Panel to discuss Right-to-Know law at Loeb SchoolBy PAUL FEELY
New Hampshire Union Leader
February 20. 2017 8:36PM
MANCHESTER — The Nackey S. Loeb School of Communications and New England First Amendment Coalition will present a discussion next month on New Hampshire’s Right-to-Know Law.
“The Right-to-Know in New Hampshire, in Theory and Practice” will be held at The Nackey S. Loeb School of Communications at 749 E. Industrial Park Drive in Manchester on Monday, March 13, at 7 p.m. The event is being held in recognition of Sunshine Week, a national initiative to promote open government.
The two-part program is scheduled to include a presentation by David Saad, president of Right-to-Know New Hampshire (RightToKnowNH.wordpress.com), a citizens’ group working to improve access to government in New Hampshire, and a panel discussing the law from varying perspectives.
Panelists scheduled to take part include:
• Lisa M. English, Senior Assistant Attorney General
• Donna Green, president of the School District Governance Association of New Hampshire and a Right to Know New Hampshire board member
• Atty. Richard Lehmann of The Lehmann Law Office
• Durham Town Administrator Todd Selig
• Trent Spiner, president of the New Hampshire Press Association and Executive Editor of the New Hampshire Union Leader.
The panel will be moderated by First Amendment Atty. Gregory V. Sullivan, a board member of both sponsoring organizations who represents various media outlets, including the New Hampshire Union Leader, in open government cases.
New Hampshire’s Right-To-Know Law, RSA Chapter 91-A, states: “Openness in the conduct of public business is essential to a democratic society. The purpose of this chapter is to ensure both the greatest possible public access to the actions, discussion and records of all public bodies, and their accountability to the people.”
Every board, committee, commission and subcommittee in every town, city and village district in the state must comply with the law, according to the New Hampshire Municipal Association.
Right-to-Know New Hampshire has worked on three bills introduced into the 2017 session of the New Hampshire legislature addressing enforcement issues with the state’s Right-to-Know law.
HB 178 would establish a commission to study ways to resolve right-to-know complaints. HB 252 would assist residents who pursue right-to-know issues through the court system by simplifying the process for submitting evidence for those representing themselves in a court of law. HB 460 would require any alleged right-to-know violations that take place during a meeting and are recognized by a member of the government body to be included in the official meeting minutes.
Sunshine Week is a national initiative to promote a dialogue about the importance of open government and freedom of information. Participants include news media, civic groups, libraries, nonprofits, schools and others interested in the public’s right to know.
The March 13 event is open to the public, and admission is free.