HB210 (2019) Detail

Relative to civil actions against public officials in cities or towns.


HB 210-FN - AS AMENDED BY THE HOUSE

 

14Feb2019... 0045h

2019 SESSION

19-0237

04/05

 

HOUSE BILL 210-FN

 

AN ACT relative to civil actions against public officials in cities or towns.

 

SPONSORS: Rep. McLean, Hills. 44; Rep. Belanger, Hills. 27; Rep. Spillane, Rock. 2; Rep. Nunez, Hills. 37

 

COMMITTEE: Municipal and County Government

 

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ANALYSIS

 

This bill permits legal action against a public official of a city or town by a person who is aggrieved by the enactment of an ordinance, bylaw, or regulation.

 

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Matter which is either (a) all new or (b) repealed and reenacted appears in regular type.

14Feb2019... 0045h 19-0237

04/05

 

STATE OF NEW HAMPSHIRE

 

In the Year of Our Lord Two Thousand Nineteen

 

AN ACT relative to civil actions against public officials in cities or towns.

 

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

 

1  New Section; Powers and Duties of Towns; Actions Against a Town.  Amend RSA 31 by inserting after section 129 the following new section:

31:129-a  Actions Against a Town.

I.  Any person, entity, or organization who is aggrieved by the enactment or enforcement of an ordinance, bylaw, or regulation in violation of the authority of a town set forth in RSA 31 may file suit in the superior court in the county in which the ordinance, bylaw, or regulation was enacted or enforced against any such person, entity, or organization.  Upon such filing, the superior court shall schedule a hearing on the matter as soon as is practicable.  After a hearing on the merits, if the court finds in favor of the petitioner, the court shall:

(a)  Issue an injunction prohibiting the public official or town from enacting or enforcing the ordinance, bylaw, or regulation;

(b)  Issue a declaratory judgment declaring the ordinance, by-law, or regulation to be null and void;

(c)  Order the public official or town to reimburse the aggrieved person or entity who brought the action before the superior court for all reasonable attorney fees and costs associated with bringing suit for the violation; and

(d)  Award actual damages to the aggrieved person or entity, not exceeding $100,000, provided that the sanctions contained in this subparagraph and subparagraph (c) shall not apply to a good faith enforcement by a law enforcement agency of an ordinance, bylaw, or regulation found unlawful under the provisions of RSA 31.

II.  If any public official of a town knowingly violates the injunction or enacts or enforces any subsequent, equivalent ordinance, bylaw, or regulation, upon filing by an aggrieved person, entity, or organization the superior court shall:

(a)  Issue all such orders and awards as listed in paragraph I; and

(b)  Assess a civil fine up to $500 for each violation against the public official under whose jurisdiction the violation occurred.

III.  No public funds shall be used to defend or reimburse any public official or town found to have knowingly violated this section, nor shall any public funds be used to pay or reimburse any aggrieved person, entity, or organization who filed suit under this section.

2  New Section; Powers of City Councils; Actions Against a City.  Amend RSA 47 by inserting after section 21 the following new section:

47:21-a  Actions Against a City.

I.  Any person, entity, or organization who is aggrieved by the enactment or enforcement of an ordinance, bylaw, or regulation in violation of the authority of a city set forth in RSA 47 or RSA 31 may file suit in the superior court in the county in which the ordinance, bylaw, or regulation was enacted or enforced against any such person, entity, or organization.  Upon such filing, the superior court shall schedule a hearing on the matter as soon as is practicable.  After a hearing on the merits, if the court finds in favor of the petitioner, the court shall:

(a)  Issue an injunction prohibiting the public official or city from enacting or enforcing the ordinance, bylaw, or regulation;

(b)  Issue a declaratory judgment declaring the ordinance, bylaw, or regulation to be null and void;

(c)  Order the public official or city to reimburse the aggrieved person or entity who brought the action before the superior court for all reasonable attorney fees and costs associated with bringing suit for the violation; and

(d)  Award actual damages to the aggrieved person or entity, not exceeding $100,000, provided that the sanctions contained in this subparagraph and subparagraph (c) shall not apply to a good faith enforcement by a law enforcement agency of an ordinance, bylaw, or regulation found unlawful under the provisions of RSA 47 or RSA 31.

II.  If any public official of a city knowingly violates the injunction or enacts or enforces any subsequent, equivalent ordinance, bylaw, or regulation, upon filing by an aggrieved person, entity, or organization the superior court shall:

(a)  Issue all such orders and awards as listed in paragraph I; and

(b)  Assess a civil fine up to $500 for each violation against the public official or political subdivision under whose jurisdiction the violation occurred.

III.  No public funds shall be used to defend or reimburse any public official or city found to have purposely or knowingly violated this section.

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

 

LBAO

19-0237

12/12/18

 

HB 210-FN- FISCAL NOTE

AS INTRODUCED

 

AN ACT relative to civil actions against public officials in cities or towns.

 

FISCAL IMPACT:      [ X ] State              [    ] County               [ X ] Local              [    ] None

 

 

 

Estimated Increase / (Decrease)

STATE:

FY 2020

FY 2021

FY 2022

FY 2023

   Appropriation

$0

$0

$0

$0

   Revenue

Indeterminable

Indeterminable

Indeterminable

Indeterminable

   Expenditures

Indeterminable

Indeterminable

Indeterminable

Indeterminable

Funding Source:

  [ X ] General            [    ] Education            [    ] Highway           [    ] Other

 

LOCAL:

 

 

 

 

   Revenue

$0

$0

$0

$0

   Expenditures

Indeterminable

Indeterminable

Indeterminable

Indeterminable

 

METHODOLOGY:

This bill allows for any person, entity, or organization aggrieved by the enactment or enforcement of a municipal ordinance, bylaw, or regulation, which violates the municipality’s authority set in RSA 31 and RSA 47, to file a suit in superior court.  Additionally, any public official or municipality knowingly violating the provisions of this bill shall be assessed a $500 civil fine by the superior court, upon the filing of the aggrieved party.

 

The New Hampshire Municipal Association states this bill expands the number of potential situations when a municipality would be required to pay attorney fees.  The Association states this bill will increase municipal expenditures by an indeterminable amount.  The Association is unable to predict the nature and number of cases that might be filed as a result of this bill to determine the exact fiscal impact.

 

The Judicial Branch is unable to determine how many cases may be filed under the provisions of this bill and are unable to make an estimate on the fiscal impact.  This bill contains penalties that may have an impact on the New Hampshire Judicial Branch.  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 Judicial Branch would classify an action under this bill as a complex equity case and has provided the potential costs associated with the average complex equity case below.

 

Judicial Branch

FY 2020

FY 2021

Complex Equity Case

$782.60

$788.45

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.

 

AGENCIES CONTACTED:

New Hampshire Municipal Association and Judicial Branch

 

Links

HB210 at GenCourtMobile
HB210 Discussion

Action Dates

Date Body Type
Jan. 17, 2019 House Hearing
Jan. 30, 2019 House Exec Session
House Floor Vote
Feb. 14, 2019 House Floor Vote

Bill Text Revisions

HB210 Revision: 5376 Date: Feb. 15, 2019, 3:40 p.m.
HB210 Revision: 4411 Date: Dec. 27, 2018, 9:39 a.m.

Docket

Date Status
Jan. 2, 2019 Introduced 01/02/2019 and referred to Municipal and County Government HJ 2 P. 41
Jan. 17, 2019 Public Hearing: 01/17/2019 10:00 am LOB 301-303
Jan. 30, 2019 Executive Session: 01/30/2019 10:00 am LOB 301
Committee Report: Without Recommendation (Vote 9-9; RC)
Feb. 14, 2019 Committee Report: Without Recommendation for 02/14/2019 (Vote 9-9; RC) HC 11 P. 18
Feb. 14, 2019 Amendment # 2019-0045h: AA DV 219-108 02/14/2019 HJ 5 P. 70
Feb. 14, 2019 Ought to Pass with Amendment : MF RC 123-222 02/14/2019 HJ 5 P. 70
Feb. 14, 2019 Lay on Table (Rep. Baldasaro): MF VV 02/14/2019 HJ 5 P. 73
Feb. 14, 2019 Inexpedient to Legislate: MA DV 226-121 02/14/2019 HJ 5 P. 73