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Classroom guide: Citizen-led bills in NH

In this podcast episode Mike Dunbar and Anna Brown talk about five examples of New Hampshire bills put forward by regular citizens and eventually signed into law. They cover a bill to raise the marriage age, a bill to increase the penalty for repeat DUI offenders, a bill to require free period products in school bathrooms, a bill to name an official state animal, and a bill to ban trespassing chickens. Several of these bills were proposed by students.

Length:

Podcast includes 7 minutes about citizen-led bills, 3 additional minutes of "fun facts" about New Hampshire's eleven state songs.

Key concepts/standards

  • How citizens can be involved in the legislative process
    • SS:CV:8:2.4: Explain the legislative and political processes by which a bill becomes a law or government policy is established at the local, state, and federal levels, e.g., citizen petitions or conference committees. (Themes: B: Civic Ideals, Practices, and Engagement, H: Individualism, Equality and Authority)
    • SS:CV:8:4.1: Describe and analyze ways Americans can effectively participate in civic and political life at the local, state, and federal levels, e.g., problem solving, public engagement, or voting. (Themes: A: Conflict and Cooperation, B: Civic Ideals, Practices, and Engagement, J: Human Expression and Communication)
    • SS:CV:12:4.1: Demonstrate responsible practices within the political process, e.g., registering to vote or taking civic action. (Themes: B: Civic Ideals, Practices, and Engagement)
    • SS:CV:12:4.2: Investigate how knowledgeable and engaged citizens have acted to preserve and extend their liberties, e.g., writing letters to the editor or participating in town meetings. (Themes: A: Conflict and Cooperation)
  • How laws around child marriage and period products reflect changing views about women and family in society
    • SS:HI:8:5.1: Analyze how societal changes have influenced the family, e.g., child labor or elderly care. (Themes: E: Cultural Development, Interaction, and Change, I: Patterns of Social and Political Interaction)
    • SS:CV:12:1.3: Evaluate how the purposes of government have been interpreted , e.g., promoting the general welfare or protection of private property. (Themes: B: Civic Ideals, Practices, and Engagement, D: Material Wants and Needs)
    • SS:HI:12:5.2: Evaluate the changing roles of gender in society, e.g., the ideal of “Republican Motherhood” or Title IX. (Themes: E: Cultural Development, Interaction, and Change, H: Individualism, Equality and Authority, I: Patterns of Social and Political Interaction)

Discussion questions

  • If you were to introduce a new bill into the NH Legislature, what would it be? Do you think it would pass? Why or why not?
  • What did you think of the bills discussed in this episode? Would you have voted for them if you were an elected official?
  • Why is it important for regular citizens to be involved in the legislative process if we already have democratically-elected leaders?
  • What are some ways you could get involved in the legislative process?
  • Describe the process through which a New Hampshire bill becomes law.
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