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

Phone
 434-924-3377
Fax
 434-924-4778
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LEGISLATIVE SESSION Guide to the Legislative Process

How a Bill Becomes a Law (Process Maps)

 

A member of the House of Delegates or Senate introduces a bill, which is referred to a standing committee where the legislation is considered and debated in a public setting. After debate, the committee will either report the bill to the full house for its consideration or defeat the measure prohibiting it from further consideration.

 

Pursuant to the Constitution, each bill must receive three "readings" on three separate days. The first reading of a bill in the house of origin is perfunctory in nature; the bill title is printed in the daily Calendar or read by the Clerk and the bill automatically advances to its second reading. On second reading, a bill is both amendable and debatable. After debate, a vote is taken on the engrossment of the bill, which advances the bill to its third reading.

 

If a bill is amended on its second reading, it is reprinted in its final (engrossed) form for passage. On third reading, the bill title is again printed in the Calendar and when called up for consideration, a recorded vote is taken on the passage of the bill.

 

If passed, the bill is communicated to the other body for consideration. If a bill fails to pass, the legislation is not communicated to the other body, and the house of origin has three days to reconsider its action. If the bill is not reconsidered, the action stands and the bill is defeated.

 

Once communicated to the other body, a bill is read a first time or printed in the Calendar and referred to a committee. After consideration, the committee will either report the legislation to the full body for consideration or defeat the measure, thereby prohibiting further consideration. If reported, the bill returns to the full house on its second reading and automatically advances to its third reading when it will be amended and debated. At the conclusion of the debate, a recorded vote must be taken on the passage of the bill.

 

If the House amends a Senate bill or the Senate amends a House bill, and the house of origin disagrees with the amendment, a conference committee may be appointed to resolve the differences in the two houses.

 

All bills passed (enacted) by the General Assembly are presented to the Governor, who has thirty days to approve, veto, or amend legislation. The General Assembly reconvenes six weeks after adjournment sine die to consider the actions taken by the Governor. All bills excluding those vetoed by the Governor and not overridden by the General Assembly become law. The effective date of all bills unless otherwise stated is July 1.