2018 NH Legislative Session Overview

January 3 marks the start of the New Hampshire Legislature’s 2018 session.  Although the House of Representatives has elected a new speaker-Gene Chandler succeeds Shawn Jasper in that position- many of the issues on which we have engaged in prior sessions are back on the agenda for 2018.  Here are the key issues we expect the Legislature will debate:

  1. Forestry and Conservation.  While they are not typically the kind that make the news,   these topics will of course always be top priorities for the Forest Society.  Several bills this session could impact how stakeholders in manage the State’s forests.  Chief among these proposals are House Bill (HB) 1470, which aims to eliminate the timber tax; HB 1210, which would establish to study the effect of Current Use taxation on small and rural municipalities; and HB1473 which would amend the procedures for conducting a timber harvest. 
  2. Energy Policy. As in previous sessions, energy policy will fill a significant part of the overall 2018 schedule. The Forest Society is not an expert in matters involving energy markets.   However, the impact on our state’s forest ecosystems from the production, siting and transmission of all forms of energy is a major concern.  Our role is to offer thoughtful analysis to policy makers about the relationship between natural resource protection and energy.  Examples of proposals we will need to evaluate include HB 1358, which would mandate the NH Site Evaluation Committee to issue a certificate for an energy facility if the committee fails to act within 365 days of acceptance of an application; a bill (no number assigned yet to it) that would make substantial changes to the SEC by requiring all members to be public members instead of government agency representatives; and HB 1569 which requires an energy facility developer to provide financial guarantee to fund restoration efforts in the event construction or operation of the facility causes environmental damage.
  3. Water Quality and Protection.  Because of the widespread contamination to drinking water supplies from perflourinated chemicals many communities have experienced, the Legislature will take up a host of bills regarding PFOA and PFOS chemicals.   Examples of these bills include HB 1590, which would require the Department of Environmental Services to initiate rulemaking to adopt surface water quality standards for those chemicals; and HB 1101, which would allow DES to make rules regarding air pollution and the deposit of such pollutants on soils and water.
  4. NH Fish and Game Department.  The  Fish and Game Department has long been one of the Forest Society’s partners as we have worked to protect important wildlife habitats. As such, we will closely follow any proposal which could impact the Department’s ability to support our efforts.