HB1002 (2024) Detail

Relative to fees for records under the right-to-know law.


HB 1002 - AS AMENDED BY THE HOUSE

 

1Feb2024... 0197h

2024 SESSION

24-2001

05/08

 

HOUSE BILL 1002

 

AN ACT relative to fees for records under the right-to-know law.

 

SPONSORS: Rep. Kuttab, Rock. 17; Rep. M. Cahill, Rock. 10; Rep. Ball, Rock. 25; Rep. Maggiore, Rock. 23; Rep. Ankarberg, Straf. 7; Rep. DeSimone, Rock. 18; Rep. Dunn, Rock. 16; Rep. J. Nelson, Rock. 13; Rep. B. Boyd, Hills. 12; Rep. Edwards, Rock. 31; Rep. Grassie, Straf. 8; Sen. Carson, Dist 14; Sen. Gannon, Dist 23; Sen. Watters, Dist 4; Sen. Lang, Dist 2; Sen. Avard, Dist 12

 

COMMITTEE: Judiciary

 

─────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────

 

ANALYSIS

 

This bill establishes parameters for when a public body may charge a fee for records provided under RSA 91-A.

 

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

 

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Matter which is either (a) all new or (b) repealed and reenacted appears in regular type.

1Feb2024... 0197h 24-2001

05/08

 

STATE OF NEW HAMPSHIRE

 

In the Year of Our Lord Two Thousand Twenty Four

 

AN ACT relative to fees for records under the right-to-know law.

 

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

 

1  Right-to-Know; Fees for Records.  Amend RSA 91-A:4, IV to read as follows:

IV.(a)  Each public body or agency shall, upon request for any governmental record reasonably described, make available for inspection and copying any such governmental record within its files when such records are immediately available for such release.

(b)  If a public body or agency is unable to make a governmental record available for immediate inspection and copying the public body or agency shall, within 5 business days of a request:

(1)  Make such record available;

(2)  Deny the request; or

(3)  Provide a written statement of the time reasonably necessary to determine whether the request shall be granted or denied and the reason for the delay, and an estimate of the cost of making the record available if a charge would be incurred under paragraph VIII.

(c)  A public body or agency denying, in whole or part, inspection or copying of any record shall provide a written statement of the specific exemption authorizing the withholding of the record and a brief explanation of how the exemption applies to the record withheld.

(d)  If a computer, photocopying machine, or other device maintained for use by a public body or agency is used by the public body or agency to copy the governmental record requested, the person requesting the copy may be charged the actual cost of providing the copy, which cost may be collected by the public body or agency.  No cost or fee shall be charged for the inspection or delivery, without copying, of governmental records, whether in paper, electronic, or other form, unless the time to make the record available exceeds 10 hours, as provided in paragraph VIII.  Nothing in this section shall exempt any person from paying fees otherwise established by law for obtaining copies of governmental records or documents, but if such fee is established for the copy, no additional costs or fees shall be charged.

(e)  A public body or agency may suggest to the requestor a reasonable modification of the scope of the request, if doing so would enable the body or agency to produce records sought more efficiently and affordably.

2  New Paragraph; Fees for Records.  Amend RSA 91-A:4 by inserting after paragraph VII the following new paragraph:

VIII.  A reasonable charge may be made for employee, contractor, or attorney time in excess of 10 hours to make the record available to the requestor, including time to search, retrieve, duplicate, redact, and otherwise make the record available for the requestor; provided that no charge may be made for time spent with the requestor to review the records.  Hourly costs shall not exceed $25 per hour, and no costs shall be charged for requests under 10 hours.  Prior to charging any fees, the public body or agency shall create a policy so that practices are transparent, uniform, and consistent.  Multiple requests from any person or entity to the same public body within a 30 day time period shall be considered one request.  If a party believes the estimated number of hours or cost to make the records available is unreasonable, the party may file a complaint with the ombudsman pursuant to RSA 91-A:7-b for a determination of whether the estimate is reasonable.

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

 

LBA

24-2001

Amended 3/5/24

 

HB 1002- FISCAL NOTE

AS AMENDED BY THE HOUSE (AMENDMENT #2024-0197h)

 

AN ACT relative to fees for records under the right-to-know law.

 

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

 

 

Estimated State Impact - Increase / (Decrease)

 

FY 2024

FY 2025

FY 2026

FY 2027

Revenue

$0

Indeterminable Increase

Indeterminable Increase

Indeterminable Increase

Revenue Fund(s)

General Fund

Right to Know Ombudsman filing fees ($25)

Expenditures

$0

Indeterminable

Indeterminable

Indeterminable

Funding Source(s)

General Fund

 

Appropriations

$0

$0

$0

$0

Funding Source(s)

None

 

Does this bill provide sufficient funding to cover estimated expenditures? [X] N/A

Does this bill authorize new positions to implement this bill? [X] No

 

Estimated Political Subdivision Impact - Increase / (Decrease)

 

FY 2024

FY 2025

FY 2026

FY 2027

County Revenue

$0

Indeterminable

Indeterminable

Indeterminable

County Expenditures

$0

Indeterminable

Indeterminable

Indeterminable

Local Revenue

$0

$0

$0

$0

Local Expenditures

$0

$0

$0

$0

 

The Office of Legislative Budget Assistant is awaiting information from the Department of Justice. The Department of Justice was originally contacted on 2/1/24 for a fiscal note worksheet.  If information is received, a revised fiscal note will be forward to the House Clerk’s Office.

 

METHODOLOGY:

This bill establishes parameters for when a public body may charge a fee for records provided under RSA 91-A.  The Office of the Right to Know Ombudsman indicates the bill impacts RSA 91-A:4 by adding a new paragraph VIII to provide that a reasonable charge of $25 per hour or less may be made for time in excess of 10 hours spent by the personnel of a public entity for providing copies of documents available to requestors under the Right to Know law.  It also provides that if a person believes that an estimated charge imposed by a public entity is unreasonable, the person may file a complaint with the Right to Know Ombudsman (RKO) for a determination of the reasonableness.  Complaints filed with the RKO must generally be accompanied by a $25 filing fee which is deposited in the general fund.  The Office assumes this bill could increase the workload of the RKO (a single-person agency) by an unknown amount which would depend entirely upon the unknowable number of additional complaints.  The Office states the bill would also impact other state agencies and governmental units at the county and local level, as well as other public bodies or agencies as defined in RSA 91-A: 1-a, V  and VI.  The  Office notes the bill appears to suggest that a complaint regarding the reasonableness of any fee must be filed with the RKO, eliminating the option of pursuing such matters in superior court. The bill is therefore likely to increase the workload of the RKO to an indeterminable degree, resulting in a greater expenditure of RKO time.  However, because the RKO is a salaried position, the expenditure of additional time would not necessarily lead to an additional expenditure of state funds.  The Office states it cannot be known at this time whether the increased workload would require hiring of an additional person or persons to work in the Office, a matter which might be necessary even absent the bill.  The Office indicates the ultimate fiscal impact of the bill  is necessarily indeterminable.   

 

The New Hampshire Municipal Association does not anticipate a direct impact on local revenue or expenditures as this bill provides for a local option.

 

The New Hampshire Association of Counties state, while requests of this size are rare, the Association is not able to predict what members of the public will request under the right to know law.  The Association assumes the fee would not cover the cost of responding to a request.

 

It is assumed that any fiscal impact would occur after fiscal year 2024.

 

AGENCIES CONTACTED:

Department of Justice, Office of the Right to Know Ombudsman, New Hampshire Municipal Association and New Hampshire Association of Counties

 

Amendments

Date Amendment
Jan. 24, 2024 2024-0197h
Feb. 6, 2024 2024-0522h
Feb. 6, 2024 2024-0523h
Feb. 7, 2024 2024-0559h
March 12, 2024 2024-0930h
March 15, 2024 2024-1158h
March 18, 2024 2024-1173h

Links


Date Body Type
Jan. 17, 2024 House Hearing
Jan. 22, 2024 House Exec Session
Jan. 22, 2024 House Floor Vote
March 6, 2024 House Exec Session
April 9, 2024 Senate Hearing

Bill Text Revisions

HB1002 Revision: 40712 Date: April 16, 2024, 10:50 a.m.
HB1002 Revision: 41381 Date: April 16, 2024, 10:49 a.m.
HB1002 Revision: 41242 Date: March 18, 2024, 9:54 a.m.
HB1002 Revision: 41241 Date: March 15, 2024, 3:39 p.m.
HB1002 Revision: 41177 Date: March 12, 2024, 12:55 p.m.
HB1002 Revision: 40758 Date: Feb. 7, 2024, 1:33 p.m.
HB1002 Revision: 40741 Date: Feb. 6, 2024, 2:33 p.m.
HB1002 Revision: 40742 Date: Feb. 6, 2024, 2:32 p.m.
HB1002 Revision: 40668 Date: Jan. 24, 2024, 11:23 a.m.
HB1002 Revision: 39517 Date: Nov. 28, 2023, 8:05 a.m.

Docket


April 3, 2024: Hearing: 04/09/2024, Room 100, SH, 01:45 pm; SC 14


March 26, 2024: Introduced 03/21/2024 and Referred to Judiciary; SJ 8


March 21, 2024: Reconsider HB1002 (Rep. Kuttab): MF VV 03/21/2024 HJ 9


March 21, 2024: Ought to Pass with Amendment 2024-1173h: MA RC 268-106 03/21/2024 HJ 9


March 21, 2024: FLAM # 2024-1173h (Reps. Kenney, Kuttab): AA RC 345-24 03/21/2024 HJ 9


March 21, 2024: Refer for Interim Study: MF DV 105-266 03/21/2024 HJ 9


March 12, 2024: Minority Committee Report: Ought to Pass with Amendment # 2024-0930h


March 12, 2024: Majority Committee Report: Refer for Interim Study 03/06/2024 (Vote 11-9; RC)


Feb. 27, 2024: Executive Session: 03/06/2024 10:00 am LOB 206-208


Feb. 14, 2024: Full Committee Work Session: 02/21/2024 01:00 pm LOB 206-208


Feb. 8, 2024: Recommit (Rep. Lynn): MA VV 02/08/2024 HJ 4 P. 14


Feb. 8, 2024: Lay HB1002 on Table (Rep. Hoell): MF DV 126-254 02/08/2024 HJ 4 P. 14


Feb. 8, 2024: Reconsider HB1002 (Rep. Smart): MA DV 195-183 02/08/2024 HJ 4 P. 14


Feb. 6, 2024: Notice of Reconsideration (Rep. Smart) 02/01/2024


Feb. 1, 2024: Ought to Pass with Amendment 2024-0197h: MA RC 193-179 02/01/2024 HJ 3 P. 24


Feb. 1, 2024: Amendment # 2024-0197h: AA VV 02/01/2024 HJ 3 P. 23


Jan. 24, 2024: Minority Committee Report: Inexpedient to Legislate


Jan. 24, 2024: Majority Committee Report: Ought to Pass with Amendment # 2024-0197h 01/22/2024 (Vote 12-8; RC) HC 4 P. 15


Jan. 17, 2024: Executive Session: 01/22/2024 09:00 am LOB 206-208


Jan. 4, 2024: Public Hearing: 01/17/2024 09:00 am LOB 206-208


Nov. 27, 2023: Introduced 01/03/2024 and referred to Judiciary