How to participate in the legislative session at home

Citizens Count
Published: 1/20/2022 3:04:20 PM
Modified: 1/20/2022 3:03:17 PM

The New Hampshire Legislature is not allowing public testimony via Zoom this year, but there are still ways to follow along and participate from home.

Send opinion via webform

If you go to the legislative homepage and scroll to the bottom of the page, you will find links to “House Online Testimony Submission / Sign-In Form” and “Senate Remote Sign In”. These links provide an opportunity for you to sign your name to a list either “for” or “against” a bill. If the bill is in the House of Representatives, there is also an opportunity to upload a longer written statement in PDF format.

The tricky part is finding bills you are interested in. If you are searching for bills related to a specific topic, you can browse bills on the Citizens Count website, citizenscount.org/bills.

Many nonprofits and advocacy groups also track legislation and will alert followers to important legislation.

Once you know the number of the bill you are interested in, you need to find the public hearing date and the name of the committee hosting the hearing.

If you found a bill through the Citizens Count website, you can click the link to “See more on the Statehouse website.” That takes you a page called the “Bill Docket” that shows a timeline of the bill’s progress. If there is an upcoming public hearing, it will include a line that says something like, “Public Hearing: 01/12/2022 01:30 pm LOB 206-208.” That means there is a public hearing January 12 at 1:30pm in the Legislative Office Building, room number 206-208.

You can find the name of the committee working on the bill in the blue header bar above the Bill Docket. It will say something like, “Committee: Judiciary.”

If you want more help navigating an official bill page on the Legislature’s website, check out our helpful guide here.

You can also type a bill number straight into the search bar on the Legislature’s homepage, gencourt.state.nh.us. The Bill Search Results page will show you the “Next/Last Hearing,” which includes the name of the committee and the date of the hearing.

Now that you have the committee name and hearing date, you can go back to the “House Online Testimony Submission / Sign-In Form” and “Senate Remote Sign In” linked from the homepage. Select the date of the hearing, the name of the committee, the bill number, and then continue to provide your information and opinion.

Watch legislators

When the full House or Senate gather together to vote, there are links on the homepage to watch a livestream of the action.

You can also watch committee public hearings. If you scroll near the bottom of the Legislature’s homepage, you will see links to “House Calendar (Digital)” and “Senate Calendar (Digital)”. If you click on either of those links it will take you to a list of committee meetings each day. Click on any of those meetings and you will find a page that lists the bills being heard. For House meetings, you will also find a link to “YouTube Livestream” that takes you to the NH House of Representatives streaming page on YouTube.

Contact your legislators

If you have an opinion on a bill, contact your legislators through email, phone, or even snail-mail before they vote.

You can find who represents you, and how to contact them, through the Citizens Count website.

If you’re not sure what to say, it’s fine to keep your message short. State your name, where you are from, and then share whether you are for or against a bill.

There is a good chance legislators already have access to studies and statistics you may find, so when you share your opinion consider your personal experience as it relates to the bill. Why do you have a stake in this issue? What personal experience can you share that legislators have not heard before?

New Hampshire legislators have fewer staff than legislators in other states, but they consider hundreds of bills every year. That means legislators rely more on lobbyists, industry experts, and members of the public to research and analyze legislation. If you contact a legislator, there is a good chance you could influence their opinion.

Citizens Count is a nonprofit serving the New Hampshire community by providing objective information about issues, elected officials, bills, elections, and candidates. These articles are being shared by partners in The Granite State News Collaborative. For more information visit collaborativenh.org.



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