When I was home last weekend, I showed my husband the list of proposed bills that are delivered to our desks on the floor of the Senate every day. He was amazed and asked about the process an idea has to go through to become a law. So here’s the procedure:
1. I have a good idea or someone suggests one. I go to Legislative Services Office (LSO), and they write up draft language for me. They check previous attempts at the same “good idea”, and check existing law and the state constitution, etc. Then they send me the draft.
2. I check it out, talk to people, legislators and key players, then I make changes as necessary. Then LSO creates a Routing Slip, which is called an “RS” and has an RS #. At this point my good idea is still confidential, if I want it to be, and is my own personal property.
3. I take my RS to leadership or the appropriate committee. That committee puts my good idea RS on their agenda, and I go explain it during their meeting. If they think it has any merit, they will approve it for printing. This is only the beginning! It is announced in the Senate (or the House if it started there) that the bill will be printed. It’s not “mine” any more, but I’m now the sponsor.
4. When the good idea bill is printed, it goes to the Senate (or the House if it started there) where it is placed on the First Reading Calendar. Then it is “read”, but only the title and the first line of the bill are actually read. (there’s a good story at this point, but I’ll tell you later) The next day, the good idea Bill is on the Second Reading Calendar, and is “read”–title and first line only, again. The final day, the good idea bill is on the Third Reading Calendar. This is the big one. It’s also listed in the Senate up on the big reader board because it will be voted on that day.
5. On the Third Reading day, as the bill’s sponsor, I stand up when it’s being “read” and explain why this good idea is important and how much it will cost, if anything. I then announce debate on the bill is open. Any other legislator can debate the bill. No time limit. When all is done, I can make a final argument and announce debate is closed. Then the vote is taken.
6. If the bill passes, it will be sent to the equivalent House committee, where it will have to be approved and go to the full House for First, Second, Third readings and a vote.
7. If it passes, it is sent to the Governor for his signature.
Quite a process! What’s amazing is how many bills are introduced and become law every year. Last year 839 pieces of legislation (RS) were prepared but only 542 were introduced as bills and only 357 of those passed to become law. The photo up top is of the lists of bills that were delivered to my desk yesterday–they get longer each day. The beige list the Senate and the blue is the House list. I’m currently working on some actual good ideas, so I’ll keep you posted on their progress!