HB123 Testimony

David Taylor of Durham NH, a member of RTKNH, submitted testimony to the House Municipal and County Government in opposition to HB123.

Here is his testimony:

Honorable Members of the House Municipal and County Government Committee

My name is David Taylor.  I live in Durham, NH and I served for 12 years on the Oyster River School Board.  I oppose HB123.  Thank you considering this testimony.

There are several reasons I oppose HB123.  The first is that it is not needed.  The courts many years ago in 1980 decided that a meeting that is continued to a time and place stated at the original meeting does not require further notice.  Here is the case that established this precedent: Town of Nottingham v. Harvey, 120 N.H. 889, 894 (1980):

http://www.orol.org/rtk/rtknh/1979-274-1980-12-29.html#p894

Second, even though the courts have decided that a continued meeting does not require further notice, the purpose of the Right-to-Know Law of providing the greatest possible access to the public is best served by providing further notice when it is reasonable to do so.  If a person couldn’t make the first meeting, but sees a notice for the continuation, they might attend what they can.  So, it is best not to write into statute this provision so that boards will err on the side of greater notice.

Third, the bill goes too far because it allows any continuation, even an unreasonable one, to be allowed.  Clearly there is a difference between a meeting continued to a few days from now, and one that is continued weeks or months from now.  The language of this bill does not place any reasonable limit on the continuation.

Fourth, there is nothing special about a ZBA.  Every type of public body at all levels of government may need to continue a meeting.  Some of these other bodies also have special notice requirements beyond those provided for all public bodies in the Right-to-Know Law.  However, any provisions about continuing meetings should be in RSA 91-A.

I hope you will consider my concerns about HB123 and vote that it is inexpedient to legislate.

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