New Hampshire Senate

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New Hampshire State Senate
New Hampshire General Court
Coat of arms or logo
Type
Type
Term limits
None
History
New session started
December 2, 2020
Leadership
President pro Tempore
Majority Leader
Minority Leader
Structure
Seats24
Senate Diagram State of New Hampshire 2014.svg
Political groups
Majority
  •   Republican (14)

Minority

Length of term
2 years
AuthorityPart Second, New Hampshire Constitution
Salary$200/term + mileage
Elections
Last election
November 3, 2020
(24 seats)
Next election
November 8, 2022
(24 seats)
RedistrictingLegislative control
Meeting place
New Hampshire State Senate.jpg
State Senate Chamber
New Hampshire State House
Concord, New Hampshire
Website
gencourt.state.nh.us/Senate

The New Hampshire Senate has been meeting since 1784.[1] It is the upper house of the New Hampshire General Court, alongside the lower New Hampshire House of Representatives. It consists of 24 members representing Senate districts based on population. As of December 2, 2020, there are 14 Republicans and 10 Democrats.[2]

History[edit]

Under the 1776 Constitution, two chambers of the legislature were formed: the House of Assembly and the Council, the predecessors to the modern-day House of Representatives and Senate. The Council was originally elected by the House and was composed of twelve members: five from Rockingham County; two each from Cheshire County, Hillsborough County, and Strafford County; and one from Grafton County.[3]

In 1784, the state constitution was entirely rewritten, and the upper chamber was reconstituted as the popularly elected Senate. It was originally composed of twelve members to be elected from multi-member districts drawn by the legislature,[4] but this was increased to twenty-four members in 1879. Until districts were drawn, the apportionment of the Senate was continued from the 1776 Constitution. This constitution also imposed a majority-vote requirement for State Senate elections. If no candidate won a majority of the vote, a vacancy was declared and the full General Court would pick from the top two candidates. Similarly, if a vacancy occurred while the legislature was in session, the General Court would pick the successor from the top two remaining candidates. The constitution was amended in 1889 to provide that session vacancies would be filled by special elections and in 1912 to abolish the majority-vote requirement altogether.[5]

Between 1784 and 1912, more than 200 state senate vacancies were filled by a full vote of the legislature. During some years, nearly 60% of the State Senate was selected through this method, which frequently determined which party controlled the Senate majority. An analysis of the vacancy-filling patterns shows that the General Court was overwhelmingly likely to fill vacancies based on the party affiliation of the eligible candidates. In cases in which session vacancies were filled, the General Court occasionally selected third-party or independent candidates, who received no more than a handful of votes, over opposing major-party candidates.[5]

The predictability of the vacancy-filling procedures sometimes led to conflict. In 1875, outgoing Democratic Governor James A. Weston exercised his constitutional power to issue "summonses" to the winners of legislative elections to avoid the General Court filling two vacancies. In two districts, Democratic candidates won pluralities, but not majorities; the narrow Republican majority in the State House likely meant that the Republican candidates would be elected. The Senate was tied 5-5, so the allocation of the two contested seats would determine control. Weston, along with the Executive Council, invalidated votes cast for Republican Senators in two districts on the grounds that the votes were not cast in the candidates' "Christian names." They instead issued summonses to the Democratic candidates, who were seated by the Senate. The 7-5 Democratic majority then rejected a Republican challenge to the Democrats' qualifications, and the Republican minority sought an advisory opinion from the New Hampshire Supreme Court.[5] The state supreme court concluded that "the action of the senate is final," and affirmed the seating of the Senators.[6]

In 1912, the voters approved a constitutional amendment removing the majority-vote requirement for all elections. That year, however, the gubernatorial election failed to produce a majority winner, as did four State Senate elections. After concluding that the amendment applied after the election, not to it, the General Court proceeded to fill the vacancies. An unexpected alliance between Democrats and Progressive Republicans led to Democrat Samuel D. Felker elected Governor, Henry F. Hollis elected to the U.S. Senate, four Democrats selected to fill the State Senate vacancies, and a Progressive Republican as the Speaker of the House.[7]

2020-2022 biennial session[edit]

Composition[8][edit]

Affiliation Party
(Shading indicates majority caucus)
Total
Democratic Republican Vacant
End of 164th General Court 10 13 23 1
165th General Court 10 14 24 0
166th General Court 14 10 24 0
Start of the 167th General Court 10 14 24 0
Latest voting share 42% 58%

Leadership of the New Hampshire Senate[edit]

Position[9] Name Party District
President of the Senate Chuck Morse Republican 22
Majority Leader Jeb Bradley Republican 3
Minority Leader Donna Soucy Democratic 18
President Pro Tempore Sharon Carson Republican 14

Members of the New Hampshire Senate[10][edit]

Map of current (March 2021) partisan composition of legislative districts for state senate:
  Republican senator
  Democratic senator
District Senator Party Residence First elected
1 Erin Hennessey Rep Littleton 2020
2 Bob Giuda Rep Warren 2016
3 Jeb Bradley Rep Wolfeboro 2009
4 David H. Watters Dem Dover 2012
5 Suzanne Prentiss Dem Lebanon 2020
6 James P. Gray Rep Rochester 2016
7 Harold F. French Rep Franklin 2016
8 Ruth Ward Rep Stoddard 2016
9 Denise Ricciardi Rep Bedford 2020
10 Jay Kahn Dem Keene 2016
11 Gary Daniels Rep Milford 2020 (2014-2018)
12 Kevin Avard Rep Nashua 2020 (2014-2018)
13 Cindy Rosenwald Dem Nashua 2018
14 Sharon Carson Rep Londonderry 2008
15 Becky Whitley Dem Contoocook 2020
16 Kevin Cavanaugh Dem Manchester 2017
17 John Reagan Rep Deerfield 2012
18 Donna Soucy Dem Manchester 2012
19 Regina Birdsell Rep Hampstead 2014
20 Lou D'Allesandro Dem Manchester 1998
21 Rebecca Kwoka Dem Portsmouth 2020
22 Chuck Morse Rep Salem 2010 (2002-2006)
23 Bill Gannon Rep Sandown 2020 (2016-2018)
24 Tom Sherman Dem Rye 2018

Past composition of the Senate[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "New Hampshire Senate". www.gencourt.state.nh.us. Retrieved 2018-05-06.
  2. ^ "New Hampshire Senate". www.gencourt.state.nh.us. Retrieved 2018-05-06.
  3. ^ Article 3 of the Constitution of New Hampshire (1776)
  4. ^ Article 2, Section 34 of the Constitution of New Hampshire (1784)
  5. ^ a b c Yeargain, Tyler (2021). "New England State Senates: Case Studies for Revisiting the Indirect Election of Legislators". University of New Hampshire Law Review. 19 (2). Retrieved April 28, 2021.
  6. ^ Opinion of the Justices, 56 N.H. 570, 573 (N.H. 1875).
  7. ^ Wright, James (1987). The Progressive Yankees: Republican Reformers in New Hampshire, 1906-1916. University Press of New England. p. 143-44. ISBN 9781584652618.
  8. ^ "New Hampshire Senate". www.gencourt.state.nh.us. Retrieved 2018-05-06.
  9. ^ "New Hampshire Senate". www.gencourt.state.nh.us. Retrieved 2018-05-06.
  10. ^ "New Hampshire Senate". www.gencourt.state.nh.us. Retrieved 2018-05-06.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 43°12′28.6″N 71°32′09.6″W / 43.207944°N 71.536000°W / 43.207944; -71.536000