I'm Just an OK Bill

How does a bill move through the legislature? Check out this video. It’s only a minute!

Legislative Glossary

Carryover Bills

Bills left pending during the first session of a term (terms are two sessions) 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.

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.

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

Bills passed with amendments have passed that committee but with changes. It’s the original bill but with edits, big or small.

Do pass with committee substitute (CS)

Do pass with committee substitute means the committee voted to toss the original bill and replace it with a new one. This mechanism is how shell bills get their content–the committee replaces the shell bill text with entirely different content. However, sometimes committee substitutes act more like amendments and change rather than rewrite the language. 

Emergency Clause

An emergency clause allows for the bill to go into effect immediately after the Governor signs it into law. Without an emergency clause, bills are able to become law 90 days after the legislature adjourns.

Engrossed

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

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

First Reading/Introduced

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

Fourth Reading

If a bill passes the second chamber with amendments, it is sent back to the first chamber to be voted on again. This is where the bill is read for the fourth time.

HB

HB stands for House Bill. It precedes the bill number and indicates that the bill started in the House of Representatives.

HJR/SJR

Senate Joint Resolutions (SJR) or House Joint Resolutions (HJR) are statements made by the Legislature and voted on by both houses. They can act like laws if the Governor signs them, but there is some debate over how long they can be in effect. Joint resolutions are mostly used to place state questions on the ballot. (State questions are laws voters decide on).

Laid Over

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

Line Item Veto

With the Line Item Veto, the Governor can veto parts of appropriation bills while signing the rest. The Legislature can override the Governor’s veto if 2/3 of the representatives in both houses vote to do so. The law would go into effect as passed.

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 but may carryover to the next session.   

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. 

SB

SB stands for Senate Bill. It precedes the bill number and indicates that the bill started in the Senate.

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.

Second Reading

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

Signed

Bills signed, or approved, by the Governor become law.

Third Reading/Floor vote scheduled

The bill is read, and a vote by the full chamber is taken. Although a bill may pass committee, it is not guaranteed a floor vote.

Veto

When the Governor rejects a bill, it is vetoed and will not become law. The Legislature can override the Governor’s veto if 2/3 of the representatives in both houses vote to do so.

Zombie Bill

Much like how a zombie comes back to life, a zombie bill is a bill that has come back to life after dying in committee or on the floor. An engrossed bill’s language is stripped and replaced with language from a previously dead bill. Click here to watch a video on the process