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How a Bill Becomes Law

Individual legislators introduce a bill or resolution from citizens’ suggestions and/or their own ideas. It is at the discretion of each individual legislator to accept responsibility to sponsor or not sponsor a particular bill. Lawmakers draft and submit bills with very detailed language and/or they file “shell bills,” which contain very general language so they can use them later in the session after the bill filing deadline has passed to advance more specific ideas or policies. All bills are available and can be tracked at www.oklegislature.gov or by calling 405.521.5514.  After a bill is filed, this is how it can become a law:

1. Reading and reference of bills:

The bill’s first reading occurs on the same day it is filed and in its chamber of origin. The next day constitutes its second reading, and it’s assigned to a standing committee for consideration. Occasionally, the committee consideration is skipped, and it’s sent directly to the calendar for a vote by the full chamber of its origin. This requires a move of suspension from the rules.

2. Consideration by standing committee:

This is a point in the process ideal for citizen input as it is when hearings and/or discussion of the bill by the committee in public meeting(s) occurs. The committee either decides to take action on a bill, not pass it, or pass it with/without changes. Bills passed are scheduled on the calendar for consideration of a vote by the full chamber.

3. Final action in the chamber of origin:

The bill is placed on the calendar under the heading “third reading Final Action.” Legislators at this time can debate in favor of or against the bill. Then, after a roll call vote is taken for the chamber to vote on the bill, it must receive 51 or more House votes or 25 or more Senate votes to pass.

4. Action by the second chamber:

If a bill is passed out of its chamber of origin, it moves on to the next chamber, where the same procedures as the chamber of origin are repeated. If the second chamber passes without any changes, the bill is “enrolled” and transmitted for the governor’s consideration. If the second chamber amends the bill and the first chamber agrees to accept the amendments, the bill is addressed by a conference committee (where further changes could be made) and then given back to both chambers for another vote.

5. Action by the governor:

Within 10 days after passage by the House and Senate, the bill is signed by the presiding offices of each chamber, the chief clerk of the House, the secretary of the Senate and then given to the governor. If legislative adjournment “Sine Die” has not occurred, the governor has 10 days (excluding Sunday) to act on the bill. If the governor does nothing/does not veto it within 10 days (excluding Sunday), it automatically becomes law. It also becomes law if the governor formally acts on it by signing it into law, which is more typical.

6.  The way the governor can veto a bill:

The Legislature can let a veto stand or attempt to override it. The governor can veto an entire bill or “line item” veto some parts of it and approve its other provisions. The Legislature may override either a straight or line-item veto by a two-thirds vote of both chambers, until sine die. After sine die, the governor may also “pocket veto” a bill by keeping it 15 days after the Legislature has adjourned without taking official action. With this approach, the Legislature does not have the opportunity to override.

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