Insight – Public Body
What is a public body?
- Any legislative body, governing body, board, commission, committee, agency or authority, of any county, town, municipal corporation, school district, school administrative unit, chartered public school, or other political subdivision
- General court including executive sessions of committees
- Executive council and the governor with the executive council
- Any board or commission of any state agency or authority, including the board of trustees of the university system of NH
- or any committee, subcommittee, or subordinate body thereof, or advisory committee
- Any corporation that has as its sole member a tax exempt NH public body or agency
Generally, it is a representative organization with legislative, executive, or advisory powers.
What is a public agency?
Any agency, authority, department, or office of the state or of any county, town, municipal corporation, school district, school administrative unit, chartered public school, or other political subdivision
What is a quasi public body and does it fall under the Right to Know Law?
Private businesses are generally not considered a public body. However, if a non-public organization receives taxpayer funding, it may be subject to the law. Determine the sources of funds for the organization to find out how much of its funds comes from public agencies. The law does not provide specific metrics on how to determine when a non public entity is subject to the right to know law, so you have to look at past case law for guidance. Even with the case law, whether or not it is subject to the right to know law will depend on a number of factors which the case law outlines.
Is the governor subject to the Right-to-Know Law?
In order to understand how RSA 91-A applies to the governor, it helps to understand the distinction in the law between public agencies and public bodies. A public body is a group like a select board or commission. A public body is usually a governing body that sets policy and direction for an agency. The Executive Council with the governor is explicitly included as a public body under RSA 91-A:1-a, VI(b). Both the records and meetings of a public body are covered by RSA 91-A. A public agency is a government organization that implements laws and policies. This includes state agencies and departments, towns and school districts, etc. It also includes any “office of the state” under RSA 91-A:1-a, V. The governor would therefore be an agency under RSA 91-A. Only the records of an agency fall under RSA 91-A, not the meetings. More details here.