Learn more about health care advocacy and the legislative process for the state of New Hampshire:
New Hampshire residents have a unique opportunity to be involved in the legislative process...it begins with getting to know our legislators.
We encourage everyone 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
- N.H. U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen
- N.H. U.S. Senator Maggie Hassan
- N.H. U.S. Representative Ann McLane Kuster (District 2)
- N.H. U.S. Representative Carol Shea-Porter (District 1)
- Who's My State/Local Legislator?
To find out who your NH legislators are, go to the NH Government website: www.nh.gov. On the right side of the Home page, select LEGISLATIVE BRANCH. In the HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES window (bottom left), select FIND YOUR REPRESENTATIVES. From the pull-down menu, select your Town, or select your County on the NH map.
Every NH legislator (both Representatives and Senators) is elected/re-elected every two years. 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.
The NH Legislature typically considers over 1000 bills that have a wide range of effects on NH citizens, from limiting Medicaid payments to raising the fees for dog licenses. 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, but remember that with 1000 bills to consider, your legislators will appreciate remarks that are clear and concise.
New Hampshire residents may also participate in the legislative process by attending and/or testifying at public hearings. Every bill that comes to the General Court will be assigned to one of the Standing Committees in the House or the Senate. The Chairman of the Committee will schedule a public hearing for the purpose of gathering information and hearing opinions on all sides of each issue. Public hearings are generally held in the Legislative Office Building, across the street from the Statehouse in Concord and usually last for 1 – 2 hours. Committee Chairman are required to give 72 hours' notice to the public when scheduling a hearing. Those who attend the hearing will sign in and indicate whether they support or oppose the bill. Those who wish to testify will indicate that on the sign in sheet, or on index cards which will be delivered to the Committee Chairman. The Sign In sheets will become a part of the permanent public record of the hearing, eventually kept on file in the NH Archives. The Committee Clerk or Vice-Chairman will take 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.
Testimony for public hearings may also be submitted in writing, prior to the public hearing, for those unable to attend. It's best to contact the Committee Secretary or Chairman to make arrangements for this, and 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, people may still contact their 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.
The NH Legislature is called the "General Court" and is divided into two chambers, the House of Representatives with 400 members and the Senate with 24 members. The Legislature operates on two-year timeframes, called "bienniums". All NH Legislators are elected/re-elected every two years.
The NH Constitution requires that laws must be enacted by the Legislature, that is, issues are not brought directly to statewide ballot by petition of the people.
When a legislator receives a suggestion from a constituent, or recognizes a need for a new law, or a change to existing laws, he will bring his idea to the Legislative Services Office at the NH Statehouse. The LSO issues a list of all Legislative Service Requests for the new session which 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 NH State website in early January. If the sponsoring legislator is a member of the House of Representatives, the bill will begin its journey in the House; if the sponsoring legislator is a member of the Senate, the bill will begin in that chamber.
The Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President of the Senate will receive lists of the bills for their respective chambers and will assign each bill to a Committee for a public hearing. The Chairmen of the Committees will schedule public hearings for each bill. Committee Chairmen are appointed by the House Speaker/Senate President and are typically members of the majority party. The public must be given 72 hours’ notice of the schedule of public hearings.
Public hearings are generally held in the Legislative Office Building, across the street from the Statehouse in Concord. Citizens who attend public hearings should sign the roster for the bill and check either "support" or "oppose". Anyone may testify in support or opposition to a bill by indicating this on the roster, or signing an index card which will be delivered to the Committee Chairman. Citizens may also submit written testimony to Committee members if they are not able to attend the public hearing. It is especially important for Committee members to hear opinions from citizens who are constituents in the districts they represent.
After the public hearing the Committee will hold an Executive Session to determine their recommendation for the bill. Executive Sessions are open to the public, but members of the public may not participate unless asked to do so by a Committee member.
The Committee may vote to recommend that the bill Ought to Pass, that the bill Ought to Pass with Amendment, that the bill is Inexpedient to Legislate (i.e., should not pass), or that the bill requires further study.
The bill will then be scheduled for a vote before the full House of Representatives or Senate. It will "cross-over" to the other chamber and the process of Committee assignment and public hearings will begin again if the bill passes. The deadline for all bills to cross over from one legislative chamber to the other is generally mid-March.
If a bill passes in both the House of Representatives and the Senate, it will be sent to the Governor. He may sign the bill and it will become law, or he may veto the bill. If the Governor does not act on a bill within 5 days it will become law without his signature.
The Legislature may attempt to override the Governor's veto with a 2/3 majority vote in both Chambers.
Tracking New Hampshire Legislation
To track bills through the legislative process:
- Go to the New Hampshire State Government website.
- On the right-hand side of the home page, fifth tab down, select Legislative Branch.
- On the next page, find the window (on the right) for the State Legislation Dash Board.
- Select the 2nd tab down, Quick Bill Search.
- Enter title words from the bill, or the bill number, with no space, e.g. "HB17", or the LSR number.
- At the next page you will see the bill's current status, or you can click on Docket to see the bill's itinerary by date, or you can select Text to read the complete text of the bill.
Bills usually start to appear on the nh.gov 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 nh.gov website at least a couple of times per week for updates or visit the NH Hospital Association website's Advocacy section.
There are many health related bills addressed each year by the NH Legislature. To track them, note that "PASSED" means that the bill was approved by the originating body and will pass over to the other chamber. "PASSED WITH AMENDMENT" means that the bill was changed in the originating body and will pass over to the other chamber in the new form.
"ITL" means "Inexpedient to Legislate." In other words, the bill was defeated and will not pass over to the other chamber. "RETAINED" means that the bill was 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. "RE-REFERRED" means that the bill was passed on to another Committee in the same body. "LAID ON TABLE" means that the bill was 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.
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