How Do You Amend the New Hampshire Constitution?

constitutionNH Constitution – With voters approving two changes to the State Constitution this year, the process to amend the document is front and center.

CONVENTION METHOD TO AMEND

In 1784, when the N.H. Constitution went into effect, there were two ways to amend it. The First is in Part II, Article 100 and allows the legislature by only a majority vote to ask if there should be a convention called to consider amendments. The last one was in the 1980’s, but since then when asked the voters have not said they wanted one.

When conventions are held the voters elect people called delegates to convene and consider any and all ideas for amendments. Usually, such conventions come up with several amendments.

LEGISLATIVE AMENDMENTS

The other method is where the legislature by a 60% majority can see a problem, draft an amendment and send it on for the voters to consider it at the next regular election.

No matter how the amendment gets to the voters, they must approve it by a vote of two-thirds on a statewide basis for it to take effect.

Using these two methods since 1784, there have been over 200 amendments to our State Constitution.

PENDING QUESTIONS

For 2018, the legislature has sent the voters only two of 20 or so possible amendments it considered in the past session.

QUESTION 1

This amendment seeks to correct the Supreme Court opinion in the case of Duncan v. State that held that taxpayers cannot go to court to challenge the government unless they can show their individual rights are directly prejudiced. For over 150 years, taxpayer suits have held governments accountable in our State because we the citizens are in charge. The 2014 Duncan v. State opinion that keeps citizens from judicial redress will be history in November if the voters approve Question 1 on the ballot. It would amend the State Constitution to restore the historic role of taxpayers being able to challenge illegal or unconstitutional acts by our agents—the government.

QUESTION 2

This is a one sentence new concept to protect our right to privacy. The word privacy does not yet appear in the State Constitution. The proposal is as follows: [Art.] 2-b [Right to Privacy.] An individual’s right to live free form governmental intrusion in private or personal information is natural, essential and inherent.

On November 6, 2018, the New Hampshire citizens overwhelmingly approved the amendments to the New Hampshire Constitution.

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