THE DELIBERATIVE SESSION
As an SB2 town, Rye holds a Deliberative Session each year. The first session (also known as the Deliberative Session) of the Rye Town Meeting is held in the Rye Junior High School auditorium and is open to all registered voters in Rye. At this meeting all properly submitted Warrant Articles, including the annual operating budget, are presented, discussed and can be amended, with certain limitations, prior to placement on the March ballot.
The only time Articles can be amended is at the Deliberative Sessions, with the amendments being approved or rejected by majority vote of the registered voters in attendance. Amendments are subject to the following limitations:
- Warrant Articles whose wording is prescribed by law may not be amended. RSA 40:13, IV (a);
- An amendment may not add a new subject. RSA 39:2;
- The overall budget recommended by the Budget Committee, including special Warrant Articles, containing appropriations, cannot be increased by more than ten percent (10%). RSA 32:18; and
- Amendments which would eliminate the subject matter of an Article, including ones that would eliminate all text after the words “to see,” that would insert the word “not” into an Article, or that would otherwise nullify an Article’s subject matter, are prohibited. RSA 40:13, IV (c); Bailey v. Town of Exeter, Rockingham Superior Court No. 218-2011-CV-203 (May 27, 2011).
It should be noted that the Legislature frequently changes the scope of amendments that are permissible at a Deliberative Session. Several bills on that subject are pending in the 2012 session of the Legislature.
“The first session of the annual meeting [the Deliberative Session], which shall be for the transaction of all business other than voting by official ballot, shall be held between the first and second Saturdays following the last Monday in January, inclusive of those Saturdays.” Annually, the Board of Selectmen set the date and a snow date within the time frame. The Warrant Articles, including the Article on the Town budget, as they read following the Deliberative Session, will appear on the ballot in March, at the same time the Town votes on candidates for various local offices. RSA 40:13, III.
Voting, including up or down voting on Warrant Articles, occurs at the second session of the annual Town Meeting, which takes place at the Rye Elementary School. In accordance with RSA 40:13, VII, the purpose of the second session is to elect officers of the local political subdivision by official ballot, to vote on questions required by law to be inserted on said official ballot, and to vote on all Warrant Articles from the first session.
The second session occurs at the Rye Elementary School. According to RSA 40:13, VII: “The second session of the annual meeting is, to elect officers of the local political subdivision by Official ballot, to vote on questions required by law to be inserted on said local official ballot, and to vote on all Warrant Articles from the first session.”