Prior to the opening of the odd-year session and for
a limited time thereafter (as specified in the joint rules), members
and members-elect of the General Assembly may file proposed bills and
resolutions in the house in which they serve. In even-year sessions,
individual legislators may introduce only those proposed bills and resolutions
that are of a fiscal nature. Standing committees may introduce bills
on any topic in any regular session of the General Assembly.
Proposed bills are not written in full statutory language.
Rather, they state briefly (usually in a single paragraph), the substance
of the proposed legislation in informal, non-statutory language. Only
a committee may introduce bills written in formal statutory language.
Proposed bills may be jointly sponsored by Senators and Representatives,
and any member may co-sponsor a proposed bill originating in either
house by requesting the Clerk to add his name to the list of sponsors.
The member presents the proposed bill to the Clerk of
the House or Senate who assigns it a number. First reading of a proposed
bill or resolution is by title and reference to a committee or by acceptance
by the house of a printed list, distributed to the members, of the bills
and resolutions with their numbers, sponsors, and titles, and the committees
to that they have been referred. It is then recorded in the Journal
by number and title, with a brief statement of purpose, and is sent
to the other house for concurrent reference.
The committee separates the proposed bills referred to
it into subject categories and, after providing legislators with time
to express their views on these proposed bills, prepares fully drafted
bills on those subjects on which it feels bills should be drafted. These
become "committee" bills drafted in formal statutory language. A committee
may also choose to draft a bill on a wholly new subject. Such bills
are called "raised" bills. Committee bills and raised bills are also
sent to both houses for a first reading, and then referred to their
original committee for consideration.
The staff of the committee to which the bill is assigned
sends notice of the date and place of a public hearing to the member
who introduced any proposed bill upon which the committee bill that
is being heard is based. Upon request, such notices are also provided
to other interested persons. Hearing notices are also published in the
After the public hearing, the committee meets to decide
upon its action on the bill. Notice of such meeting is published in
the Bulletin and all meetings are open to the public. The committee
has several options: (1) A "favorable" report which indicates that a
majority of the committee favors the bill and recommends its passage;
(2) a "favorable substitute," that is a bill amended by the committee
before it is favorably reported; (3) a vote to reject, or to "box,"
the bill; (4) an "unfavorable" report, which indicates that a majority
of the committee opposes the bill and recommends its rejection. A committee
may also vote a "change of reference" or a "favorable change of reference"
to another committee. As the General Assembly seldom accepts or rejects
a bill contrary to a committee's recommendation, it is important for
any member interested in its passage or rejection to secure substantial
backing and to present convincing arguments on the matter to the committee.
The rules permit the members of a committee from each house to act separately
in reporting bills to their respective houses. Such a provision may
be necessary when the House is controlled by one party and the Senate
The Bill in the House and Senate
Upon a favorable vote, the bill must be first reviewed
by the Legislative Commissioners' Office and approved by a Legislative
Commissioner before being sent to the house in which it was introduced.
The Legislative Commissioners then deliver the bill to the Clerk of
the House or Senate, as the case may be, who, under the order of business,
"Reports of Committees," presents the report to the particular house.
Without discussion, the bill is read the second time (by title only)
and laid on the table. Each favorably reported bill is printed and receives
a file number distinct from the original bill number. No further action
on the bill can be taken until the second day succeeding the day on
which it is placed in the files which are provided for the purpose on
the desk of each member. Bills are placed on the Calendar by title,
file number, and bill number in the order in which they are received
from committee. Bills that are ready for action (that is, which have
been in the files of the members for two days) are marked with an "XX"
on the Calendar. They are taken up in the order in which they appear
on the Calendar. The third and final reading of the bill is ordinarily
by title only, but any member may request that it be read in full. Following
the reading of the bill, a member of the committee that reported it
explains the committee's reasons for so doing, and a general debate
on the bill is in order. There may be a consent calendar on which bills,
designated by the majority and minority leaders of the house in which
they are pending, may be placed and passed on motion without debate.
Any member may move for removal of a bill from the consent calendar
and, when so removed, the bill is considered on the regular calendar.
Amendments must be in typewritten form and may be offered
by members at any time prior to final passage. They are prepared in
the Legislative Commissioners' Office at the request of a member. If
a bill is amended on third reading, other than to correct clerical errors
or mistakes as to forms or dates, a Legislative Commissioner must approve
the amendment. The bill, as amended, must be reprinted and returned
in its new form to the members' files before it can be passed.
Passage and Engrossment
After a bill has passed on the third reading, it is held
for one day for a motion to reconsider, which can only be made by a
member on the prevailing side of the vote. If not reconsidered, the
bill is transmitted to the other house. If the other house amends the
bill, it comes back to the first house for concurrence in the amendments.
If the amendments are not concurred in, a conference committee may be
appointed to resolve the differences. When passed by both houses, the
bill is delivered to the Legislative Commissioners' Office for engrossing
and supervision of printing in its final form. A Legislative Commissioner,
the Clerk of the Senate and the Clerk of the House then signs the engrossed
bill, and the bill is transmitted by the Clerks to the Secretary of
the State who presents it to the Governor for his approval or veto.
Action by the Governor
If the Governor receives the bill while the legislature
is in session, he has five calendar days, exclusive of Sundays and holidays,
in which to sign it or return it to the house in which it originated
with a statement of his objections. In the latter case, the bill may
be reconsidered and, if passed by at least two-thirds of the members
of each house of the General Assembly, it becomes law. If the Governor
does not sign or veto the bill within five calendar days after the same
has been presented to him, Sundays and holidays excepted, it automatically
becomes law unless the General Assembly has adjourned the regular or
special session. If the regular or special session has adjourned, the
bill becomes law unless the Governor, within fifteen calendar days after
it has been presented to him, transmits it to the Secretary of the State
with his objections. In such case, the bill does not become law unless
it is reconsidered and re-passed by the General Assembly by at least
two-thirds of the members of each house of the General Assembly at the
time of its reconvening, for its constitutionally mandated session,
to reconsider such vetoes. Veto Session If the Governor vetoes any bill
or bills after the General Assembly has adjourned, the Secretary of
the State must reconvene the General Assembly on the second Monday after
the last day on which the Governor is either authorized to transmit
or has transmitted every bill to the Secretary with his objections (Section
15 of Article IV of the State Constitution), provided if such Monday
falls on a legal holiday the General Assembly is reconvened on the next
following day. The reconvened session is for the sole purpose of reconsidering
and, if the General Assembly so desires, re-passing such bills. The
General Assembly must adjourn sine die not later than three days following
TRANSCRIPTS OF PROCEEDINGS
A verbatim typewritten record is prepared of all debates
on the floor of the Senate and House and of all testimony at public
hearings. Transcripts of floor debate and public hearing testimony from
previous sessions are available in the legislative reference section
of the State Library.