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State Constitution > House of Representatives
Established October 31, 1783 Effective June 2, 1784 As Subsequently Amended and in Force January 2007
 

[Art.] 9. [Representatives Elected Every Second Year; Apportionment of Representatives.] There shall be in the legislature of this state a house of representatives, biennially elected and founded on principles of equality, and representation therein shall be as equal as circumstances will admit. The whole number of representatives to be chosen from the towns, wards, places, and representative districts thereof established hereunder, shall be not less than three hundred seventy-five or more than four hundred. As soon as possible after the convening of the next regular session of the legislature, and at the session in 1971, and every ten years thereafter, the legislature shall make an apportionment of representatives according to the last general census of the inhabitants of the state taken by authority of the United States or of this state. In making such apportionment, no town, ward or place shall be divided nor the boundaries thereof altered.

June 2, 1784
Amended 1877 three times providing for biennial elections; increasing representation from 150 rateable polls to 600; prohibiting towns and wards from being altered so as to increase representation.
Amended 1942 limiting size of House to between 375 and 400.
Amended 1964 providing for equal representation.

[Art.] 9-a. [Legislative Adjustments of Census with Reference to Non-Residents.] The general court shall have the power to provide by statute for making suitable adjustments to the general census of the inhabitants of the state taken by the authority of the United States or of this state on account of non-residents temporarily residing in this state.

November 30, 1960

[Art.] 10. [Representation of Small Towns.] (Repealed)

June 2, 1784. Small towns grouped together to provide one representative for 150 rateable polls. The election meeting was to rotate annually between the towns.
Amended 1877 increasing districts to 600 inhabitants; rotation of meeting changed to biennially.
Repealed in 1889. Provisions incorporated into Art. 11.

[Art.] 11. [Small Towns; Representation by Districts.] When the population of any town or ward, according to the last federal census, is within a reasonable deviation from the ideal population for one or more representative seats, the town or ward shall have its own district of one or more representative seats. The apportionment shall not deny any other town or ward membership in one non-floterial representative district. When any town, ward, or unincorporated place has fewer than the number of inhabitants necessary to entitle it to one representative, the legislature shall form those towns, wards, or unincorporated places into representative districts which contain a sufficient number of inhabitants to entitle each district so formed to one or more representatives for the entire district. In forming the districts, the boundaries of towns, wards, and unincorporated places shall be preserved and contiguous. The excess number of inhabitants of district may be added to the excess number of inhabitants of other districts to form at-large or floterial districts conforming to acceptable deviations. The legislature shall form the representative districts at the regular session following every decennial federal census.

June 2, 1784
Amended 1792 changing General Assembly to General Court.
Amended 1877 changing 150 rateable polls to 600 inhabitants.
Amended 1889 providing that towns of less than 600 should be represented a proportional amount of time instead of being classed as formerly provided in Art. 10.
Amended 1942 deleting reference to 600 and providing that small towns should be represented at least once in every 10 years.
Amended 1964 to permit small towns to be districted for one or more representatives.
Amended November 7, 2006 to enable towns with sufficient population to have their own representative district and permits the use of floterial districts.

[Art.] 11-a. [Division of Town, Ward or Place; Representative Districts.] Notwithstanding Articles 9 and 11, a law providing for an apportionment to form representative districts under Articles 9 and 11 of Part Second may divide a town, ward or unincorporated place into two or more representative districts if such town, ward or place, by referendum requests such division.

November 22, 1978 (Rejected in 1976 as proposed by convention, but adopted in 1978 as proposed by the general court and including both representative and senate districts.)

[Art.] 12. [Biennial Election of Representatives in November.] The members of the house of representatives shall be chosen biennially, in the month of November, and shall be the second branch of the legislature.

June 2, 1784
Amended twice in 1877 substituting "biennially" for "annually" and "November" for "March."

[Art.] 13. [Qualifications of Electors.] (Repealed)
June 2, 1784. All persons qualified to vote in the election of senators shall be entitled to vote within the town, district, parish,or place where they dwell, in the choice of representatives. Note: The phrase "town, district, parish, or place"; was shortened to "district" in engrossed copy of 1792, apparently without authority.
Repealed in 1976.

[Art.] 14. [Representatives, How Elected, Qualifications of.] Every member of the house of representatives shall be chosen by ballot; and, for two years, at least, next preceding his election shall have been an inhabitant of this state; shall be, at the time of his election, an inhabitant of the town, ward, place, or district he may be chosen to represent and shall cease to represent such town, ward, place, or district immediately on his ceasing to be qualified as aforesaid.

June 2, 1784
Amended 1852 deleting provision for representatives to have an estate of 100 pounds.
Amended 1877 deleting requirement that representatives be Protestants.
Amended 1956 substituting "ward" for "parish."
Amended 1964 adding word "district."

[Art.] 15. [Compensation of the Legislature.] The presiding officers of both houses of the legislature, shall severally receive out of the state treasury as compensation in full for their services for the term elected the sum of $250, and all other members thereof, seasonably attending and not departing without license, the sum of $200 and each member shall receive mileage for actual daily attendance on legislative days, but not after the legislature shall have been in session for 45 legislative days or after the first day of July following the annual assembly of the legislature, whichever occurs first; provided, however, that, when a special session shall be called by the governor or by a 2/3 vote of the then qualified members of each branch of the general court, such officers and members shall receive for attendance an additional compensation of $3 per day for a period not exceeding 15 days and the usual mileage. Nothing herein shall prevent the payment of additional mileage to members attending committee meetings or on other legislative business on nonlegislative days.

June 2, 1784
Amended 1792 requiring state to pay wages instead of town.
Amended 1889 setting salary for members at $200 and for officers at $250 with $3 per day for special sessions.
Amended 1960 limiting mileage to 90 legislative days.
Amended 1984 limiting mileage to 45 legislative days in each annual session.

[Art.] 16. [Vacancies in House, How Filled.] All intermediate vacancies, in the house of representatives may be filled up, from time to time, in the same manner as biennial elections are made.

June 2, 1784
Amended 1877 changing "annual" to "biennial" elections.

[Art.] 17. [House to Impeach Before the Senate.] The house of representatives shall be the grand inquest of the state; and all impeachments made by them, shall be heard and tried by the senate.

June 2, 1784

[Art.] 18. [Money Bills to Originate in House.] All money bills shall originate in the house of representatives; but the senate may propose, or concur with amendments, as on other bills.

June 2, 1784

[Art.] 18-a [Budget Bills.] All sections of all budget bills before the general court shall contain only the operating and capital expenses for the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government. No section or footnote of any such budget bill shall contain any provision which establishes, amends or repeals statutory law, other than provisions establishing, amending or repealing operating and capital expenses for the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government.

November 28, 1984

[Art.] 19. [Adjournment.] The house of representatives shall have the power to adjourn themselves.

June 2, 1784
Amended 1948 substituting "five" for "two" days as length of adjournment.
Amended 1966 removing limitation on adjournment.

[Art.] 20. [Quorum, What Constitutes.] A majority of the members of the house of representatives shall be a quorum for doing business: But when less than two-thirds of the representatives elected shall be present, the assent of two-thirds of those members shall be necessary to render their acts and proceedings valid.

June 2, 1784

[Art.] 21. [Privileges of Members of Legislature.] No member of the house of representatives, or senate shall be arrested, or held to bail, on mesne process, during his going to, returning from, or attendance upon, the court.

June 2, 1784

[Art.] 22. [House to Elect Speaker and Officers, Settle Rules of Proceedings, and Punish Misconduct.] The house of representatives shall choose their own speaker, appoint their own officers, and settle the rules of proceedings in their own house; and shall be judge of the returns, elections, and qualifications, of its members, as pointed out in this constitution. They shall have authority to punish, by imprisonment, every person who shall be guilty of disrespect to the house, in its presence, by any disorderly and contemptuous behavior, or by threatening, or ill treating, any of its members; or by obstructing its deliberations; every person guilty of a breach of its privileges, in making arrests for debt, or by assaulting any member during his attendance at any session; in assaulting or disturbing any one of its officers in the execution of any order or procedure of the house; in assaulting any witness, or other person, ordered to attend, by and during his attendance of the house; or in rescuing any person arrested by order of the house, knowing them to be such.

June 2, 1784
Amended 1792 by adding that the House shall be judge of the returns, elections, and qualifications of its members.

[Art.] 23. [Senate and Executive Have Like Powers; Imprisonment Limited.] The senate, governor and council, shall have the same powers in like cases; provided, that no imprisonment by either, for any offense, exceeds ten days.

June 2, 1784
Amended 1792 substituting "governor" for "president."

[Art.] 24 [Journals and Laws to be Published; Yeas and Nayes; and Protests.] The journals of the proceedings, and all public acts of both houses, of the legislature, shall be printed and published immediately after every adjournment or prorogation; and upon motion made by any one member, duly seconded, the yeas and nays, upon any question, shall be entered, on the journal. And any member of the senate, or house of representatives, shall have a right, on motion made at the time for t hat purpose to have his protest, or dissent, with the reasons, against any vote, resolve, or bill passed, entered on the journal.

June 2, 1784
Amended 1792 permitting protest or dissent with reasons to be entered in the journals.
Amended 1966 requiring roll call requests to be seconded.

 

 
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