Training on RTK law now available

Right to Know New Hampshire (RTKNH) has put together a presentation on the Right-to-Know law.  This is a comprehensive review of the Right-to-Know law and covers governmental records, minutes, public and nonpublic meetings, and violations.

RTKNH is available to provide a right to know training class to your group.  The training class includes our presentation on the Right-to-Know Law.  To schedule our training class for your organization or citizen’s group, contact us.  To contact us, please click ‘Send us a message’ on the right side of this page.

Additional training materials can be found on our blog under the Training menu option.

Right-to-Know law expanded to require public body to post information about meeting notice and minutes on website

Governor Sununu signed HB170 into law on July 18th.

This bill states that if a public body maintains an Internet website or contracts with a third party to maintain an Internet website on its behalf, it shall either post its approved minutes in a consistent and reasonably accessible location on the website or post and maintain a notice on the website stating where the minutes may be reviewed and copies requested.  Also, If a public body chooses to post meeting notices on the body’s Internet website, it shall do so in a consistent and reasonably accessible location on the website.  If it does not post notices on the website, it shall post and maintain a notice on the website stating where meeting notices are posted.

This change takes effect January 1, 2018.

N.H. Judge orders free redacted emails

The Town of Tuftonboro, N.H. lost it’s effort to charge $0.15 per page to redact emails provided electronically. Judge Amy Ignatius in Carroll County Superior Court ruled that redacting emails electronically does not substantively change their format nor does it incur actual costs that can be charged. The town had not sought to be reimbursed for the time it takes employees to redact the emails, and they provided no evidence of other expenses.

Unlike most Right-to-Know Law cases where a citizen sues for access to records or meetings, in this case the Town of Tuftonboro took 2 of its residents to court. The town basically wanted the court to declare whether the town could charge for redacted records. Since the citizens had to respond to the preemptive lawsuit by hiring a lawyer, they sought help from supporters. The town sought for details about those supporters, but the court also denied that request. In spite of the burden imposed by the town on the citizens, the court did not award attorney’s fees or court costs because the issue of redaction costs was not settled law and therefor the town did not “know or should have known” it was improperly denying access. The town has 30 days until September 7, 2017 to appeal. The full court order is available here.

Union Leader Article

RTKNH meeting Saturday 8/19 @ 9 a.m.

Right to Know NH will meet on Saturday, August 19, 2017 at 9:00 A.M. via Conference Call.  We will be working on legislative changes needed to the Right to Know Law (RSA 91-A) to improve openness in the conduct of public business.  RTKNH members will be emailed the conference call number prior to the meeting.  The public is welcome to attend and should contact us for instructions to attend via the conference call.

Right-to-Know law expanded to provide greater visibility into violations by public officials

Governor Sununu signed HB460 into law on June 28th.

This bill states that meeting minutes must now include any objections made to any discussions during a meeting if a member of the public body believes that the discussion is in violation of the Right-to-Know law.  The objection recorded in the meeting minutes must include the name of the person objecting to the discussion and a description of the violation.  If the violation is not corrected by the board,  the member who stated the objection may continue to participate in the meeting without exposure to possible penalties for the violation.

This bill was drafted by Right to Know New Hampshire (RTKNH).

BILL SPONSORS: Rep. True, Rock. 4; Rep. J. Edwards, Rock. 4; Rep. Torosian, Rock. 14; Rep. Brown, Graf. 16; Rep. Comeau, Carr. 5

This change takes effect January 1, 2018.

Bill to establish a commission to study better ways to resolve Right-to-Know complaints signed into Law

Governor Sununu signed HB178 into law on June 16th.  This bill establishes a 13 member study commission on resolving Right-to-Know complaints.

 

Should a citizen feel the Right-to-Know law has been violated, currently, enforcement of the law falls squarely on the citizen’s shoulders.  Costs and legal complexities associated with filing a petition in court is a financial and emotional burden, and for some it’s simply prohibitive.   Additional costs are also born by public bodies and the courts.  Regardless of who wins or loses the lawsuit, the taxpayer is burdened with a great deal of the total expense.  To reduce these costs to the taxpayers, this commission will study ways to reduce both the number of and the expense of resolving complaints consistent with the following:

(1)  Encouraging resolution of right-to-know complaints directly between citizens and public agencies and bodies.

(2)  Reducing the burden and costs of right-to-know complaints on the courts.

(3)  Reducing the burden and costs of right-to-know complaints on public agencies and bodies.

(4)  Reducing the burden and costs of right-to-know complaints on citizens aggrieved by violations of RSA 91-A.

(5)  Increasing awareness and compliance with the right-to-know law to minimize violations.

The commission will report its findings  and any recommendations for proposed legislation by November 1, 2017.

RTKNH to attend CNHT picnic July 8

Representatives from RTKNH will be attending and have a display table at the Coalition of New Hampshire Taxpayers Annual Picnic Saturday July 8th from 12:00 pm to 4:00 pm. This event will be held at the Sweeney Post #2 – American Legion at 251 Maple Street in Manchester, NH.

Featured Speaker: Hal Shurtleff of Camp Constitution
Emcee: Rich Girard from “Girard at Large” Radio Show – WLMW 90.7 FM

For more information on this event and to purchase tickets click here.