Legal Q & A

Top COVID-19-Related Legal Inquiries

The NHMA Legal Advisory Service kicked into high gear on March 13th in response to member inquiries related to the pandemic.  In order to facilitate our response we created a new category for our legal inquiry data base, “COVID-19 coronavirus”, where we store all inquiries, telephone and email, and our responses.  Like the pandemic itself, questions from our members surged 30% in March, April, May and June and have now settled back to a more normal level.  Thanks to a gifted and dedicated team of attorneys, Natch Greyes, Cordell Johnston and Executive Director Margaret Byrnes

Recreation Programs and the ADA

Recreation programs are an important piece of the services municipalities offer.  During summer, they may include swimming programs and sports.  During the school year, there may be programs for before and after school.  In any of those cases, a municipality may have special obligations to accommodate children (and adults, for that matter) with special needs under the ADA.


Legal Q&A: How State Law Regulates Volunteer and On-Call Firefighters and Other Emergency Staff

This article discusses some of the statutes applicable to volunteer and on-call firefighters and emergency medical service personnel. Such persons perform the majority of this important first responder work in our municipalities, and the law has given them special protections to encourage their contributions to our collective public safety.

Q: I would like to be a firefighter in my municipality. What are the requirements?

Legal Q&A: Be Aware of Traps at Town Meeting

You've reviewed the calendar, looked at the warrant, and booked the room. Notices are ready to post, the budget is almost ready, and everyone is gearing up for what promises to be a great annual meeting. We hope that it is! However, even the most experienced local officials miss something now and then. Here are a few traps of which to beware, both golden oldies and new ones.

Legal Q and A: Building on Private Roads under RSA 674:41: When and How is it Authorized?

It's sometimes referred to as a sort of "state zoning." In any town that has a planning board with subdivision authority, RSA 674:41 prohibits building on any lot unless "the street giving access" is a Class V highway or better; is shown on a subdivision or other plan approved by the planning board; or is a Class VI highway or "private road" upon which the board of selectmen has voted to authorize building permits under certain specified conditions.

Legal Q and A: A New Option for Town Meeting: Adding the Estimated Tax Impact to the Warrant

In recent years, a lot of attention has been directed toward the amount of detail on a ballot or warrant article. The estimated tax impact of proposed appropriations, long seen as information of considerable interest to voters, may now be included under a new amendment to RSA Chapter 32, the Municipal Budget Act. Here are some of the new and continuing questions about this issue.

Q. Haven't we always been able to include explanatory information on warrant articles?

Legal Q and A: Records Compiled for Enforcement of Statutes, Ordinances and Regulations: To What Extent Are They Exempt from Disclosure?

Although law enforcement records are not included as such in the list of government records exempt from disclosure under the Right to Know Law, RSA 91-A:5, the New Hampshire Supreme Court has long recognized that certain law enforcement records may be withheld from public disclosure in accordance with the exemption for such records in the federal Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). This exemption has been important for police departments, but until now, of little interest to other municipal officials and employees.

Legal Q and A: The Inside Scoop on Nonpublic Sessions

New Hampshire’s Right to Know Law, RSA Chapter 91-A, is a critical statute for local officials and employees to understand. One of the more difficult areas to navigate is nonpublic sessions. Recently, we have received an incredible number of legal inquiries about this subject. Here are some of the most frequently-asked questions about nonpublic sessions.

Q. What’s the difference between a nonpublic session and a “non-meeting”?

Legal Q and A: Hawkers, Peddlers and Door-to-Door Solicitors

Warm weather and extended daylight signal the return of people selling goods and services from temporary locations on public property or by door-to-door solicitation. These people are known by the traditional term “hawkers and peddlers.” Solicitors also include those advocating and/or raising funds for charitable, religious, and political organizations. People often find these activities annoying in public spaces and an invasion of privacy when solicitors ring the doorbell. They complain to municipal officials, who in turn must determine what, if any, action to take.

Legal Q and A: Right to Know Law: Disclosure of ‘Draft’ Documents

A core principle of the Right to Know Law involves the right of citizens to inspect and copy governmental records. Questions often arise about documents and electronic communications that are created as staff and officials study an issue, deliberate about how best to approach the matter, and review and refine language of policies, ordinances, or adjudicative decisions. These documents will likely contain information that is incomplete and language that will ultimately be rejected prior to approval by public bodies.