Category: Changes to Law

Right-to-Know law changed to simplify process for documents filed with petition to be considered as evidence by the court

Governor Sununu signed HB252 into law on June 26th.

Any person aggrieved by a violation of the RTK law may petition the superior court for injunctive relief.   This bill states that “Subject to objection by either party, all documents filed with the petition and any response thereto shall be considered as evidence by the court.  All documents submitted shall be provided to the opposing party prior to a hearing on the merits. ”

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

BILL SPONSORS: Rep. M. Smith, Straf. 6; Rep. Sylvia, Belk. 6; Rep. Berch, Ches. 1; Rep. Horrigan, Straf. 6; Rep. Cushing, Rock. 21; Rep. Hoell, Merr. 23; Rep. Backus, Hills. 19; Sen. Lasky, Dist 13

This change takes effect January 1, 2019.

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Right-to-Know law expanded to provide greater detail in meeting minutes

Governor Sununu signed HB1347 into law on June 12th.

This bill states that meeting minutes must now include the names of the members who made or seconded each motion.

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

BILL SPONSORS: Rep. Sylvia, Belk. 6; Rep. Spillane, Rock. 2; Rep. Souza, Hills. 43

This change takes effect January 1, 2019.

Right-to-Know law (RSA 91-A) updated to streamline evidence submission process during litigation

Governor Sununu signed HB252 into law on June 25th.

This bill states when someone files a petition in Court that all documents filed with the petition and also any responses to the petition shall be considered as evidence by the Court.  Additionally, all documents submitted to the Court shall be provided to the opposing party prior to any hearing.

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

BILL SPONSORS: Rep. M. Smith, Straf. 6; Rep. Sylvia, Belk. 6; Rep. Berch, Ches. 1; Rep. Horrigan, Straf. 6; Rep. Cushing, Rock. 21; Rep. Hoell, Merr. 23; Rep. Backus, Hills. 19; Sen. Lasky, Dist 13

This change takes effect January 1, 2019.

Right-to-Know Law changes improve notice requirements

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Last year, the legislature passed the following two bills which will improve government transparency in New Hampshire.  These changes to the Right to Know Law went into effect January 1, 2018.

HB460 a bill drafted by RTKNH, 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 member 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.

HB170 states that if a public body maintains an Internet website 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 found 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.

2017 Summary of Right-to-Know Bills

All the Right-to-Know bills are finished in both the House or Senate for 2017.  As such, it is a good time to summarize the results for the 2017 legislative session.  There were 9 Right-to-Know bills tracked by RTKNH.  3 bills were passed, 6 bills were killed, and 1 bill was retained in committee.

Passed and Signed.  The following 3 bills were passed by both chambers and signed by the Governor.

HB178 a bill drafted by RTKNH, establishes a 13 member study commission on resolving Right-to-Know complaints.

HB460 a bill drafted by RTKNH, 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.  

HB170 states that if a public body maintains an Internet website 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 found.  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.

RTKNH wishes to thank Rep. Ken Weyler, Rep Majorie Smith, Rep. Dan Hynes, and Rep. Chris True for sponsoring a RTHNH bill.

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.