Cherry: Moving bills through the legislative process

Posted by: Samantha Holifield  | Friday, March 3, 2017 10:40 am

We have officially reached the halfway point of this legislative session. This means that it’s time for the bills to switch chambers. The bills that have been voted on and passed by the House of Representatives are now being sent to the Senate, and Senate bills can now be considered by the House. In the first half of session, the House advanced 164 bills and the Senate passed 187. A lot of issues and policies have already been discussed, but legislation still has a long way to go before becoming law.

All bills begin with an idea. Bills that start in the House are brought forth by a state representative and are then assigned to a specialized committee. Individual committees cover certain policy areas and topics, such as agriculture and transportation. Once in committee, the proposal is deliberated and reviewed by committee members. Both elected officials and members of the community are able to testify on the pros and cons of the legislation. Members of the committee are able to offer amendments to the bill during this time. Committees are the workhorses of the legislative process.

If a bill makes it through committee, it can then be considered by the full House of Representatives. Before the full chamber, the bill can be discussed further and amended during a stage called second reading. If a bill is offered on third reading, it can proceed to the Senate if it secures a constitutional majority, which is 51 votes.

Once sent to the Senate, the bill goes through the same process. If a House bill makes it through the Senate committee process, second and third readings, it can be voted on once again.

A House bill that makes it through the Senate chamber without amendments is sent to the governor for consideration. If a House bill is passed with amendments, the author of the bill can choose to agree or disagree with the changes made by the Senate. If the author disagrees with the changes, a conference committee is formed with two members of the House and two members of the Senate. During the conference committee, legislators can take testimony from the public and work together through any changes that were made to the bill.

Finally, if a bill makes it successfully through this entire legislative process, it is sent to the executive branch as an enrolled act. The governor can then take three courses of action. If he signs the enrolled act, it then becomes law. The governor can also veto or reject the bill, sending it back to the legislature. The General Assembly has the ability to override a veto with a constitutional majority in both chambers. This threshold is reached with 51 votes in the House of Representatives and 26 in the Senate. The governor also has the option to neither sign nor veto the bill. In this case, the bill becomes law in seven days with no action by the governor.

Right now, we are at the point where the bills are switching chambers. Our House committees will begin considering Senate bills and vice versa.

Each year we must adjourn session by a certain date. This year, our final end date, or Sine Die, is April 29, but our current plan is to end by either April 21 or 22.

The last half of session will be busy and will go by quickly. As we start hearing bills from the Senate, I encourage you to ask me any questions you may have. You can contact me at 317-232-9651 or h53@iga.in.gov.

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Rep. Cherry represents House District 53, which

includes portions of Hancock and Madison counties.

He serves as Vice Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee.

A high-resolution photo of Cherry can be downloaded by clicking here.