Monday, December 7, 2009

The First 2010 Legislative Deadline

This week provides the first deadline by which legislators must pre-file their request for bill language for the 2010 legislative session. During the past few weeks I have written about a number of the legislative ideas I will be sponsoring. I have not yet had an opportunity to write about all of these proposals and look forward to continuing to write about them as the 2010 legislative schedule continues to develop.
I very much appreciate your feedback to some of the ideas I have already written about. I have received a large amount of constituent input based on the articles of the past few weeks and this pro and con input has been very helpful.
Representatives are limited to advocating for 8 legislative initiatives, so we much carefully pick and choose the ideas which we want to advance. I have historically maintained a policy of introducing a balanced portfolio of legislation that advances the effort to institute sweeping reforms and legislation that has an increased chance of passage.
Passing legislation is a challenging process. Only a small percentage of introduced bills (with the exception of appropriations bills) is successfully signed into law. What follows is a description of the process a bill must follow in order to be approved.

The House author must convince a Senator to sponsor his bill in the Senate. It is important to choose a Senator based on his/her abilities and commitment to the principle of the bill.

The bill will be assigned to a House committee where the Chairman has to give the bill a hearing and the full committee is required to vote on passage.

A bill passed by a committee must receive permission from the Majority Floor Leader in order to be considered by the full House. If he/she consents to providing a hearing on the floor of the House, the full House has to vote on passage.

Once the bill is approved by the House, it is sent to the Senate where the process is repeated, including a committee assignment, a vote in committee and a vote on the floor of the Senate. At any time the bill is subject to being killed because of no hearing.

The bill returns to the House where any Senate amendments must be considered.

The bill may be assigned to a conference committee. If either the Senate or the House fails to assign conference committee members (Conferees) to the bill prior to the deadline for assignments, the bill dies. If the Conferees are assigned, then the bill has to receive the support of a majority.

If the conference committee approves the bill, it needs approval once again through a vote of the entire House and Senate. If the bill was not scheduled by the deadline in either House, it did not pass. If both Houses (House of Representatives and Senate) approve the bill, it is sent to the Governor for approval. If the Governor vetoes the bill, it has to go back to the House and the Senate for a possible override vote. In order to override the Governor’s veto, at least two thirds of both House and Senate must vote for the override. In the past 15 years, only one bill has become law despite a veto.

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