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How do I research current New Hampshire laws?

Researching laws on a laptop in front of Lady Justice

Before you can advocate for new laws, it’s important to fully understand those that are already on the books. With hundreds of new proposals passing through the New Hampshire Legislature every year, it can be hard to stay up-to-speed. In this article, we’ll show you how.

The official name for the Legislature in New Hampshire is the General Court. To begin your research, navigate to their website, On the navigation bar at the top, click “Laws (RSAs)” and then “Laws home” from the drop down menu.

New Hampshire’s laws are known as RSAs—this stands for “Revised Statutes Annotated”. But most people simply refer to them as RSAs. The main RSAs landing page on the GenCourt website features a suite of helpful tools for those looking to research current laws. In the lefthand column, you’ll see options to perform a text search, browse the index of New Hampshire laws, and search pending legislation that may become law soon. In order to use that search function, it’s best to know the specific bill you’re looking for. Check out our article on how to find bills.

In most cases, you’ll want to search for a particular topic of interest to you. Depending how broad or specific your topic is, you may want to start by reviewing the index of RSAs and drill down from there, or search by keyword. For example, if you want to learn all about New Hampshire’s motor vehicle laws, you’ll find several chapters on that subject in the index.

But, if you aren’t sure where to begin, simply typing a keyword into the search feature is a great way to get started. Enter your keyword into the RSA Text search field and click “Get RSAs.” If you aren’t sure on the exact keyword, you can select “All Forms of Word.” Under results, click “View All” to see all results. Depending on the search term, your keyword may appear in several sections of the law.

If you find yourself confused or overwhelmed as you conduct your research, consider contacting subject matter experts. For nearly any legal topic in New Hampshire, you’ll find special interest groups who specialize in that area of the law and will be happy to direct you to important statutes. Just make sure you understand the group’s mission and any biases that may be at play as you talk to them. Depending on the depth of your research, you may also want to contact a lawyer for guidance.

If you’re looking for more in-depth research on the history of a law, check out this resource from the New Hampshire Law Library.

Depending on the topic you are researching, you may need to go beyond state laws. When it comes to subjects like parking, fireworks, and restaurants, for example, local laws come into play. Check with your town or city website to find out more.

There are also cases where state regulations—rather than laws—set the rules around certain issues. For example, if you’re interested in school standards, you’ll want to study the rules set by the Board of Education. The best way to get started in this regard is to review the list of state agencies and consider whether any might set rules related to your topic of inquiry. If they do, you can visit their websites and/or contact them directly. See a list of state agencies and rules here.

Lastly, you can always check the state Constitution to see if it mentions your subject.

Once you’ve reviewed current laws, you’ll want to stay on top of any changes that occur in the future. Check out our tutorial on tracking legislation here.

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