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State Constitution - Form of Government
Established October 31, 1783 Effective June 2, 1784 As Subsequently Amended and in Force January 2007
 

Article 1. [Name of Body Politic.] The people inhabiting the territory formerly called the province of New Hampshire, do hereby solemnly and mutually agree with each other, to form themselves into a free, sovereign and independent body-politic, or state, by the name of the State of New Hampshire.

June 2, 1784

GENERAL COURT

[Art.] 2. [Legislature, How Constituted.] The supreme legislative power, within this state, shall be vested in the senate and house of representatives, each of which shall have a negative on the other.

June 2, 1784

[Art.] 3. [General Court, When to Meet and Dissolve.] The senate and house shall assemble biennially on the first Wednesday of December for organizational purposes in even numbered years, and shall assemble annually on the first Wednesday following the first Tuesday in January, and at such other times as they may judge necessary; and shall dissolve and be dissolved at 12:01 A.M. on the first Wednesday of December in even numbered years and shall be styled The General Court of New Hampshire.

June 2, 1784
Amended 1877 changing annual sessions to biennial sessions.
Amended 1889 calling for the legislature to meet in January instead of June.
1966 amendment permitting annual sessions was ruled invalid in Gerber v. King, 107 NH 495.
Amended 1974 to permit organizational meetings in December and the January meeting to be on the first Wednesday after the first Tuesday.
Amended 1984 changing biennial sessions to annual sessions.

[Art.] 4. [Power of General Court to Establish Courts.] The general court (except as otherwise provided by Article 72-a of Part 2) shall forever have full power and authority to erect and constitute judicatories and courts of record, or other courts, to beholden, in the name of the state, for the hearing, trying, and determining, all manner of crimes, offenses, pleas, processes, plaints, action, causes, matters and things whatsoever arising or happening within this state, or between or concerning persons inhabiting or residing, or brought, within the same, whether the same be criminal or civil, or whether the crimes be capital, or not capital, and whether the said pleas be real, personal or mixed, and for the awarding and issuing execution thereon. To which courts and judicatories, are hereby given and granted, full power and authority, from time to time, to administer oaths or affirmations, for the better discovery of truth in any matter in controversy, or depending before them.

June 2, 1784
Amended 1966 to add exception relating to Art. 72-a, Part 2.

[Art.] 5. [Power to Make Laws, Elect Officers, Define Their Powers and Duties, Impose Fines and Assess Taxes; Prohibited from Authorizing Towns to Aid Certain Corporations.] And farther, full power and authority are hereby given and granted to the said general court, from time to time, to make, ordain, and establish, all manner of wholesome and reasonable orders, laws, statutes, ordinances, directions, and instructions, either with penalties, or without, so as the same be not repugnant or contrary to this constitution, as they may judge for the benefit and welfare of this state, and for the governing and ordering thereof, and of the subjects of the same, for the necessary support and defense of the government thereof, and to name and settle biennially, or provide by fixed laws for the naming and settling, all civil officers within this state, such officers excepted, the election and appointment of whom are hereafter in this form of government otherwise provided for; and to set forth the several duties, powers, and limits, of the several civil and military officers of this state, and the forms of such oaths or affirmations as shall be respectively administered unto them, for the execution of their several offices and places, so as the same be not repugnant or contrary to this constitution; and also to impose fines, mulcts, imprisonments, and other punishments, and to impose and levy proportional and reasonable assessments, rates, and taxes, upon all the inhabitants of, and residents within, the said state; and upon all estates within the same; to be issued and disposed of by warrant, under the hand of the governor of this state for the time being, with the advice and consent of the council, for the public service, in the necessary defense and support of the government of this state, and the protection and preservation of the subjects thereof, according to such acts as are, or shall be, in force within the same; provided that the general court shall not authorize any town to loan or give its money or credit directly or indirectly for the benefit of any corporation having for its object a dividend of profits or in any way aid the same by taking its stocks or bonds. For the purpose of encouraging conservation of the forest resources of the state, the general court may provide for special assessments, rates and taxes on growing wood and timber.

June 2, 1784
Amended 1792 changing "president" to "governor."
Amended 1877 changing "annually" to "biennially." Also amended to prohibit towns and cities from loaning money or credit to corporations.
Amended 1942 to permit a timber tax.

[Art.] 5-a. [Continuity of Government in Case of Enemy Attack.] Notwithstanding any general or special provision of this constitution, the general court, in order to insure continuity of state and local government operations in periods of emergency resulting from disasters caused by enemy attack, shall have the power and the immediate duty to provide for prompt and temporary succession to the powers and duties of public offices, of whatever nature and whether filled by election or appointment, the incumbents of which may become unavailable for carrying on the powers and duties of such offices, and to adopt such other measures as may be necessary and proper for insuring the continuity of governmental operations including but not limited to the financing thereof. In the exercise of the powers hereby conferred the general court shall in all respects conform to the requirements of this constitution except to the extent that in the judgment of the general court so to do would be impracticable or would admit of undue delay.

November 30, 1942

[Art.] 5-b. [Power to Provide for Tax Valuations Based on Use.] The general court may provide for the assessment of any class of real estate at valuations based upon the current use thereof.

November 15, 1968

[Art.] 6. [Valuation and Taxation.] The public charges of government, or any part thereof, may be raised by taxation upon polls, estates, and other classes of property, including franchises and property when passing by will or inheritance; and there shall be a valuation of the estates within the state taken anew once in every five years, at least, and as much oftener as the general court shall order.

June 2, 1784 Amended 1903 to permit taxes on other classes of property including franchises and property passing by inheritances.

[Art.] 6-a. [Use of Certain Revenues Restricted to Highways.] All revenue in excess of the necessary cost of collection and administration accruing to the state from registration fees, operators’ licenses, gasoline road tolls or any other special charges or taxes with respect to the operation of motor vehicles or the sale or consumption of motor vehicle fuels shall be appropriated and used exclusively for the construction, reconstruction and maintenance of public highways within this state, including the supervision of traffic thereon and payment of the interest and principal of obligations incurred for said purposes; and no part of such revenues shall, by transfer of funds or otherwise, be diverted to any other purpose whatsoever.

November 29, 1938

[Art.] 6-b. [Use of Lottery Revenues Restricted to Educational Purposes.] All moneys received from a state-run lottery and all the interest received on such moneys shall, after deducting the necessary costs of administration, be appropriated and used exclusively for the school districts of the state. Such moneys shall be used exclusively for the purpose of state aid to education and shall not be transferred or diverted to any other purpose.

November 6, 1990

[Art.] 7. [Members of Legislature Not to Take Fees or Act as Counsel.] No member of the general court shall take fees, be of counsel, or act as advocate, in any cause before either branch of the legislature; and upon due proof thereof, such member shall forfeit his seat in the legislature.

September 5, 1792

[Art.] 8. [Open Sessions of Legislature.] The doors of the galleries, of each house of the legislature, shall be kept open to all persons who behave decently, except when the welfare of the state, in the opinion of either branch, shall require secrecy.

September 5, 1792

 

 
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