How to Use the General Court Website
The public hearing for HB 20, the Education Savings Account Bill (vouchers), is Tuesday, Feb 2 at 1:15.
I am going to use this as an opportunity to teach you all about how to express support or opposition for a bill, how to remotely join a meeting, or how to just watch a hearing, so bear with me!
Any citizen may express their support or opposition to a bill at a House or Senate hearing. Usually, this is done in person on a sign in sheet at the hearing, but during the days of COVID, the process has gone online.
First, you want to familiarize yourself with the General Court website. http://gencourt.state.nh.us Here you will find entry into the world of NH government! For our purposes today, you will need to draw your attention to two things: 1) the section in the middle of the page on the right that is entitled "Links to Remote Meetings" and 2) the House of Representatives tab at the top of the page.
Under the "Links to Remote Meetings" heading, you will see three options. The first is the Legislative Calendar. If you click on that, it will bring you to a list of the hearings that are scheduled today with bill numbers. If you click on the bill number, you can read the whole text. There is also a monthly calendar on the page that allows you to click and see what has been scheduled, at the moment, on other days.
The next thing you want to look at are the House Remote Testimony Instructions. This gives you a step by step account of how to record your position on a bill (with or without spoken testimony), speak at a hearing, or submit written testimony (more on that in a minute). There is a link at the top of the page that allows you to do all of this, or you can go back to the home page and click on the middle choice: HOUSE TESTIMONY.
Okay, back to the House of Representatives tab at the top of the General Court page. Click on that and you will find endless hours of browsing! Most specifically, if you look at the Current Calendar that drops down from Calendars and Journals, you can access all of the goings on in the House. If you go to a particular date, you can see bills listed by committee and a live Zoom link to each hearing. We get a calendar weekly, so what you see for next week is cast in stone, but after that, it could be modified. If you join via the Zoom link, you do not have to speak, but you could raise your hand and be recognized. There is also a Youtube option for just watching, but no option to participate, if you choose that. Check it out!
Also pertinent to hearings is the Committees tab at the top of the House page. Click on that, then on Standing Committees, and you will see all of the House assignments. Click on the name of the committee and you will see all of the current members listed. In the box at the top, on the right hand side, you can "Email All Commitee Members." This is how you would write a letter in support or opposition to a bill. In the case of HB 20, you would click on Education, then Email All Committee Members, and whatever you write will be sent to the entire committee.
Don't be afraid to explore the website! There are all kinds of interesting things to check out. If you click on a particular member, you can get their voting record and see which bills they have sponsored this session. You can learn all about how the House operates and the history behind it. Civics in action!
While I know this may not be everybody's cup of tea, Susan has assured me that, for the computer avoidant, the process is easier than signing up for the vaccine, so that's saying something!
I hope you are all healthy and warm. Feel free to reach out with specific questions, if these instructions don't seem clear enough. As always, you will find me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and I am happy to help.
Best to All...sm