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Bar News - February 19, 2010


Association News: BOG Considers Legislative Positions

At its January 21, 2010 meeting, the NHBA Board of Governors voted on positions to take with regard to several dozen pieces of legislation being considered by the NH Legislature.

John MacIntosh, who is the Bar’s representative in legislative matters, said the Legislation Committee work is nearly done with most of the bills for this session already introduced and reviewed. More than 900 bills were introduced, and the Legislation Committee, following the standards set for lobbying by unified bars in the NH Supreme Court’s Chapman decision and the US Supreme Court’s Keller decision, proposed advocacy positions on 35 bills.

The following list indicates the bills for which the Board recommended either a position of support or of opposition:

Support:

HB 53 – Clarifies the definition of a "public body" under Right-to-Know law. (House passed).

HB 1516 – Appropriates $314,394 from the state general fund in FY 2011 to the Judicial Branch to keep district courts open in Claremont, Colebrook, Milford, and Keene. (This bill has since been amended. See page one article.)

SB 356 – Requires writs and processes in civil actions to be in the form provided in rules adopted by the Supreme Court. This portion of the bill takes effect if and when the Supreme Court certifies that new rules of civil procedure, now pending approval by the Court, have been placed in effect.

Oppose:

CACR 20 – Constitutional amendment to remove wording from the state constitution that court rules "have the force and effect of law."

HB 1306 – Requires that judges certify that they have "read" and approved marital master orders that the judges are responsible for signing.

HB 1307 – Requires public hearing by the Governor and Executive Council on reappointment of marital masters after each three-year term.

HB 1410 – Prohibits lobbyists from serving on judicial branch commissions, committees, boards, or similar government entities.

HB 1510 – Prohibits the use of irreconcilable differences when the divorce involves children.

HB 1564 – Removes the requirement that county attorneys who are elected or appointed be a member of the state bar.

HB 1630 – Allowing individuals to file misdemeanor criminal complaints.

HA 1, 2 and 3 – These resolutions are "bills of address" filed to seek removal from office of a district court judge and two marital masters that were involved in a particular case.

At the prompting of legislators, the NHBA Legislation Committee now includes two additional designations for advocacy – "generally favorable" and "generally unfavorable" – to provide guidance from the Bar Association on legislation that indicates a level of support that is strong, but falls short of unanimity.

Generally favorable:

HB 577 – Permits recovery by the Department of Health and Human Services of Medicaid payments from the portion of settlements or judgments reasonably attributed to medical expenses. The bill also clarifies the court’s discretion in this area. (House passed with amendment.)

Generally unfavorable:

HB 219 –Relates to hearings for incapacitated persons admitted to state institutions by their guardians. The Bar expressed concerns about the language of a provision calling for mandatory sanctions for delays in filing of reports by guardians.

HB 1320 – Permitting the victim of a crime to offer a statement at certain civil proceedings. (Peter Hutchins recused.)

HB 1336 – Limits medical claims where informed consent was provided.

HB 1621 – Prohibits a lobbyist from serving on a public agency or public body where the lobbyist gains from the activity of the public agency or body. (A House committee voted the bill "inexpedient to legislate.)

SB 346 – This bill increases sheriffs’ fees for service of civil process. A new sheriff’s fee to be charged to the defendant on any civil order of arrest was a factor in the NHBA’s decision to view the bill as unfavorable. (Senate passed.)

On a number of other bills relevant to the legal profession, the Legislation Committee discussed the proposals and recommended an "informational" position that was ratified by the Board. In these instances, the Bar’s legislative representative provides information about the potential impact of the bill without expressing an advocacy position. View the complete legislative chart.

As part of its consent agenda, the Board approved the appointment of Paul R. Kfoury, Jr., of Manchester, to the Workers Compensation Appeals Advisory Board. (Board member Christopher Regan recused himself from this vote.) By statute, the NHBA appoints a defendant representative to the Board for a three-year term. Kfoury replaces attorney Eric Falkenham, whose term is expiring. Kfoury was recommended to the Board by a vote of the Workers’ Compensation Section.

Supreme Court Rule 42(9) requires all NH admitted attorneys to notify the Bar Association of any address change, home or office.

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