The second half of the legislative session is officially underway. Although 650 plus bills were filed this year, only 174 passed out of the House and were sent to the Senate for further consideration. As we begin reviewing legislation from the Senate, with much more work still ahead of us, I believe it is important to keep you informed about the legislative process and how you can get involved this year.
Understanding the legislative process is very important and not as complicated as you might think. In order to advance legislation to the opposite chamber, each bill must complete three steps. The first step, referred to as “first reading,” occurs when a bill is assigned to a committee. Once assigned, the committee chairperson has the discretion to allow discussion and vote on the bill. A bill can also have amendments added to it in committee, if proposed and passed. If the bill passes out of committee, which requires a majority vote by the members, the bill advances to the second step.
The second step or “second reading” occurs when a bill that has been passed out of committee is eligible to be amended by any member of the chamber from which the bill originated. For instance, when a House Bill is on second reading, any of the 100 House members can offer amendments. Amendments must receive a majority vote in order to change the bill. After all amendments have been voted on, or if none are offered, the bill advances to the third step.
Known as “third reading,” this step occurs when a bill is up for a vote by the full chamber from which it originated. Any bill that fails to pass all three steps before the halfway point of the legislative session is considered dead. All bills that are now being considered during the second half of session have passed each of the three steps in their original chamber. Now, they must pass the same process in the opposite chamber.
At the end of session, bills that are agreed upon by the majority of members in both chambers are then sent to the governor for his signature. With so many bills and limited time available during session, many do not make their way out of the legislative process. For example, 879 bills were filed last year but only 225 became law. In the past six sessions, only 26 percent of bills or fewer became law in a given year.
The process is meant to be challenging because we want to make sure that only the best legislation that has been properly vetted passes into law. Additionally, we want to make sure that Indiana does not add over 800 new laws to the code every year.
However, the most important part of the legislation process is you. I encourage everyone to follow along as bills make their way through the legislative process. By visiting iga.in.gov, you can find information about legislation, where they stand in the process and even watch live as bills are discussed, debated and voted on the House floor. As always, if you ever have any questions, please contact my office by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 317-234-9499.
Rep. Lucas (R-Seymour) represents portions of Bartholomew, Jackson, Jennings and Jefferson counties.