The New Hampshire House (400) and Senate (24) make up the largest state legislature in the U.S.
Lawmakers are elected biannually and paid $100 per year, plus mileage reimbursement.
Despite the minimal pay, legislators review more than 1,000 bills every legislative session. Representatives are responsible for attending 20+ legislative sessions, and that doesn't include committee meetings and public hearings.
University of New Hampshire Associate Professor of Political Science Dante Scala said the Legislature "often is made up of older residents who have the time and financial standing to serve."
"They really run because they can. Unlike in states with professional legislatures, the barriers to entry are very low in New Hampshire," Scala said.
It is unlikely that the state will significantly increase the pay for legislators. However, the Legislature has explored decreasing the time commitment for legislators.
NH should keep its "citizen legislature" as-is.
- Supporters of New Hampshire's "citizen legislature" argue that the large number of lay-person legislators ensures that citizens have maximum access to the legislative process.
- Ideally New Hampshire's legislative model also removes any selfish or monetary motive for running for office.
NH should make changes to its "citizen legislature."
- The low pay and significant time commitment prevents some highly qualified and good-intentioned individuals from running for the Legislature.
- The large number of legislators also results in a significant, perhaps excessive, number of bills every year. Each year, advocates for small, simple government argue that too much regulation passes through the Legislature.