New Hampshire General Court

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New Hampshire General Court

Seal of New Hampshire.png
General Information
Type:   State legislature
Term limits:   None
2015 session start:   January 2, 2013
Website:   Official Legislature Page
Senate President:   Peter Bragdon (R)
House Speaker:  William O'Brien (R)
Majority Leader:   Jeb Bradley (R) (Senate),
David Bettencourt (R) (House)
Minority Leader:   Sylvia Larsen (D) (Senate),
Terie Norelli (D) (House)
Members:  24 (Senate), 400 (House)
Length of term:   2 years (Senate), 2 years (House)
Authority:   Part Second, New Hampshire Constitution
Salary:   $200/two-year term
Last Election:  November 6, 2012
24 seats (Senate)
400 seats (House)
Next election:  November 4, 2014
Redistricting:  New Hampshire General Court has control
The General Court of New Hampshire is the bicameral state legislature of New Hampshire. The lower house is the New Hampshire House of Representatives with 400 members. The upper house is the New Hampshire State Senate with 24 members. The General Court is the fourth-largest English-speaking legislative body in the world, behind the Parliament of the United Kingdom, the United States Congress, and the Parliament of India[1], and has one of the greatest disparities in size between chambers of a bicameral legislature.

On December 6, 2006, the General Court convened its 160th session and certified the results from the State General Election. The General Court meets in the New Hampshire State House in Concord.

As of April 2015, New Hampshire is one of 19 states that is under divided government and is therefore not one of the state government trifectas.


The Second Part of the New Hampshire Constitution establishes when the General Court is to be in session. Article 3 of the Second Part states that the General Court is to convene annually on the first Wednesday after the first Tuesday in January. Additionally, in even-numbered years, the General Court is to meet on the first Wednesday of December for organizational purposes.


See also: Dates of 2013 state legislative sessions

In 2013, the General Court will be in session from January 2 to late June.

Major issues

The state's budget deficit will top the list of issues in New Hampshire in 2013. Additionally lawmakers will consider education funding, state pensions, and abortion, among other topics.[2]


See also: Dates of 2012 state legislative sessions

In 2012, the General Court was in session from January 4 through June 27.

Major issues

Major issues on the agenda included economic development, job creation, same-sex marriage, and gambling.[3]


In 2011, the General Court was in session from January 5 through July 1. [4]

Session highlights

State employee compensation cuts

In June, lawmakers passed a controversial bill that cut benefits and required longer hours for state employees. Sponsored by Senator Jeb Bradley, the bill called for public employees to contribute an extra 2 percent of their wages to the state's retirement system, a cut to retirement benefits for new hires, and mandated extra hours for all employees. Though the plan, which passed the GOP-controlled legislature, was subsequently vetoed by Democratic John Lynch, Republican lawmakers shoehorned it into law by attaching it to the state budget bill.

During a speech pitching his plan, Bradley said that his plan was "tough medicine" that would save the state, which faced a $4.7 billion unfunded liability, about $700 million over the coming decades.[5][6] In response, employees complained that they had gone six years without any step or cost-of-living pay increases.


In 2010, the General Court was in session from January 6 to July 1.[7]


See also: Open States' Legislative Data Report Card

The Sunlight Foundation released an "Open Legislative Data Report Card" in March 2013. New Hampshire was given a grade of A in the report. The report card evaluated how adequate, complete and accessible legislative data was to the general public. A total of 10 states received an A: Arkansas, Connecticut, Georgia, Kansas, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, Texas, Virginia and Washington.[8]


The New Hampshire Senate has been meeting since 1784. It consists of 24 members representing Senate districts based on population. Each member represents an average of 54,853 residents, as of the 2010 Census.[9] After the 2000 Census, each member represented 51,491.[10]

Party As of April 2015
     Democratic Party 10
     Republican Party 14
Total 24

House of Representatives

The House of Representatives consists of 400 members coming from 103 districts across the state. Each member represents an average of 3,291 residents, as of the 2010 Census.[11] After the 2000 Census, each member represented 3,089.[12] If the same level of representation were present in Congress, the U.S. House of Representatives would have approximately 99,000 members according to current population estimates.

Unlike in many legislation halls, there is no central "aisle" to cross, since there are four sections with isles between them, with the location put on the legislator's license plate (chairpersons and party leaders in Green, non-chairs in red). Party seating location is not enforced as seating is often based on the personal preference of the legislator (except in the case of the sixth section, which is the speaker's seat at the head of the hall).

Historically, the House was dominated by the Republican Party, which held at the end of the 2004-2006 session a 249–151 majority. However, even with this 98-vote majority, the Republicans were often divided between the more conservative Republican House Alliance and moderates known as the Main Street Republicans, a division of about 141 to 110 respectively. However, in the 2006 election, the Democrats swept control of the chamber and held a wide majority of seats in the House. It is as yet unclear if divisions between the RHA and Main Street Republicans will remain while in the minority. In the 2010 elections, however, the Republicans made a huge comback by capturing a vetoproof majorities in the House and Senate.

Party As of April 2015
     Democratic Party 160
     Republican Party 236
     Independent 1
     Vacancy 3
Total 400


Partisan balance 1992-2013

Who Runs the States Project
See also: Ballotpedia:Who Runs the States and Ballotpedia:Who Runs the States, New Hampshire’’
Partisan breakdown of the New Hampshire legislature from 1992-2013

New Hampshire State Senate: From 1992-2013, the Democratic Party was the majority in the New Hampshire State Senate for six years while the Republicans were the majority for 16 years. The final three years of the study depicted a shift in the New Hampshire senate with all three years being Republican.

Across the country, there were 541 Democratic and 517 Republican state senates from 1992 to 2013.

New Hampshire State House of Representatives: From 1992-2013, the Democratic Party was the majority in the New Hampshire State House of Representatives for five years while the Republicans were the majority for 17 years.

Across the country, there were 577 Democratic and 483 Republican State Houses of Representatives from 1992 to 2013.

Over the course of the 22-year study, state governments became increasingly more partisan. At the outset of the study period (1992), 18 of the 49 states with partisan legislatures had single-party trifectas and 31 states had divided governments. In 2013, only 13 states have divided governments, while single-party trifectas held sway in 36 states, the most in the 22 years studied.

The chart below shows the partisan composition of the Office of the Governor of New Hampshire, the New Hampshire State Senate and the New Hampshire House of Representatives from 1992-2013. Partisan composition of New Hampshire state government(1992-2013).PNG


See also: Redistricting in New Hampshire

Redistricting in New Hampshire is handled by the General Court, with the Governor wielding veto power.

2010 census

New Hampshire received its local Census data on March 22, 2011. The state's population increased 6.5 percent, with Coos County being the only county to face a decrease (-0.2 percent). Growth in the larger cities was mild: Manchester grew by 2.4 percent, Nashua decreased by 0.1 percent, Concord grew by 4.9 percent, Derry decreased by 2.7 percent, and Dover grew by 11.5 percent.[13]

At the time of redistricting, Republicans controlled the General Court, and the Democrats controlled the governorship. On March 23, 2012, Gov. John Lynch (D) signed into law a new Senate plan but vetoed the House map, citing a lack of representation in towns that exceed 3,000, which automatically merit their own representative; the Legislature overrode the veto on March 28, 2012. The Department of Justice -- which has the duty of pre-clearing New Hampshire redistricting maps under the Voting Rights Act -- approved the maps in May 2012. On June 19, 2012, several lawsuits regarding the House map were thrown out by the New Hampshire Supreme Court.



See also: Comparison of state legislative salaries

As of 2013, members of the New Hampshire General Court are paid $200/two-year term. There is no per diem.[14]


New Hampshire does not provide pensions for legislators.[15]

When sworn in

See also: When state legislators assume office after a general election

New Hampshire legislators assume office the month after elections (December).


  • When numbered seats were installed in Representatives Hall, the number thirteen was purposely omitted out of superstition.
  • In 1819, the House of Representatives and Senate moved into their respective chambers in the State House. Both continue to meet in their original chambers, making each house have the oldest chamber in United States still in continuous legislative use.

External links