Bill Text - SB95 (2021)

(2nd New Title) establishing a committee to review authorizing governing bodies of municipalities to hold virtual meetings and to study remote access to meetings under RSA 91-A.


Revision: Jan. 26, 2021, 12:46 p.m.

SB 95-FN - AS INTRODUCED

 

 

2021 SESSION

21-0993

06/11

 

SENATE BILL 95-FN

 

AN ACT adopting omnibus legislation relative to remote meetings and penalties for violation of privacy.

 

SPONSORS: Sen. Daniels, Dist 11

 

COMMITTEE: Judiciary

 

-----------------------------------------------------------------

 

ANALYSIS

 

This bill adopts legislation relative to:

 

I.  Governing bodies meeting virtually.

 

II.  Remote access to meetings.

 

III.  Penalties for violation of privacy.

 

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

 

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Matter which is either (a) all new or (b) repealed and reenacted appears in regular type.

21-0993

06/11

 

STATE OF NEW HAMPSHIRE

 

In the Year of Our Lord Two Thousand Twenty One

 

AN ACT adopting omnibus legislation relative to remote meetings and penalties for violation of privacy.

 

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

 

1  Sponsorship. This act consists of the following proposed legislation:

Part I.  LSR 21-0993, authorizing governing bodies of municipalities to have virtual or in-person meetings, sponsored by Sen. Daniels, Prime/Dist. 11; Rep. Ladd, Graf. 4.

Part II.  LSR 21-0911, relative to remote access to meetings under RSA 91-A, sponsored by Sen. Perkins Kwoka, Prime/Dist. 21; Sen. Rosenwald, Dist. 13; Sen. Cavanaugh, Dist. 16; Sen. D'Allesandro, Dist. 20;  Sen. Prentiss, Dist. 5; Sen. Sherman, Dist. 24; Sen. Whitley, Dist. 15; Rep. Porter, Hills. 1; Rep. Maggiore, Rock. 22; Rep. Espitia, Hills. 31; Rep. Gourgue, Straf. 25;  Rep. Wilhelm, Hills. 42.

Part III.  LSR 21-0167, relative to penalties for violation of privacy, sponsored by Sen. Gray, Prime/Dist. 6.

2  Legislation Enacted.  The general court hereby enacts the following legislation:

 

PART I

Authorizing governing bodies of municipalities to have virtual or in-person meetings.

1  Governmental Meetings; Open to Public; Virtual Meetings.  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.  Each member participating electronically or otherwise must 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.  Any member participating in such fashion shall identify 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 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)  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)  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.  Part I of this act shall take effect 60 days after its passage.

 

PART II  

Relative to remote access to meetings under RSA 91-A.

 

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] One or more members of a public body may 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)  Public access shall be provided to the public by telephone, with additional access possibilities by video or other electronic means.

(c)  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 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.  Part II of this act shall take effect 60 days after its passage.

 

PART III

Relative to penalties for violation of privacy.

1  New Paragraph; Breaches of the Peace; Violation of Privacy.  Amend RSA 644:9 by inserting after paragraph IV the following new paragraph:

IV-a.  Any person convicted of a class A misdemeanor under paragraphs I-IV who commits a second or subsequent offense under paragraphs I-IV may be charged with a class B felony for the second or subsequent offense.

2  Effective Date.  Part III of this act shall take effect January 1, 2022.

 

LBA

21-0993

1/21/21

 

SB 95-FN- FISCAL NOTE

AS INTRODUCED

 

AN ACT adopting omnibus legislation relative to remote meetings and penalties for violation of privacy.

 

 

PART I:  Authorizing governing bodies of municipalities to have virtual or in-person meetings.

 

No fiscal impact.

 

PART II:  Relative to remote access to meetings under RSA 91-A.

 

No fiscal Impact.

 

PART III:  Relative to penalties for violation of privacy.

 

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

 

 

 

Estimated Increase / (Decrease)

STATE:

FY 2021

FY 2022

FY 2023

FY 2024

   Appropriation

$0

$0

$0

$0

   Revenue

$0

$0

$0

$0

   Expenditures

$0

Indeterminable Increase

Indeterminable Increase

Indeterminable Increase

Funding Source:

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

 

 

 

 

 

COUNTY:

 

 

 

 

   Revenue

$0

$0

$0

$0

   Expenditures

$0

Indeterminable Increase

Indeterminable Increase

Indeterminable Increase

 

METHODOLOGY:

This section of the bill allows a second or subsequent offense for certain invasion of privacy offenses to be charged as a class B felony.  This bill contains a penalty 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.

 

Judicial Branch

FY 2021

FY 2022

Class A Misdemeanor

$78

$78

Simple Criminal Case

$309

$309

Routine Criminal Felony Case

$494

$494

Appeals

Varies

Varies

It should be noted that average case cost estimates for FY 2021 and FY 2022 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.  

Judicial Council

 

 

Public Defender Program

Has contract with State to provide services.

Has contract with State to provide services.

Contract Attorney – Felony

$825/Case

$825/Case

Contract Attorney – Misdemeanor

$300/Case

$300/Case

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 2020 Average Cost of Incarcerating an Individual

$47,691

$47,691

FY 2020 Annual Marginal Cost of a General Population Inmate

$6,407

$6,407

FY 2020 Average Cost of Supervising an Individual on Parole/Probation

$584

$584

NH Association of Counties

 

 

County Prosecution Costs

Indeterminable

Indeterminable

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.  

 

AGENCIES CONTACTED:

Judicial Branch, Departments of Corrections and Justice, Judicial Council, and New Hampshire Association of Counties

 

SB 95-FN - AS INTRODUCED

 

 

2021 SESSION

21-0993

06/11

 

SENATE BILL 95-FN

 

AN ACT adopting omnibus legislation relative to remote meetings and penalties for violation of privacy.

 

SPONSORS: Sen. Daniels, Dist 11

 

COMMITTEE: Judiciary

 

-----------------------------------------------------------------

 

ANALYSIS

 

This bill adopts legislation relative to:

 

I.  Governing bodies meeting virtually.

 

II.  Remote access to meetings.

 

III.  Penalties for violation of privacy.

 

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

 

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.

21-0993

06/11

 

STATE OF NEW HAMPSHIRE

 

In the Year of Our Lord Two Thousand Twenty One

 

AN ACT adopting omnibus legislation relative to remote meetings and penalties for violation of privacy.

 

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

 

1  Sponsorship. This act consists of the following proposed legislation:

Part I.  LSR 21-0993, authorizing governing bodies of municipalities to have virtual or in-person meetings, sponsored by Sen. Daniels, Prime/Dist. 11; Rep. Ladd, Graf. 4.

Part II.  LSR 21-0911, relative to remote access to meetings under RSA 91-A, sponsored by Sen. Perkins Kwoka, Prime/Dist. 21; Sen. Rosenwald, Dist. 13; Sen. Cavanaugh, Dist. 16; Sen. D'Allesandro, Dist. 20;  Sen. Prentiss, Dist. 5; Sen. Sherman, Dist. 24; Sen. Whitley, Dist. 15; Rep. Porter, Hills. 1; Rep. Maggiore, Rock. 22; Rep. Espitia, Hills. 31; Rep. Gourgue, Straf. 25;  Rep. Wilhelm, Hills. 42.

Part III.  LSR 21-0167, relative to penalties for violation of privacy, sponsored by Sen. Gray, Prime/Dist. 6.

2  Legislation Enacted.  The general court hereby enacts the following legislation:

 

PART I

Authorizing governing bodies of municipalities to have virtual or in-person meetings.

1  Governmental Meetings; Open to Public; Virtual Meetings.  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.  Each member participating electronically or otherwise must 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.  Any member participating in such fashion shall identify 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 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)  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)  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.  Part I of this act shall take effect 60 days after its passage.

 

PART II  

Relative to remote access to meetings under RSA 91-A.

 

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] One or more members of a public body may 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)  Public access shall be provided to the public by telephone, with additional access possibilities by video or other electronic means.

(c)  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 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.  Part II of this act shall take effect 60 days after its passage.

 

PART III

Relative to penalties for violation of privacy.

1  New Paragraph; Breaches of the Peace; Violation of Privacy.  Amend RSA 644:9 by inserting after paragraph IV the following new paragraph:

IV-a.  Any person convicted of a class A misdemeanor under paragraphs I-IV who commits a second or subsequent offense under paragraphs I-IV may be charged with a class B felony for the second or subsequent offense.

2  Effective Date.  Part III of this act shall take effect January 1, 2022.

 

LBA

21-0993

1/21/21

 

SB 95-FN- FISCAL NOTE

AS INTRODUCED

 

AN ACT adopting omnibus legislation relative to remote meetings and penalties for violation of privacy.

 

 

PART I:  Authorizing governing bodies of municipalities to have virtual or in-person meetings.

 

No fiscal impact.

 

PART II:  Relative to remote access to meetings under RSA 91-A.

 

No fiscal Impact.

 

PART III:  Relative to penalties for violation of privacy.

 

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

 

 

 

Estimated Increase / (Decrease)

STATE:

FY 2021

FY 2022

FY 2023

FY 2024

   Appropriation

$0

$0

$0

$0

   Revenue

$0

$0

$0

$0

   Expenditures

$0

Indeterminable Increase

Indeterminable Increase

Indeterminable Increase

Funding Source:

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

 

 

 

 

 

COUNTY:

 

 

 

 

   Revenue

$0

$0

$0

$0

   Expenditures

$0

Indeterminable Increase

Indeterminable Increase

Indeterminable Increase

 

METHODOLOGY:

This section of the bill allows a second or subsequent offense for certain invasion of privacy offenses to be charged as a class B felony.  This bill contains a penalty 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.

 

Judicial Branch

FY 2021

FY 2022

Class A Misdemeanor

$78

$78

Simple Criminal Case

$309

$309

Routine Criminal Felony Case

$494

$494

Appeals

Varies

Varies

It should be noted that average case cost estimates for FY 2021 and FY 2022 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.  

Judicial Council

 

 

Public Defender Program

Has contract with State to provide services.

Has contract with State to provide services.

Contract Attorney – Felony

$825/Case

$825/Case

Contract Attorney – Misdemeanor

$300/Case

$300/Case

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 2020 Average Cost of Incarcerating an Individual

$47,691

$47,691

FY 2020 Annual Marginal Cost of a General Population Inmate

$6,407

$6,407

FY 2020 Average Cost of Supervising an Individual on Parole/Probation

$584

$584

NH Association of Counties

 

 

County Prosecution Costs

Indeterminable

Indeterminable

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.  

 

AGENCIES CONTACTED:

Judicial Branch, Departments of Corrections and Justice, Judicial Council, and New Hampshire Association of Counties