How a Bill Becomes a Law


Step 1: There Ought to be a Law!

Laws usually originate from proposals sponsored by legislators, the governor or from recommendations of a department or agency but can also emerge from an idea that a member of the public believes should become a law.

Step 2: Petition is Filed

Whether proposed by a legislator, offered by the governor or filed by a legislator at the request of a member of the public, a petition for legislation is filed in the House or Senate, accompanied by a bill that is assigned a number and referred to a committee.

Step 3: Hearing is Scheduled, Held and Testimony Heard

The committee holds a public hearing and hears testimony regarding the petition from the public, government officials and office holders. After the hearing is held, the committee issues a report recommending whether the petition “ought to pass”, “ought not to pass”, be subject to further study or discharged to another committee.

Step 4: Committee Report Directs the Measure’s Path – Rejection or on to First Reading

A bill reported favorably appears in the Journal of the House or Senate and is given its first reading, usually followed by referral to another committee for further review. A measure reported adversely will not proceed further unless the unfavorable report is overturned by a vote of either branch.

Step 5: Bill Read a Second Time, Debate Begins

Upon the second reading of a bill, it is subject to debate, motions and amendments.

Step 6: Bill Proceeds to the Committee on Bills in the Third Reading

Upon a favorable vote at the conclusion of debate, the bill is ordered to a third reading and is then referred to the Committee on Bills in the Third Reading.

Step 7: Bill is Reviewed by the Committee on Bills in the Third Reading

The Committee examines the bill for legality, constitutionality and the duplication or contradiction of existing law. After a thorough review, the bill is released and heads back to the House or Senate floor for a third reading.