SB 400, ‘Community Toolbox’ bill, under fire as House seeks to gut original version
As lawmakers near the finish line when they meet on Wednesday and Thursday – it’s the last week for either chamber to vote on bills before the two sides try to reconcile the differences with the other’s version before they were sent to Governor Sununu – a number of key bills dealing with real estate and construction may or may not cross it.
At the top of the list is House Bill 400, the so-called “Community Toolbox” bill, which may not succeed. The Senate passed a more carrot-than-stick version, rewarding housing “champions,” providing training for volunteer planning and zoning councils, and demanding that workforce housing receive the same incentives as labor housing. seniors and streamlining the application process.
The House version limits or removes some of these provisions and also repeals previous legislation that required municipalities to include workforce housing in their zoning ordinances by adding a clause that exempts areas without sewers or water. . That, say opponents, means cities could deny a request for workforce housing even if the developer wants to expand those services. He also added some unrelated provisions that the Senate is unlikely to agree with, such as making it harder to authorize municipal tax caps. If the amendment passes, Democrats and enough Republicans will likely vote against the bill, potentially killing it.
But the House won’t kill SB 249, although it will probably send it for consideration. The intent of the legislation was to ban local ordinances against short-term rentals, like Airbnb. The bill would allow municipalities to tighten regulations, but it was not enough for those who saw it as a hindrance to local control over the growing industry.
The House will also likely pass SB 210, which should remove some barriers preventing tenants of the manufactured housing stock from voting on whether to buy the stock they live in if residents try to buy it. The final version of the bill did not include a provision requiring a majority of all residents, even those not voting, to support a deal.
Expect a close party-line vote on SB 217, which would double the time landlords have to give tenants eviction notice from 30 days to 60 days, if they do so to sell, renovate or repair the units. Proponents argue that tenants, who must leave through no fault of their own, need more time in the current housing market to find another place to live. Opponents argue that more regulation means less rental housing, which would further worsen the housing shortage.
But the vote on SB 371 probably won’t be close. This bill would replenish the $3 million Lead Paint Hazard Remediation Fund, which provides interest-free loans to homeowners to remove lead from their property. This fund, which has financed the removal of lead from some 800 rental units in the past, is now exhausted.
The House is also expected to pass SB 443, which gives the State Building Review Board the ability to veto building codes that are less stringent than state codes and would create a centralized place for contractors look up local codes.
On infrastructure, if the House passes SB 401, some $70 million in state surplus would go to contractors to work on municipal bridges ($36 million) and roads ($30 million). , with an additional $4.1 million for the road needed to renovate Balsams Station.
It also looks like the House will pass SB 438, requiring state construction projects over $1 million to use American steel. Proponents argue it will help the U.S. steel industry, but opponents argue it will come at a cost, since contractors buy foreign steel because it’s cheaper.
But the House will likely kill SB 274, which would ban federal requirements for collective bargaining and community benefits in state contracts. Proponents have argued that most New Hampshire contractors aren’t unionized and wouldn’t accept such deals, but opponents say the state could lose some big federal contracts, crucial for infrastructure and city development. the state.
In the Senate, HB 1307 is likely to be killed. The measure attempts to limit the scope of the Housing Appeal Board, which was created in 2020 to provide a faster alternative to the court process allowing developers to challenge decisions of local planning and zoning boards, which, may limit the construction of affordable housing. .