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How NH Legislation Works

New Hampshire has one of the largest legislative bodies in the world. In the General Court, we have 400 men and women in our House of Representatives and 24 State Senators. The Governor heads the Executive branch. In NH, almost every significant action by the Governor [appointments, contracts, etc.] must be ratified by an independently elected 5 member Executive Council.

In the NH House, bills are submitted during specified weeks in the early Fall. Freshmen Legislators have a deadline to propose legislation, while incumbents have until a later date. Initial legislative proposals are called “Legislative Service Request”(LSR) and get an LSR number. Legislative Services staff does research and helps make the wording and punctuation effectively reflect what the Sponsor, the person who submitted the bill, wants to get done.

By the beginning of January, all LSRs must be finalized, get changed into Bills, and get a “Bill number”, which replaces the LSR number. All LSRs and bills are searchable on website. One can search by LSR/bill number, topic, partial text or by sponsor.

All bills are assigned by the Speaker of the House to one or more relevant committees. For example, a bill that may carry a criminal charge will be heard in Judiciary and one dealing with schools will likely go to the Education Committee.

Each Committee must hold a public hearing, with date and time posted on the House website and published in the House Calendar on every bill it considers. After the public hearing, the Committee will ‘mark up’ the bill in Executive session, where the bill may be amended. The Committee then votes to send the bill to the floor of the House with a recommendation [Ought to pass (OTP), Ought to pass as Amended (OTPA), or Inexpedient to Legislate (ITL)] on how the House should proceed. The whole House then votes on the Committee Recommendation, not on the bill itself. “Yea” can mean ought to pass (OTP) or inexpedient to legislate (ITL) depending on what the Committee recommended.

If the bill passes House, it will go to the Senate, where it will go through the Committee process, including another public hearing and a Senate vote.

The Senate follows a similar procedure [bill introduced, assigned to a Committee, Senate vote, pass to the House], but Senators can introduce bills at any time.

Only after both House and Senate have agreed to identical language will the Bill go to the Governor for signature into law or to be vetoed.