State Governmental Relations at the University of Virginia


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P.O. Box 400300
Charlottesville, VA
22904-4300

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The Rotunda
NE Wing
Charlottesville, VA
22904

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 434-924-3377
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 434-924-4778
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LEGISLATIVE SESSION Glossary of Frequently Used Terms

Acts of Assembly
Annual publication that includes all bills passed by the General Assembly and signed by the Governor and resolutions adopted by the General Assembly that amend the Constitution of Virginia. All bills and applicable resolutions are assigned chapter numbers according to the date they become law.

 

Amendment
A proposed change that inserts and/or strikes language from the legislation. Amendments are offered by a standing committee, a member, a committee of conference, or the Governor.

 

Amendment in the Nature of a Substitute
The redrafting of legislation that incorporates proposed changes in a new version, often referred to as a "substitute." Substitutes are offered by a standing committee, a member, a committee of conference, or the Governor.

 

Biennium
A two-year term of legislative activity, usually used in association with the terms of the appropriations act (budget bill) and the members of the House of Delegates.

 

Bill
A proposal to amend, repeal, or add sections to the Code of Virginia.

 

Bill Status (also known as the Legislative Information System [LIS])
Database for tracking legislation and daily activities of the General Assembly (contains session information beginning with the 1994 Regular Session).

 

Budget Bill
Recommended appropriations of state revenue presented by the Governor to the General Assembly.

 

Chapter
A bill passed by the General Assembly and signed into law by the Governor or passed notwithstanding the Governor's objections or amendments and a resolution adopted by the General Assembly amending the Constitution of Virginia.

 

Code of Virginia
A compilation of the laws of the Commonwealth that is arranged alphabetically by subject.

 

Committee
A group of legislators from the House of Delegates or the Senate appointed for the purpose of considering legislation.

 

Committee Actions
Continued/Carried over - Action taken in an even-numbered year to postpone the consideration of a measure until the next regular session of the General Assembly.
Failed to Report (Defeated) - The rejection of a motion to report a bill to the full chamber.
Incorporate - Action taken to combine one or more measures into another.
No Action Taken - No motion is made on the bill which results in its defeat at the time of the committee deadline.
Passed By Indefinitely (PBI) - Action to allow a committee to reconsider legislation at a later meeting. If the committee takes no further action, the bill is dead.
Passed by with letter - Action by which a committee requests a state agency or committee to study or provide additional information on a measure. The legislation is no longer viable in the current session but is often reintroduced at a subsequent session.
Referred - The assignment of legislation to another standing committee with no stance on the policy of the measure (neither endorses nor rejects the legislation).
Reported - The approval of a measure by the majority of the committee. The legislation may be reported by the committee with or without amendments. A bill may also be reported and referred to another committee.
Reported and Referred - The approval of a bill or resolution by a majority of a committee and assignment of the legislation to another standing committee for its consideration.
Stricken - Legislation removed from a committee's docket, frequently at the request of the patron.

 

Committee Docket
A list of legislation pending before a standing committee or a subcommittee. The order in which bills are taken up is determined by the chairman of the committee.

 

Committee of Conference (also known as Conference Committee)
A committee appointed to resolve differences between the houses on a specific bill or resolution, usually consisting of an equal number of members of the House and Senate.

 

Continued/Carried Over (also under Committee Actions)
Action taken in an even-numbered year to postpone the consideration of a measure until the next regular session of the General Assembly. Continued legislation retains its originally assigned number.

 

Crossover
Deadline for each house to act on its own legislation (excluding certain revenue measures and the Budget Bill).

 

Effective Date
Date on which a bill becomes a law. Unless otherwise specified, the effective date of bills passed during a regular session of the General Assembly is July 1.

 

Emergency Clause
Enactment clause that provides for the bill to become effective upon signing by the Governor or passed by the General Assembly notwithstanding the Governor's objections.

 

Enacted
Legislation passed into law.

 

Engrossed
Action taken by the house of origin after the second reading of legislation. If the bill is not amended, the introduced bill becomes the engrossed version; if line amendments are agreed to, the legislation is printed as the engrossed bill incorporating the agreed upon changes; and if a substitute is agreed to (with no line amendments), the substitute becomes the engrossed version bill.

 

Enrolled
Legislation that has passed both houses, been signed by the Speaker of the House and the President of the Senate. Once an enrolled bill is signed by the Governor, it becomes law and is assigned a chapter number for the Acts of Assembly.

 

Fiscal Impact Statement
Statements detailing the financial impact of legislation, accessible via the LIS bill history page.

 

Legislative Information System (also known as Bill Status)
Database for tracking legislation and daily activities of the General Assembly (contains session information beginning with the 1994 Regular Session).

 

Patron
The legislator who introduces a piece of legislation (sometimes referred to as the sponsor). Other legislators may show their support of the measure by signing on as co-patrons.

 

Prefiled
Legislation introduced prior to 10:00 a.m. on the first day of the General Assembly session.

 

President of the Senate
The presiding officer of the Senate, who is the Lieutenant Governor of Virginia.

 

Reading
The formal reading or printing in the Calendar of a bill required by the Constitution and the rules of each house. Unless waived, the Constitution requires that bills receive three readings/printings on three different days.

 

Recommital
Action taken by the Senate to reassign legislation to the committee that last considered the measure.

 

Reconvened Session
Session held on the sixth Wednesday after adjournment of each regular or special session to consider the Governor's proposed recommendations to and vetoes of bills passed by the General Assembly. Frequently referred to as the Veto Session.

 

Referral
The assignment of legislation to a committee by the Speaker in the House of Delegates and the Clerk in the Senate of Virginia.

 

Rereferral
Action taken by the House of Delegates to reassign legislation to the committee that last considered the measure. Action taken by a Senate committee or by the full Senate to assign legislation to a committee that has not previously considered the legislation.

 

Resolution
A resolution is a formal expression of a request, mandate, order, constitutional amendment, opinion, sense, feeling, or sentiment of one or both houses of the General Assembly. It may also direct the establishment or continuance of an interim legislative study by a special study commission, a subcommittee or joint subcommittee of a standing committee, or a state agency. A joint resolution may be initiated in either house and must have the concurrence of the both houses; a resolution expresses the sentiment of and is considered in the house in which it is introduced. Joint resolutions and resolutions do not have the force of law and do not require the signature of the Governor.

 

Speaker of the House of Delegates
The presiding officer of the House of Delegates, who is a member of the House and is elected by the membership to serve as the Speaker. The Speaker is elected for a two-year term at the beginning of each biennium.

 

Standing Committees
Regular committees of the House and Senate established by the rules of each house to consider legislation and perform certain legislative actions.

 

Subcommittee
Members of a standing committee appointed by the committee chairman to consider certain legislation and make recommendations to the full standing committee.

 

Veto
Action by which the Governor refuses to sign legislation passed by the General Assembly. A 2/3 vote of each body is required to override a veto.

 

Vote
Formal expression of will or decision by a legislative body. Links to recorded committee and floor votes are accessible via the LIS bill history page. Linkable action lines for recorded floor votes contain "VOTE" and the vote tally in parenthesis (refer to the immediately preceding line on the bill status page for the action on which the vote was taken); linkable action lines for recorded committee votes contain the action taken by the committee (see committee actions above) and the vote tally in parenthesis.