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New Hampshire

New Hampshire residents have a unique opportunity to be involved in the legislative process. Getting involved begins with getting to know our legislators. We encourage you to contact your legislators to share your thoughts, ideas for solutions and improvements, and feedback about topics that interest and/or affect you.

New Hampshire legislative contacts

Typing on a laptopThe New Hampshire Legislature typically considers over 1000 bills that have a wide range of effects on New Hampshire citizens, from limiting Medicaid payments to raising the fees for dog licenses.

When a legislator receives a suggestion from a constituent, or recognizes a need for a new law, or a change to existing laws, he or she will bring the idea to the Legislative Services Office (LSO) at the New Hampshire Statehouse. The LSO issues a list of all Legislative Service Requests (LSRs) for the new session. The list of LSRs is available to the public at www.nh.gov, generally in October/November of each year.

Attorneys in the LSO will turn the LSRs into bills by writing in legal language and determining which portions of existing laws will be affected or changed. Drafts of bills will be returned to the sponsoring legislators to "sign off" their approval, and then will go to the printer for final printing. The full text of the bills is generally available to the public on the New Hampshire State website in early January.

How to get involved

The time between the November elections and the start of the legislative session in January is a great time to contact your legislators, introduce yourself, and talk with them about the issues that are important to you so that they will know who you are when you contact them on specific bills later in the session.

If you have an opinion on a bill, or an experience that could give insight into the potential effects of a bill, your legislators need to hear from you. Call them, e-mail them, or send them a note through snail-mail. With 1000 bills to consider, your legislators will appreciate remarks that are clear and concise.

New Hampshire residents can also participate in the legislative process by attending and/or testifying at public hearings. Every bill that comes to the General Court is assigned to one of the Standing Committees in the House or the Senate. The Chairman of the Committee schedules a public hearing for the purpose of gathering information and hearing opinions on all sides of each issue. Committee Chairmen are required to give 72 hours' notice to the public when scheduling a hearing. Public hearings are generally held in the Legislative Office Building, across the street from the Statehouse in Concord and usually last from one to two hours.

Those who attend the hearing sign in and indicate whether they support or oppose the bill. Those who wish to testify indicate that on the sign-in sheet, or on index cards which will be delivered to the Committee Chairman. The sign-in sheets become a part of the permanent public record of the hearing. The Committee Clerk or Vice-Chairman takes notes on the public testimony, which will also become a part of the permanent record; however it is also advisable for those who testify to provide written transcripts of their testimony for all Committee members for future review. Procedural issues for signing in may vary slightly in different Committees or from House to Senate, but generally the Committee Secretary or clerk is available at public hearings to give direction and answer questions.

If you are unable to attend the public hearing, you can submit testimony in writing, prior to the public hearing. It's best to contact the Committee Secretary or Chairman to make arrangements for this. Be sure to provide enough copies of your testimony for all Committee members.

Once the Chairman closes the public hearing, no additional public testimony will be accepted; however, Granite Staters may still contact members of the Committee to express their opinion and to encourage a vote for or against a bill. It's especially important for Committee members to hear from their own constituents, and to hear the personal stories of those who will be affected by the bill.

When the Committee has made its recommendation that the bill either "Ought to Pass" or is "Inexpedient to Legislate," you can still contact your own Legislators to encourage a vote for or against the bill, once it reaches the floor of the House of Representatives or Senate. If the bill is passed in identical form by both chambers of the Legislature, there is one more opportunity for New Hampshire residents to be involved in the process by contacting the Governor's office to encourage him to sign or veto the bill.

The New Hampshire legislative process is a long and winding road! It can be very discouraging and it can be extremely gratifying, but we each have the power to make a difference in the issues that are important to us.

Tracking New Hampshire health-related bills

Bills usually start to appear on the General Court of New Hampshire website in early January. As the legislative session progresses the status of bills can change very quickly. If there are bills you are interested in, be sure to check the website at least a couple of times per week for updates or visit the New Hampshire Hospital Association website's Advocacy section.

To track bills through the legislative process:

  1. Go to the General Court of New Hampshire website.
  2. In the Find a Bill box, type the bill number for the bill you want to track. Tip: If you don't know the bill number, click the Advanced Bill Status Search link. A search window appears where you can search by words in the bill's title and other information.
  3. The Search Results page displays an overview of the bill's current status. You can view more information by viewing the Bill Docket (the bill's itinerary by date), Bill Status, and Bill Text (in HTML or PDF).

Here's a quick guide to the understanding the status of the bills you're tracking:

This status Means the bill was
Passed/Adopted approved by the originating body and will pass over to the other chamber
Passed/Adopted with Amendment changed in the originating body and will pass over to the other chamber in the new form
Inexpedient to Legislate defeated and will not pass over to the other chamber
Retained in Committee kept in the Committee that it was assigned to for further study. Usually retained bills must be finished in the first few days of the next legislative session
Rereferred passed on to another Committee in the same body
Laid on Table set aside and could be reconsidered, but it would have to be brought back from the table by a majority vote of the legislative body

Learn more

We recommend these websites for more information:

National health policy and news websites

New Hampshire health policy and news websites

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