Union Leader: Bill would charge public for retrieval of right-to-know documents

CONCORD — A proposal to allow public bodies and agencies to charge to retrieve public records for right-to-know requests faced strong opposition at a public hearing Thursday.

House Bill 646 could require those making right-to-know requests to pay for retrieving the records before they are produced and allows public agencies to charge after the first hour of work.

The bill’s prime sponsor, Manchester Alderman and Rep. Pat Long, D-Manchester, said right-to-know requests are becoming increasingly broad and costing taxpayers money.

“There is a substantial cost to taxpayers to implement (these requests),” Long told the House Judiciary Committee.

But others said the bill could have a chilling effect on people exercising their constitutional rights.

“HB646 would have a devastating effect on our fundamental right to hold our government accountable,” said NH Press Association President and New Hampshire Union Leader Executive Editor Trent Spiner. “It allows the government to set a price on information that we as taxpayers already own — an unlimited price — despite our shared ideals of a more open, accessible, accountable and responsive government.”

For the complete story, please visit the New Hampshire Union Leader’s website. 

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