The Western Virginia Legislature holds that a bill is an idea that can eventually become a law (para. 1). This implies that the idea has to go several processes before it is accepted as part of the law of the land. A bill can be introduced by any member of the legislature, and then it can start the process that makes it into a law (Votesmart para. 1). As the New Jersey Legislature observes, the process is often a long one, but it leads to the realization of a new law which is acceptable in the land (1). The steps to making a bill into a law are as follows.
The first step is an idea. This can be in the mind of any of the legislative members. Citizens can also contribute to the idea by contacting their representatives and requesting them to discuss a given issue on their behalf. This legislative representative then writes the bill and looks for a sponsor (House.gov 1). The representative gets sponsors by talking to other representatives. With the sponsor and the support of some representatives, the bill then goes on to the next level which is the introduction.
The introduction is simply placing the bill in the hopper, or a special box in the clerk’s desk. The clerk gives it a number then reads it to the representatives. The speaker then sends the bill to the committee (House.gov, 2). The committee stage is where the bill goes before a group of representatives who are experts in the area that the bill addresses. The committee goes through the bill and may at times send it to a subcommittee. They then go to the next step which is reporting back to the house with the proposed changes if any (Votesmart para. 3). After the reporting stage, the bill then goes to the debate session where the representatives recommend changes to the bill. They then vote for the bill. Voting can be done in three different ways: voice vote or what is also called viva voice, division, or the recorded voting where representatives vote electronically (House.gov, para. 5).
If the bill passes this step, it is taken to the higher level which is the senate. At the senate, it goes through just as many steps as it went through at the House of Representatives. However, senators only vote by voice where those for the bill say “yea” while those opposed say “nay”. If the bill passes this level, it goes to the last step which is the president’s approval. At this point, the president can make one of these three decisions: sign the bill and make it a law, veto or decline from signing the bill at which step it is taken back to the House of Representatives with the president’s reason for disapproval. Lastly, the president can do what is called pocketing the veto. That is, he does nothing, and if Congress is in session, the bill matures into a law in ten days. If not, it does not become a law.
House.gov. ‘How Laws are Made.’ Office of the Clerk, 2012. Web, 8th Oct. 2012, http://kids.clerk.house.gov/grade-school/lesson.html?intID=17
New Jersey Legislature. ‘How a Bill Becomes a Law.’ New Jersey Legislature, 2012. 8th Oct. 2012, http://www.njleg.state.nj.us/kids/howbill.asp
Vote Smart. ‘Government 101: How a Bill Becomes a Law.’ Votesmart.org, 2012. 8th Oct. 2012, http://votesmart.org/education/how-a-bill-becomes-law#.UHLqHa77by6
West Virginia Legislature. ‘How a Bill Becomes a Law.’ West Virginia’s Office of Reference and Information, 2012. Web, 8th Oct. 2012, http://www.legis.state.wv.us/Educational/Bill_Becomes_Law/Bill_Becomes_Law.cfm