How Does A Bill Become A Law?

Ever wonder... How does a bill become a law? Or, where do our laws come from?

Yes I am only a bill,
And I'm sitting here on Capitol Hill.
Oh it's a long long way to Capitol City.
It's a long long wait while I'm sitting in Committee.
But I'll be a law some day,
At least I hope and pray that I will,
But today I am still,
Just a bill…

~Schoolhouse Rock - I'm only a bill

Where do our laws come from?

Start with an idea...

You don't have to be elected state assemblyman, senator, or even governor to come up with an idea for a new law in your state. Anybody …you, me, or your friends .. can think up new ways to make your state a better place to live. All you have to do is use your imagination!

Tell your local lawmaker about your proposal…

Once you come up with your idea, call, e-mail or write your local state legislator. They'll be happy to let you know if it is possible to make your idea into a law. Your proposed law's juourney starts as a "bill" which is introducted in the Legislature. Your bill can have many sponsors or it can have only one sponsor. No matter how many sponsors your bill may have, remember that all bills must pass both hourses of the Legislature – the Assembly and the Senate. A bill will usually have a separate Assembly and Senate sponsor.

A journey through the legislative process…

Before it is passed by the Legislature, various committees (smaller groups of legislators) will examine and analyze your bill. Once it is approved by the committees, it is put on a calendar so it can be voted on by the full membership of the Assembly or the Senate. In most cases in both the Senate and the Assembly, a bill needs at least half the members to vote "yes" for it to pass. There are times, however, when a bill needs more than half the members to vote "yes" for it to pass. Your bill must pass both the Assembly and the Senate before the Governor can consider it.

An idea becomes law…

If your bill passes both the Assembly and the Senate, it is then delivered to the Governor for his or her signature. Once your bill is delivered to the Governor's desk, it must be acted upon within 10 days. The Governor can sign the bill linto law, or without taking any affirmative action allow the bill to become law without his signature, or he may veto (or reject) the bill. Should the Governor veto your bill, don't give up! A veto can be overridden if at least two-thirds of the legislators in the Assembly and the Senate agree with your bill.

Source: Sheldon Silver, Speaker of NYS Assembly


How to Write a Bill

Click this link to view a bill template to use for writing a bill.

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