Laws governing local ballot measures in New Hampshire

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Laws Governing Local Ballot Measures

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All New Hampshire cities and towns have an initiative and referendum process for local ballot measures.

This article sets out the laws governing local ballot measures in New Hampshire. It explains:

  • Which local units of government make the initiative process available to residents.
  • How and whether local units of government, including school districts, can refer local ballot measures (such as school bond propositions) to the ballot.
  • An overview of laws governing local recall elections.

Types of local government

Local government in New Hampshire consists of:

  • Counties: There are 10 counties in New Hampshire. Although counties may adopt charters under state statutes Chapter 28-A, none have yet done so.
  • Municipalities: There are 234 municipalities in New Hampshire. 13 have charters. Although some municipalities are called "cities" and others are called "towns," their legal authority does not differ.[1]
  • In addition, there are 132 special districts and 166 independent school districts.[2]

School districts

See also: School bond and tax elections in New Hampshire

New Hampshire does not require school districts to seek voter approval to issue new bonding. New Hampshire is one of nine states, along with the District of Columbia, to not require school bond or tax elections. All bonding is approved by the New Hampshire School Building Authority. A five person board determines all school funding requests. The State of New Hampshire guarantees $95 million per a fiscal cycle for issuing new bonds. If a school district has bonding approved by the Authority, the Authority must review the project, along with similar projects in the past, against the school district's needs to determine how much money is awarded. Also, the Authority must review requests within the $95 million dollar limit.

Local recall rules

As of January 2011, the settled view in New Hampshire about the availability of local recall elections is, "The courts in New Hampshire have not supported recall provisions in municipal charters because they are not granted that authority in state statute."[3]

For additional detail, see: Laws governing recall in New Hampshire

Initiative process availability

All 13 charter cities have mandated initiative and referendum for charter amendments. Charters may also adopt initiative and referendum provisions for ordinances. All 221 towns have mandated initiative and referendum for ordinances through their town meeting form of government.[4]

Authority

Ballot Law Portal
Laws Governing Ballot Measures

Statutes

New Hampshire Statutes 49-B:5 mandates an initiative process for charter amendments in home rule municipalities.

Initiative process features

A guide to local ballot initiatives
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New Hampshire Statutes 49-B:5 details the initiative process for charter amendments.[5]


Initiative process in the top 10 most populated cities

List of Most Populated Cities in New Hampshire
City[6] Population City Type Next election
Manchester 109,830 Charter N/A
Nashua 86,704 Charter N/A
Concord 42,733 Charter N/A
Dover 30,168 Charter N/A
Rochester 29,935 Charter N/A
Keene 23,354 Charter N/A
Portsmouth 20,848 Charter N/A
Laconia 15,986 Charter N/A
Claremont 13,268 Charter N/A
Lebanon 13,120 Charter N/A

The top 10 most populated cities operate under a charter. Initiative is available for charter amendments as provided above. Cities may also authorize initiative and referendum for ordinances in the city charter. 2 of the cities below, Nashua and Lebanon, have done so. Portsmouth grants a petition process that forces a council vote on the proposal, but it does not go to the ballot. Manchester grants a petition process which results in a non binding advisory referendum. The provisions below come from the individual city charter or code.


Local I&R Laws in the 50 States
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Source:Local Ballot Initiatives: How citizens change laws with
clipboards, conversations, and campaigns

See also

External links

References