The Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee voted last week 4-0 to send HB 1104 to the full Senate Thursday, April 19. This legislation is being promoted as needed “regulatory reform” by its supporters and is likely to pass the Senate in the absence of compelling arguments against it. While the Forest Society is not opposed to regulatory reform, sections of HB 1104 will unnecessarily and arbitrarily handcuff the Department of Environmental Services in its statutory charge to protect the State’s wetland resources. This link gives the updated bill language. The highlighted sections indicate the shortened timeframes. The Senate Executive Departments and Administration Committee amended section 4 of the bill as detailed here.
The bill as written will amend RSA 482-A to arbitrarily truncate the review times within which DES must act on wetland applications. These truncated review times are bad for two reasons: 1) there is no evidence that the existing statutory review times are failing the wetland resources the law is written to protect; 2) there is no allowance for added financial resources to allow DES to hire more staff to meet the new truncated review times.
For these reasons, the Forest Society testified against the bill during its recent hearing before the Senate Executive Departments and Administration Committee. Read our testimony HERE. If you share our concerns, PLEASE CONTACT YOUR STATE SENATOR and ask him/her to protect NH’s wetland resources by either eliminating these truncated wetland application review deadlines from HB 1104 or by amending HB 1104 to provide the staffing resources necessary to attain the truncated deadline.