As the third week of the legislature comes to an end, business is starting to pick up. The first two weeks of session include several ceremonial events like the governor’s Condition of the State address, as well as several introductory meetings in our committees. Now that these events have passed, we are getting into the heart of the legislative process.
The first step of the process is the subcommittee. This is the first hearing on a bill before three legislators. This is a fairly informal process where anybody interested in the bill can give their input. In order for the bill to continue through the process, at least two of the three legislators must sign off on the bill. There are dozens of subcommittees every day as many bills are getting their first hearing.
If a bill passes out of the subcommittee, it moves on to the full committee. There are 17 standing committees, each consisting of between 11 and 21 members. The full committee is a more formal meeting where the Senators discuss the merits of a particular bill. While we sometimes have outside speakers address the committee, most of the conversation is limited to discussion between the Senators. In order for a bill to make it out of the full committee, it must receive a majority vote.
If a bill survives the full committee, it is placed on the calendar of bills that are eligible for debate. Just because a bill passes out of the subcommittee and the full committee does not mean it will come up for a final vote. The Majority Leader of the Senate decides which bills actually come up for a vote.
So far this session, we have only passed one bill on its final vote on the floor. However, there are several dozens of bills making their way through subcommittee and the full committees. Starting next week, I expect there will be a lot more floor debate and final votes.
If there are any issues that you are interested in, please get in touch with me as the bill is going through the process. As always, feel free to contact me anytime at [email protected].