The Legislative Process: How Bills Become Laws

• A Delegate or Senator has an idea for a bill, usually from a constituent.

• He or she presents the idea to the Division of Legislative Services and requests that it be drafted into a bill. The bill is assigned to the patron, introduced, and printed.
o In even years, bills may not be submitted until mid July. In odd years, bills may not be submitted until mid Nov, due to elections.
o Bills must be submitted to Legislative Services by 5 pm on the first Friday of the General Assembly. Bills must be laid on the clerk’s desk of each house no later than 5 pm of the second Friday of the General Assembly.
o Legislative Services post bills on the General Assembly’s Web site usually within one business day after a bill is received. After the second Friday, it may take several days into the next week before all bills are posted on the Web site. The Web site is

• The bill is referred to an appropriate committee. The members of the committee consider the bill and decide what action to take. This is when the public may speak.
o In the House, the Speaker determines where bills go. In the Senate, the Clerk initially determines where bills go. If disagreement occurs, senators may have bills moved.
o Bills begin to be assigned to committees on the first day of the General Assembly. After then, bills are assigned as they are introduced.
o If a bill goes to subcommittee to be heard, that is the primary time for the public to speak. Rarely will a committee chairman allow the public to speak to a bill once it’s been heard in a subcommittee.
o A bill must make it out of committee before the entire house may hear and vote on it. Committees may take the following actions: (1) report a bill out of committee by majority vote; (2) pass by a bill indefinitely (PBI); (3) defeat a bill; (4) continue or carry over a bill from the first, even-numbered year of the biennial session to the second, odd-numbered year; (5) pass by a bill for a day when it is not ready to take action; (6) leave it in committee when no motion is made to report the bill, and take no action; or (7) incorporate the bill into other legislation with similar or duplicate language.

• First Reading: The bill title is printed in the Calendar or is read by the Clerk, and the bill advances to second reading.
o After a bill passes one house, it is sent to other body whereby, upon introduction, it is given its first reading and assigned to a committee.

• Second Reading: The next day the bill title appears in the printed Calendar on second reading. Bills are considered in the order in which they appear on the Calendar. The Clerk reads the title of the bill a second time. A bill on second reading is amendable and debatable. A bill that has passed second reading with or without an amendment is engrossed. If an amendment is adopted, the bill is reprinted in its final form for passage.