unfunded mandate that will—unless challenged successfully in court—become a permanent addition to each eligible retiree’s pension allowance. Although the governor has not signed it yet, he has actively supported the bill. The legislature also passed HB 261 (chapter 208), imposing strict new arsenic standards for drinking water and ambient groundwater, without providing any funding to help municipal water systems meet those standards. Finally, the Joint Legislative Committee on Administrative Rules approved new rules that will require municipalities to spend an estimated $190 million to reduce perfluorochemical (PFAS) levels in drinking water and groundwater

Still hanging over everyone’s head is the state budget for fiscal years 2020-2021, which the governor also vetoed. The legislature cannot muster the votes to override those vetoes, so legislative leaders and the governor need to find a compromise. Until they do, the state is operating under a continuing resolution for the first quarter of fiscal year 2020, which began July 1; the resolution authorizes state departments to spend amounts equal to one-fourth of their fiscal year 2019 appropriations during that period. If a budget deal is not passed and signed by September 30, a new continuing resolution will need to be adopted. This situation leaves municipalities with lots of uncertainties—about the $40 million in municipal aid that was included in the budget, about meals and rooms tax distributions, about state aid grants and highway block grants, and more, all of which affect the ability to set municipal tax rates this fall. NHMA has no position on the budget bill or the trailer bill as a whole, because there is good and bad in both, and they affect more than just municipalities. However, there are several items we do support, such as the municipal aid, and we cannot stress enough the importance of having a budget so municipal tax rates can be set accurately and on time.

On the pages that follow you will find summaries of all new laws affecting municipal government, arranged by subject matter and in numerical order by chapter number. The summaries are brief and do not purport to explain the law in detail. Each summary is linked to the full text of the law, so be sure to read the law carefully and/or contact NHMA, or your local legal counsel, to make sure you understand it. There is also a special section at the end that discusses a few of the bills that were vetoed but could still become law, depending on what happens in September.

As this Bulletin went to press, there were still approximately 40 bills passed by the legislature that had not been either signed or vetoed by the governor—a highly unusual status this late in the summer. Once the governor has taken action on all bills and the legislature has voted on veto overrides, we will post an updated version of this Final Legislative Bulletin on our website.

As always, we thank the many local officials who called or wrote to their legislators, testified at hearings, and offered their expertise to NHMA staff in support of our efforts this year. We also thank those legislators who consistently supported the interests of their cities and towns, and their taxpayers, especially when doing so meant standing up to pressure groups and party leaders. Finally, we thank the rest of the very small NHMA staff for everything they do to support our legislative advocacy.

We wish everyone a pleasant summer (what’s left) and fall. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions or suggestions.

Margaret ByrnesCordell Johnston                          

Margaret M.L. Byrnes                         Cordell A. Johnston
Executive Director                               Government Affairs Counsel 

 

Table of Contents

 

 I.  CLERKS; ELECTIONS; TOWN MEETING; OFFICIAL BALLOT; CHARTERS

Photo Identification Required for Motor Vehicle Registration Permit. Chapter 106 (HB 391)
Review of Electronic Ballot Counting Devices for Needed Upgrades. Chapter 128 (HB 345)
Adoption of Official Ballot Referendum Town Meeting. Chapter 131 (HB 415)
Ballot Counts if Voter’s Intent Is Capable of Determination. Chapter 148 (HB 146)
Additional Set of Special Number Plates for Veterans. Chapter 162 (SB 186)
Process for Postponing Town Meeting. Chapter 192 (SB 104)
Vehicle Registration for Non-Residents. Chapter 223 (SB 37)
Committee to Study Waiver of Active-Duty Military Vehicle Registration Fees. Chapter 225 (SB 56)
Delivery of Absentee Ballots. Chapter 261 (HB 531)
Committee to Study Accessible Ballots. Chapter 262 (HB 539)
Local Option Waiver of Motor Vehicle Permit Fee for Certain Veterans. Chapter 279 (SB 238) 

II.  INTERGOVERNMENTAL RELATIONS; RETIREMENT; STATE BUDGET

Purchase of Service Credit in NHRS. Chapter 38 (HB 675)
Nonvoting Member Added to NHRS Investment Committee.  Chapter 61 (SB 28)
Temporary State Appropriations Due to Budget Veto. Chapter 145 (HJR 3)
Reclassification of Department of Correction Position in NHRS. Chapter 147 (HB 116)
Definition of Earnable Compensation for NHRS. Chapter 214 (HB 468) 

III.  MUNICIPAL ADMINISTRATION AND FINANCE MANAGEMENT; LEGAL MATTERS; ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT; MANDATES; RIGHT-TO-KNOW LAW; LABOR

More Night Work for Youths Permitted. Chapter 22 (HB 223)
Employees Must Report Deaths and Serious Injuries to NHDOL. Chapter 29 (HB 406)
Issuance of Bonds for Redevelopment Districts in Unincorporated Places. Chapter 32 (HB 540)
Certain IT Information Exempt from Disclosure. Chapter 54 (HB 329)
Notice of Signing Intent to Cut. Chapter 84 (SB 21)
Reasons for Delay or Denial of Records Under Right-to-Know Law. Chapter 107 (HB 396)
No “Cost or Fee” for Inspecting Records Without Copying. Chapter 163 (HB 286)
Multi-Town Bonding Authorized. Chapter 231 (SB 103)
PTSD and Cancer Under Workers’ Compensation. Chapter 251 (SB 59)
CDFA Exempt from Administrative Procedure Act. Chapter 299 (SB 31)
Municipal Cooperation and Actions in Response to Climate Change. Chapter 318 (SB 285)

IV.  PLANNING AND ZONING 

More Time for Zoning Board Hearings. Chapter 2 (HB 136)
Planning Board May Shorten Time for Filing. Chapter 6 (HB 245)
Committee to Study Tiny Houses. Chapter 82 (HB 312)
City Planning Board Members May Hold Other Offices. Chapter 105 (HB 370)
Commission to Study Barriers to Increased Land Development. Chapter 300 (SB 43)

 V.  ENVIRONMENTAL REGULATION AND PROTECTION; SOLID/HAZARDOUS WASTE

Shoreland Septic System Study Commission. Chapter 30 (HB 475)
Commission on Non-Tidal Waterways Extended; Appointment of Local River Management Advisory Committees.
     Chapter 79 (HB 228)
Boaters Must Clean Boats if Equipment Is Available. Chapter 100 (HB 325)
Changes to Wetlands and Environmental Council Administrative Appeals. Chapter 202 (SB 203)
Municipality May Restrict Non-Residential Lawn Watering. Chapter 213 (HB 443)
Increased Penalties and Fines for Air and Water Pollution. Chapter 263 (HB 614)
Committee to Study Recycling and Solid Waste Management. Chapter 265 (HB 617)
Deadlines for DES to Act on Solid Waste Permit Applications. Chapter 270 (SB 163)
Municipal Cooperation and Actions in Response to Climate Change. Chapter 318 (SB 285)

 VI.  PUBLIC SAFETY; POLICE; FIRE; BUILDING/HEALTH INSPECTION

Building Code Violation Notice Must Cite Code Section. Chapter 48 (HB 259)
Foster Homes Subject to State Fire Codes, Not Local Regulations. Chapter 70 (HB 343)
Police Officers Cannot Arrest Based on Refusal to Provide Name and Address. Chapter 171 (HB 491)
State Fire Code Updated. Chapter 186 (SB 49)
Approval of Electrical Inspections. Chapter 209 (HB 271)
Appeals from Building Code Board of Appeals; State-Maintained List of Codes. Chapter 219 (HB 710)
Certification Required for Local Dispatchers. Chapter 245 (SB 210)
State Building Code Updated. Chapter 250 (HB 562)
Criminal History Background Checks. Chapter 297 (HB 637)
Costs of Care in Animal Cruelty Cases. Chapter 306 (HB 459) 

VII.  PUBLIC WORKS; WATER & SEWER; ROADS AND HIGHWAYS; AIRPORTS; RAILS

Electric Bicycle Defined and Categorized Same as Bicycle. Chapter 93 (HB 148)
Clarification of Beaver Dam Control Regulations. Chapter 125 (HB 281)
Optional Extension of Exemption Period for Roads to Summer Cottages. Chapter 187 (SB 53)
Arsenic Standard in Drinking Water. Chapter 208 (HB 261)
Municipality May Restrict Non-Residential Lawn Watering. Chapter 213 (HB 443)
OHRV and Snowmobile Operation, Manufacture/Sale, and Local Regulation Rules Altered.  Chapter 216 (HB 591)
State to Update Statewide OHRV Plans and Study Economic Effects of OHRVs. Chapter 218 (HB 660)
Committee to Study Unprotected Drinking Water Sources. Chapter 238 (SB 164)
OHRV “Trainer” Age Increased to 25. Chapter 294 (HB 592)
Residents Must Share Cost of Maintaining Private Road. Chapter 308 (SB 39) 

 VIII.  TAXES; ASSESSING AND COLLECTIONS; EXEMPTIONS; CURRENT USE

Committee to Study Veterans’ Property Tax Credits and Exemptions. Chapter 76 (HB 128)
Notice of Signing Intent to Cut. Chapter 84 (SB 21)
Valuation of Utility Property. Chapter 117 (HB 700)
Commercial and Industrial Construction Exemption. Chapter 221 (SB 22)
PILOT for Combined Heat and Power Agricultural Facility. Chapter 266 (HB 635)

 IX.  WELFARE; EDUCATION; LIBRARIES; HUMAN SERVICES; HOUSING; CEMETERIES

Funeral Expenses for Assisted Person. Chapter 99 (HB 301)
Committee to Study Tax Incentives for Development of Workforce Housing. Chapter 237 (SB 154)
Dental Care for Medicaid Recipients. Chapter 268 (HB 692)
Commission to Study Barriers to Increased Land Development. Chapter 300 (SB 43)

 X.  UTILITIES

Valuation of Utility Property. Chapter 117 (HB 700)
Municipal Aggregation of Electric Customers. Chapter 316 (SB 286) 

XI.  EDUCATION FUNDING

Requirements for School Building Aid Grants. Chapter 290 (HB 175) 

 XII.  SPECIAL ACTS

Kingston Allowed Town Bonfire in 2019. Chapter 3 (HB 167)
Charter Commission for Manchester School District. Chapter 174 (HB 544)
Town of Milton May Sell Old Fire Station. Chapter 237 (SB 154)
Pease Development Authority Modified. Chapter 256 (HB 243) 

 XIII.  VETOED BILLS OF SIGNIFICANT MUNICIPAL INTEREST

Biennial State Operating Budget. HB 1 and HB 2
Increase in Net Metering Cap. HB 365
Transportation Improvement Fee. HB 409
Independent Redistricting Commission. HB 706

  

2019 FINAL LEGISLATIVE BULLETIN

 

I.  CLERKS; ELECTIONS; TOWN MEETING; OFFICIAL BALLOT; CHARTERS

Photo Identification Required for Motor Vehicle Registration Permit.  Chapter 106 (HB 391) amends the motor vehicle permit provisions in RSA 261:148 to require any person registering a vehicle to present a current government-issued photo identification card in addition to other documents.  Statutes amended:  RSA 261:148, I and II.  Effective date [hereinafter abbreviated as “E.D.”] June 21, 2019.

Review of Electronic Ballot Counting Devices for Needed UpgradesChapter 128 (HB 345) requires the Ballot Law Commission to review approved electronic ballot counting devices at least every five years to determine whether the devices require upgrading.  Statute amended:  RSA 656:41. E.D. August 24, 2019. 

Adoption of Official Ballot Referendum Town Meeting. Chapter 131 (HB 415) modifies the process for a town (or a school district or village district) to adopt the official ballot referendum (SB 2) form of town meeting. Under previous law the question of adopting SB 2 was placed on the official ballot; under the new law, the question is placed on the warrant for action at the business session of the annual meeting. It must be voted on by ballot (but not official ballot), and polls must remain open and ballots accepted for at least one hour following the completion of discussion on the question. A three-fifths majority is still required to adopt the proposal. The process for rescinding SB 2 is not changed—it still must be voted on by official ballot.  Statute amended:  RSA 40:14, III and VII. E.D. August 24, 2019.  NHMA POLICY. 

Ballot Counts if Voter’s Intent Is Capable of Determination.  Chapter 148 (HB 146) provides that for any vote cast at a town meeting, every ballot must be counted if the intent of the voter can be determined, regardless of whether the voter followed instructions relative to marking the ballot provided before the vote.  Statute added:  RSA 40:4-g.  E.D. August 30, 2019. 

Additional Set of Special Number Plates for VeteransChapter 162 (SB 186) allows a veteran who qualifies for special number plates to obtain a second set of plates upon payment of the state and municipal permit fees.  Statutes amended:  RSA 261:86, II, 261:157, 261:159.  E.D. September 7, 2019. 

Process for Postponing Town Meeting.  Chapter 192 (SB 104) clarifies the process for a moderator to postpone either the deliberative/business session or the official ballot voting (election) session of a town meeting. The moderator may postpone either session if the National Weather Service has issued a weather event warning and the moderator believes the event may cause the roads to be hazardous or unsafe, or if an accident, fire, natural disaster, or other emergency renders use of the meeting location unsafe. The moderator must consult, to the extent practical, with certain other town officials before deciding to postpone; and in the case of postponement of an official ballot voting session, the moderator must notify the secretary of state within two hours of the decision to postpone. 

If the official ballot voting session is postponed, it must be rescheduled to the Tuesday two weeks following the originally scheduled date. In the case of a school district or village district election that is coordinated with town elections in two or more towns, the moderators of the towns involved must consult with each other, and the election may be postponed only if a majority of the moderators vote to postpone. The new law defines the terms “business session,” “deliberative session,” and “official ballot voting day,” and contains special provisions for the use of absentee ballots at postponed elections. It also allows for the postponement of city elections in the same manner as town elections.  Statutes amended or added:  RSA 40:4, 40: 13, 44:11, 652:16-e through :16-g, 657:1, 669:1 and :1-a, 670:1-a, 671:22-a.  E.D. July 10, 2019.  NHMA POLICY. 

Vehicle Registration for Non-Residents.  Chapter 223 (SB 37) allows a non-resident to register a motor vehicle in New Hampshire by presenting an affidavit, on a form developed by the Department of Safety, swearing that the vehicle is “principally garaged or is regularly kept overnight in New Hampshire” and that the applicant is the owner of at least one other vehicle that is registered and insured in the state of the applicant’s residence.  Statute amended:  RSA 261:46.  E.D. January 1, 2020. 

Committee to Study Waiver of Active-Duty Military Vehicle Registration Fees.  Chapter 225 (SB 56) establishes a legislative committee to study and make recommendations for legislation to allow active members of the United States armed forces to be exempt from the requirements to pay a registration fee for principal motor vehicles and to maintain active, unexpired drivers’ licenses while on active military duty. Statutes amended: None. E.D. July 12, 2019. 

Delivery of Absentee BallotsChapter 261 (HB 531) expands the list of persons who may deliver an executed absentee ballot to the town or city clerk. In addition to the voter’s spouse, parent, sibling, or child, an absentee ballot may now be delivered by a grandchild, father- or mother-in-law, son- or daughter-in-law, stepparent, or stepchild. It may also be delivered by the administrator or a designated staff member of a nursing home or residential care facility where the voter resides, or by a person assisting a blind or disabled voter who has signed a statement on the affidavit acknowledging the assistance.  Statute amended:  RSA 657:17, :24.  E.D. September 17, 2019. 

Committee to Study Accessible Ballots.  Chapter 262 (HB 539) establishes a legislative committee to study the potential use of the Accessible Ballots technology in municipal elections, the availability of and access to appropriate hardware and software, municipal administration of the technology, municipal interest in using the technology, legal conflicts to the use of the technology, and other appropriate issues. The committee is also charged with preparing generic implementation and application procedures for municipalities to follow if it determines that the technology can be used efficiently and effectively. The committee is to report its findings and recommendations by November 1, 2019.  Statutes amended:  None.  E.D. July 19, 2019. 

Local Option Waiver of Motor Vehicle Permit Fee for Certain VeteransChapter 279 (SB 238) authorizes the legislative body to adopt an ordinance waiving the permit fee to register one motor vehicle for any honorably discharged veteran who is a former prisoner of war, was awarded the Purple Heart medal, or survived Pearl Harbor, with satisfactory proof of such circumstances provided to the city or town clerk.  Statutes amended: RSA 21-P:14, III (gg) and 261:157-a.  E.D. September 17, 2019.  

II.  INTERGOVERNMENTAL RELATIONS; RETIREMENT; STATE BUDGET 

Purchase of Service Credit in NHRS.  Chapter 38 (HB 675) amends the calculation to purchase service credit in the New Hampshire Retirement System when the employer erroneously fails to enroll an eligible employee in the system.  It also amends the calculation for the cost of purchasing service credit for active service in the armed forces.  Statutes amended:  RSA 100-A:3, VI(b) and (d); 100-A:4, VI(b).  E.D. July 14, 2019. 

Nonvoting Member Added to NHRS Investment Committee.  Chapter 61  (SB 28) adds an active New Hampshire Retirement System (NHRS) member as a nonvoting member of the NHRS Investment Committee. The member will be chosen from a list of twelve candidates nominated by four employee associations.  Statute amended: RSA 100-A:14-b, I.  E.D. August 4, 2019. 

Temporary State Appropriations Due to Budget Veto.  Chapter 145 (HJR 3) provides temporary funding to carry out the functions of state government due to the failure to enact a budget for the fiscal year 2020/2021 biennium, which began July 1, 2019.  This continuing resolution authorizes state agencies to expend up to three twelfths (3/12) of, and for the same purposes as, the appropriations for fiscal year 2019, and is in effect until an operating budget is enacted into law but no later than October 1, 2019.   Statute amended: None.  E.D. June 28, 2019. 

Reclassification of Department of Correction Positions in NHRS.  Chapter 147 (HB 116) authorizes the New Hampshire Retirement System Board of Trustees to reclassify certain positions in the New Hampshire Department of Corrections from group I to group II without seeking legislative approval of the reclassification.  Statute amended:  RSA 100-A:3, IX.  E.D. August 30, 2019.  

Definition of Earnable Compensation for NHRS.  Chapter 214 (HB 468) amends the definition of “earnable compensation” in the New Hampshire Retirement System statute by adding annual attendance stipends or bonus and additional pay for instructional activities of full-time faculty of the community college system.  Statute amended:  RSA 100-A:1, XVII(a) and (b).  E.D. September 10, 2019.  

III.  MUNICIPAL ADMINISTRATION AND FINANCE MANAGEMENT; LEGAL MATTERS; ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT; MANDATES; RIGHT-TO-KNOW LAW; LABOR 

More Night Work for Youths Permitted.  Chapter 22 (HB 223) amends the law relating to youth employment at night. Previously, youths (defined as persons under age 18) were not permitted to work at night (8 p.m. to 6 p.m.) for more than 8 hours in any 24-hour period or more than 48 hours per week. This new law eliminates the 48-work hour limitation. Statute amended:  RSA 276-A:13. E.D. July 14, 2019. 

Employers Must Report Deaths and Serious Injuries to NHDOL.  Chapter 29 (HB 406) defines “serious injury” and requires public employers to report the death or serious injury of any person in the workplace to the commissioner of the Department of Labor within a specified timeframe (8 hours for deaths; 24 hours, for serious injuries) and give details about the death or injury “as fully as possible.” The statute also empowers the commissioner to investigate the cause of death or injury and notify the employer of precautions to be taken to avoid the recurrence of similar events. Statute amended: RSA 277:1; 277:15-a; 277:15-b. E.D. July 14, 2019. 

Issuance of Bonds for Redevelopment Districts in Unincorporated Places.  Chapter 32 (HB 540) authorizes county commissioners to establish redevelopment districts in unincorporated places.  The county commissioners, with the consent of a majority of the county convention present and voting, may authorize the issuance of bonds, the source for repayment of which will be limited to property assessment revenue generated from the redevelopment district. Neither the county nor the unincorporated place will have any obligation to repay any of the principal or interest on the bonds. Statute added:  RSA 33:20. E.D. May 15, 2019.    

Certain IT Information Exempt from Disclosure.  Chapter 54 (HB 329) exempts records pertaining to information technology systems from disclosure under the Right-to-Know Law if release of the records would disclose security details that would aid an attempted security breach or circumvention of law. Statute amended:  RSA 91-A:5. E.D. August 4, 2019. 

Notice of Signing Intent to Cut.  Chapter 84 (SB 21) clarifies that public notice of the assessing officials’ signing of an intent to cut timber must be posted in advance only when the intent to cut is going to be signed outside a public meeting. The notice must be posted at least 24 hours, excluding Sundays and holidays, before the intent to cut is signed.  Statute amended:  RSA 79:10, I(b).  E.D. August 17, 2019. 

Reasons for Delay or Denial of Records Under Right-to-Know Law.  Chapter 107 (HB 396) requires a public body or agency to provide a written reason for the delay when it is not able to make a governmental record available for inspection and copying within five business days after receiving a request. It also requires a public body or agency to cite the specific exemption authorizing withholding of a governmental record, and a brief explanation of how the exemption applies, when it denies a request to inspect or copy the record.  Statute amended:  RSA 91-A:4, IV.  E.D. January 1, 2020. 

No “Cost or Fee” for Inspecting Records Without Copying.  Chapter 163 (HB 286) clarifies that “no cost or fee” may be charged under the Right-to-Know Law for the inspection or delivery, without copying, of governmental records. Previous law stated that “no fee” may be charged; the new law merely adds the words “cost or.”  Statute amended:  RSA 91-A:4, IV.  E.D. January 1, 2020. 

Multi-Town Bonding Authorized.  Chapter 231 (SB 103) authorizes two or more municipalities (or other “public agencies”) to enter into an agreement under RSA 53-A to issue bonds for any purpose permitted under RSA 33. The agreement must specify each municipality’s proportionate share of the debt represented by the jointly issued bond or note, and each municipality’s share will be counted toward its debt limit under RSA 33:4 or 33:4-a unless otherwise excluded. Each participating municipality must comply separately with the requirements for approving the bond or note.  Statute amended:  RSA 53-A:6.  E.D. September 10, 2019. NHMA POLICY. 

PTSD and Cancer Under Workers’ Compensation.  Chapter 251 (SB 59) clarifies that workers’ compensation coverage is available for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and acute stress disorder, creates a presumption that PTSD and acute stress disorder in an emergency responder is occupationally caused, and establishes a commission to study the incidence of PTSD in first responders and whether the disorder should be covered under workers’ compensation. The new law also clarifies certain conditions applicable to the presumption that cancer suffered by a firefighter is work-related.  Statutes amended or added:  RSA 281-A:2, :17, :17-b, :17-c.  E.D. January 1, 2021, for PTSD presumption; July 17, 2019, for remainder. 

CDFA Exempt from Administrative Procedure Act.  Chapter 299 (SB 31) exempts the Community Development Finance Authority from the rule-making requirements under the Administrative Procedure Act and authorizes the authority to adopt rules in accordance with its own procedures. It also adds the executive director of a regional development organization to the Community Development Advisory Committee.  Statutes amended or added:  RSA 162-L:4-a, :4-b, :15, :17; RSA 541-A:21, I. Statute repealed:  RSA 162-L:16, IV.  E.D. September 27, 2019, for new member of advisory committee; July 29, 2019, for remainder. 

Municipal Cooperation and Actions in Response to Climate ChangeChapter 318 (SB 285) authorizes a municipality to take certain actions as a result of a climate emergency, including adjustment of municipal boundaries, merging with one or more other municipalities, and creating coastal resilience and cultural and historic reserve districts. It also clarifies that municipalities may enter into an agreement under RSA 53-A to jointly establish a tax increment financing district under RSA 162-K (regardless of a climate emergency). The law further authorizes the Strafford and Rockingham regional planning commissions, either separately or jointly with participating municipalities, to create climate resilience cooperative agreements forming an authority to plan for and address sea-level rise, storm surge, and flooding.  Statutes added or amended:  RSA 31:9-d, 162-K:16, 12-A:68 through :70, 36:53-A, among others.  E.D. October 2, 2019.  INCLUDES NHMA POLICY. 

IV.  PLANNING AND ZONING 

More Time for Zoning Board Hearings.  Chapter 2 (HB 136) gives a zoning board of adjustment 45 days (rather than 30) to hold a public hearing after an appeal is filed. Statute amended: RSA 676:7, II. E.D. July 9, 2019. 

Planning Board May Shorten Time for Filing.  Chapter 6 (HB 245) allows a planning board, in its rules of procedure, to shorten the 21-day minimum period that an applicant must file an application prior to the meeting at which it will be considered for acceptance. Statute amended:  RSA 676:4, I(b). E.D. July 9, 2019. 

Committee to Study Tiny Houses.  Chapter 82 (HB 312) establishes a committee to study issues associated with state and local permitting of tiny houses suitable for year-round occupancy, including both tiny houses on permanent foundations and tiny houses on wheels. Statute amended: None.  E.D. June 18, 2019. 

City Planning Board Members May Hold Other OfficesChapter 105 (HB 370) amends the statute governing planning board members holding other offices so that city and town planning board members are treated the same. Under the previous law, town planning board members were limited only in how many of them could serve on another local board or commission, while city planning board members were prohibited from holding “any other municipal office,” with certain exceptions. Under the new law, there is no prohibition on holding another municipal office; as with towns, any two members of a city planning board may serve together on another municipal board or commission, except that no more than one may serve on the local governing body, the conservation commission, or another local land use board.  Statutes amended:  RSA 673:6, IV, and 673:7.  E.D. August 20, 2019. 

Commission to Study Barriers to Increased Land DevelopmentChapter 300 (SB 43) establishes a commission to study barriers to increased density of land development in New Hampshire. The commission’s duties include reviewing current patterns of development, especially residential development; identification of barriers to increasing the density of development; determining minimum standards of residential development density in light of the availability of public water and sewer infrastructure; considering property tax incentives to promote residential development density; considering preservation of open spaces and maintaining elements of rural character; and considering methods of enforcement of the shared community responsibility for workforce housing. The commission includes a representative of NHMA. The commission is to issue an interim report by November 1, 2019, and a final report by November 1, 2020.  Statutes amended:  None.  E.D. July 29, 2019. 

V.  ENVIRONMENTAL REGULATION AND PROTECTION; SOLID/HAZARDOUS WASTE

Shoreland Septic System Study Commission.  Chapter 30 (HB 475) establishes a commission to study and propose approaches for addressing non-state approved septic systems. It includes a representative of NHMA. Statute added: RSA 485-A:44-a. E.D. May 15, 2019.

Commission on Non-Tidal Waterways Extended; Appointment of Local River Management Advisory Committees.  Chapter 79 (HB 228) extends to November 2020 the commission to study current statutes related to management of non-tidal public waterways and the construction or placement of structures within them. It also provides that local river management advisory committees will be appointed by the state Rivers Management Advisory Committee, rather than by the commissioner of the Department of Environmental Services. Statutes amended: RSA 482-A:35; 483:8-a. E.D. June 18, 2019.

Boaters Must Clean Boats if Equipment Is Available. Chapter 100 (HB 325) amends the statutory scheme pertaining to exotic, aquatic weeds. It allows public boat access facility owners, such as state agencies and municipalities, to provide technologies, such as hoses, for boat owners to clean their boats prior to entry or after exiting the body of water. It also requires boat owners to use that equipment, if so provided. Statutes amended: RSA 487:16-e, 487:16-f. E.D. January 1, 2020.

Changes to Wetlands and Environmental Council Administrative Appeals.  Chapter 202 (SB 203) amends the process for any person aggrieved by a Department of Environmental Services (DES) decision who appeals to the council having jurisdiction over the subject matter of the appeal. It clarifies that the council may affirm the department decision or remand the decision to the DES commissioner with a determination that the decision complained of is unlawful or unreasonable. Statutes amended: RSA 20:7, 21-M:3, 21-O:5-a, 21-O:14, 482-A:10. E.D. September 8, 2019.

Municipality May Restrict Non-Residential Lawn Watering.  Chapter 213 (HB 443) allows a municipal governing body to restrict the use of water from public water systems or private wells for watering both residential and nonresidential lawns during a declared drought. Previously, municipalities were only permitted to restrict residential lawn watering. Under the amended law, recreational fields, golf courses, and grass agricultural fields would be exempt from any municipal restrictions. The law does not limit a public water system’s authority to implement conservation measures in accordance with rules of the Department of Environmental Services.  Statute amended:  RSA 41:11-d, I.  E.D. September 10, 2019.  NHMA POLICY.

Increased Penalties and Fines for Air and Water Pollution.  Chapter 263 (HB 614) increases numerous fines and penalties that may be assessed by the Department of Environmental Services for air and water pollution, including fines and penalties authorized under RSA 485 (Safe Drinking Water Act), RSA 485-C (Groundwater Protection Act), and RSA 488 (Water Management and Withdrawals).  The new law doubles administrative fines from $2,000 to up to $4,000, with each day of violation constituting a separate offense.  In suits brought by the attorney general for violations, the civil forfeiture is also doubled from $25,000 to a maximum of $50,000 for each day of violation.  Statutes amended:  RSA 125-C:15, RSA 125-D:4, RSA 125-I:3-a, RSA 141-E:16, RSA 146-A:14-15, RSA 485:58, RSA 485-C:18-19, and RSA 488:7-8.  E.D. January 1, 2020.   

Committee to Study Recycling and Solid Waste Management. Chapter 265 (HB 617) establishes a legislative committee to study the state of recycling programs in New Hampshire in light of changing market conditions, challenges faced by the state and municipalities in running recycling programs and solid waste management, and other related issues as the committee deems necessary. The committee is to issue its findings and recommendations by November 1, 2019.  Statutes amended: None. E.D. July 19, 2019.

Deadlines for DES to Act on Solid Waste Permit Applications.  Chapter 270 (SB 163) requires the Department of Environmental Services (DES) to act upon a completed solid waste permit application within 180 days for permits requiring a public hearing and within 120 days for those applications not requiring a public hearing.  DES may extend those deadlines by seeking prior written agreement from the applicant. Statutes amended: RSA 149-M:9, VIII and RSA 149-M:7, III.  E.D. September 17, 2019.   

Municipal Cooperation and Actions in Response to Climate ChangeChapter 318 (SB 285) authorizes a municipality to take certain actions as a result of a climate emergency, including adjustment of municipal boundaries, merging with one or more other municipalities, and creating coastal resilience and cultural and historic reserve districts. It also clarifies that municipalities may enter into an agreement under RSA 53-A to jointly establish a tax increment financing district under RSA 162-K (regardless of a climate emergency). The law further authorizes the Strafford and Rockingham regional planning commissions, either separately or jointly with participating municipalities, to create climate resilience cooperative agreements forming an authority to plan for and address sea-level rise, storm surge, and flooding.  Statutes added or amended:  RSA 31:9-d, 162-K:16, 12-A:68 through :70, 36:53-A, among others.  E.D. October 2, 2019.

VI.  PUBLIC SAFETY; POLICE; FIRE; BUILDING/HEALTH INSPECTION

Building Code Violation Notice Must Cite Code Section.  Chapter 48 (HB 259) requires a code enforcement officer to cite the applicable section of the building code or fire code when issuing a notice of violation. Statutes amended: RSA 153:14, 155-A:7. E.D. August 4, 2019.

Foster Homes Subject to State Fire Code, Not Local Regulations. Chapter 70 (HB 343) changes the applicable fire code for foster homes to the state fire code and exempts foster homes from local fire regulations and ordinances. Statute amended: RSA 170-E:28. E.D. August 6, 2019.

Police Officers Cannot Arrest Based on Refusal to Provide Name and Address. Chapter 171 (HB 491) provides that refusing to provide a name and address, upon request by a peace officer, shall not, by itself, constitute cause for arrest. Statute amended: RSA 594:2. E.D. September 8, 2019.

State Fire Code Updated.  Chapter 186 (SB 49) updates the New Hampshire fire code to the 2015 edition of the Uniform Fire Code NFPA 1. It also ratifies certain amendments to the state fire code that were previously adopted by the state fire marshal and the board of fire control.  Statute amended:  RSA 153:1, VI-a.  E.D. September 8, 2019.

Approval of Electrical Inspectors.  Chapter 209 (HB 271) provides for new rules for the approval of third-party electrical inspectors by the electricians’ board. However, it does not prohibit a city or town that enforces the state building code from “contracting with any person of its choice to perform third-party electrical inspections.”  Statutes amended:  RSA 319-C:2-a, :5-a.  E.D. July 12, 2019.

Appeals from Building Code Board of Appeals; State-Maintained List of Codes.  Chapter 219 (HB 710) provides that the state Building Code Review Board will hear appeals from decisions of local building code boards of appeals. However, it does not repeal or amend RSA 677:16, so it appears that an appeal from the building code board of appeals may still be taken to the superior court instead. (Existing law, RSA 155-A:7, IV, requires building officials to provide information on the appeals process when issuing a building permit or notice of violation, so these alternative processes will now need to be explained.) The new law also requires the Building Code Review Board to maintain a publicly accessible list of applicable building codes and amendments, including amendments proposed by municipalities, and revises the procedure for adopting amendments to the state building code.  Statutes amended or added:  RSA 155-A:10, 155-A:11-b, 674:34.  E.D. August 11, 2019.

Certification Required for Local Dispatchers.  Chapter 245 (SB 210) adds local dispatchers to the definition of “critical incident stress management team members,” who must undergo and sustain certification standards set forth in guidelines established by the International Critical Incident Stress Foundation approved by the commissioner of the Department of Safety, or a similar organization. “Local dispatcher” is defined as a person who determines the location, status, and assistance required by callers and walk-in customers for public safety services and dispatches the appropriate responders to provide emergency services at the state, municipal, or private company services level.  Statute amended:  RSA 153-A:17-a.  E.D. July 12, 2019.

State Building Code Updated.  Chapter 250 (HB 562) updates the state building code to include the 2015 editions of the component codes. It also adds the International Swimming Pool and Spa Code to the definition of the building code and ratifies certain amendments to the code that were previously adopted by the Building Code Review Board.  Statute amended:  RSA 155-A:1.  E.D. September 15, 2019.  NHMA POLICY.

Criminal History Background Checks.  Chapter 297 (HB 637) requires the Division of State Police to maintain public criminal history record information in an electronic database, and allows any person, for a fee, to obtain the public criminal history record information on another person. It also eliminates the notarization requirement for requesting a criminal history records check for purposes of employment and occupational licensing. Statutes amended:  RSA 106-B:1, 106-B:14, and 31:102-b, among others.  E.D. July 1, 2019.

Cost of Care in Animal Cruelty Cases.  Chapter 306 (HB 459) gives priority on the court docket to animal cruelty cases where animals are confiscated, gives rights to non-defendant co-owners to petition for custody of confiscated animals, maintains the defendant’s duty to reimburse for the cost of care upon conviction, clarifies that a court on appeal or during a trial de novo may require the owner to post a bond within 30 days or forfeit the animal, and requires the Department of Agriculture to set limits for reasonable daily boarding and care costs for animals confiscated under the animal cruelty statute. Statutes amended: RSA 437:9, 644:8. E.D. January 1, 2020.

VII.  PUBLIC WORKS; WATER & SEWER; ROADS AND HIGHWAYS; AIRPORTS; RAILS

Electric Bicycle Defined and Categorized Same as Bicycle. Chapter 93 (HB 148) defines “electric bicycle” as “a pedaled vehicle equipped with an electric motor of less than 750 watts” that either: (1) “provides assistance only when the rider is pedaling, and that ceases to provide assistance when the bicycle reaches the speed of 20 miles per hour;” (2) “is used exclusively to propel the bicycle and that is not capable of providing assistance when the bicycle reaches the speed of 20 miles per hour;” or (3) “provides assistance only when the rider is pedaling and that ceases to provide assistance when the bicycle reaches the speed of 28 miles per hour.” Further, the statute clarifies that municipalities and state agencies are to treat electric bicycles in the same manner as ordinary bicycles, with certain exceptions. Statutes amended: RSA 215-A:1, 259:6, 259:27-a, 259:57, 259:60, 259:63, 259:65, 259:69, 259:77-a, 265:144-a. E.D. August 18, 2019.

Clarification of Beaver Dam Control Regulations. Chapter 125 (HB 281) clarifies the statute pertaining to beaver dam controls by replacing the reference to “beaver pipes” and “beaver fences” with “flow devices.” The term “flow device” is defined as “one or more fence structures or other combination of fencing and piping used to discourage beaver damming, maintain water flow through an existing beaver dam, or minimize the risk of flooding by preventing the further impoundment of water behind a beaver dam.” The property owner is responsible for maintaining the flow device.  Statues amended: RSA 210:9. E.D. August 24, 2019.

Optional Extension of Exemption Period for Roads to Summer Cottages.  Chapter 187 (SB 53) allows a town to extend the period during which it is exempt from maintaining highways to summer cottages. The standard exemption period, which the new law does not change, is December 10 to April 10. Under the new law, the town’s legislative body may vote to extend that period, but in no event may the period begin earlier than November 15 or end later than April 30. Once adopted, the extended period will remain in effect until it is amended or rescinded in the same manner.  Statutes amended:  RSA 231:79, :81.  E.D. September 8, 2019.

Arsenic Standard in Drinking Water.  Chapter 208 (HB 261) requires the Department of Environmental Services to revise the administrative rules regarding the maximum contaminant level (MCL) and ambient groundwater quality standard (AGQS) for arsenic in drinking water by lowering the standard from 10 parts per billion (ppb) to 5 ppb, with the new standard to take effect no later than July 1, 2021.  The Drinking Water and Groundwater Trust Fund statute is amended to allow grants, loans or matching funds from the trust to assist with costs associated with any new or revised MCLs or AGQSs. Statute amended:  RSA 485-F:4, VII(a)(1).  E.D. October 10, 2019.

Municipality May Restrict Non-Residential Lawn Watering.  Chapter 213 (HB 443) allows a municipal governing body to restrict the use of water from public water systems or private wells for watering both residential and nonresidential lawns during a declared drought. Previously, municipalities were only permitted to restrict residential lawn watering. Under the amended law, recreational fields, golf courses, and grass agricultural fields would be exempt from any municipal restrictions. The law does not limit a public water system’s authority to implement conservation measures in accordance with rules of the Department of Environmental Services.  Statute amended:  RSA 41:11-d, I.  E.D. September 10, 2019.  NHMA POLICY.

OHRV and Snowmobile Operation, Manufacture/Sale, and Local Regulation Rules Altered. Chapter 216 (HB 591) significantly alters some of the rules pertaining to the operation and manufacture or sale of off-highway recreational vehicles (OHRVs) and snowmobiles. OHRV operators now have an obligation to dim their lights when approaching, overtaking, or following another vehicle, and OHRVs with emergency-colored lights may only be operated by emergency responders. Further, operators must report collisions with property damage in excess of $1,000 (previously $500) to local police, must wear protective eye gear unless the OHRV has a wind screen or shield, must wear a seatbelt if younger than 18, may not drive with liquor accessible to the driver, and must wear a helmet if under 18. The driver also must ensure that any passenger under 18 is wearing a seatbelt and that any passenger under 7 is secured by an approved child restraint system. In addition, OHRVs  now have a noise limit of 96 decibels and may not be modified to emit noise at a higher level than as originally manufactured..

Snowmobiles now have allowable noise limits (82 decibels for all snowmobiles) and may not be modified to increase the noise level. Snowmobiles manufactured after February 1, 2007 must display the certification that they comply with the Snowmobile Safety and Certification Committee (SSCC) requirements, and snowmobilers must report collisions with property damage in excess of $1,000 (previously $500).

Finally, the procedure for allowing OHRVs to use local highways has changed. Previously, the governing body of a municipality could vote to allow (or not allow) OHRVs to use local highways, with no notice or hearing requirements. Now, the governing body is required to have “a duly noticed public hearing advertised at least 14 days in advance in a public location in the city or town and notification to abutters by verified mail pursuant to RSA 451-C:1, VII” in advance of any change in local rules. The cost of the notice to abutters is to be borne by the person or organization asking the governing body to alter the currently existing local rules. Statutes amended: RSA 215-A:6, :12, :13-a, :14, :15 :21, :28, :29; 215-C:8, :28, :36, :48; 265-A:44. E.D. September 10, 2019.

State to Update Statewide OHRV Plans and Study Economic Effects of OHRVs.  Chapter 218 (HB 660) requires the Department of Natural and Cultural Resources to (1) create a master plan for an integrated network of all OHRV trails in Coös County, entirely off state and municipal highways if possible, with public input, (2) update the Department’s 2003-2008 plan for developing the statewide trail system for ATVs and trail bikes, with public input, and (3) study the economic and effects of OHRV operation on the state economy using the best available science and conducted by independent researchers. Statutes amended: None. E.D. July 12, 2019.

Committee to Study Unprotected Drinking Water SourcesChapter 238 (SB 164) establishes a legislative committee to study how drinking water resources are contaminated, work with the Department of Environmental Services to identify all known high-priority drinking water resources, and identify potential funding mechanisms for the future protection of those resources. The committee is to report its findings and recommendations by November 1, 2020.  Statutes amended:  None.  E.D. July 12, 2019.

OHRV “Trainer” Age Increased to 25.  Chapter 294 (HB 592) increases from 18 to 25 the age of the person who must accompany an unlicensed OHRV operator, consistent with the law pertaining to unlicensed operators of motor vehicles upon the highways of the state. Statutes amended: RSA 5-C:2, 215-A:23, 215-A:9. E.D. September 27, 2019.

Residents Must Share Cost of Maintaining Private RoadChapter 308 (SB 39) provides that when more than one residential owner enjoys a common benefit from a private road, each residential owner must contribute equally to the reasonable cost of maintaining the road. It does not affect public roads.  Statute added:  RSA 231:81-a.  E.D. August 2, 2019.

VIII.  TAXES; ASSESSING AND COLLECTIONS; EXEMPTIONS; CURRENT USE

Committee to Study Veterans’ Property Tax Credits and Exemptions.  Chapter 76 (HB 128) establishes a legislative study committee and one senator to study the property tax credits and exemptions available to veterans.  The committee will review the eligibility criteria for the various veterans’ credits and exemptions, the cost to municipalities of adopting or granting such credits and exemptions, and the number of veterans who benefit.  A report of the committee’s findings and recommendations, including whether alternative means of providing property tax relief to veterans is appropriate, is due by November 1, 2019.  Statute amended:  None.  E.D. June 18, 2019.   

Notice of Signing Intent to Cut.  Chapter 84 (SB 21) clarifies that public notice of the assessing officials’ signing of an intent to cut timber must be posted in advance only when the intent to cut is going to be signed outside a public meeting. The notice must be posted at least 24 hours, excluding Sundays and holidays, before the intent to cut is signed.  Statute amended:  RSA 79:10, I(b).  E.D. August 17, 2019.

Valuation of Utility Property.  Chapter 117 (HB 700) establishes a statutory formula for the valuation of utility property for local property tax purposes. The formula applies only to distribution assets, not to transmission assets classified as such by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), and not to electric generation facilities or FERC-regulated gas transmission pipeline facilities. It also does not apply to telephone, cable, or Internet service provider assets, or large-scale natural gas or propane gas storage or processing facilities.

For electric and gas utility assets, other than land and land rights, value is based on a weighted average of 70 percent of each asset’s original cost and 30 percent of each asset’s net book cost. For water utility assets, it is based on 25 percent of the original cost and 75 percent of the net book costs. Three percent of the value derived using this formula is added to account for the use of public rights-of-way and private easements. Fee-owned land, office buildings, garages, and warehouses are assessed separately, not subject to the formula. Each company is required to report annually, by May 1, to both the municipality and the Department of Revenue Administration the original cost and net book value as of the preceding December 31 of each category of assets located within the municipality.

The formula will be phased in over a five-year period. In the first year (the tax year beginning April 1, 2020) the value will be a weighted average of 80 percent of the locally assessed value for the 2018 tax year and 20 percent of the value determined using the new formula; in the second year the split will be 60-40, and so on until the formula is fully implemented.  The new formula does not affect the determination of value in any case that is pending as of the effective date of the new law.  Statutes amended or added:  RSA 72:8-d and :8-e, 75:1, 79-C:3.  E.D. August 20, 2019.

Commercial and Industrial Construction Exemption.  Chapter 221 (SB 22) modifies the local option property tax exemption for commercial and industrial construction. Under the new law, the percentage rate and duration of the exemption will be granted on a case-by-case basis based on the amount and value of public benefit, and may be made available to all properties within the municipality or to a specific group of parcels as determined by the legislative body. The legislative body is also responsible for establishing a definition of “public benefit.” Statute amended:  RSA 72:81-:82.  E.D. July 12, 2019.

PILOT for Combined Heat and Power Agricultural Facility.  Chapter 266 (HB 635) allows the governing body of a municipality and a combined heat and power agricultural facility to enter into an agreement for a payment in lieu of taxes. A combined heat and power agricultural facility is defined as a facility that engages in commercial agricultural production and uses an on-site combined heat and power system as defined in RSA 362-A:1-a, I-d, subject to a larger size limitation. A public hearing is required before the agreement may be executed. The term of the agreement may not exceed five years unless a longer term is necessary for the financing of the project or is otherwise advantageous to both parties.  Statutes added or amended:  RSA 72:72-a, 21-J:3, 75:1.  E.D. April 1, 2019.

IX.  WELFARE; EDUCATION; LIBRARIES; HUMAN SERVICES; HOUSING; CEMETERIES

Funeral Expenses for Assisted Person.  Chapter 99 (HB 301) provides that upon the death of a person who was receiving local welfare assistance, there is an automatic assignment of up to $2,000 from the person’s liquid assets, if any, to the funeral director or the person (including the municipality) who pays for the funeral and burial or cremation expenses. The previous law provided for an assignment of up to $1,000, and only if the decedent’s liquid assets were less than $1,000.  Statute amended:  RSA 165:27-a, I.  E.D. August 20, 2019.

Committee to Study Tax Incentives for Development of Workforce Housing.  Chapter 237 (SB 154) establishes a legislative committee to study and make recommendations for legislation to create tax incentives for promoting development of dense workforce housing in community centers. The committee is to report its findings and recommendations by November 1, 2019.  Statutes amended:  None.  E.D. July 12, 2019.  See also section XII.

Dental Care for Medicaid Recipients.  Chapter 268 (HB 692) authorizes the Medicaid managed care program to provide dental benefits to covered persons and requires the commissioner of the Department of Health and Human Services to convene a working group to develop a value-based dental benefit.  Statute amended:  RSA 126-A:5, XIX.  E.D. July 1, 2019.

Commission to Study Barriers to Increased Land DevelopmentChapter 300 (SB 43) establishes a commission to study barriers to increased density of land development in New Hampshire. The commission’s duties include reviewing current patterns of development, especially residential development; identification of barriers to increasing the density of development; determining minimum standards of residential development density in light of the availability of public water and sewer infrastructure; considering property tax incentives to promote residential development density; considering preservation of open spaces and maintaining elements of rural character; and considering methods of enforcement of the shared community responsibility for workforce housing. The commission includes a representative of NHMA. The commission is to issue an interim report by November 1, 2019, and a final report by November 1, 2020.  Statutes amended:  None.  E.D. July 29, 2019.

 X.  UTILITIES

Valuation of Utility Property.  Chapter 117 (HB 700) establishes a statutory formula for the valuation of utility property for local property tax purposes. The formula applies only to distribution assets, not to transmission assets classified as such by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), and not to electric generation facilities or FERC-regulated gas transmission pipeline facilities. It also does not apply to telephone, cable, or Internet service provider assets, or large-scale natural gas or propane gas storage or processing facilities.

For electric and gas utility assets, other than land and land rights, value is based on a weighted average of 70 percent of each asset’s original cost and 30 percent of each asset’s net book cost. For water utility assets, it is based on 25 percent of the original cost and 75 percent of the net book costs. Three percent of the value derived using this formula is added to account for the use of public rights-of-way and private easements. Fee-owned land, office buildings, garages, and warehouses are assessed separately, not subject to the formula. Each company is required to report annually, by May 1, to both the municipality and the Department of Revenue Administration the original cost and net book value as of the preceding December 31 of each category of assets located within the municipality.

The formula will be phased in over a five-year period. In the first year (the tax year beginning April 1, 2020) the value will be a weighted average of 80 percent of the locally assessed value for the 2018 tax year and 20 percent of the value determined using the new formula; in the second year the split will be 60-40, and so on until the formula is fully implemented.  The new formula does not affect the determination of value in any case that is pending as of the effective date of the new law.  Statutes amended or added:  RSA 72:8-d and :8-e, 75:1, 79-C:3.  E.D. August 20, 2019.

Municipal Aggregation of Electric Customers.  Chapter 316 (SB 286) makes several changes to the law that authorizes municipalities and counties to aggregate retail electric customers to provide them with access to competitive markets for electricity. Most significantly, it allows a municipality or county to aggregate all retail customers within its boundary who do not opt out of inclusion in the program.  Statutes amended:  RSA 53-E:2 through :7, RSA 362-F:2, RSA 374-F:2 and :7, among others.  E.D. October 1, 2019.

XI.  EDUCATION FUNDING

Requirements for School Building Aid Grants.  Chapter 290 (HB 175) amends the application procedures for requesting school building aid by requiring a letter of intent eighteen months prior to the beginning of the biennium in which building aid grants are to be disbursed. A completed application including detailed drawings, preliminary design documents, cost estimates, funding sources, and other information is due no later than July 1 of the year prior to the biennium for which funding is sought.  Construction or reconstruction projects exceeding $1 million require engaging the services of a project manager. Project proposals will be funded to the extent of available appropriations in the fiscal year, with emergency projects addressed on a case-by-case basis.  Statute amended:  RSA 198:15-c.  E.D. September 27, 2019.  

XII.  SPECIAL ACTS

Kingston Allowed Town Bonfire in 2019.  Chapter 3 (HB 167) authorizes the Town of Kingston to have one bonfire in 2019 at which one motor vehicle prepared to the satisfaction of the fire chief may be burned. Statute amended: None. E.D. May 10, 2019.

Charter Commission for Manchester School District.  Chapter 174 (HB 544) requires the establishment of a charter commission to develop a local procedure to revise, amend, or replace the Manchester school district charter. The charter commission will submit its recommendations in the form of a ballot question to the school district voters at the November 2020 regular election. The charter commission will consist of nine members, and will be elected in conjunction with the regular election in November 2019.  Statute added:  RSA 49-B:15.  E.D. July 10, 2019.

Town of Milton May Sell Old Fire Station.  Chapter 237 (SB 154) authorizes the Town of Milton, notwithstanding RSA 41:14-a, II(c), to sell a property known as “the old fire station.”  Statutes amended:  None.  E.D. July 12, 2019.  See also section IX.

Pease Development Authority Modified.  Chapter 256 (HB 243) changes the composition of the Pease Development Authority such that the member previously appointed jointly by the City of Portsmouth and the Town of Newington will now be jointly appointed by the Town of Greenland and the Town of Newington. Portsmouth will retain its singular appointment of a member, as will Newington. In addition, the quorum requirement has changed from four to five members, and five affirmative votes will be required for any action of the board, except for the adoption of land use controls, which will now require six votes, rather than the previous five. Statute amended: RSA 12-G:4. E.D. April 30, 2021.

XIII. VETOED BILLS OF SIGNIFICANT MUNICIPAL INTEREST

The following bills passed both houses but were vetoed by the governor. The legislature will meet on September 18 and 19 to consider overriding these vetoes (and many others). The veto of the state operating budget (HB 1 and HB 2) will not be overridden. Instead, the legislature and the governor will have to reach a compromise, which will be included in two new bills. The other bills listed below have some chance of passing over the governor’s vetoes; and, because all of them are NHMA policy bills, we support an override for each of them.

Biennial State Operating Budget.  HB 1, the state operating budget for the biennium July 1, 2019 through June 30, 2021, and HB 2, the companion “trailer” bill containing statutory changes necessary to implement the budget, passed the House and Senate with items of municipal interest included in that two-year state spending plan listed below.   The governor’s veto message on HB 1 and HB 2 is available here

  • $40 million over the biennium ($20 million each year) for unrestricted municipal aid (click here for a list by municipality—the column on the right shows the two-year total);
  • $68.8 million each year in meals and rooms tax distribution, which is the same amount distributed the past four years;
  • Funding for 70 wastewater projects substantially completed by December 1, 2019, bringing the state aid grant (SAG) program up to date in state funding;
  • Approximately $36 million each year for highway block grants and $6.8 million each year for municipal bridge aid; 
  • $6 million to the Department of Environmental Services for studying, investigating, and testing contamination caused by perfluorinated chemicals (PFAS) and for preliminary design of a  treatment system for such contamination;
  • $400,000 over the biennium to match federal grants for public transit systems;
  • $1.8 million for demolition of state-owned buildings in Concord, Lebanon, and Conway;
  • Funding for the Granite Shield Program, which provides $2.4 million over the biennium to municipal and county law enforcement; and
  • An additional $34.8 million and $103.3 million in fiscal years 2020 and 2021, respectively, for education funding over the current education funding formula. A copy of the estimated education funding by municipality is available here.

Increase in Net Metering Cap. HB 365 increases to five megawatts (from one megawatt) the capacity limit for a customer-generator to participate in net metering under RSA 362-A:9. It also requires an electric distribution company to treat the net metered energy it purchases as a reduction to its wholesale load obligation for energy supply. The governor’s veto mess on HB 365 is available here.

Transportation Improvement Fee. HB 409 increases the cap on the local option transportation improvement fee from $5 to $10.  Revenue raised from this local option fee must be placed in a capital reserve fund and can only be spent on transportation-related projects or services after appropriation by the legislative body of the municipality.  Enactment of the fee, as well as any increase in the fee up to the statutory cap, also requires approval by the local legislative body.  The governor’s veto message on HB 409 is available here

Independent Redistricting Commission.  HB 706 establishes an independent commission to draw legislative districts after each decennial census. The commission would consist of five Republicans, five Democrats, and five persons who are neither, none of whom may be current legislators or executive councilors. The bill establishes criteria for drawing district lines and specifically prohibits the creation of districts that “have the intent or the effect of unduly favoring or disfavoring any political party, incumbent, or candidate for political office.” The districts would still need to be approved by the legislature. The governor’s veto message on HB 706 is available here.

Cross Reference Charts

 

2019 FINAL LEGISLATIVE BULLETIN
CROSS REFERENCE - (CHAPTER LAW TO HOUSE OR SENATE BILL NUMBER) 

CHAPTER LAW

BILL NUMBER

 

CHAPTER LAW

BILL NUMBER

Ch. 2

HB 136

 

Ch. 202

SB 203

Ch. 3

HB 167

 

Ch. 208

HB 261

Ch. 6

HB 245

 

Ch. 209

HB 271

Ch. 22

HB 223

 

Ch. 213

HB 443

Ch. 29

HB 406

 

Ch. 214

HB 468

Ch. 30

HB 475

 

Ch. 216

HB 591

Ch. 32

HB 540

 

Ch. 218

HB 660

Ch. 38

HB 675

 

Ch. 219

HB 710

Ch. 48

HB 259

 

Ch. 221

SB 22

Ch. 54

HB 329

 

Ch. 223

SB 37

Ch. 61

SB 28

 

Ch. 225

SB 56

Ch. 70

HB 343

 

Ch. 231

SB 103

Ch. 76

HB 128

 

Ch. 237

SB 154

Ch. 79

HB 228

 

Ch. 238

SB 164

Ch. 82

HB 312

 

Ch. 245

SB 210

Ch. 84

SB 21

 

Ch. 250

HB 562

Ch. 93

HB 148

 

Ch. 251

SB 59

Ch. 99

HB 301

 

Ch. 256

HB 243

Ch. 100

HB 325

 

Ch. 261

HB 531

Ch. 105

HB 370

 

Ch. 262

HB 539

Ch. 106

HB 391

 

Ch. 263

HB 614

Ch. 107

HB 396

 

Ch. 265

HB 617

Ch. 117

HB 700

 

Ch. 266

HB 635

Ch. 125

HB 281

 

Ch. 268

HB 692

Ch. 128

HB 345

 

Ch. 270

SB 163

Ch. 131

HB 415

 

Ch. 279

SB 238

Ch. 145

HJR 3

 

Ch. 290

HB 175

Ch. 147

HB 116

 

Ch. 294

HB 592

Ch. 148

HB 146

 

Ch. 297

HB 637

Ch. 162

SB 186

 

Ch. 299

SB 31

Ch. 163

HB 286

 

Ch. 300

SB 43

Ch. 171

HB 491

 

Ch. 306

HB 459

Ch. 174

HB 544

 

Ch. 308

SB 39

Ch. 186

SB 49

 

Ch. 316

SB 286

Ch. 187

SB 53

 

Ch. 318

SB 285

Ch. 192

SB 104

 

 

 

2019 FINAL LEGISLATIVE BULLETIN
CROSS REFERENCE (HOUSE OR SENATE BILL NUMBER TO CHAPTER LAW) 

BILL NUMBER

CHAPTER LAW

 

BILL NUMBER

CHAPTER LAW

HB 1

 

 

HB 544

Ch. 174

HB 2

 

 

HB 562

Ch. 250

HB 116

Ch. 147

 

HB 591

Ch. 216

HB 128

Ch. 76

 

HB 592

Ch. 294

HB 136

Ch. 2

 

HB 614

Ch. 263

HB 146

Ch. 148

 

HB 617

Ch. 265

HB 148

Ch. 93

 

HB 635

Ch. 266

HB 167

Ch. 3

 

HB 637

Ch. 297

HB 175

Ch. 290

 

HB 660

Ch. 218

HB 223

Ch. 22

 

HB 675

Ch. 38

HB 228

Ch. 79

 

HB 692

Ch. 268

HB 243

Ch. 256

 

HB 700

Ch. 117

HB 245

Ch. 6

 

HB 706

 

HB 259

Ch. 48

 

HB 710

Ch. 219

HB 261

Ch. 208

 

HJR 3

Ch. 145

HB 271

Ch. 209

 

 

 

HB 281

Ch. 125

 

SB 21

Ch. 84

HB 286

Ch. 163

 

SB 22

Ch. 221

HB 301

Ch. 99

 

SB 28

Ch. 61

HB 312

Ch. 82

 

SB 31

Ch. 299

HB 325

Ch. 100

 

SB 37

Ch. 223

HB 329

Ch. 54

 

SB 39

Ch. 308

HB 343

Ch. 70

 

SB 43

Ch. 300

HB 345

Ch. 128

 

SB 49

Ch. 186

HB 365

 

 

SB 53

Ch. 187

HB 370

Ch. 105

 

SB 56

Ch. 225

HB 391

Ch. 106

 

SB 59

Ch. 251

HB 396

Ch. 107

 

SB 103

Ch. 231

HB 406

Ch. 29

 

SB 104

Ch. 192

HB 409

 

 

SB 154

Ch. 237

HB 415

Ch. 131

 

SB 163

Ch. 270

HB 443

Ch. 213

 

SB 164

Ch. 238

HB 459

Ch. 306

 

SB 186

Ch. 162

HB 468

Ch. 214

 

SB 203

Ch. 202

HB 475

Ch. 30

 

SB 210

Ch. 245

HB 491

Ch. 171

 

SB 238

Ch. 279

HB 531

Ch. 261

 

SB 285

Ch. 318

HB 539

Ch. 262

 

SB 286

Ch. 316

HB 540

Ch. 32

 

 

 

 

Final Bulletin, 2019 Session

August 15, 2019
 GOVERNMENT AFFAIRS CONTACT INFORMATION
Margaret M.L Byrnes
Executive Director
Cordell A. Johnston
Government Affairs Counsel
Barbara T. Reid
Government Finance Advisor
Natch Greyes
Municipal Services Counsel
Timothy W. Fortier
Communications Coordinator

  

25 Triangle Park Drive
Concord NH 03301
603.224.7447
governmentaffairs@nhmunicipal.org