Secretive Legislative Tactics to Undermine Powers of Local Governments
SB 306 empowers THE STATE SUPREME COURT with elective powers to appoint members to a “Housing Appeals Board.” In turn, the appointed board is empowered with judicial powers to override any and all collective local decision-making authority around housing developments and carry out the will of corporate actors against those living there. What a deal.
The bill passed the NH Senate, but was then tabled. The Senate then added the bill’s language to the Senate budget. Why do this? It's a way to pass legislation through the adoption of a budget, regardless of the outcome of the stand-alone bill.
A similar bill, HB 104, has already been killed in the NH House. Is this the Senate’s way of forcing legislation that the House has already rejected? Legislative shenanigans are not uncommon, especially at the end of the legislative season, but this action by the Senate stoops very low by allowing them to bypass additional public hearings and push SB 306 through this year.
Senator Guida of Warren, NH (District 2) proposed SB 306 and claims in an opinion piece published by the Concord Monitor that “Lack of affordable workforce housing is a major crisis in New Hampshire. Senate Bill 306 addresses this issue by establishing a Housing Appeals Board whose sole purpose is to save time and money for all parties when an appeal is filed in relation to a decision rendered by a local land-use board.” But contrary to Sen. Guida’s claimed concerns about “affordable” housing, the 9-page bill only mentions “affordable” once in the preamble, not in the actual binding language of the law.
It would be one thing if SB 306 was being proposed as setting minimum standards of protection for affordable housing so as not to encourage gentrification, but this is all about overriding local voices so that the wealthy propertied of society can protect their privilege. Corporate developers that save a portion of their developments for housing could possibly use the new “Housing Appeals Board” to override local land-use ordinances that, for example, limit certain commercial uses to industrial zones only or maybe local laws that protect sensitive ecosystems and natural environments.
If SB 306 is adopted as part of the State’s budget, it becomes law. Any housing development application could be legitimately denied based on local ordinances but the developer could go to the State-created, NH Supreme Court-appointed, “Housing Appeals Board” and have the denial heard and overturned. It’s as simple as that. And, taxpayers would get to foot the bill at an estimated $400,000 each year to have their local collective voices silenced – the will of the citizenry be damned.
A growing number of Granite State communities recognize the State’s ever-increasing overreach and interference into local matters. These communities are adopting local rights-based ordinances (not land-use) that recognize the right of local self-government and ecosystem rights – empowering those most affected by governing decisions with authority to make those decisions. Join them and let’s work together to secure our right to decide what’s best for the human and natural communities in the places where it matters most – right where we live. Learn more by visiting the NH Community Rights Network (NHCRN) website at www.nhcommunityrights.org.
(she, her, hers)