Advocates’ Guide to NH Government

4Mar - by Indivisible - 0 - In

Three Branches of NH Government

Legislative
Makes laws
www.gencourt.state.nh.us

Executive
Administers and enforces laws
www.nh.gov

Judicial
Determines constitutionality of laws and resolves disputes
http://www.courts.state.nh.us/

How a Bill Becomes a Law

Bill Introduction
Only State Representatives and Senators can file a Legislative Service Request, (LSR), with the Office of Legislative Services (OLS).
The legal staff of OLS drafts the bill, checking language, where it fits in the current statutes (laws), and that it has a proper title, analysis and effective date, if appropriate.
The bill is signed by the Senator or Representative who is the prime sponsor (and co-sponsors if desired).
The bill is submitted to the Clerk’s office.
The Senate President or House Speaker, after a formal “reading” of the bill, (usually by number only), then assigns the bill to the appropriate House/Senate standing committee for a public hearing.
Public Hearing
Hearings must be announced to the public at least 72 hours in advance through the House/Senate Calendar.
House Calendars:  http://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/house/caljourns/default.htm
Senate Calendars:
http://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/scaljourns/
At the bill’s public hearing, supporting and opposing testimony is heard from all interested parties.
If you do not wish to speak, sign the blue sheet and indicate if you support or oppose the bill.
If you wish to speak, sign a pink card.
Keep your spoken testimony to 3 minutes or less.
Some committee chairs prefer that you speak, rather than read, your testimony.
You may choose to provide additional material, but anything lengthy should be summarized or outlined.
Bring enough copies for all committee members, plus two for the clerk.  You may wish to bring copies for members of the public as well.
Executive Session
Following the public hearing (not usually the same day), the Committee members vote on their recommendation for the legislation.
Ought to Pass, (OTP)
Ought to Pass as amended, (OTPA),
Re-refer to Committee, for further study, 1st year of the biennium only
Refer to Interim Study, 2nd year of the biennium only
Inexpedient to Legislate, (ITL), or defeat the legislation
One member of the committee writes a committee report, (“blurb”), representing the majority position.  This will be printed in the calendar.
If desired, a minority report may be written as well.  This will also be printed in the calendar.
Calendar
The bill goes to the House/Senate Clerk and is placed on the calendar for a date approved by the Speaker of the House/Senate President.
Consent Calendar
Bills that receive a unanimous recommendation by the committee may be placed on the consent calendar to be voted on as a block with all the other bills on the consent calendar.
Any member may pull a bill off the consent calendar so it can be debated.
Floor Action
The Committee’s recommendation goes to the floor of the House or Senate for a vote by the full body.
A committee member presents the committee’s recommendation.
Floor debate may follow, with legislators who oppose the Committee’s decision speaking alternately with legislators who support the Committee.
Alternate motions may be made, such as adopting a committee amendment, adopting a floor amendment, tabling, etc.
After debate the full body votes on the Committee’s recommendation.
If the committee recommendation is OTP, a “yea” vote is a vote in favor of the bill.
If the committee recommendation is ITL, a “nay” vote is against the recommendation, and therefore a vote in favor of the bill.
There are three voting methods.
Voice vote
Division – vote totals are recorded, but individual votes are not recorded
Roll call – vote totals, as well as the votes of individual legislators, are recorded.
The results of the floor action can be found in the House/Senate Journals.
Referral to the Other Legislative Body
If the bill is defeated or is referred for study, it does not pass to the other legislative body.
If the bill passes or passes with amendments, it is referred to the other body of the legislature for another committee hearing and full body vote.
Crossover day is the deadline for all House bills to go to the Senate and all Senate bills to go to the House.
Committees of Conference
If the House and Senate pass different versions of the bill, a Committee of Conference may be formed to reconcile the differences.
If a compromise is reached, the bill goes back to the originating body for another vote.
If approved by the originating body, the bill goes back to the second body for another vote.
Governor
If both the House and Senate pass a bill or agree on an identical amended version it goes to the Governor’s desk for approval.
The Governor may choose to sign the bill.
The Governor has five days to veto the bill.
When the legislature is in session: If the Governor takes no action within five days, the bill passes into law.
If the legislature has adjourned: If the Governor has takes no action within five days (excluding Sundays and holidays), the bill dies (a pocket veto).
Overriding a Veto
If the bill is vetoed, it takes 2/3 of both the House and the Senate to override the Governor’s action and pass the bill into law.
Effective Date
Each bill includes an effective date.

Rules
Once a bill becomes a law, administrative rules are adopted to implement the law.
The Joint Legislative Committee on Administrative Rules (JLCAR) provides legislative oversight for rules proposed and adopted by executive branch agencies.
Rules have the same authority as laws.
Contracts
The Executive Council must approve
Receipt and expenditures of state and federal funds,
Budgetary transfers within the departments
Personal service contracts with a value of $10,000
Contracts with a value of $25,000.

Following Legislation

All Bills
For a complete list of all bills that have been filed for the current year:
Go to the General Court Website:   www.gencourt.state.nh.us
On the State Legislation Dashboard, choose on “Advanced Bill Search”.
Choosing “submit” without entering anything into the other fields will give you a list of ALL bills.

Bills by Committee
Bills are assigned to one of 24 standing committees in the House or one of 13 standing committees in the Senate, according to policy area.  For bills on a particular issue, you can filter by committee
Go to the General Court Website:   www.gencourt.state.nh.us
On the State Legislation Dashboard, choose “Advanced Bill Search”.
Choosing the “code” button next to either the House Committee line or the Senate Committee line will give you a list of committees to choose.
Choose one and then choose “submit”.
Alternatively,
Go to the General Court Website:   www.gencourt.state.nh.us
On the House of Representatives Dashboard,
Choose “House Committees”
On the House Committees page, choose “Standing Committees”
Choose on the committee of interest
On the Committee page, choose either “Bills Currently in Committee” or “Bills Originally Referred to Committee”
On the Senate Dashboard,
Choose “NH Senate Website”
On the left menu, choose “Legislation”
Choose “Standing Committees”
Choose the committee of interest
On the Committee page, choose either “Bills Currently in Committee” or “Bills Originally Referred to Committee”

Bills by Sponsor
To find out what your representatives and senator have sponsored:
Find out who your legislators are:
Go to the General Court Website:  www.gencourt.state.nh.us
On the House of Representatives Dashboard, choose “Find Your Representatives”.
Scroll to your town and choose “go”.

One way to find out what legislation each has sponsored is:
Choose the name of the legislator you found above.
On that person’s website, choose “Bills Sponsored”

Another way to find out what legislation each has sponsored is:
Go to the General Court Website:  www.gencourt.state.nh.us
On the State Legislation Dashboard, choose “Advanced Bill Search”.
Select the name of the Representative or Senator on one of the “Sponsor” fields.
Choose “submit”.

Bills by Number

Once you have identified a bill you are interested in following:
Go to the General Court Website:  www.gencourt.state.nh.us
On the State Legislation Dashboard, enter the bill number in the box on the “Find a 2017 bill” line.
Choose “find now”.
When the bill comes up, choose “Bill Docket”. That will tell you what steps have been gone through and what the recorded votes thus far have been.

Bills by Hearing Date or Full Body Vote Date
If you are interested in what bills are about to have hearings or votes by either the full House or Senate, check the calendars:
Go to the General Court Website:  www.gencourt.state.nh.us
On the House Dashboard, choose “House Calendars and Journals”.
On the Senate Dashboard, choose “Senate Calendars and Journals”.
Look for the most recent calendar, which should be at the top.
Calendars usually come out late on Thursday afternoons.
Some hearings are noticed more than a week ahead of time, but many are not.
In the past, the House gave notice of executive sessions (committee recommendation votes) on bills but it no longer does so consistently.

2017 Deadlines

House
Friday, January 6, 2017 at 12:00 p.m. Last day to sign-off on all LSRs
Friday, January 27, 2017 Last day to introduce House Bills; Last day to amend House Rules by majority vote
Thursday, February 9, 2017 Last day to report HBs going to a second committee
Thursday, February 16, 2017 Last day to act on HBs going to a second committee
Thursday, March 2, 2017 Last day to report all HBs not in a second committee, except budget bills
Thursday, March 9, 2017 Last day to act on HBs not in a second committee, except budget bills
Thursday, March 16, 2017 Last day to report all HBs, except budget bills; Last day to report list of retained HBs
Thursday, March 23, 2017 Last day to act on all HBs, except budget bills
Thursday, March 30, 2017 Last day to report budget bills
Thursday, April 6, 2017 BUDGET CROSSOVER. Last day to act on budget bills
Thursday, April 27, 2017 Last day to report Senate Bills going to a second committee
Thursday, May 4, 2017 Last day to act on SBs going to a second committee
Thursday, May 25, 2017 Last day to report all remaining SBs Last day to report list of retained SBs
Thursday, June 1, 2017 Last day to act on SBs
Thursday, June 8, 2017 Last day to form Committees of Conference
Thursday, June 15, 2017 Last day to sign Committee of Conference reports
Thursday, June 22, 2017 Last day to act on Committee of Conference reports

Senate
Friday, January 6, 2017 Deadline for prime sponsors to sign off on legislation.
Friday, January 13, 2017 Deadline for co-sponsors to sign off on legislation.
Monday, February 27, 2017 – Friday, March 3, 2017 SENATE BREAK
Thursday, March 9, 2017 Deadline for Policy Committees to ACT on all Senate bills with a fiscal impact, except bills exempted pursuant to Senate Rule 4-5.
Thursday, March 30, 2017 CROSSOVER – Deadline to ACT on all Senate bills.
Thursday, May 11, 2017 Deadline for Policy Committees to ACT on all House bills with a fiscal impact, except bills exempted pursuant to Senate Rule 4-5.
Thursday, June 1, 2017 Deadline to ACT on all House bills.
Thursday, June 8, 2017 Deadline to FORM Committees of Conference.
Thursday, June 15, 2017 Deadline to SIGN Committee of Conference Reports.
Thursday, June 22, 2017 Deadline to ACT on Committee of Conference Reports.

Understanding Bills

Locate the bill
Go to the General Court Website:  www.gencourt.state.nh.us
On the State Legislation Dashboard, enter the bill number in the box on the “Find a 2017 bill” line.
Choose “find now”.
When the bill comes up, choose “Bill Docket”. That will tell you what steps have been gone through and what the recorded votes thus far have been.

For the current version of the bill text, with any amendments that have been passed
Choose “Bill Text [HTML] for the text, as it will appear in statute
Choose “Bill Text [PDF] for the text with line numbers, which committee members refer to during hearings and executive sessions.
For the original version of the bill text, before any amendments were added
Choose “Bill Docket”
Follow the “Introduced” link.

Bill Number and Version

Title
“An act…”

Sponsors
The prime sponsor is listed first, followed by co-sponsors, if any.

Committee

Analysis
Sometimes the same as the title, but other times more explanatory

Underlying statutes
NH Laws (Revised Statutes Annotated—RSA’s)
http://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/rsa

Format
Matter added to current law appears in bold italics.
Matter removed from current law appears [in brackets and struckthrough.]
Matter which is either (a) all new or (b) repealed and reenacted appears in regular type.

Fiscal Notes
Bills that will have an impact on the state’s finances have a fiscal note attached, projecting what the costs or benefits will be.

Civic Advocacy Project
Advocating from the heart, with confidence grounded in knowledge, experience and connections to others.
Susan Ticehurst; Susan.Ticehurst@gmail.com

Compiled from public sources.