This is the 16th legislative/policy update for the 2023 New Hampshire Legislative session. I provide this update periodically (almost weekly) while the New Hampshire Legislature is in session to keep NHTOA members informed of what is happening in Concord. (If you do not wish to receive this update, please let me know and I will remove you from the distribution list.)
This week we waited until Tuesday to send this out so you could have the latest information on the intent-to-cut and tree stand/game camera bills.
This week neither the House nor Senate are holding general sessions, but the committee work continues. Now that crossover has passed, it is not uncommon for the same bill to be modified differently by each chamber. When this occurs, the originating chamber has the option of accepting the change. If it does, the bill goes to the Governor’s desk for consideration where he will sign it into law, veto it, or allow it to go into law without a signature. Otherwise, the originating chamber can opt to not accept the changes and kill the bill or seek a Committees of Conference to negotiate the different version. If a committee of conference fails to negotiate a compromise, the bill dies. If a chamber seeks a committee of conference and the second chamber refuses to negotiate, the bill dies. The Committees of Conference have until June 22 to finalize their negotiations and on June 29 the full House and Senate will meet to vote on the committee of conference recommendations.
I am attaching the updated NHTOA bill tracking spreadsheet (attached).
Four notes on this spreadsheet:
1. The legislative process is very fluid and moves quickly. The House and Senate Status/Actions are as of the day on the report is printed. Please note these are subject to change.
2. The link to the bill text (in the spreadsheet) should take you directly to the N.H. General Court website’s link to the bill. Note that during the heat of committee meetings and debate over amendments, this link will sometimes not take you to the most current amendments.
3. The Priority/Action looks at the entire bill and weighs many factors. The NHTOA Executive Director analyzes each bill and makes a recommendation to the NHTOA Policy Committee. Where a question mark is present or it is blank, we are still gathering information or assessing our position on the bill.
4. Bills that are either “Retained” or “Rereferred” are essentially tabled within the committee. After the crossover deadline the bill cannot move out of its current chamber and generally will not see any activity until autumn when the committee is required to vote it out of committee with a recommendation that will be taken up by the entire body.
Because we are monitoring many bills, I am only providing comments on those of particular interest to the NHTOA’s membership. If you have any questions about any of the bills on the spreadsheet, please contact me.
House Bill 1 & 2 (lines 3 & 4 on the spreadsheet) – The Senate is now working on both the budget bill (HB 1) and its trailer (HB 2). We continue to monitor them.
House Bill 174 (line 20 on the spreadsheet) – Summary: This is the NHTOA’s intent-to-cut bill. This bill seeks to resolve the problem of towns that fail to sign the intent-to-cut form within the statutory 15-day review period. When a landowner and their forester/logger plan a timber harvest they must file an intent-to-cut with the local municipality, notifying the town the timber sale is about to occur. The tax assessor has 15 days to review the form and ensure no back taxes are owed and sign off. Timber harvesting can’t begin until this form is signed. With the challenges of scheduling logging crews, trucks, and the delivery of logging equipment (e.g., skidders), a timely review and sign off is important. Existing law does not make clear what happens if they don’t sign it within 15 days and unfortunately there are communities that do not comply causing the landowner and forest manager to needlessly wait.
NHTOA position: To address this issue, House Bill 174 will modify the law to allow the timber harvest to begin without a signed intent-to-cut after the 15-day review period, provided the landowner has properly filed the intent-to-cut form and does not owe back taxes. If the landowner missed something when filing their intent-to-cut, the town still has the right to order the timber harvest stopped until the intent-to-cut is corrected. The NHTOA chose to address this problem in a non-punitive manner that provides the timberland owners and their land managers scheduling surety.
Action: The full House approved this bill last month. The hearing before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee today went well with no one speaking in opposition. We are optimistic it will pass the committee.
Call to Action: Senate Bill 14 and Senate Bill 15
(lines 46 and 49 on spreadsheet)
Background: Senate Bills 14 and 15 are the “game camera” and “tree stand” labeling and landowner permission bills. Senate Bill 14 defines “game camera.” In addition to language dealing with the fair chase issues that arise from the use of “live action” cameras (cameras from which owners can see images and video through their cell phone in real time), this bill also requires labeling cameras with the owner's name and contact information and landowner permission when the camera is installed on the land of another. Senate Bill 15 requires the labeling of tree stands or observation blinds with the owner’s name and contact information and requires landowner permission if the stand or blind is to remain on the property beyond Jan. 1.
To see copies of the bills as they came out of committee, go to:
Senate Bill 14, see attached
Senate Bill 15, see attached
Update: Both bills passed the Senate earlier this session. Today the House Fish, Game and Marine Resources Committee passed an amended version of the tree stand bill (SB 15). Although the amendment is not an improvement, NHTOA will accept it.
After a lengthy debate and several failed amendments, the Senate version of the game camera bill (SB 14) passed along party lines (10 to 9).
We anticipate both bills will go to the floor of the full House of Representatives next week where we anticipate a floor fight or an attempt to amend them on the floor.
Action: We are asking our members to email or call their Representative and ask them to support Senate Bill 15 and Senate Bill 14 as they came out of committee.
In your email or on your call please,
- Introduce yourself,
o Your name and company/family/tree farm name (if applicable)
o Town(s) you own land in,
o Acres you own,
o If your land is open to hunting, please mention that.
- Ask them to support Senate Bill 14 and 15 as they came out of committee.
- Feel free to talk about hunting on your property,
o It is a traditional land use most timberland owners respect and allow,
o It is a useful tool for managing wildlife populations,
o It does not generate revenue for landowners,
o Hunting on someone else’s land is a privilege.
- Also use any of the following talking points,
o These bills are about property rights and common courtesy.
o Labeling both cameras and tree stands is important – landowners need to know who to contact if a camera or tree stand is inappropriately placed (e.g., viewing a hiking trail) or needs to be removed (e.g., in a planned harvest area).
o Cameras are used for more than just hunting (i.e., surveillance). Seeking landowner permission for camera placement protects privacy,
o As camera technology advances (live-action cameras that send images to cell phones) they can become more intrusive of a landowner’s privacy,
o Seeking permission for the long-term (beyond the hunting season) placement of a tree stand is a courtesy,
o Timberland owners have already made concessions in drafting this bill by not seeking permission for all tree stands. Support the bills as drafted.
To identify your Representative, go to, https://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/house/members/
If you send an email, please copy:
Lastly, if you get any responses from your Representative, please forward that to me. That information is helpful to know.
House Bill 467 (line 55 on the spreadsheet) – This is the playground wood fiber bill. As proposed, it will require all public playgrounds in operation or built beyond Jan. 1, 2024 to have a surface area made from resilient rubber or a urethane rubber composite. The intention of this bill is to insure handicap accessibility. Because many playgrounds in New Hampshire use engineered wood fiber (EWF) for these surfaces—wood fiber that has been ground, screened, and compacted into place at the playground—this bill would eliminate its use. EWF does provide accessibility (American with Disabilities Act approved) and is a safe surface (provides a cushion). EWF is also biodegradable, will not require landfilling after its useful life, and is an important market for low-grade softwood fiber. Committee leadership is working on an amendment to balance our concerns with those of the disability access advocates. We anticipate a vote on an amendment soon.
NHTOA position/Action: The NHTOA opposes this bill as drafted and seeks an amendment to allow the continued use of EWF in public playgrounds. We are asking our members to email the committee and express opposition to this proposal for the reasons stated above and allow the continued use of EWF.
Address your email to:
Sen. Bill Gannon, Chair
N.H. Senate Commerce Committee
State House, Room 100
Concord, NH 03301
Send your email to: