Student Guide to Lawmaking
Bill’s Journey to Becoming a Law
Proposing a New Law
Any Senate or General Assembly member may propose or sponsor a new law. Ideas for laws can come from many sources, such as citizens, interest groups, public officials, or the Governor.
At the legislator’s direction, the idea is written as a bill. The legislator may ask other legislators to become co-sponsors.
Introduction of Bill
The bill is introduced when the Senate Secretary or General Assembly Clerk reads the bill’s number, sponsor, and title aloud during a legislative session.
Committees and Amendments
The bill is usually sent to a committee that studies it and makes changes if needed. These changes are called amendments. Committees have open meetings where the public may speak about the bill.
Back to the House
If the committee approves the bill, it is reported back to the House where it began, and its title is read again. This is the bill’s second reading.
Majority of Votes
When scheduled by the Senate President or General Assembly Speaker, the bill’s title is read for the third time, and it is debated and voted on. A bill passes if it receives a majority of votes (at least 21 in the Senate or 41 in the General Assembly).
The bill follows a similar path of first reading, committee consideration, second reading, third reading, and final passage in the second House. After both Houses agree on the bill, it is sent to the Governor. In most cases, the bill becomes law when signed by the Governor.
If the Governor rejects the bill, it is called a veto. Sometimes, the Governor will ask the Legislature to make changes to the bill. The Legislature may make the Governor’s changes. It is also possible for the Legislature to pass the vetoed bill in its original form with a two-thirds majority vote in both Houses. This is called overriding the veto.