RTKNH receives First Amendment Award

We couldn’t be more proud.  On Thursday night, October 5, 2017, the Nackey S. Loeb School of Communications awarded Right to Know NH its First Amendment Award. The award is given annually by the school to those who have “gone above and beyond to uphold” First Amendment Freedoms.

1sr amendment award group

RTKNH, including founding members and officers Harriet Cady, David Saad and David Taylor were honored at a gala at the Palace Theatre in Manchester for its work in advancing the public’s right to know in New Hampshire.

A 5 minute video about RTKNH was shown at the award ceremony followed by a speech by David Saad,  RTKNH president.

The keynote speaker was Garrison Keillor, creator and star of “A Prairie Home Companion” radio show, who spoke of everyday threats to our First Amendment rights, not least of which is our own indifference and reluctance to act.

Since it began in 2013, Right to Know NH has been devoted to strengthening the Right to Know law in New Hampshire.  Through legislative action, education outreach and mentoring citizens in obtaining public information, the grass roots organization has grown to become a notable advocate for open government in the state.

We are honored to be recognized by the Nackey S. Loeb School and are delighted that attorney and First Amendment specialist, Greg Sullivan, was also recognized with the school’s Pen and Quill award.

The Nackey  S. Loeb School of Communications’ mission is to “promote understanding and appreciation of the First Amendment and to foster interest, integrity and excellence in journalism and communication.”

Articles by the Union Leader and Concord Monitor provide more information.

 

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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.

N.H. House Hearings on RTK Bills on January 23 Starting at 10:00

The New Hampshire House Judiciary Committee will hold a day full of hearings on Right-to-Know bills on January 23, 2018 starting at 10:00 a.m. A total of 7 bills, all concerning RSA 91-A, the Right-to-Know Law, will be considered. The hearings will be in room 208 of the Legislative Office Building in Concord, N.H. The public is encouraged to attend and testify in favor of these bills.

At 10:00 a.m. is HB 1344, relative to collective bargaining under the right-to-know law. This bill requires collective bargaining negotiations to be in public. The full text of this bill is available here. This bill is sponsored by Rep. Kurt Wuelper (R), Rep. Jordan Ulery (R), and Rep. Leonard Turcotte (R).  RTKNH proposed this bill.

At 10:30 a.m. is HB 1579, requiring records to be kept for certain exempt convenings under the right-to- know law. This bill requires a minimal, after-the-fact record of certain non-meetings of public bodies. The full text of this bill is available here. This bill is sponsored by Rep. Kurt Wuelper (R), Rep. Carl Seidel (R), and Rep. Kevin Verville (R).  RTKNH proposed this bill.

At 11:00 a.m. is HB 1323, relative to employment of chief executive officers under the right-to-know law. This bill requires meetings about chief executive officers of agencies to be in public. The full text of this bill is available here. This bill is sponsored by Rep. Michael Sylvia (R).  RTKNH proposed this bill.

At 1:00 p.m. is HB 1347, relative to information to be included in the minutes under the right-to-know law. This bill requires more details about the actions of public bodies to be recorded in meeting minutes. The full text of this bill is available here. This bill is sponsored by Rep. Michael Sylvia (R), Rep. James Spillane (R), and Rep. Kathleen Souza (R).  RTKNH proposed this bill.

At 1:30 p.m. is HB 1786, prohibiting costs for inspection of governmental records under the right-to-know law. This bill prohibits agencies from charging for costs to provide records for inspection. The full text of this bill is available here. This bill is sponsored by Rep. Michael Sylvia (R).  RTKNH proposed this bill.

At 2:00 p.m. is HB 1788, relative to costs charged under the right-to-know law. This bill limits charges for copies of records to the prevailing commercial rate. The full text of this bill is available here. This bill is sponsored by Rep. Michael Sylvia (R).  RTKNH proposed this bill.

At 2:30 p.m. is HB 1789, relative to costs of requests which are in electronic format under the right-to-know law. This bill makes copies of electronic records free. The full text of this bill is available here. This bill is sponsored by Rep. Kevin Verville (R).

N.H. Senate Hearing on SB395 on Access to Electronic Records on January 17 at 10:45

Senate Bill 395 to improve access to electronic records under the Right-to-Know Law has been introduced in the N.H. Senate and assigned to the Senate Public and Municipal Affairs Committee. This bill is sponsored by Sen. Bob Giuda (R), Sen. Martha Fuller Clark (D), Rep. Jordan Ulery (r), Sen. Ruth Ward (R), Sen. Sharon Carson (R), Rep. Duane Brown (r), Sen. William Gannon (R), Sen. David Watters (D), Sen. Gary Daniels (R), Sen. Daniel Innis (R), Sen. John Reagan (R), Sen. Kevin Avard (R), Sen. Harold French (R), Rep. Gary Hopper (R), and Rep. Charlotte DiLorenzo (D). RTKNH proposed this bill and appreciates all of its sponsors.

SB395 is scheduled for a hearing by the Senate Public and Municipal Affairs Committee on Wednesday, January 17, 2018 at 10:45 a.m. in room 102 of the Legislative Office Building in Concord, N.H. The public is encouraged to attend and testify in favor of this bill.

This bill adds 3 new provisions to RSA 91-A:4. The first provision is a new sentence added to RSA 91-A:4, I:

A citizen shall not be required to appear at the regular business premises of a body or agency or other location to be provided copies of governmental records in electronic format over the Internet.

The second provision adds a new sentence to RSA 91-A:4, IV:

No cost or fee shall be charged for providing governmental records in a readily available format over the Internet.

The third provision replaces some of the language of RSA 91-A:4, V:

[If copying to electronic media is not reasonably practicable, or if the person or entity requesting access requests a different method,] If feasible, governmental records provided in electronic format shall be provided on the requester’s preferred media, and in the requester’s preferred format. In the absence of a preferred media, the records shall be sent to the electronic mail address of the person making the request or made available on the public body’s or agency’s public Internet website. In the absence of a preferred format, the records shall be provided in a searchable machine-readable format. If none of the feasible media and formats are acceptable to the requester, the public body or agency may provide a printout of governmental records requested, or may use any other means reasonably calculated to comply with the request in light of the purpose of this chapter as expressed in RSA 91-A:1.

The full text of the bill is available here.

N.H. House Hearing on HB1337 to Apply RTK to Courts on January 11 at 10:45

House Bill 1337 to apply the Right-to-Know Law to the courts has been introduced in the N.H. House and assigned to the House Judiciary Committee. This bill is sponsored by Rep. Michael Brewster (R). RTKNH generally supports applying the Right-to-Know Law to the courts, but recommends amending this bill.

HB1337 is scheduled for a hearing by the House Judiciary Committee on Thursday, January 11, 2018 at 10:45 a.m. in room 208 of the Legislative Office Building in Concord, N.H. The public is encouraged to attend and testify in favor of this bill.

This bill adds 1 sentence to RSA 91-A:1-a, VI:

(f) All New Hampshire courts.

RTKNH recommends that the courts should be added to RSA 91-A:1-a, V, instead, so they are treated as a public agency instead of a public body.

The full text of the bill is available here.

N.H. House Passes HB252 to Help Pro Se RTK Litigants

The New Hampshire House passed House Bill 252 with amendment last Wednesday. This bill removes a few gotchas that trip up pro se litigants who file Right-to-Know complaints in court without a lawyer. This bill makes it easier for documents filed with the complaint to be admitted as evidence, and it makes sure documents, such as the answer to a complaint, are provided before a court hearing.

HB 252 was studied by a subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee over the summer. That subcommittee recommended an amendment that was approved by the full committee and reported Ought to Pass with Amendment, unanimously, 17 to 0. The amendment and committee report were approved by a voice vote as part of the consent calendar by the full House.

The amendment changes the language of HB 252 to add this language to RSA 91-A:7:

All documents filed with the petition and any response thereto shall be considered as evidence, subject to objection or ruling, or both, by the court. All documents submitted shall be provided to the opposing party prior to a hearing on the merits.

Here is the report of the House Judiciary Committee presented by Rep. Kurt Wuelper:

This bill, as amended, ensures that all documents submitted with or in response to a petition for a right-to-know dispute be considered as evidence in that case.

HB 252 now goes on to the Senate.

RTKNH meeting Saturday 1/20 @ 9 a.m

Right to Know NH will meet on Saturday, January 20, 2017 at 9:00 A.M. in Concord, NH at 8 North Main Street in the office of the Coalition of New Hampshire Taxpayers.  We will discuss the Right to Know Law (RSA 91-A) bills submitted for the 2018 legislative session.  The public is welcome to join us.

Right to Know Articles of Interest

RTKNH meeting Saturday 11/18 @ 9 a.m

Right to Know NH will meet on Saturday, November 18, 2017 at 9:00 A.M. in Concord, NH at 8 North Main Street in the office of the Coalition of New Hampshire Taxpayers.  We will discuss the findings of the RTK Commission to study alternative processes for resolving RTK complaints and also review all Right to Know Law (RSA 91-A) bills submitted for the upcoming legislative session.  The public is welcome to join us.