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Compiling a New Hampshire Legislative History

Updated 05/01/2021

Where to find Chapter/Session Laws

Free Online

"Chaptered Final Versions [of bills]" from 1989 to present are online at the General Court’s website.  


Digitized versions of print volumes are online at the Internet Archive. Links are below. 

Print

The Law Library, the State Library, the State Archives, and many public libraries have print versions of NH Laws. Click on the link below to search the public library catalogs. 

Subscription Databases

HeinOnline, Lexis, and Westlaw are available for free at the New Hampshire Law Library. 

About Session, or Chapter, Laws

When the New Hampshire legislature passes a law, it is published first as a chapter law. After a legislative session all the chapter laws of the session are published in an annual volume titled Laws of the State of New Hampshire. Collectively, the annual chapter laws are called session laws, though you may see the terms used interchangeably. 

Session laws are arranged by chapter numbers which were assigned in sequence as the law was enacted. This consecutive arrangement makes it difficult to find all the law on a particular subject.  Each individual volume of session laws has an index, but there is no index to the entire body of session laws. Statutory codes were developed in the 19th century to make finding and using statutory law easier.  The New Hampshire Revised Statutes Annotated (RSA) is New Hampshire's most recent statutory code, created in 1955. 

Types of Statutes

Not all statutes passed by the legislature are in the Revised Statutes Annotated. There are different types of statutes: general, private, permanent, and temporary. The Revised Statutes Annotated, like other statutory codes, contains only general and permanent statutes. 

  • A general statute is a law that applies to the entire state or to everyone. 
  • A private statute is a law that applies only to specific individuals, entities, or places. These may also be called unclassified statutes. 
  • A permanent statute is a law that does not include a repeal or expiration date, it continues in effect until repealed. 
  • A temporary statute is a law that is enacted for a limited period of time and includes a repeal or expiration date.  

Private and temporary laws are found in the session law volumes. 

A chapter law may have a preamble, a statement of purpose, or a “findings and declaration” section that won't be included in the NH RSAs so it's important to check the chapter law when compiling a legislative history.