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

540:1 Preamble Enacted.  Amend RSA 91-A:1 (supp) as inserted
by 1967, 251:1 as amended by striking out said section and inserting in
place thereof the following:

91-A:1 Preamble.  Openness in the conduct of public business is es-
ssential to a democratic society.  The purpose of this chapter is to ensure
both the greatest possible public access to the actions, discussions and
records of all public bodies, and their accountability to the people.

540:2 Definitions.  Amend RSA 91-A by inserting after section 1 the
following new section:

91-A:1-a Definition of Public Proceedings. The term "public proceed-
ings" as used in this chapter means the transaction of any functions affect-
ing any or all citizens of the state by any of the following:

I. The general court including executive sessions of committees;

II. The governor's council;

III. Any board or commission of any state agency or authority;

IV. Any board, commission, agency, or authority, of any county, town,
municipal corporation, school district, or other political subdivision, or
any committee, subcommittee or subordinate body thereof, or advisory com-
mittee thereto.

540:3 "Meeting" Defined.  Amend RSA 91-A:2 (supp) as inserted by
1967, 251:1 as amended by striking out said section and inserting in place
thereof the following:

91-A:2 Meetings Open to the Public.

I.  For the purpose of this section, a "meeting" shall mean the convening
of a quorum of the membership of a public body, as provided in section
91-A:1-a, to discuss or act upon a matter or matters over which the public
body has supervision, control, jurisdiction or advisory power.

II. All public proceedings shall be open to the public, and all persons shall
be permitted to attend any meetings of those bodies or agencies.  Except
for town meetings, school district meetings and elections, no vote while in
open session may be taken by secret ballot.  Any person shall be permitted to
use recording devices, including but not limited to, tape recorders, cameras
and videotape equipment, at such meetings.  Minutes of all such meetings,
including names of members, persons appearing before the bodies or agen-
cies, and a brief description of the subject matter discussed and final deci-
sions shall be promptly recorded and open to public inspection within 72
hours of the public meeting, except as provided 91-A:6 of this chapter,
and shall be treated as permanent records of any body or agency, or any
subordinate body thereof, without exception.  Except in an emergency or
when there is a meeting of a legislative committee, a notice of the time and
place of each such meeting, including an executive session, shall be posted in
2 appropriate public places or shall be printed in a newspaper of general circula-
tion in the city or town at least 24 hours, excluding Sundays and legal holi-
days, prior to such meetings. An emergency shall mean a situation where
immediate undelayed action is deemed to be imperative by the chairman or
presiding officer of the body or agency who shall employ whatever means
are available to inform the public that a meeting is to be held.  The minutes
of the meeting shall clearly spell out the need for the emergency meeting.
When a meeting of a legislative committee is held, publication made pur-
suant to the rules of the house of representatives shall be sufficient notice.
If the charter of any city or guidelines or rules of order of any body or
agency described in RSA 91-A:1-a requires a broader public access to
official meetings and records than herein described, such charter provisions
or guidelines or rules of order shall take precedence over the requirements
of this chapter.

540:4 Executive Sessions.  Amend RSA 91-A:3 (supp) as inserted by
1967, 251:1 as amended by striking out said section and inserting in place
thereof the following:

91-A:3 Executive Sessions.

I. Bodies or agencies may meet in executive session for deliberations only
after a majority vote of members present, which shall be recorded in the
minutes of the meeting.  All sessions at which information, evidence or testi-
mony in any form is received, except as provided in paragraph II, shall be
open to the public. No ordinances, orders, rules, resolutions, regulations,
contracts, appointments or other official actions shall be finally approved
in executive session except as provided in paragraph II.  The record of all
actions shall be available for public inspection promptly, except as provided
in paragraph II.

II. Exceptions.  A body, or agency, may exclude the public, citing for the
record the appropriate subparagraph hereof, when it is considering or
acting upon the following matters:

(a) The dismissal, promotion, or compensation of any public employee
or the disciplining of such employee, or the investigating of any charges
against him, unless the employee affected requests an open meeting.

(b) The hiring of any person as a public employee.

(c) Matters which, if discussed in public, likely would affect adversely
the reputation of any person, other than a member of the body or agency
itself, unless such person requests an open meeting.

(d) Consideration of the acquisition, sale, or lease of property which,
if discussed in public, likely would benefit a party or parties whose interests
are adverse to those of the general community.

(e) Matters discussed by a legislative committee sitting in executive
session, which should not be made public as determined by a 3/5 roll-call
and recorded vote of the members present and voting at such meeting.

III.  Minutes of Executive Sessions.  Minutes of proceedings in executive
session shall be kept, at least to the extent of recording any decisions made
therein.  Decisions reached in executive session must be publicly disclosed
within 72 hours of the meeting, unless, in the opinion of 2/3 of the members
present, divulgence of the information likely would affect adversely the
reputation of any person other than a member of the body or agency itself
or render the proposed action ineffective.  In event of such circumstances,
information may be withheld until, in the opinion of a majority of members,
the aforesaid circumstances no longer apply.

540:5 Violation.  Amend RSA 91-A:7 (supp) as inserted by 1967,
251:1 by striking out said section and inserting in place thereof the

91-A:7 Violation. Any person aggrieved by a violation of this chapter
may petition the superior court for injunctive relief.  The courts shall give
proceedings under this chapter priority on the court calendar.  Such a peti-
tioner may appear with or without counsel.  The petition shall be deemed
sufficient if it states facts constituting a violation of this chapter, and may
be filed by the petitioner or his counsel with the clerk of court or any
justice thereof.  Thereupon the clerk of court or any justice shall order
service by copy of the petition on the person or persons charged.  When any
justice shall find that time probably is of the essence, he may order notice
by any reasonable means, and he shall have authority to issue an order
ex parte when he shall reasonably deem such an order necessary to insure
compliance with the provisions of this chapter.

540:6 Remedies.   Amend RSA 91-A:8 (supp) as inserted by 1973,
113:1 by striking out said section and inserting in place thereof the follow-

91-A:8 Remedies.  If any body or agency or employee or member
thereof, in violation of the provisions of this chapter, refuses to provide a
public document or refuses access to a public proceeding, to a person who
reasonably requests the same, such body, agency or person may be liable
for reasonable attorney's fees and costs incurred in making the information
available or the proceeding open to the public, at the discretion of the court.
In addition to any other relief awarded pursuant to this chapter, the court
may issue an order to enjoin future violations of this chapter.

540:7 Effective Date.  This act shall take effect 60 days after its

[Approved July 15, 1977.]
[Effective date September 13, 1977.]