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Sunday, August 3, 2014

NH gov signs bills dealing with tollbooth photos, social media, restraining children

CONCORD – State-mounted cameras will be allowed to take pictures of license plates at turnpike tollbooths where customers pay cash after Gov. Maggie Hassan signed that change into law on Friday.

Hassan also inked legislation to prohibit employers from asking workers or job applicants for logins or passwords for their personal email or social media accounts. ...

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CONCORD – State-mounted cameras will be allowed to take pictures of license plates at turnpike tollbooths where customers pay cash after Gov. Maggie Hassan signed that change into law on Friday.

Hassan also inked legislation to prohibit employers from asking workers or job applicants for logins or passwords for their personal email or social media accounts.

In addition, Hassan endorsed a law sought by treatment providers and advocates for children that gives more latitude and better definition for the use of seclusion and physical restraints with children whose behavior poses a risk of injury to themselves or others.

These moves came as Hassan neared the end of the stack of leftover bills from the 2014 session.

Transportation Commissioner Chris Clement sought the technology upgrade at toll stations because of a growing number of scofflaw drivers who refuse to pay under the state’s honor system.

Until now, anyone without the money to pay at a tollbooth would be given a slip and told where to send the money.

In 2011, only 55 percent of those slips were paid by motorists, for a loss of $55,000. Last year, the scofflaw rate rose to 61 percent and the uncollected cash was up to $116,000.

The bill (SB 248) passed over the opposition of privacy advocates in the Legislature who said a better collection system, not invasive technology, could recover the money.

The state has been taking images of license plates of those driving through the E-ZPass lanes at tollbooths for more than five years. Anyone driving through E-ZPass without a proper transponder or enough money in their account is mailed a violation notice.

House Transportation Committee Chairman Candace Bouchard, D-Concord, said as with E-ZPass, the license plate images for those who pay at cash lanes would be destroyed within three seconds of passing through the booth. Scofflaws would be mailed the same notice that
E-ZPass violators receive, she said.

“This keeps the fairness of all of us who pay the toll,’’ Bouchard said.

The social media privacy law for employee and job applicants caps a two-year campaign for a law.

The new law, effective in 60 days, does allow an employer to ask for access to an employee’s personal email if there’s evidence the worker transferred financial or confidential information about work.

Rep. Kathy Rogers, D-Concord, a former county attorney, championed the cause. She agreed to concessions in the bill that prompted some private business leaders to drop their opposition.

The physical restraint law (SB 396) was the product of a group seeking to update how and when restraints and seclusion can be used for anyone younger than 22 who does not have a high school diploma.

David Villiotti, the longtime chief executive of the Nashua Children’s Home, served on the group and became an advocate for the compromise that applies to schools and private treatment centers.

While officials representing school administrators and school boards raised objections and wanted further study, the proposal was supported by those who run centers for troubled children. A number of parents came to advocate for the changes as well.

The changes will require that parents be told no later than the end of a business day whether their child was put in physical restraints or placed in seclusion.

It also states that neither restraint nor seclusion may be used as punishment for a child’s behavior.

Kevin Landrigan can reached at 321-7040 or klandrigan@nashuatelegraph.com. Also, follow Landrigan on Twitter (@Klandrigan).