NH LAKES Advocacy Alert!
March 1, 2017
Dear Lake Friend,
I want to thank all of you who have emailed, called, or otherwise made your opinions known to me or to your legislators in support of our positions on pending legislation during this session of the New Hampshire Legislature. I especially want to thank the NH LAKES Public Policy and Advocacy Committee Members and Friends for their constant engagement and guidance.
This week, the New Hampshire Legislature is off for winter break, and soon after the session resumes all bills must cross over to the other side, from the House to Senate and vice versa. In the last two weeks leading up to the break, there was a flurry of activity as committees were trying to get bills ‘done.’ Most, but not all, of the bills that NH LAKES is engaged in have been acted upon and are ready to cross over.
Here’s the rundown:
House Bill 195, re Create a study committee to consider proposal to reduce temporary seasonal dock setbacks from 20 feet to ten feet.
The bill was voted “Ought to Pass” in committee which means a study committee will be formed and a report issued by 11/1/2017. Our overarching goal with regard to docks is to ensure that there is sufficient agency oversight so that navigational and other safety concerns are addressed. 

House Bill 486, re the creation of wetland buffers.
This bill is expected to have a significant budgetary impact on several agencies, among other concerns, so it was “Retained” by the House Resources Committee. The bill will be further studied and is expected to be acted upon in January 2018, without additional public hearing. NH LAKES will stay engaged. 

Senate Bill 30, re shoreland point segments size.
This bill was voted “Ought to Pass” by committee, however, it is still being held by the Senate. NH LAKES is closely engaged due to concerns that the Senate may act to reopen the Shoreland Act for additional reworking. NH LAKES was involved in an exhaustive process to create and then recreate this bill and we will continue to advocate strongly for it. 

Senate Bill 48, re the NH Fish and Game Department governance.
This bill was voted “Ought to Pass” by committee with amendment. NH LAKES is advocating for the NH Fish and Game Department  to be more fully funded through the State General Fund and governed as other agencies are, with a Governor-appointed Commissioner and advisory boards. 

Senate Bill 118, re Grass/lawn as a pervious surface.
This bill was voted by committee “Ought to Pass” with amendment. On the face of it, this bill makes a simple change – to include grass and lawn in the definition of “pervious” surfaces. However, there was movement afoot to then give credit (points) to grass and lawn as vegetated buffers, which NH LAKES does not support. We are monitoring this bill closely. 

Senate Bill 119, re Extending docks in certain circumstances.
The committee directed the bill’s prime sponsor, the agencies, and NH LAKES to meet and develop mutually agreeable language that would provide an expedited permitting process for the temporary seasonal extension of docks under special circumstances (such as extremely low water). This group has yet to meet. The position of NH LAKES is that dock extensions should be reviewed by state agencies to ensure that they do not impede navigation or unreasonably intrude into public waters. 

Please clink on the links for these bills, read them, and let us know your thoughts. If you want to take action but are not sure how or and when and where to do so, please let me know. As always, you can contact me at or (603) 226-0299.

On behalf of the New Hampshire Lakes Association,

Tom O'Brien
President and Policy Advocate

NH LAKES is the only statewide, member supported 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting New Hampshire lakes and their watersheds.


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