SB 132 – FINAL VERSION
SENATE BILL 132
This bill makes various changes to the law governing marital mediators, including listing the duties of the board of marital mediator certification, changing the term of board members from 2 years to 3 years, establishing a confidentiality requirement for personal information held by the board, establishing civil immunity for board members, changing continuing education requirements and disciplinary action procedures, and revising the board’s rulemaking authority.
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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Matter which is either (a) all new or (b) repealed and reenacted appears in regular type.
STATE OF NEW HAMPSHIRE
In the Year of Our Lord Two Thousand Five
AN ACT relative to the board of marital mediator certification.
Be it Enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Court convened:
250:1 Marital Mediators; Purpose; Reference to Training Added. Amend RSA 328-C:1 to read as follows:
328-C:1 Purpose. The purpose of this chapter is to protect and assist the public by providing standards for the practice of marital mediation, training and continuing education for certified marital mediators and certified marital [
mediation] mediator training programs, and disciplinary procedures for violating ethical rules and requirements.
250:2 Marital Mediators; Definitions; Order Reversed; Reference to Instructional Training Added. Amend RSA 328-C:2, II-III to read as follows:
“Certified marital mediation program” means a program that has been certified under this chapter, and that administers and supervises a group of marital mediators who are qualified under this chapter to offer their services to the general public. III.] “Certified marital mediator” means a person certified under the provisions of this chapter to act as a marital mediator.
III. “Certified marital mediator training program” means a program that has been certified under this chapter to provide the instructional training required for certified marital mediators.
250:3 Marital Mediators; Misrepresentation; Reference Change. Amend RSA 328-C:3 to read as follows:
328-C:3 Misrepresentation. No person or entity shall use the title of certified marital mediator or certified marital [
mediation] mediator training program, or use or advertise any title or description which conveys the impression that the person or entity is a certified marital mediator or certified marital [ mediation] mediator training program, unless the person or program has been certified under this chapter.
250:4 Marital Mediators; Board Members; Reference to Judicial Branch Family Division and New Hampshire Conflict Resolution Association Added. Amend RSA 328-C:4, I to read as follows:
I. There shall be a board of marital mediator certification consisting of the following 9 members:
(a) One [
superior court] judge who regularly sits in the judicial branch family division, appointed by the chief justice of the supreme court.
(b) One full-time marital master, appointed by the [
chief justice of the superior court] administrative judge of the judicial branch family division.
(c) One attorney licensed to practice law in this state, appointed by the governor with the consent of the council.
(d) Two members of the public, appointed by the governor with the consent of the council.
(e) One mental health professional, appointed by the governor with the consent of the council.
(f) Three certified marital mediators, nominated by the New Hampshire [
Mediators] Conflict Resolution Association and appointed by the governor with the consent of the council.
250:5 Marital Mediators; Board Member Terms; Grounds for Removal. RSA 328-C:4, II is repealed and reenacted to read as follows:
II.(a) Appointments and reappointments to the board shall be for 3-year terms. Vacancies shall be filled by appointment for the unexpired term.
(b) Notwithstanding subparagraph (a), the first term of members appointed after the effective date of this subparagraph shall be as follows: 3 members shall be appointed to 3-year terms; 3 members shall be appointed to 2-year terms; and 3 members shall be appointed to 1-year terms.
(c) Any member who is absent from at least 3 consecutive meetings of the board may be replaced by such member’s appointing authority.
250:6 New Section; Marital Mediators; Duties of the Board. Amend RSA 328-C by inserting after section 4 the following new section:
328-C:4-a Duties of the Board. The board shall:
I. Compile and maintain a list of certified marital mediators and certified marital mediator training programs and make such list available to the general public online through the official Internet site for the state of New Hampshire.
II. Establish procedures and fees for the applications for certification, reinstatement of certification, and renewal of certification of marital mediators and of marital mediator training programs.
III. Establish eligibility requirements for the certification, renewal certification, and reinstatement certification of marital mediators and marital mediator training programs.
IV. Establish marital mediator training and continuing education requirements.
V. Adopt ethical standards and standards of practice for marital mediators.
VI. Investigate complaints and take necessary disciplinary action as authorized by this chapter.
VII. Establish reporting requirements for certified training programs.
250:7 Marital Mediators; Qualifications. Amend RSA 328-C:5 to read as follows:
I. To be eligible for certification, conditional certification, reinstatement of certification, renewal of certification and temporary renewal of certification as a marital mediator, an applicant shall be of good character.
I. The board shall require applicants for certification to meet the following conditions:]
II. To be eligible for certification or conditional certification as a marital mediator, an applicant shall meet the following requirements:
(a) Satisfactory completion of a program of instruction approved by the board and at least 48 hours in length, including at least 8 hours in domestic violence, and components in family dynamics and relevant law.
(b) Completion of an internship approved by the board and at least 20 hours in length with a certified marital mediator or certified marital mediation program.
(c) Submission of a completed application to the board.
(d) Submission of at least 3 recommendations satisfactory to the board from persons who have participated with the applicant in marital mediation work. These recommendations shall meet any additional requirements established by rules adopted by the board pursuant to RSA 541-A.
II.] III. Notwithstanding subparagraphs [ I(a)] II(a) and (b), the board may accept applicants found to have training and internship experience equivalent to the programs of instruction and internship approved by the board.
250:8 New Paragraphs; Marital Mediators; Length of Certification. Amend RSA 328-C:5 by inserting after paragraph III the following new paragraphs:
IV. Certification of a mediator or a mediator training program shall be valid for 3 years from the date of issuance, and shall expire 3 years from the date of issuance, unless renewed pursuant to rules adopted by the board pursuant to RSA 541-A.
V. If timely and sufficient application has been made in accordance with board rules for renewal of certification, the existing certification shall not expire until the board has taken final action on the application for renewal. If the application is either untimely or insufficient, it shall lapse and be subject to reinstatement in accordance with rules adopted by the board pursuant to RSA 541-A.
250:9 New Sections; Marital Mediators; Confidentiality of Information; Immunity from Civil Action. Amend RSA 328-C by inserting after section 5 the following new sections:
328-C:5-a Confidentiality of Information.
I. Unless waived by the person to whom the information pertains, the following information relative to certified marital mediators, applicants for certification, and formerly certified marital mediators which may be in the possession of the board shall be confidential and shall not be subject to disclosure, except as provided in paragraph II, absent an order of the court:
(a) The person’s date of birth, social security number, residence address, and home telephone number.
(b) The person’s reason for leaving any past employment or the facts giving rise to any reprimand, censure, license revocation or suspension, disbarment, disqualification, or discipline given by any professional organization or entity supervising or overseeing a profession, other than the board.
(c) Whether or not the person has been a defendant in any criminal proceeding, information concerning such proceedings, any executed criminal records release, and the results of any criminal records check.
(d) The addresses and telephone numbers of the individuals who have submitted letters of reference in support of any application for certification.
(e) Any photograph identification card or other document issued by a governmental agency submitted in support of an application that includes an applicant’s date of birth, social security number, residence address, or home telephone number.
(f) Any information deemed confidential under RSA 91-A or other applicable law.
II. Notwithstanding paragraph I and RSA 91-A, the board may disclose to any New Hampshire court with the authority to appoint a marital mediator, or which possesses oversight authority over the professional activities of individuals who may serve as marital mediators, any records, documents, or information in the possession of the board relating to a certified marital mediator, an applicant for certification, or a formerly certified marital mediator, except for his or her social security number.
328-C:5-b Immunity from Civil Action. No civil action shall be maintained against the board or any member of the board or its agents or employees, against any organization or its members, or against any other person for, or by reason of any statement, report, communication, or testimony to the board or any determination, action, statement, report, communication, disclosure or testimony by the board in relation to any proceeding or communication under this chapter.
250:10 Marital Mediators; Continuing Education Requirement. Amend RSA 328-C:6 to read as follows:
Certification Renewal] Continuing Education. [ Each marital mediator or marital mediation program shall renew its certification with the board once every 3 years.] To renew [ such] a certification, each marital mediator shall provide evidence of attendance [ of at least 8 hours annually in a] within the last 3 years of at least 24 hours of continuing education [ program] approved by the board. A certified marital [ mediation] mediator training program seeking renewal shall provide evidence that it has met any reporting requirements established under RSA 328-C:4-a and that each of the marital mediators associated with the program has met the annual continuing education requirements [ of this section].
250:11 Marital Mediators; Misconduct; Discipline. RSA 328-C:7 is repealed and reenacted to read as follows:
328-C:7 Disciplinary Action.
I. The board may undertake disciplinary proceedings:
(a) Upon its own initiative: or
(b) Upon written complaint of any person who charges that a person or entity certified by the board has committed misconduct under paragraph III and who specifies the grounds for misconduct.
II. The board shall investigate and resolve complaints against certified marital mediators and certified marital mediator training programs. The board shall hold a hearing in compliance with rules adopted under RSA 541-A prior to taking any disciplinary action specified under this section. In the alternative, the board may informally resolve complaints by agreement of the parties.
III. Misconduct sufficient to support disciplinary proceedings under this section shall include:
(a) The practice of fraud or deceit in procuring or attempting to procure or renew a certificate under this chapter.
(b) Conviction of any crime which demonstrates unfitness to practice mediation.
(c) Violation of the ethical standards or standards of practice adopted under RSA 328-C:4-a.
(d) Any unprofessional conduct or dishonorable conduct, unworthy of and affecting the practice of mediation.
(e) Unfitness or incompetency by reason of negligent habits or other causes.
(f) Demonstrable gross incompetence.
(g) Addiction to the use of alcohol or other habit-forming drugs to a degree which renders the person unfit to practice mediation.
(h) A legal finding of incompetence.
(i) Willful or repeated violation of the provisions of this chapter.
(j) As to a training program, failure to comply with the training program content, trainer, and materials requirements under this chapter or rules established under it.
(k) As to a training program, failure to comply with reporting requirements under this chapter or rules established under it.
(l) Suspension or revocation without subsequent reinstatement of a certificate, license, or registration, similar to one issued under this chapter, in another jurisdiction.
IV. The board shall establish disciplinary procedures, penalties, and sanctions for certified marital mediators which may include revocation of certification, suspension of certification, written warning, fine, written reprimand, imposition of supplemental training requirements or supervised training requirements, supplemental education, treatment and counseling, including treatment and counseling for alcohol and substance abuse.
V. The board shall establish disciplinary procedures, penalties, and sanctions for certified marital mediator training programs, which may include revocation of certification, suspension of certification, written warning, fine, written reprimand, and imposition of supplemental reporting requirements.
VI. The board may administer oaths or affirmations, preserve testimony, and, on approval of the attorney general, issue subpoenas for witnesses and for documents relative to formal investigations or adjudicatory hearings held by the board.
250:12 New Section; Marital Mediators; Appeals. Amend RSA 328-C by inserting after section 7 the following new section:
328-C:7-a Appeals. Appeals from decisions of the board shall be pursuant to RSA 541.
250:13 Marital Mediators; Rulemaking Authority. RSA 328-C:8 is repealed and reenacted to read as follows:
328-C:8 Rulemaking Authority.
I. The board shall adopt rules for marital mediators and marital mediator training programs pursuant to RSA 541-A, relative to the following:
(a) The eligibility requirements and application procedures for certification, renewal of certification, recertification, and reinstatement of certification.
(b) The content of all application forms, which forms may require a notarized affidavit stating that the information provided in the application is complete and accurate.
(c) Content of training programs and training equivalents allowed under RSA 328-C:5, III.
(d) Content of internships and duration and content of internship equivalents allowed under RSA 328-C:5, III.
(e) The ethical standards and standards of practice for marital mediators certified in New Hampshire.
(f) Procedures for the reporting of activities conducted by certified marital mediators and certified marital mediator training programs.
(g) Procedures for processing complaints.
(h) Disciplinary procedures, penalties, and sanctions for certified marital mediators and martial mediator training programs, as provided under RSA 328-C:7
(i) Fees for applications, certification, renewal of certification, and reinstatement of certification.
(j) Reporting requirements for certified training programs.
II. The board may adopt rules for marital mediators and marital mediator training programs, pursuant to RSA 541-A, relative to the following:
(a) The application process, requirements, and criteria for temporary renewal of certification and conditional certification.
(b) Fees for temporary renewal of certification and conditional certification and for the filing of requests for information not governed by RSA 91-A, the filing of complaints and petitions, and the processing of changes to information of record.
(c) Procedures for informal resolution or referral of complaints.
250:14 Marital Mediators; Fee for Certification. RSA 328-C:11 is repealed and reenacted to read as follows:
I. The board may establish fees for:
(a) Applications, certification, conditional certification, renewal of certification, temporary renewal of certification, and reinstatement of certification.
(b) The filing of requests for information not governed by RSA 91-A.
(c) The filing of complaints and petitions.
(d) The processing of changes to information of record.
II. The fees established by the board shall recover revenues equal to 125 percent of the direct operating expenses of the board for the previous year or the full cost of the board for the previous year, including the cost of support and administrative services provided by other agencies, whichever is greater. Fees collected under this chapter shall be deposited in the general fund.
250:15 Effective Date. This act shall take effect 60 days after its passage.
(Approved: July 14, 2005)
(Effective Date: September 12, 2005)