A conference committee on HB606 has issued a report with an amendment to HB606. This bill clarifies that no fees may be charged to inspect or deliver records when no copies are made. The amendment…
This is of interest to Tuftonboro residents because the selectmen are currently planning on revising the electronic copy policy in order to comply with the recent New Hampshire Supreme Court decision in Green v. SAU 55. Selectman Carolyn Sundqvist stated at a recent board meeting that though the policy has not yet been updated that the town would be comply with the decision.
The Supreme Court in Green does not directly address whether municipalities may charge for electronic copies, only states that if a record exists in electronic form then the municipality must make the record available electronically. The Court did note, however, that RSA 91A, the “Right to Know” law, allows municipalities to charge only the actual cost of making a copy of a record and that the cost of making an electronic copy is almost nothing. Quoting another court, the New Hampshire Supreme Court wrote, “The cost of copying and transporting electronically stored information is virtually nil.”
The New Hampshire legislature appears to be recognizing this reality by moving closer to expressly forbidding municipalities from charging for electronic copies of public records.
Tuftonboro has already adopted this in practice, and the official policy will soon follow. I have obtained several public records electronically without charge since the New Hampshire Supreme Court’s decision in Greene.