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How A Bill Becomes A Law


Introduction and Committee Referral:
  • A bill may be introduced in the House or Senate.
  • Each bill is assigned a number, read by title and
    sponsor, and referred to a standing committee by the Committee on Committees.
Committee Consideration:
  • Committee meetings are open to the public.
  • When there is sufficient interest in a subject, a public hearing is held.
  • A bill may be reported out of committee with one of the following reports: favorable, favorable with amendments, favorable with committee substitute, unfavorable, or without opinion.
  • A committee can kill a bill by failing to act on it.
First Reading:
  • When a committee reports a bill favorably, the bill has what's called its "first reading" and is placed in the Calendar for the following day.
  • If a committee reports a bill unfavorably or without opinion, the bill is not likely to progress.
Second Reading and then To Rules:
  • The bill is read by title a second time and sent to the Rules Committee.
  • The Rules Committee may recommit the bill or place it in Orders of the Day for a specific day.
Third Reading and Passage:
  • "I move that House Bill 100 be taken from the Orders of the Day, read for the third time by title only, and placed upon its passage." This motion, usually by the majority floor leader, is adopted by voice vote, and the floor is open for debate.
  • Following debate and amendments, a final vote on the bill is taken.
  • To pass, a bill must be approved by at least two-fifths of the members of the chamber (40 representatives or 16 senators) and a majority of the members present and voting.
  • If the bill contains an appropriation of funds or an emergency clause, it must be approved by a majority of the members elected to each house, (51 representatives and 20 senators).
What Happens Next?
  • If a bill is defeated, that is the end of it, unless two members who voted against it request its reconsideration, and a majority approves.
  • If a bill passes in one house, it is sent to the other chamber, where it follows much the same procedure.
  • Both houses must agree on the final form of each bill.
  • If either house fails to concur in amendments, the differences may be reconciled by a "conference committee" of senators and representatives.
  • Compromises agreed to by this conference committee are subject to approval by both houses.
Enrollment:
  • After passage by both houses, a bill is read carefully to make sure the final wording is correct.
  • The bill is signed by the presiding officer of each house and sent to the Governor.
Governor's Action:
  • The Governor may sign a bill, permit it to become law without signature, or veto it.
  • The Governor has 10 days (excluding Sundays) to act on a bill after it is received.
  • The bill may be passed over the Governor's veto by a majority of the members of both houses.
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