Public Policy & the Legislature
• The Process
• From a bill to a law
• High Priority Bills
• View the full text of a bill
• Contact a Legislator
• How can I participate?
NHCADSV Public Policy Staff
Amanda Grady, Public Policy Director
Jennifer Durant, Public Policy Specialist
The Coalition’s Public Policy staff work closely with other advocacy groups and legislators on drafting legislation, organizing testimony, and advocating for policy change throughout the Session. NHCADSV either takes an active role in or tracks close to 150 bills each Legislative Session. These bills range from addressing (1) domestic and sexual violence, and stalking, (2) family, divorce and child custody/visitation/support, (3) reproductive rights, (4) judicial matters and law enforcement, (5) privacy and personal information, (6) healthcare, and (7) economic justice-related issues.
The Process and Deadlines
The legislature holds annual sessions, and adopts its own rules of order and operation, setting various deadlines for legislative action. The first deadline, typically in early December, is for the introduction of bills. By that deadline, legislators must provide to the Office of Legislative Services all the information needed to draft the bills. The bills are drafted, printed, and introduced into either the House or the Senate. Bills are then scheduled for a public hearing.
The public hearings scheduled on each bill provide time for testimony by legislators and members of the public. The protocol followed at hearings is for the sponsor or sponsors of the bill to be recognized first; other legislators are called on after that. Members of the public are then allowed to testify. Often committee chairs will call on witnesses in the order they have signed up to speak, but that can vary if, for example, the Governor or a state agency head wishes to testify.
For hearings in the House, anyone who wishes to testify must fill out a pink index card (available in each committee room) and submit it to the chair. Someone who wants to register an opinion but does not want to speak may sign the blue sign-up sheet to support or oppose the legislation.
Senate hearings use sign-up sheets whether a person desires to speak or simply to record a position on the bill. Again, after calling on legislators, the chair usually calls on witnesses in the order of sign-up.
The next set of deadlines involves the time within which a bill must be voted out of committee and the date by which the first body - House or Senate - must act. Some bills go to a second committee in the same body - e.g., bills involving expenditures or appropriations may go to the Finance or Ways and Means Committees.
If the bill passes the originating body, it goes on to the other body and repeats the process. If the House amends a Senate bill or the Senate amends a House bill, the bill goes back to the original body for approval of the amendment. The originating body can approve the amendment, disagree with the amendment and kill the bill, or request a committee of conference to work out differences in the two versions of the legislation.
If both bodies approve a bill or adopt a committee of conference report, the bill then goes to the Governor for approval. The Governor can sign the bill, let the bill become law without signature, or veto the bill. If the Governor vetoes the bill, the legislature has one last chance to pass the bill by overriding the veto. An override requires a two-thirds vote of each body.
The Northern Forest Center developed a tool to help their NH partners better understand the NH legislative process, the Step-by-Step map clarifies when to advocate, what type of advocacy is most effective, and who is involved in each step of the legislative process.
- Download sneak peak at the map that can be printed on legal size paper.
- Download the complete map to view the entire legislative process in detail.
- To order a full size poster contact the NH Center for Nonprofits.
- Click here to read the action alert for HB1220 a dangerous bill that would allow domestic violence offenders and stalkers to purchase guns in NH.
- Click here to view a chart of the bills being monitored during the 2012 session.
- Access the NH Legislature’s website
- Click on “Quick Search”
- Enter the bill number (without spaces, i.e. HB1640, SB311).
How can I contact my Legislator?
To contact your Legislator you can call the House Clerk’s office (603-271-2548) or the Senate Clerk’s office (603-271-3420). Or visit the NH General Court website, click your county on the NH state map, then choose your town in the scroll box. You will receive both your Representatives’ and Senator’s contact information.
When you call your Senator, your call will most likely be answered by a Senate Aide. Tell him or her that you want to leave a message for the Senator. The Aide will take down your message and your contact information.
When you call your Representatives, you will most likely be calling their homes or business numbers. Representatives often do not have Legislative Aides and usually publish their personal contact information on the General Court website for constituents to call. Do not feel awkward that you are calling their homes - they expect your calls!
You have many opportunities to impact this process, including testifying at hearings, writing letters or making phone calls to your Representatives or Senators. The New Hampshire Legislature is considered a “citizen legislature” and Representatives and Senators welcome calls from their constituents.
If you are interested in testifying for the Coalition at a public legislative hearing, please contact the NHCADSV office. The Coalition is always looking for people who “work in the trenches” and see the day-to-day struggles survivors face. This is invaluable information to share with the legislature that may significantly improve the lives of many individuals throughout the state of New Hampshire.
If you would like to receive our electronic Legislative Updates, please email to Jennifer Durant, Jennifer@nhcadsv.org
The public policy department frequently utilizes interns. Click here to view an internship description. If you are interested in applying send a resume and cover letter to:
Christine Bradbury, Office Coordinator
P.O. Box 353
Concord, NH 03302
Or email: email@example.com