• Stephen Buckingham

Bill Passing 101

Every bill gets 3 readings on the chamber (House or Senate) floor:

  • First reader - when the bill is introduced and is referred to a standing committee that handles its particular subject. The Committee holds a public hearing on the bill, and the Chair schedules a voting session when there appears to be enough support on the committee. During the voting session, amendments may be offered for adoption or rejection. Then they vote on the bill. If the committee gives the bill a “Favorable Report,” it goes back to the Chamber, along with any amendments they have adopted.

  • Second reader - Once the bill is reported out of Committee, any committee amendments are adopted, and the chamber adopts the committee's favorable report, then they consider any amendments from the floor. If the bill passes the chamber on Second reader, the bill is ordered reprinted for Third reader (incorporating any approved amendments).

  • Third reader (and final passage in the chamber) - no amendments are allowed at this time in the house of origin; just an up or down vote. Amendments are also allowed in the opposite chamber on Third reader.

  • First reader in the other chamber – If the opposite chamber changes the bill, it must go back to the original chamber to accept or reject the changes. If the chambers don’t agree, a conference committee must be appointed to work out a solution. In the waning days of a session, having a bill “go to conference” can result in failure for lack of time.

After a bill passes in one of the chambers of the General Assembly, it then goes through the same procedure in the other Chamber. Both chambers have to pass the exact same bill and then the bill goes to the Governor, who has until the end of May to sign the bill into a law, let the bill become a law without his signature or veto the law.

If the Governor vetoes the law, and the General Assembly is still in session, both chambers can override his veto with a 2/3 majority. If they are not in session, they will not be able to override the veto until the beginning of the next Legislative Session.

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