How a Bill Becomes a Law

A bill must go through a lengthy process in order to become a law.

Step 1. The bill is first introduced in the House or Senate (depending on whether a representative or senator authored the bill) and then referred to a committee. Examples of committees are education, finance, judiciary, and appropriations, to name a few.

Step 2. The committee members debate the bill in a meeting that is open to the public. Following debate, the committee votes on the bill. If the bill receives sufficient “yea” votes, it moves on for debate in another committee or by the full House or Senate.

Step 3. Should the bill pass all committees to which it was referred, it is placed on the calendar to be debated by the chamber of origin, either the House or Senate.

Step 4. After debate, the chamber of origin votes on the passage of the bill and, if it passes, it is sent to the opposite chamber to go through the same process.

Step 5. If passed and referred to the other chamber, the bill is referred to a committee in that chamber where it is debated. If the measure passes all committees to which it was referred in the second chamber, the bill is placed on that chamber’s calendar for debate and a vote.

Step 6. If the bill passes both chambers in the same form (that is, if no changes or amendments were made), or if the originating chamber accepts any changes made by the opposite chamber, the bill is sent to the governor to be either signed into law or vetoed. Often a bill is changed, or amended, by one of the chambers. If the originating chamber does not accept these alterations, the bill must be sent to a conference committee. The conference committee, made up of House and Senate members, negotiates a compromise and files a conference report, which both chambers must adopt for the bill to be sent to the governor.

Step 7. In the case of a governor’s veto, a 2/3 majority vote of both chambers is required in order for the bill to become law.

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