The process of how a bill becomes a law is both simple and complex, and it can be very political. It begins with an idea. The idea can come from a variety of sources (the legislator, a constituent, an industry representative, a lobbyist or even a relative). In my three sessions, I’ve passed four bills, all with different sources. As long as the idea is one that I believe in, I’m not concerned about its source.
The idea is then taken to the Office of Legislative Counsel where the legislator receives legal advice, and the bill is drafted. As a state representative, I then file the bill with the clerk of the House. It’s formally introduced in the House Chamber on the following legislative day and assigned to a committee by the speaker.
If the bill passes out of committee, it is then sent to the Rules Committee, who decides if the bill will get a vote on the floor of the Chamber. Many bills make it to the Rules Committee but never get a floor vote.
Should the bill make it out of the Rules Committee, it will then be presented on the floor of the Chamber by its author. Other members may also speak for or against the bill before the vote. A bill must receive a majority of the total membership of that Chamber in order to be sent over to the other Chamber (91 votes in the House, 29 votes in the Senate).
Now, the process must be repeated in the other Chamber. If the other Chamber changes the bill in any way (even just punctuation), the bill must return to the Chamber of origin to be approved again. If the changes cannot be agreed upon, a conference committee is appointed to iron out a compromise. Then, both Chambers must approve the compromise.
If a bill successfully makes it through this entire process, it is sent to the governor. He has three options: He can sign it. He can ignore it (it becomes a law). Or, he can veto it. It takes a two-thirds vote in both Chambers to override the governor’s veto.
Making laws in our state can be quite a daunting task. It is not a quick process, and it is not taken lightly.