HB1417 was voted 11-7 to be inexpedient to legislate by the House Judiciary Committee. This bill requires records for certain non-meetings. The majority report on the bill from the committee was written by Rep. Timothy Horrigan:
RSA 91-A, the Right to Know statute, allows for what are colloquially termed “non-meetings,” where a quorum or majority of the members of a public body convenes for certain narrowly-defined purposes. The majority of the committee recognizes that these non-meetings can be controversial, but also recognizes that they are necessary when negotiating collective bargaining contracts and when consulting with legal counsel. This bill would have complicated public bodies’ attempts to deal with these issues without adding any transparency to their work.
The minority offered an amendment that removes this phrase from the requirements of the record:
persons appearing before the public body,
Under our Right to Know statute, RSA 91-A:2 defines “meetings” and provides for exceptions to meetings which are commonly referred to as “non-meetings.” This bill seeks to address two such types of “non-meetings:” strategy or negotiations with respect to collective bargaining and consultation with legal counsel. This bill as amended would require that records be kept of such “non-meetings” which would include: the specific exemption which is relied upon as the foundation for the “non-meeting,” names of members, meeting places, and beginning and ending time. This information would then be subject to disclosure after 72 hours which is the case with nonpublic sessions. The minority of the committee believes that this will benefit the people of New Hampshire and aid in transparency as required under our constitution’s Part I, Article 8.
This bill now goes to the full House for a vote on the regular calendar on March 9, 2016.