Bill Text: NH HB1014 | 2022 | Regular Session | Introduced


Bill Title: Allowing public meetings to be conducted virtually.

Spectrum: Moderate Partisan Bill (Democrat 6-1)

Status: (Introduced) 2022-01-19 - Public Hearing: 01/27/2022 11:00 am Legislative Office Building 206-208 [HB1014 Detail]

Download: New_Hampshire-2022-HB1014-Introduced.html

HB 1014  - AS INTRODUCED

 

 

2022 SESSION

22-2054

08/10

 

HOUSE BILL 1014

 

AN ACT allowing public meetings to be conducted virtually.

 

SPONSORS: Rep. Simpson, Rock. 36; Rep. Cushing, Rock. 21; Rep. Cote, Hills. 31; Rep. Weber, Ches. 1; Rep. Ebel, Merr. 5; Rep. Marsh, Carr. 8; Rep. Wilhelm, Hills. 42

 

COMMITTEE: Judiciary

 

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ANALYSIS

 

This bill establishes requirements for remote access to public meetings under RSA 91-A, the right-to-know law.

 

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Matter which is either (a) all new or (b) repealed and reenacted appears in regular type.

22-2054

08/10

 

STATE OF NEW HAMPSHIRE

 

In the Year of Our Lord Two Thousand Twenty Two

 

AN ACT allowing public meetings to be conducted virtually.

 

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.  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 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 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.

(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.]  

(a)  A physical location is not required for any meeting, provided the meeting complies with the provisions of this paragraph.

(b)  If a meeting has no physical location, public access shall be provided to the public by telephone, and additional access may be provided by video or other electronic means.

(c)  If a meeting has no physical location, public notice of the meeting, with all information necessary to access the meeting telephonically and by other means, shall be given as provided in this chapter.  The notice shall provide a mechanism for the public to alert the public body during the meeting if there are problems with access.  The meeting shall be adjourned if the public is unable to access the meeting.

(d)  Each member participating electronically or otherwise [must] in a meeting required to be open to the public shall 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, if the meeting has a physical location.  Any member participating in such fashion shall identify the location from which the person is participating and 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, including an online chat function, 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)] (e)  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)] (f)  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.

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

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