New Hampshire key House panel backs creation of Right-to- Know ombudsman

CONCORD — A bill calling for creation of a Citizens Right-to-Know Appeals Board and a Right-to-Know ombudsman will go the full House with an “ought to pass” recommendation from the House Judiciary Committee.

The bill, SB 555, is the culmination of a year’s work by a Right-to-Know study commission. It passed the Senate on March 15, and on Tuesday cleared the key House policy committee in a 14-2 vote.

The study commission, chaired by Sen. Bob Giuda, R-Warren, recommended the appeals board and ombudsman to mediate disputes that arise over access to public records. Currently the only option for people whose requests are denied is to take their cases to Superior Court, at considerable cost to both parties.

“This bill will level the playing field and save communities significant amounts of money as well by avoiding court cases,” said Giuda. “This is about transparency in government. This is information people are entitled to by law, but is being denied to them by process.”

Rep. Michael Sylvia, R-Belmont, was one of two votes against the bill on the Judiciary Committee, calling it an unnecessary expansion of government. Read more…