HB524 Testimony

David Saad of Rumney NH, a member of RTKNH, appeared at the House Judiciary Committee hearing and testified in opposition to HB524.

Here is his testimony:

My name is David Saad.  I live in Rumney NH and I currently serve on the Rumney planning board. I am also the President of Right-to-Know New Hampshire.

I ask you to oppose HB 524 which effectively repeals RSA 91-A:2 III(b).

RSA 91-A:2 III(b) states:

“Except in an emergency, a quorum of the public body shall be physically present at the location specified in the meeting notice… an “emergency” means that immediate action is imperative and the physical presence of a quorum is not reasonably practical within the period of time requiring action. ”

As a matter of practice, a meeting requires that a quorum shall be physically present.  However, when there is an emergency, exigent circumstances may exist which dictate that the public’s business must be conducted in a timely manner to avoid loss of life, property, or avoid unnecessary harm.  When there is an emergency, public officials may need the flexibility to conduct meetings where one or more members contributing to the quorum are in attendance via electronic communications and are not physically present at the meeting location.  In an emergency, the law already has a number of safeguards in place to insure that the lack of attendance in person is justified and does not subvert the intent for open meetings (see RSA 91-A:2 III (a-e)).

To help insure that emergencies are handled quickly by our public officials, do not eliminate their ability to assemble a quorum via electronic communications.  Please oppose this bill.