As we approach the start of another legislative session, you will begin to hear a lot from legislators about bills they hope to author and introduce in 2014. However, before we get into the specifics, I want to get back to the basics and talk about how a bill becomes a law.
As I have shared before, the idea for many bills comes from legislators who are out in their districts hearing what their constituents want and need. In fact, all of the bills that I will be presenting in 2014 came to me from constituents. After a bill is drafted, it is first read by title on the House floor. At that point, the Speaker of the House, State Representative Brian C. Bosma (R-Indianapolis), assigns the bill to a committee whose job is to consider the merits of the legislation. Last session, I was the chairman of Veterans Affairs and Public Safety, in addition to serving as a member of the committees on Financial Institutions and Roads and Transportation.
Once the bill has been assigned to a committee, the committee can vote to amend the language and/or make additions or deletions. These committee hearings are always open to the public and are streamed live on the Internet. If the bill passes out of the committee with a simple majority, then the bill can be discussed before the entire House for amendments, called Second Reading.
On Second Reading, the bill is ready for amendment, recommitment or engrossment. This means that legislators can propose amendments to the bill as is, recommit it to another committee for further exploration or move forward with no alterations. Any amendments must win the approval of a majority of legislators before the new bill can be ordered to engrossment.
This brings the bill up for Third Reading where legislators have the opportunity to debate the merits of the bill before it is put up for a final vote. In order to pass and move onto the Senate, the bill must receive 51 votes. Once the completed bill is presented to the Senate, this process begins all over again.