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Copy of Copy of Legislative Process 101 by the WVML
Transcript of Copy of Copy of Legislative Process 101 by the WVML
A quick look at the legislative process on passing a bill in the West Virginia Legislature.
Anyone can propose an idea for a bill to a legislator: a private citizen, corporation, professional association, special interest group or even a governmental unit. But all bills must be sponsored by one or more legislators to be considered by the Legislature. In the House, the number of sponsors of a bill or a constitutional admendment is limited to seven, while the Senate has not limit on sponsorship.
Action by Second Chamber
Bills may go through the Office of Legislative Services or legislative staff counsel to ensure that they are in proper bill form. To draft a bill on a particular subject, the appropriate portion(s) of West Virginia law are combined with the proposed changes. After the draft legislation is prepared, the legislator reviews and submits it for introduction to the clerk of the chamber of which he or she is a member.
Prior to introduction, the clerk identifies each bill with a separate number. This number is used as a reference for the bill throughout the legislative session.
After the bill is numbered, the President of the Senate or the Speaker of the House of Delegates assigns the bill to a committee or committees to be considered. When the bill is formally introduced on the floor of the chamber, the bill number and the committee reference(s) are announced.
Standing committees are small groups of senators or delegates assigned to study bills involving a particular subject. This process enables a larger number of bills to receive more detailed study than can be done by the entire House or Senate.
Since a committee represents only part of the membership of either chamber, it only can make recommendations about a bill for the full membership to consider. When a committee has completed work on a bill, it files a written committee report that recommends one of the following:
- the bill "do pass" in its original form, or with amendment(s) offered by the committee, or as a committee substitute bill
- the bill be rejected
- no recommendation at all
Some bills "die in committee," meaning the committee did not have enough time to take up the issue or the committee members decided the bill should not be recommended to the full membership for action.
Once a bill is out of committee, the committee's recommendation for that legislation is read on the floor of the House or Senate. The Rules Committee of each chamber then determines what bills will be considered and places them on the House or Senate calendar, which is a daily list of bills to be acted on in each chamber. The calendar of bills to be acted on is divided into bills on third reading, bills on second reading, and bills on first reading. Under the State Constitution, a bill is to be read three times. The first reading of the bill is the information stage and alerts membership that the bill will be considered. On second reading, members vote on the committee's amendment(s) and the amendment(s) individual legislators have proposed to the bill. The vote on the passage of the bill takes place on third reading.
If a bill is passed by one chamber, it is sent to the other body, where it will be referred to committee and the process is repeated.
Source: "Legislative Process 101" West Virginia Municipal League, "League Lites," January 2016.
Presentation by: Joshua Cline, Assistant City Manager, City of Bluefield