SB 322  - AS INTRODUCED

 

 

2022 SESSION

22-3056

07/10

 

SENATE BILL 322

 

AN ACT relative to remote meetings under the right-to-know law.

 

SPONSORS: Sen. Perkins Kwoka, Dist 21; Sen. Watters, Dist 4; Sen. Rosenwald, Dist 13; Sen. Soucy, Dist 18; Sen. Whitley, Dist 15; Sen. Cavanaugh, Dist 16; Sen. Sherman, Dist 24; Sen. Daniels, Dist 11; Sen. Prentiss, Dist 5; Rep. Vann, Hills. 24; Rep. Dolan, Rock. 5; Rep. Espitia, Hills. 31

 

COMMITTEE: Judiciary

 

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ANALYSIS

 

This bill modifies the physically present quorum requirement for meetings of public bodies.

 

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Explanation: Matter added to current law appears in bold italics.

Matter removed from current law appears [in brackets and struckthrough.]

Matter which is either (a) all new or (b) repealed and reenacted appears in regular type.

22-3056

07/10

 

STATE OF NEW HAMPSHIRE

 

In the Year of Our Lord Two Thousand Twenty Two

 

AN ACT relative to remote meetings under the right-to-know law.

 

Be it Enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Court convened:

 

1  Access to Governmental Records and Meetings; Meetings Open to the Public; Modifications to Physically Present Requirements.  Amend RSA 91-A:2, III to read as follows:

III.  A public body may, but is not required to, allow one or more members of the body to participate in a meeting by electronic or other means of communication for the benefit of the public and the governing body, subject to the provisions of this paragraph.

(a)  A member of the public body may participate in a meeting other than by attendance in person at the location of the meeting only when such attendance is not reasonably practical.  [Any reason that such attendance is not reasonably practical shall be stated in the minutes of the meeting.]

(b)  Except in an emergency, [a quorum] at least one quarter of the current membership of the public body shall be physically present at the location specified in the meeting notice as the location of the meeting.  For purposes of this subparagraph, an "emergency" means that immediate action is imperative and the physical presence of [a quorum] one quarter of the membership is not reasonably practical within the period of time requiring action.  The determination that an emergency exists shall be made by the chairman or presiding officer of the public body, and the facts upon which that determination is based shall be included in the minutes of the meeting.  In an emergency, at least one member of the public body shall be physically present at the location specified in the meeting notice.

(c)  Each part of a meeting required to be open to the public shall be audible or otherwise discernable to the public at the location specified in the meeting notice as the location of the meeting.  Each member participating electronically or otherwise must be able to simultaneously hear each other and speak to each other during the meeting, and shall be audible or otherwise discernable to the public in attendance at the meeting's location.  Any member participating in such fashion shall identify the persons present in the location from which the member is participating.  No meeting shall be conducted by electronic mail or any other form of communication that does not permit the public to hear, read, or otherwise discern meeting discussion contemporaneously at the meeting location specified in the meeting notice.

(d)  Any meeting held pursuant to the terms of this paragraph shall comply with all of the requirements of this chapter relating to public meetings, and shall not circumvent the spirit and purpose of this chapter as expressed in RSA 91-A:1.

(e)  A member participating in a meeting by the means described in this paragraph is deemed to be present at the meeting for purposes of voting.  All votes taken during such a meeting shall be by roll call vote.

(f)  It shall be the public policy of this state that diversity of participation is important, and that encouragement of participation in the civic culture of our state is facilitated by each municipality.

2  Effective Date.  This act shall take effect 60 days after its passage.