How A Bill Becomes a Law

Fact Sheet
Updated: 3 months ago
Public Policy
  1. Bill is Drafted

The bill/resolution must have a sponsor (Senate/House member) for it to be written by the Office of Legislative Research and General Counsel. If you have an idea for a policy or program, contact a representative to encourage them to sponsor it.

  1. Introduced

The bill/resolution must be introduced in the House or Senate (depending on the sponsor’s chamber).  This typically entails the bill being filed with the clerk by the sponsor and then being read on the floor (1st reading).

  1. Sent to the Rules Committee

After introduction, the bill is sent to the Rules Committee to await being heard in a standing committee.  This is a common place for bills to be stuck the whole session. Thus, it is imperative you engage with advocacy at this stage in the process. Reach out to committee members to get them to take action.

  1. Assigned to a Standing Committee

Typically, the standing committee assignment reflects the subject area of the bill/resolution (like Health and Human Services, Education, etc).  This committee listens to public comment (Yes, YOU CAN AND SHOULD COMMENT) and votes on whether to favorably recommend the bill/resolution. If it receives enough votes, it passes committee and goes to the floor.

  1. Heard on the Floor

The bill/resolution is then presented on the floor by its sponsor in its originating chamber and legislators can ask questions to the sponsor.  The bill is then voted on and must receive 38 votes (out of 75) in the House. If the bill originates in the Senate, it must receive 15 favorable votes (out of 29).  Further, if in the Senate, the bill must be voted on by the entire Senate body twice and pass both times, meaning it passes when on the 2nd and 3rd reading calendars.

  1. Sent to other Chamber

The bill/resolution is then sent to the other chamber for voting, beginning with the rules committee stage. House bills being presented in the Senate must be voted on and passed twice. If either body amends the policy, it will be subject to a more complex concurrence process in both chambers that takes place in committees.

  1. Sent to Governor

If the bill/resolution passes both chambers, it is sent to the governor for signature. The governor can veto (reject) the policy if desired.  Vetoes can be overturned by a supermajority of both the House and Senate

 

**If at any point the bill/resolution fails to be voted on/get enough votes, it is time to consider what can be done next year. This is the most common way for bills to become laws, but not the only way**

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