Early 2020 Legislation

The 2020 legislative session opens on January 8th when the NH Senate and House of Representatives have their first sessions. They will vote on bills retained from 2019; see below for the list of bills we are following. Look for committee work to begin the second full week of January.


Bills retained from the previous session are the first addressed by the chamber in the second year of the biennium.

Public hearings are the best opportunity to communicate with committee members and share your opinion. The Legislative Office Building (LOB) is located immediately behind the State House at 33 N. State Street in Concord. For Senate hearings, sign the white sheet on a side table just inside the door to indicate your support or opposition for a bill, and if you intend to speak. The protocol is a little different in the House. The public may sign the blue sheet near the room entrance to indicate support or opposition to any bill; fill out a pink card if you intend to speak. If possible, provide written copies for each member plus the committee secretary. Generally, committee chairmen limit remarks to three minutes or less. Personal stories are most effective. If you are unable to attend hearings, email the committee, or better yet, call members individually. Indicate if you are a constituent.

Bills may have an executive session any time after the public hearing. This is when the committee discusses and votes on legislation, and amendments may be introduced. The committee makes one of three recommendations: Inexpedient to Legislate (ITL) which is to kill the bill; Ought to Pass (OTP) which is a recommendation to support the bill; or to send it to Interim Study (IS) which is to continue work on the bill. Committee recommendations are very influential when the entire chamber votes. Consequently, prompt action on legislation is highly recommended.

Bills retained from the previous session are the first addressed by the chamber in the second year of the biennium.

Once bills are exec’d, they are usually scheduled for a vote by the entire body soon after. This is when all members of the House or Senate will vote YEA (to support the committee’s recommendation) or NAY (to oppose the recommendation). When the House and Senate have sessions, we list all the bills we are following, even if they are on the Consent Calendars, because they may be pulled and individually voted on or a floor amendment may be introduced. Contact your legislators before the session day with brief, polite messages and mention you are a constituent.

In the closing several weeks of the legislative session, any bills that were amended by the non-originating chamber must return to the first one for a vote. They may vote to concur (accept), non-concur (kill the bill), or meet in a committee of conference to reconcile the difference between the two versions. If additional changes are recommended by the Committee of Conference, both chambers must again vote on the new version of the bill. The Senate may add non-germane amendments to bills, so it is critical to monitor any changes to pending legislation. The House may make amendments, but is limited to germane issues.

If a bill passes both the House and Senate, it then has administrative reviews to become enrolled before heading to the Governor. If the legislature is not adjourned, the Governor has five days (not including weekends or holidays) to sign, veto, or allow the bill to become law without his signature. If the Governor vetoes a bill, the bill returns to the originating chamber for the first veto override vote, which needs two-thirds of the membership in attendance to pass. If that is achieved, the bill advances to the second chamber which also needs a two-thirds vote of membership in attendance. If that is achieved, the bill becomes law without the Governor’s signature. If it does not occur, the veto is upheld. If the legislature has adjourned, the Governor has five days to act on the bill. If it goes unsigned, the bill dies; this is referred to a “pocket veto.”

Legislators’ contact information is at the end of this article.

Additional resources:

Legislative Process

Common Legislative Abbreviations and Terms

State Resources



The NH House will vote on the following bills


HB 251, relative to criminal background checks for education personnel.

Committee recommendation – Ought to Pass with Amendment, vote 19 to 0

Recommendation – no recommendation

The amendment changed the bill to a legislative committee to address various issues raised over the course of considering the bill. The committee is tasked to report any findings and recommendations to the legislature by November 2020. As originally proposed, the bill was similar to HB 1432 (2018) and HB 916 (2008). It sought to impose redundant requirements on private schools including the federal National Child Protection Act of 1993 regarding background checks. New Hampshire law already allows nonpublic schools to conduct background checks, per RSA 189:13-a and RSA 189:39-b,I. The statute says that background checks are conducted on employees, prospective employees and certain types of volunteers classified as “designated volunteers,” which is not specified in law. Local School Administrative Units (SAUs), school boards, charter schools, and public academies independently determine the categories of volunteers for background-check purposes, as may nonpublic schools. This is an intrusion in the operation of private organizations and businesses which is a dangerous precedent. Additionally, the bill as introduced is broad and vague, saying that it applies to any school “receiving public funds, directly or indirectly.” In public testimony the prime sponsor, Rep. Linda Tanner stated her intent is to make these requirements apply to the Education Tax Credit program that is funded via private donations to a 501c3 non-profit that awards scholarships to low-income children. She also said that recipient families, not only nonpublic schools, would need to comply with criminal background check policies.


HB 414, relative to notifying parents of bullying incidents.

Committee recommendation – Inexpedient to Legislate, vote 16 to 2

Recommendation – no recommendation

The committee notes privacy concerns and administrative difficulties in filing reports and contacting parents in a timely manner for why they do not support the legislation. An amendment could have been proposed to make it a study committee so these concerns could be addressed in 2021. The original bill extends the reporting of substantiated incidents of bullying or cyber-bullying from superintendents to the school board or chartered public school board of trustees. This is applicable to school-choice issues because school safety is a common reason families seek educational alternatives.


HB 721-FN-L, relative to special education in towns with no public schools.

Committee recommendation – Ought to Pass with Amendment, vote 9 to 6

Recommendation – Nay on OTP/A

The bill and amendment are sponsored by Rep. Tamara Le who was suspended in November for her disparaging comments about private and religious schools. The amendment requires all private schools participating in a town-tuitioning (aka Croydon) program to be “an approved program as defined in RSA 186-C:2, II.” That would require every participating private school to offer the same special education programs as public schools; there is no mention if funding from the federal government or state would flow to the private schools, in which case it would be an unfunded mandate. Federal and NH law as well as state rules have local public districts in charge of special education services to students, determining what and how those services are provided when appropriate. Currently, private schools that participate in a town-tuitioning program work with the home district to provide special education services to those children that qualify. Also, there are existing federal protections for private-school students with special needs. Per the Americans with Disabilities Act, nonpublic schools must provide “auxiliary aids and services” to children with special needs if they are otherwise qualified for admission. This bill as amended poses significant changes to private schools’ responsibilities if they participate in town-tuitioning programs.


Brief and polite phone calls are most effective, as are personalized emails. Mention you are a constituent.

To find your Representatives, go to “Who’s My Legislator?

School Choice for NH is a 501c4 non-profit that believes every child deserves an opportunity for an education that fits his or her unique needs. We inform, engage, and empower families, community leaders, and concerned citizens with educational opportunities that benefit children in our state as well as efforts that may expand or restrict these options. We believe that families should not be limited to their zip codes or socioeconomic status to have their children’s learning needs and goals met. When a child is in a program that “fits” them — everyone wins…the child, the family, and the community.

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