ABOUT THE NH LEGISLATURE
The NH legislature is made up of the House of Representatives and the Senate. This is called the NH General Court. There are 400 State Representatives and 24 Senators. Legislators are elected and serve for two year terms (a biennium). The first year of the biennium is a budget year. The legislature meets in session from approximately January to June every year.
THE GENERAL COURT WEBSITE
The GenCourt website is an important advocacy tool. You can look up your legislators and their contact information, search for bills and track their progress, browse all House and Senate committees, view House and Senate calendars, livestream House and Senate sessions, and more at: www.gencourt.state.nh.us
- A – Amendment
- FN – Fiscal Note
- HB – House Bill
- ITL – Inexpedient to Legislate (will not pass) LOB – Legislative Office Building
- LSR – Legislative Service Request LTE – Letter to the Editor
- OLS – Office of Legislative Services OTP – Ought to Pass
- OTP-A – Ought to Pass with Amendment SB – Senate Bill
- SH –State House
1. LEGISLATIVE SERVICE REQUEST
A Representative or a Senator may sponsor a bill. They file a legislative service request (LSR) with the Office of Legislative Services (OLS). The LSR states the title only. This occurs during the fall prior to the legislative session.
2. BILL TEXT RELEASED
The LSR becomes a bill once it is written by the OLS and approved by the bill sponsor. If the sponsor is a representative, the bill starts in the House and becomes a House bill (HB). If the sponsor is a senator, the bill starts in the Senate and becomes a Senate Bill (SB). The bill will then be assigned a number. It is referred to as “HB/SB #” This occurs during late December and early January.
3. COMMITTEE ASSIGNMENT
The bill is assigned to a committee based on its topic. Lists of the committees in the House and Senate can be found on the General Court website.
4. PUBLIC HEARING
The committee holds a public hearing. Every bill gets a hearing in NH.
5. COMMITTEE DELIBERATION
Committee deliberation is done in an executive session that the public may observe. The committee votes on a recommendation for the bill. They may recommend:
- Ought to Pass (OTP): the bill should pass.
- Inexpedient to Legislate (ITL): the bill should not pass.
- Ought to Pass as Amended (OTP-A): the bill should pass with an amendment added by the committee.
- Re-refer to Committee: the bill should be studied further in committee during the next legislative session. Only occurs during the first year of the biennium.
- Refer to Interim Study: the bill should be studied further between legislative sessions. If this occurs in the second year of the biennium, the bill dies.
Second Committee: Sometimes a bill is sent to a second committee. This often happens if the bill has a fiscal note (FN), meaning there is a financial component to the bill.
6. FLOOR VOTE
The bill goes to the full House or Senate for a vote.
If the bill passes, it is sent to the other legislative body and the same process repeats. This occurs during late March and early April.
8-12. PROCESS REPEATS
The bill is assigned to a committee, a public hearing is held, the committee votes on a recommendation, and the bill is voted on by the full legislative body.
Amended Bills: If the bill passes, but includes an amendment approved by the second legislative body that was not approved by the first legislative body, then the bill has two options.
- The first legislative body approves (concurs) the amendment
- The first legislative body does not approve (nonconcurs) and the bill goes to a Committee of Conference. This is a special committee created to work out the differences between the two versions of the bill. If legislators cannot agree, the bill dies.
13. GOVERNOR’S DESK
If the bill passes both legislative bodies, it goes to the Governor. The governor has three choices; sign the bill into law, allow the bill to become law without a signature, or veto the bill. The Governor’s veto may be overridden by a 2/3 majority vote in both houses. If an override occurs, the bill becomes law.