The Indiana legislature passes laws each year that effect the whole state. These may encompass everything from taxes to education to health to public safety. But how do bills originate and become laws in our state? Let’s take a brief look at the process.
It Starts with an Idea
Ideas for laws can come from practically anywhere. They may originate from a group, political party, public official, or citizens who bring the notion to their state legislator in the Indiana Senate or House of Representatives. The legislator then decides to author the bill and presents it to legal specialists to draft the bill’s language.
The Bill is Introduced
Once the bill is drafted, it is then introduced in the authoring legislator’s respective chamber (the House or Senate). If the bill is advanced after its first reading, it is assigned to a committee.
The Bill Moves to Committee
The committee holds hearings on the bill and may ask for additional comments. They may take a variety of actions on the bill including approving, amending, or rejecting the bill. A report is sent back to the originating chamber relating the actions taken. The representatives or senators may decide to incorporate any recommended changes from the committee and if so, the bill’s language is altered.
Second & Third Reading
The bill is now eligible for a second reading in the originating chamber at which time it may be amended and reworded to incorporate any changes. If it passes the second reading, it will then go to a third reading at which time a roll call is taken. A majority is needed to pass the bill (51 or more votes in the House and 26 or more in the Senate). If the bill does not achieve a majority, it is rejected.
The Bill Moves to the Other Chamber
Once the bill passes in its house of origin, it moves to the other legislative chamber and the process above is repeated. Just as in the originating chamber, the bill could die at any step along the way (first reading, committee, second reading or third reading.) And as previously noted, the bill may be amended along the way while advancing.
To The Governor’s Desk
If the bill advances through the second chamber (or amendments are approved in the originating chamber), it can go straight to the Governor’s desk for signature. Once the bill is signed by the Governor, it becomes law on the date specified in the body of the bill.
In the 2022 Indiana Legislative Session ending March 9th, 849 bills were introduced and 178 were passed into law.