Legislative Glossary

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Legislative Process

I'm Just an OK Bill

How does a bill move through the legislature? Check out this 1-minute overview!

Becoming a Bill in Oklahoma

Want a more in-depth overview of how a bill becomes a law in Oklahoma? Catch our explanation here!

6 Next Level Complexities of the OK Legislature

The legislature has some next level complexities! Get a grip on 6 of them with this video.

A

Act

A bill that has been approved to become law

Absolute Majority

The threshold to pass a bill that requires more than half of the entire body’s legislators.

Amendment

An edit to the bill text. Can be proposed or made while a bill is in committee or on the floor. Also see CA.

Appropriations

The state budget.

B

Bill

An idea that has been proposed in the legislature

Bill Request

A deadline set by the legislature, typically in December. Lawmakers are required to submit the vague ideas of bills they may author and introduce. Bill requests do not contain lawmaking language. There is no limit to the amount of bills that may be reused. Recently, around 3,000 bills have been requested year to year. 

C

CA (Committee Amendment)/CS (Committee Substitute)

CA and CS are shorthand used for Committee Amendment and Committee Substitute.

Carryover Bills

Bills left pending during the first session of a term  are carried over to the next session. Carryovers pick up where they left off in the process as if there wasn’t a break. Bills, such as those not heard in committee, are carryovers.

Chamber

A synonym for house or body of the legislature. See House of Representatives and Senate.

Committee

A topic specific panel of legislators that review bills. They vote for bills to move forward in the process or hold them back. Amendments and substitutes may be voted on in committees. See Conference Committee.

Conference Committee

Both chambers must pass the same bill for it to head to the Governor. If the two chambers pass different bills–even slightly–the bill may go to Conference Committee to hash out the differences. After Conference Committee, the negotiated bill is again voted on by both chambers.

Concurrent Resolution (HCR/SCR)

A resolution passed by both houses to express an idea. Concurrent Resolutions are not law and often honor high ranking officials or signify a unified opinion of the legislature.

Congress

The Federal lawmaking body in Washington, D.C. similar to the State Legislature

D

Do not pass/Failed in committee

Bills that receive a vote in committee but fail to receive enough votes are marked as Do Not Pass (House) or Failed (Senate). Since action was taken on these bills, they are not pending and do not carryover.

Do pass

When a bill has passed a committee, it is marked Do Pass, meaning the yays outnumbered the nays.

Do pass with amendment

The status of bills that have passed committee after an amendment.

Do pass with committee substitute (CS)

The status of bills that have passed committee after a substitution.

E

Emergency Clause

An emergency clause allows for the bill to go into effect immediately after the Governor signs it into law. Requires an additional supermajority vote to pass. 

Enacting Clause

The phrase in a bill: “Be it enacted by the people of the State of Oklahoma:” All bills passed must contain an enacting clause to pass. Also see Strike.

Engrossed

“This bill is done with this house.” A bill is engrossed when it has passed one chamber and is waiting to be sent to the other chamber to repeat the whole process.

Enrolled

“This bill is done with both houses.” A bill is enrolled when it is in its final version and approved by both houses. It is then sent to the Governor.

F

FA (Floor Amendment)/FS (Floor Substitute)

FA and FS are shorthand used for Floor Amendment and Floor Substitute.

First Reading/Introduced

First reading is the formal name for the introduction step in the bill process. It comes from the procedure where a bill’s title and number is aloud for the first time. 

Floor

Where bills and actions are voted up or down by all members in a chamber. Amendments and substitutes may be considered on the floor.

Fourth Reading

If a bill passes the second chamber (opposite to house the bill was introduced in) with amendments or substitutes, it is sent back to the first chamber so they may vote on the edits. It comes from the procedure where a bill is read aloud for the fourth time. Also see conference committee

G

Governor

The elected leader of the state. They are the head of the executive branch, and signs or vetoes bills that have been passed by the legislature

H

HB, HR, HJR, HCR

The beginning letters of a bill, the prefix, that indicate the bill started in the House of Representatives. It also indicates the type of bill:
HB stands for House Bill.
HR is a House Resolution, or a simple resolution.
HJR is a House Joint Resolution.
HCR is a House Concurrent Resolution.

House

  1. Shorthand for the House of Representatives. Noted with a capital “H”.
  2. A synonym for either chamber of the legislature. Noted with a lowercase “h”. See House of Representatives and Senate.

House of Representatives

One of two chambers that make up the Oklahoma State Legislature. The House of Representatives is the lower house. Those who serve in the House of Representatives are Representatives

I

Introduced

A synonym for First Reading.

J

Joint Resolution (HJR/SJR)

Follows the same process as a bill but to add a state question to the ballot to amend the constitution. 

K

L

Laid Over/Lay Over

When a bill is marked Laid Over, it means the bill is on pause. The planned actions on the bill have been postponed. 

Law

A bill that has passed the legislature, signed by the Governor, and is in effect. 

Legislator

An elected official who serves in the legislature.

Lawmaker

In this context, a synonym for a legislator or representative. May also broadly refer to all elected officials, not just those elected to the legislature.

Legislature

Can be used as shorthand to refer to the legislative branch (the Senate and the House of Representatives)  or a cohort of legislators, such as the 58th Legislature.

Line Item Veto

The Governor can veto parts of appropriation bills while signing the rest. As with a standard veto, a super majority vote in the Legislature can override the veto. The law would then go into effect as passed by the Legislature.

Littering

The strategy of advancing bills during the first session so they may be picked up during the second. Due to carryover, these bills often have a head start in the legislative process and often undergo substitutions

M

Majority

The threshold for a bill to pass. Most bills require either an absolute majority or simple majority. In some circumstances, a super majority or emergency clause majority is needed. 

N

No committee hearing

Although most bills are assigned a committee, only a handful are heard and voted on each session. Bills that are not voted on by the Legislature’s deadline are no longer active and are left to “wither on the vine“. They may carryover to the next session.   

O

Originating Chamber

The chamber a bill is first introduced in. The originating chamber is marked by a bill’s prefix (House’s prefixes, Senate’s prefixes)

Override (Veto)

When the legislature votes to reverse the Governor’s decision to veto a bill. Requires a super majority.

P

Pocket Veto

If a bill is passed by the legislature during the last 5 days of the legislative session, the governor then has 15 days to sign or veto the bill. If the Governor chooses to do neither, this is the pocket veto. Because it was not formally vetoed, a pocket veto cannot be overridden

President Pro Tempore

The leader of the State Senate.

Q

R

Reading

Each step in the process is called a reading. It is named after the procedure to read either parts or the full bill aloud at the Capitol. First, Second, Third, and Fourth Reading.

Repeal/Repealer

Removing entire sections from laws already in effect. A “Repealer” is specific language used in bills to repeal a section of law. 

Representative(s)

  1. Those who serve in the House of Representatives. Noted with a capital “R”.
  2. A synonym for elected officials, such as legislators. Noted with a lowercase “r”. 

Resolution

A formal expression of an idea, opinion, or intent of one or both chambers. See Concurrent Resolution, Joint Resolution, and Simple Resolution

S

SB, SR, SJR, SCR

The beginning letters of a bill, the prefix, that indicate the bill started in the Senate. It also indicates the type of bill:
SB stands for Senate Bill.
SR is a Senate Resolution, or a simple resolution.
SJR is a Senate Joint Resolution.
SCR is a Senate Concurrent Resolution.

Second Reading

The bill title is once again read and then assigned to a committee. Nearly all bills receive a second reading.

Senate (Oklahoma State)

One of two chambers that make up the Oklahoma State Legislature. The Senate is the upper house. Those who serve in the Senate are Senators

Senator (Oklahoma State)

An elected official who serves in the Oklahoma State Senate. Senators serve 4 year terms and represent larger districts with more people than legislators in the House of Representatives.

Session

The time period when legislators meet to pass bills. Regular sessions are constitutionally set times between February and May. Special, or Extraordinary, Sessions are called to work on a specific topic and may take place anytime of the year. 

Shell Bill

Shell bills are blank bills with little to no content. Because the Legislature has a filing deadline for new bills, legislators may submit a shell bill before the deadline as a placeholder and replace the text later with a committee substitute.

Shuck

When a bill undergoes a substitute and the original language is totally removed and replaced with new language, often legislating a new idea or proposal. If a bill is shucked and replaced with a bill that did not previously advance, this is called a Zombie Bill

Signed

Bills signed, or approved, by the Governor become law. Also see walkaway approval

Simple Majority

The threshold to pass a bill that requires more than half of the body’s legislators who are available and active at the moment.

Simple Resolution

A resolution passed by only one house. It is the stated opinion of that one body. 

Sine Die (Adjournment)

The final action to close a session.

Single-Subject Rule

Legislation can only be related to one item, or “subject”. A bill to rename a highway would likely be rejected if it also addressed water quality. Committees are charged with determining whether or not a bill meets this rule, however questions about a bill’s single subject often reaches the Oklahoma Supreme Court.  

Speaker of the House

The leader of the House of Representatives.

State Question (SQ)

Proposed laws that are decided on by the voters, not the Legislature and Governor. State questions may propose/seek new laws, amend current laws, veto/overturn laws recently signed by the governor, or amend the state constitution. State questions may be placed on the ballot by citizens through signature collection or through a legislative Joint Resolution.

Statute/Statutes

A law or laws previously passed by legislature and that are now in effect. 

Strike the Title/Strike the Enacting Clause

Removing constitutionally required language from a bill, rendering it unable to pass. Striking allows a chamber one last look and chance to edit a bill before moving towards the Governor. Striking the Title or Enacting Clause also allows legislators to vote for a bill they may have problems with knowing they will see an edited version before the bill is finalized.

Substitute

When the text of a bill is replaced in full with new text. Can be done while a bill is in committee or on the floor. Also see CS

Super Majority

A vote threshold that requires 2/3 of legislators within their body to vote yes. Mostly associated with a veto override and emergency clause.

T

Third Reading/Floor vote scheduled

The bill is read, and a vote by the full chamber is taken on the floor

Title

The summary of a bill that is required by the Oklahoma Constitution. Titles must be full address the contents of the bill. Bills have been challenged in court for having titles that did not adequately describe the contents. Also see Strike

U

V

Veto

When the Governor rejects a bill, it is vetoed and will not become law. The Legislature can override the Governor’s veto with a super majority.

W

Walk Away Approval

If a bill is passed at any point during session outside of the last 5 days, the Governor then has 5 days to act on it. If they don’t, the bill approves itself.

Withering on the vine

A term that describes when a bill is not brought to a vote in committee or on the floor. Without being heard, the bill is unable to progress and left to “wither” or fade away. 

Wooly-Booger

A cheeky phrase used to describe additions or edits to a bill made at the last minute in “the dead of night” and in “smoke filled rooms”. 

X

Y

Z

Zombie Bill

A cheeky phrase to describe bills that “come back to life”. Occurs when bill language that had failed to move forward is substituted into a still active bill. Click here to watch a video on the process

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The hashtag used on social media for Oklahoma Legislature content.