How to Track Legislation By Sue Ford

How to Track Legislation

Tracking legislation may sound intimidating at first, but once you know where to look anyone can do it!

The first question you need to ask yourself is what is your end goal? Do you have a specific bill you want to look up? Do you want to look up what’s on tap for the upcoming week? Do you want to see how your legislators voted? Are you interested in a particular subject area? This handout will take you through each scenario.

All actions start at the New Hampshire General Court Website (www.gencourt.state.nh.us)

If you have a specific bill you’d like to look up:

On the General Court website, in the top right hand square you’ll see the “State Legislation Dash Board.”

Click on “Advanced Bill Search.”

Once you’ve clicked on advanced bill search you’ll be able to search a bill by its bill number, title, committee, or sponsor.

If you want to see what’s on tap for the next week:

On the general court website, you’ll see a State Senate Dash Board and a House of Representatives Dash Board. Under each title you’ll see Senate Calendars and House Calendars. Click on them.

Every Thursday evening, during session, the next week’s calendar is released. This will show you all bills that are being heard in committee and all bills being brought to the floor for a vote. The bills scheduled to be heard in committee will be sorted by date and by committee – this is where the public can testify. The bills heard on the floor for an official vote will have the committee recommendation and a blurb describing the majority and minority position. The bills scheduled to be heard in committee will only have a short description so if it interests you, write down the bill number and look up the bill through the advanced search function.

If you want to see how your legislators voted:

Under the State Legislation Dash Board there is a link for voting records. Click the voting records link.

The voting records link will bring you to a page where you can select either the House or Senate and the session year.

Once you select the session year you’ll be able to search by individual legislator, session date, or bill number. Be aware that legislators vote on the recommendation of the committee so a “nay” vote may actually be voting in favor of the bill.

Here’s a fictional example: HB 11 would raise the minimum wage to $10/hr. The Republican controlled committee recommends that the bill not pass giving it an ITL (Inexpedient to Legislate) recommendation. On the floor the Democrats vote “nay” on HB 11 meaning they vote against the recommendation that the bill not pass.

If you want to look up legislation by subject:

When legislation is proposed it is assigned to one of 24 standing committees in the House or one of 13 standing committees in the Senate. If you click on the standing committee of interest you can view all legislation introduced on that subject. On the legislative dashboard click “House Committees” and then “Standing Committees” to view the list.

To view the Senate committees you must click on “NH Senate Website” in the bottom right hand corner and then click “Committees” on the left hand menu bar. For both the House and the Senate, you’ll have the opportunity to view “Bills Originally Referred to Committee” (all bills assigned since the start of session) or “Bills Currently in Committee” (all bills that still need to be acted on). From there you can view the bills current status, a brief title , and the entire text of the bill.

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