How a Bill Becomes a Law

Effective Lobbying Techniques  | Testifying  |  Share Your Passion with Lawmakers  

Involvement in the process is a continuing activity, and goes on throughout the year, even when lawmakers are not in session. In addition to the regular legislative session which runs approximately 2 months each year,  there are many committee meetings during the interim and numerous hearings. Professional legislative staff and lobbyist work year round to provide technical assistance to their respective committees or legislators. This process allows all individuals and/or groups of individuals the opportunity to participate in the democratic process.

The following is a synopsis of the legislative process...

  • A legislator or an interested party has an idea that is brought to the attention of the proper person, generally a legislator. That idea is then drafted into a bill or proposed legislation. A bill can originate in either chamber (House of Representatives or Senate), however the process differs slightly between chambers.
  • Either a member of the House or Senate can file a bill. The bill is assigned to a committee or several committees, depending on the content of the measure. These proposals usually have a companion bill in the other chamber. Companion bills are similar and address the same issues.
  • The proposed legislation is amended and debated at the committee level. If approved in committee, they are forwarded to the next committee of reference and then to the floor of the House of Representatives and Senate for further action. Further debate and amendments can occur on the floor of either the Senate or the House. Companion bills often move through the process concurrently.

    • If a bill passes in one house, it is sent to the other house for review. A bill goes through the same process in the second house as it did in the first. A bill can go back and forth between chambers until a consensus by lawmakers is reached. Of course, the measure could fail at any point in the process.
    • Once a bill has passed on the floor in both chambers in identical form, it proceeds to the Governor for a  signature. Once signed by the Governor, the bill becomes law. If the Governor vetoes the bill, then it takea a 2/3 majority of both the Senate and the House to override his veto. A bill may also become a law if the Governor does not sign or veto it within s specific amount of time after the bill has been presented to the Governor. 

      The public, lobbyists, or a group's representatives have the opportunity to provide input on the legislation at each of the above stages.



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