FAQ: How does a Bill become a Law?
How a Bill Becomes a Law
1. Drafting & Introduction
A legislator has an idea for a Bill, usually from a constituent.
The legislative members present the idea and requests that it be drafted into a bill. In January, when the General Assembly meets, the House Representatives and Senators introduce their bills in their respective chambers.
2. Committee Action
The bill is referred to a committee. The members of the committee debate the issues and decide what action to take. This is when the public may speak for or against the bill.
After listening to the testimony, the committee will vote to recommend the passage of the bill or the defeat of the bill. The committee may also offer changes (called amendments). If the committee recommends passage of the bill, it then goes back to the chamber where it was introduced.
3. "Floor" Action
Once the bill passes in committee, the title of the bill must be read three times in the chamber in which it was introduced (House or Senate).
First Reading: The bill is read by the Clerk.
Second Reading: The bill may be amended after it has been read a second time. The bill is then debated on the Floor.
Third Reading: During the third reading, the bill may be debated and a final vote is taken.
Once the bill passes in the chamber in which it was introduced, it is then sent to the other chamber (House or Senate). In the other chamber, a similar process of committee action, floor debate, and voting takes place. If the bill passes both the House of Representatives and the Senate, it is then sent to the Governor.
If the bill is amended by the other chamber, it is then returned to the body from which it originated for approval of the amendment.
5. Governor's Action
Once passed in both chambers, the bill must be approved by the governor.
The Governor may:
- Sign the bill into law.
- Amend the bill and return it to the General Assembly for approval.
- Veto the bill and return it to the General Assembly, where the House of Representatives and the Senate may override the Governor’s veto with a simple majority vote of both chambers.
- Take no action and the bill becomes a law without his signature.
Bills that become laws during the Regular Session are effective 90 days after the final, official day of session, unless otherwise specified.