Revision: Dec. 26, 2018, 3 p.m.
HB 191-FN - AS INTRODUCED
HOUSE BILL 191-FN
SPONSORS: Rep. Marple, Merr. 24; Rep. True, Rock. 4
COMMITTEE: Executive Departments and Administration
This bill addresses the accountability of public officials and expands the offense of official oppression.
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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Matter which is either (a) all new or (b) repealed and reenacted appears in regular type.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 Nineteen
Be it Enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Court convened:
1 Purpose. The legislature finds that part 1, article 8 of the New Hampshire constitution makes public officials at all times accountable to the people and states that “government, therefore, should be open, accessible, accountable and responsive.” This act is intended to strengthen penalties for a public official who fails to respond to an affidavit, commits an unauthorized act which purports to be an official act, or refrains from performing an official duty.
643:1 Official Oppression.
I. A public servant, as defined in RSA 640:2, II, is guilty of a misdemeanor if such public servant:
(a) Commits an unauthorized act which purports to be an act of his or her office;
(b) Knowingly, willingly, and intentionally refrains from performing a duty imposed on him or her by law or clearly inherent in the nature of his or her office; or
(c) Fails to respond to, and rebut with citations of law, an affidavit within 30 days of submission of the affidavit by any inhabitant.
II. A public servant found guilty under paragraph I shall, in addition to the criminal penalties imposed for the misdemeanor under RSA 651:2, be removed from public office with no appeal and shall be prohibited from holding public office for 10 years.
IV. If any county commissioner, or elected or appointed county officer, is found in a prosecution for violation of RSA 643:1 to have paid or incurred any liability for the payment of any sum of money contrary to this section, it shall be prima facie evidence that such county commissioner or officer has [knowingly] refrained from performing a duty imposed by law.
II. If any building inspector is prosecuted for violation of RSA 643:1 and found guilty of issuing any permit contrary to the provisions of this section, it shall be prima facie evidence that the building inspector has [knowingly] refrained from performing a duty imposed on the building inspector by law.
HB 191-FN- FISCAL NOTE
FISCAL IMPACT: [ X ] State [ X ] County [ ] Local [ ] None
Estimated Increase / (Decrease)
[ X ] General [ ] Education [ ] Highway [ ] Other
This bill expands the definition of official oppression by public servants, including any officer or employee of the state or any political subdivision, and adds a provision for removal from public office and prohibition on holding public office for 10 years. It also amends provisions relating to county commissioners or officers and building inspectors who have refrained from performing a duty imposed by law.
This bill contains penalties that may have an impact on the New Hampshire judicial and correctional systems. There is no method to determine how many charges would be brought as a result of the changes contained in this bill to determine the fiscal impact on expenditures. However, the entities impacted have provided the potential costs associated with these penalties below.
Class B Misdemeanor
Class A Misdemeanor
It should be noted that average case cost estimates for FY 2020 and FY 2021 are based on data that is more than ten years old and does not reflect changes to the courts over that same period of time or the impact these changes may have on processing the various case types. An unspecified misdemeanor can be either class A or class B, with the presumption being a class B misdemeanor.
NH Association of Counties
County Prosecution Costs
Estimated Average Daily Cost of Incarcerating an Individual
$105 to $120
$105 to $120
The Department of Justice (DOJ) investigates and prosecutes criminal conduct by certain government officials and may become involved in investigations and prosecutions under this bill. The DOJ anticipates local and county prosecutors would prosecute the majority of cases. Appeals from any convictions from any such offenses could be handled by the Criminal Justice Bureau within the current budget. The DOJ is unable to estimate the number of cases that would arise. If the Department needs to prosecute significantly more cases or handle more appeals, then costs may increase by an indeterminable amount.
The Judicial Branch states the penalty for official oppression would remain an unspecified misdemeanor, which can be either class A or class B, with the presumption being a class B misdemeanor. The Branch states the expansion of the definition would likely result in additional misdemeanor charges under the amended statute.
The New Hampshire Association of Counties indicates in addition to the unknown possible prosecution and incarceration costs, there would be an indeterminable fiscal impact related to filling the vacancy of an elected official removed from office until the position is filled by the hiring authority and costs related to the hiring process.
The Department of State and the New Hampshire Municipal Association indicate there is no fiscal impact.
Department of Justice, Judicial Branch, New Hampshire Association of Counties, Department of State, and New Hampshire Municipal Association