[r63] How a bill becomes a law: the breakdown

Posted by: Zach Weismiller  | Thursday, December 27, 2012

As 2012 comes to a close, there is still much work to be done at the Statehouse. For the past few weeks the members of the Indiana General Assembly have been filing their bills. To most, this process seems very complicated, so I wanted to give a more simple breakdown of how a bill become a law.

After members have been sworn in, they have approximately two months to write and submit bills. After the submission of the bills, they are assigned to the appropriate committee. From there, bills need to pass through a series of “readings”.

Once a bill is assigned to a committee, the chair of each committee decides which bill should have hearings. This is called the “first reading”. If the bill does receive a hearing, the author of the bill presents it to the committee. The bill is then voted on by the members of that committee. If it passes through it will be adopted as a committee report and sent on to the full chamber for the second reading.

During the “second reading” the bill (now an adopted committee report) will now be heard before the full House for consideration. At this time, legislators can offer amendments to the bill. After all of the amendments have been offered and voted on, if there are any, the bill becomes “engrossed” and will be sent on to a third reading.

The final version of the bill is heard again by the full chamber during the “third reading”. After debate has concluded, the bill will come to a final vote. If the bill receives at least 51 votes, (called a ‘constitutional majority’) it is sent to the Senate. The process starts over with a first reading in the opposite chamber.

I hope this breakdown of the legislative process alleviates confusion. We are moving very quickly and there are many important issues still to be discussed and heard in the General Assembly. I encourage you to share your thoughts and opinions on the issues we are working on at the Statehouse and always appreciate hearing from you.