So much was accomplished by NAMI NH’s founders, back in the 1980s, by creating personal contacts with their state and federal legislators. This work continues today, and it is a powerful action that you can take yourself. We’d like to help you with this process. Read on for information about who your state and federal legislators are and how, why, when and where to contact them.
Who are my legislators?
We have two sets of government legislators:
- one set of legislators for New Hampshire state government (find yours here);
- one set of legislators for the federal government of the United States (find yours here).
The term ‘legislator’ refers to someone who makes laws. The term ‘legislature’ refers to a group of people who make laws—the lawmaking body.
NH’s Legislature / General Court
The New Hampshire state legislature is actually called the General Court (only Massachusetts joins us in using this colonial term, which came from when the legislature included some work of the courts; other states use the term Legislature or Legislative Assembly). The New Hampshire General Court’s website can be found here. Although formally called the General Court, we will use the term legislature throughout, as that is what it is most commonly called.
New Hampshire’s two-house legislature
New Hampshire’s legislature has two parts, called houses, bodies or chambers. This type of two-house legislature is called ‘bicameral’, with one house called the Upper House and one house called the Lower House.
The Upper House of all state governments (and the federal government) is always called the Senate. Its legislators are called Senators (US Senators if they were elected to the federal Senate, and State Senators if they were elected to their State Senate).
The Lower House of New Hampshire’s state government (and the federal government) is called the House of Representatives, or the House, for short. Legislators in the House of Representatives are called Representatives (US Representatives if they were elected to the federal House of Representatives, or State Representatives if they were elected to their State House of Representatives).
You are represented in our state government by one State Senator and from one to eleven State Representatives, depending upon where you live.
Remember, your legislators represent you.
State legislators meet in New Hampshire’s capitol city of Concord at the gold-domed capitol building called the State House, and also directly across the street at the “LOB” or Legislative Office Building.
States have different amounts of state legislators. New Hampshire is famous for having, by far, the largest group of state legislators, at 424 (24 State Senators and 400 State Representatives).
We have a legislature that is essentially volunteer. Our legislators earn a salary of $100 per year (so $200 for their two-year term). Our legislature is also part-time. Each state is different, and some states do have full-time state legislators who are paid much higher annual salaries (ranging all the way up to $95,219 in California).
In general, the New Hampshire legislature is in session from January through June, although the Governor can request that they meet at other times to address special or time-sensitive issues, such as when they met in November 2015 to address the opioid crisis. When the legislature meets outside of its normal session, at the request of the Governor, it is called a special session.
New Hampshire Senate
The state is divided into 24 State Senate districts that are approximately equal in population size. Each district has one State Senator to represent its residents. Taking New Hampshire’s population size into account, each State Senator represents 55,144 people.
For more information about the New Hampshire Senate, you can visit their web page here.
To find your State Senator, select your town from the drop-down menu here.
NH House of Representatives
The state is divided into 103 State House districts that are approximately equal in population size. Four districts have one State Representative to represent its residents, while the other 99 districts have multiple State Representatives (ranging from two to eleven State Representatives, in what are known as multi-member districts). Therefore, depending on which district you live in, you will have from one to eleven State Representatives.
Taking New Hampshire’s population size into account, each State Representative represents 3,309 people. (Out of all 50 states, this is the smallest amount of people represented per State Representative. At the other end of the spectrum is California, where each State Representative represents 479,157 people. What an amazing opportunity we have in New Hampshire to really get to know our State Representatives! [2013 data]).
For more information about the New Hampshire House of Representatives, visit their website here.
To find your State Representative(s), select your town or district in the drop-down menu here. Note that several districts are also divided into wards.
The United States Congress
The legislature of the United States is called Congress. Its website can be found here
New Hampshire’s US legislators
New Hampshire’s US legislators (also called federal legislators) meet in the United States’ capitol city of Washington, DC, in the United States Capitol (also called the Capitol Building or Capitol Hill).
Each state has two US Senators. They serve 6-year terms that are staggered, so that we do not elect two Senators at the same time. Whichever Senator has been there longer is called the Senior Senator, and the newer Senator is called the Junior Senator. US Senators do not represent parts, or districts, within a state—they represent the whole state. Therefore, both Senators are your Senators. With 50 states each having two US Senators, the United States therefore has 100 US Senators.
US House of Representatives
States have from one to 53 US Representatives—the number is determined by population size (with all states guaranteed at least one US Representative). In total, there are 435 US Representatives. They serve two-year terms, and their elections are held in even years. US Representatives are also called Congresswomen or Congressmen.
Based on its population size, New Hampshire has two US Representatives, and the state is divided into two Congressional districts. Representative Carol Shea-Porter(D) represents District 1 and Representative Ann Kuster (D) represents District 2. Click the links to be connected to their web pages. To learn whether you live in District 1 or District 2, you can enter your zip code here.
Contacting my state and federal legislators
How can I contact my legislators?
Because it is their job to listen to you and represent you, legislators work very hard to make themselves reachable. You can:
Write a letter
Schedule a meeting
Attend a meet-and-greet opportunity
Post to their Facebook page
Send them a Tweet
Contacting a legislator is going to be a different experience depending on whether you are contacting a US legislator or a state legislator.
US legislators work out of Washington, DC, when Congress is in session, or at one of several offices around the state when out of session. They are professional politicians and have a variety of resources, including multiple staff members and funding.
State legislators travel to the State House in Concord when the legislature is in session, but they are ‘regular’ citizens who are essentially volunteering their time to serve a public role. Except for a handful of legislators who have leadership positions, New Hampshire’s legislators do not have offices (they do get a locker at the State House!) or staff members. Some states do have ‘professional’ legislators, but New Hampshire does not—our legislature is considered a ‘citizen’s legislature.’
In New Hampshire, our state legislators typically provide their home address and their own cell phone or home number and email address so that their constituents can reach them.
You can find contact information for your NH State Representative here (select your town or district from the drop-down menu, and then click your State Representative’s name to see her or his contact information.)
You can find contact information for your NH State Senator here (select your town or district from the drop-down menu, and then click your State Senator’s name to see her or his contact information.)
Action steps you can take
- Sign up for NAMI NH ENews and NAMI NH Public Policy Alerts. The ENews email newsletter is sent twice per month. The Public Policy Alerts are emailed when immediate action is needed, like phone calls or attending hearings.
- “Like” NAMI NH on Facebook and catch the issues in real time. We’re also on Twitter, Tumblr and YouTube.
- Check out NAMI NH’s Advocacy webpages for more in depth information, including links to testimony we have given at the State House, bills that we are following, and tips for contacting your state and federal legislators.
- Attend our free winter “It’s Your Move” advocacy training to learn how New Hampshire government functions and how your story can be a vehicle for change.
- Call us! Just let us know you’re interested in sharing your story, and we’ll work with you from there. Call (603) 225-5359 or email email@example.com.
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