Revision: Jan. 17, 2019, 2:50 p.m.
HB 702-FN - AS INTRODUCED
HOUSE BILL 702-FN
SPONSORS: Rep. Plumer, Belk. 6; Rep. Viens, Belk. 1
COMMITTEE: Children and Family Law
This bill requires persons operating a supervised visitation center to be licensed by the department of health and human services.
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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Matter which is either (a) all new or (b) repealed and reenacted appears in regular type.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:
SUPERVISED VISITATION CENTER LICENSURE
170-I:1 Definitions. In this chapter:
I. "Commissioner" means the commissioner of the department of health and human services.
III. "License" means an authorization granted by the commissioner to provide supervised visitation upon referral by a court, state agency, or social service program.
IV. "Supervised visitation" means parent-child contact services overseen by a third party.
170-I:2 Supervised Visitation Centers; License Required. No person shall establish, maintain, or operate a supervised visitation center without a license issued by the department of health and human services under this chapter. Supervised visitation centers shall comply with protocols for the operation of supervised visitation centers adopted by the commissioner under RSA 170-I:7, III. No license shall be granted to an applicant who serves as a guardian ad litem in any court that orders supervised visitation.
170-I:3 Applications; Criminal History Records Check.
I. Any person who intends to operate a supervised visitation center shall apply for a license. Application for a license shall be made to the department in the manner and on forms prescribed by rules adopted by the commissioner pursuant to RSA 541-A. Such forms shall provide for the names, birth names, birth dates, and addresses of all persons having responsibility for supervision or exchange of children in a supervised visitation. The applicant shall obtain approvals in accordance with state and local requirements pertaining to health, safety, and zoning, as applicable.
II. The department shall conduct criminal records and central registry checks on all persons named in the application. An applicant shall provide to the commissioner, for submission to the department of safety, a criminal history records release form, as provided by the New Hampshire division of state police, authorizing the release of any felony convictions to the department. The applicant shall submit with the release form a complete set of electronic fingerprints taken by a qualified law enforcement agency or an authorized employee of the department of safety. In the event that the first set of fingerprints is invalid for whatever reason, a second set of fingerprints shall be necessary in order to complete the criminal history records check. If, after 2 attempts, a set of fingerprints is invalid due to insufficient pattern, the department may, in lieu of the criminal history records check, accept police clearances showing no felony convictions from every city, town, or county where the person has lived during the past 5 years. The division of state police shall conduct a criminal history records check through its records and through the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Upon completion of the records check, the division of state police shall report to the department whether or not there are any felony convictions. The department shall maintain the confidentiality of criminal history record information received pursuant to this section. The applicant shall bear the cost of a criminal history records check.
170-I:4 Assistance From Department. The department, in applying the standards adopted by rule by the commissioner, shall offer consultation through employed staff or other qualified persons to assist applicants and licensees in meeting and maintaining minimum requirements for a license.
170-I:5 Issuance of License. Licenses shall be issued in such form and manner as prescribed by rules adopted by the commissioner under RSA 541-A and shall be valid for 3 years from the date issued unless revoked or suspended by the department or voluntarily surrendered by the licensee. Licenses shall not be transferable and shall be surrendered in the event of change of ownership.
170-I:6 License Renewal. A licensed supervised visitation center shall file for renewal of its license no later than 3 months prior to the expiration date of the license on forms prescribed by rules adopted by the commissioner under RSA 541-A.
I. The commissioner of the department of health and human services shall adopt rules under RSA 541-A relative to the following:
(a) License application, issuance, and renewal procedures.
(b) License revocation and suspension procedures.
(c) Grounds for license revocation and suspension.
(d) Qualifications, experience, and training of supervised visitation center providers and staff.
(e) Safety and security procedures, including child to staff ratios.
(f) Conflict of interest standards and procedures.
(g) Maintenance and disclosure of records, including confidentiality policies.
(h) Legal obligations and responsibilities of supervised visitation center providers.
(i) Grievance procedures.
(j) Quality standards relative to maintaining positive and appropriate parent-child interactions and relationships.
II. License application, issuance, and renewal fees shall be established by the commissioner by rule under RSA 541-A and shall be based on administrative costs associated with the licensing and regulation of supervised visitation centers.
III. The commissioner shall adopt protocols for supervised visitation centers based on the Supervised Visitation In New Hampshire: Domestic Violence Protocol of the Governor’s Commission on Domestic and Sexual Violence; New Hampshire Family Visitation and Access Cooperative Standards for Best Practice; New Hampshire district court supervised visitation and access services protocols; or other relevant sources.
I. Any natural person shall be guilty of a class A misdemeanor, and any other person shall be guilty of a class B felony, who conducts, operates, or acts as a supervised visitation center without a license to do so in violation of this chapter.
II. Any person shall be guilty of a misdemeanor who:
(a) Makes materially false statements to obtain or retain a license.
(b) Violates any other provision of this chapter or any rule adopted under RSA 541-A by the commissioner for the enforcement of this chapter.
HB 702-FN- FISCAL NOTE
FISCAL IMPACT: [ X ] State [ X ] County [ ] Local [ ] None
Estimated Increase / (Decrease)
[ X ] General [ ] Education [ ] Highway [ X ] Other - Criminal Records Fund, License Fees
This bill inserts a new chapter after RSA 170-H and establishes a process for the Department of Health and Human Services to license and adopt rules regulating supervised visitation centers.
The Department of Health and Human Services does not currently license the approximately five supervised visitation centers operating within the State. It notes the bill directs the Department to establish license fees through rules to cover the costs of operating the licensure program, but fee revenue would likely be insufficient to cover total operating expenditures. The Department anticipates it will require one full-time Administrator I position at labor grade 27 to establish the program, promulgate rules, provide assistance to applicants, and perform required monitoring and compliance specified in the bill. The Department estimates the following costs attributed with the new position starting on January 1, 2020 including a one-time expenditure for equipment in FY 2020.
(start date 01/01/20)
Total Position Cost
The bill requires a criminal record check be completed for all applicants. The Department of Safety states there would be an indeterminable fiscal impact to State revenue and expenditures to the extent supervised visitation centers apply for licensing.
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
Simple Criminal Case
Routine Criminal Felony Case
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.
Public Defender Program
Has contract with State to provide services.
Has contract with State to provide services.
Contract Attorney – Felony
Contract Attorney – Misdemeanor
Assigned Counsel – Felony
$60/Hour up to $4,100
$60/Hour up to $4,100
Assigned Counsel – Misdemeanor
$60/Hour up to $1,400
$60/Hour up to $1,400
It should be noted that a person needs to be found indigent and have the potential of being incarcerated to be eligible for indigent defense services. The majority of indigent cases (approximately 85%) are handled by the public defender program, with the remaining cases going to contract attorneys (14%) or assigned counsel (1%).
Department of Corrections
FY 2018 Average Cost of Incarcerating an Individual
FY 2018 Annual Marginal Cost of a General Population Inmate
FY 2018 Average Cost of Supervising an Individual on Parole/Probation
NH Association of Counties
County Prosecution Costs
Estimated Average Daily Cost of Incarcerating an Individual
$105 to $120
$105 to $120
Many offenses are prosecuted by local and county prosecutors. When the Department of Justice has investigative and prosecutorial responsibility or is involved in an appeal, the Department would likely absorb the cost within its existing budget. If the Department needs to prosecute significantly more cases or handle more appeals, then costs may increase by an indeterminable amount.
Departments of Health and Human Services, Safety, Corrections, and Justice, Judicial Branch, Judicial Council, and New Hampshire Association of Counties