Legislation Moving Through the House:
A Representative can introduce a bill on any day that the House is open for business. All bills are filed with the Chief Clerk.
After a bill is introduced (it is given a bill number and a printer’s number), or is received from the Senate, it will be referred by the Speaker to the appropriate House Committee.
Once the bill is in committee the chairman of that committee has full power over the bill. He/she will decide whether to bring the bill to a vote or whether to hold a public hearing on the issue.
A majority of the committee may request that a bill be considered. If the chair says no, then a majority vote of all the committee members will force the chair to act.
A quorum (majority) must be present to conduct a vote, and a majority of the committee members must vote to take that action.
The committee can vote for the following actions:
- Report the bill favorably (pass it out of committee, as is)
- Report the bill as amended (pass the bill out of committee with an amendment(s) made by the committee)
- Report the bill unfavorably (vote the bill down, it will stay in committee for the time being)
- Take no action on the bill
There are no rules on how long a bill may stay in a committee before being acted upon. In fact, the majority of bills are left to die in committee.
Once a bill is passed out of committee it will proceed to the full House.
On the House Floor:
Every bill must be considered on three different legislative days – or three considerations – before it can come to a final passage vote.
- First consideration is typically the day the bill is reported from committee. The bill will be read to the chamber by the presiding officer. No debate or amendments are allowed, nor is any other motion to be made at this time.
- On second consideration, amendments can be proposed and debated. Many times after second consideration the bill is re-referred to a committee. (Most times each bill will move through the appropriately assigned committee and then also through appropriations.) A Bill which requires an expenditure of the state’s funds or funds of any political subdivision, or that will cause a loss of revenue to the state or any political subdivision can’t be given third consideration on the calendar until it has been referred to the Appropriations Committee to have a fiscal note attached. Many times bills will be referred to appropriations so it can be decided if the bill will have a fiscal impact. Appropriations may utilize the Budget Office or any other State Agency as is necessary to do this.
- On third consideration, amendments are allowed only when one is necessary to make the bill internally consistent, to clear up any ambiguity, to correct grammar or a drafting error, or is necessary for purposes of statutory construction. However, debate is allowed no matter what.
After going through third consideration, the Speaker may call the bill up for action on final passage. However, final passage cannot be called until at least 24 hours have gone by since the last time the bill was amended (unless the bill was a technical amendment explained two paragraphs earlier).
On final passage, the bill cannot be amended but debate is allowed. The only exception to this is if the House votes to suspend the rules. Suspending the rules requires a 2/3 majority vote.
The bill then needs a simple majority to pass – or 102 votes. If the bill originated in the House it will then move to the Senate for a vote.
If the bill had been received by the Senate and was adopted with no amendments it would then be presented to the Governor for his signature to become a law.
Concurrence in the House:
If the Senate makes amendments to the bill, it will then return to the House for a concurrence vote.
Upon returning to the House the bill will automatically be referred to the House Committee on Rules.
The Rules Committee does not have the power to re-amend the bill. (The exception is that with a majority vote of the committee members they may revert back to the printer’s number of the bill which last passed the House.)
When the bill is reported by the Rules Committee (either as committed from the Senate or as last passed by the House) that bill will be placed on the calendar.
[Amendments are not allowed to be made to amendments.]
At this point the House cannot make further amendments to the bill. The bill will be read with the amendments and they have to be voted up or down.
If the House cannot agree on the amendments made by the Senate, but agrees that a compromise must be made, a conference committee will be formed to work out a compromise that they believe both chambers will be able to pass.
If the bill is passed with the Senate amendments by a majority vote it will be sent to the governor to be signed into law.
The House needs a 2/3 majority vote to override a governor’s veto or to approve a non-preferred appropriations bill.