Legislative terms you should know
The schools all have powerful lobbying organizations, but parents often do not and often lack the basic knowledge on how the legislative system works. In order to fight for your child’s rights, you need to know how the system works and how you can use it to help protect your family’s rights.
Amendment Any alteration to an original introduced bill proposed by either a committee or a legislator.
BDDS Bureau of Developmental Disability Services
Chamber Another word for House of Representatives or Senate. Also refers to the actual room where legislative action takes place.
Citizen Legislature Indiana’s General Assembly is classified as a citizen legislature. Lawmaking is not a full-time profession for the state’s legislators. The most common occupations of Indiana legislators are attorneys, teachers, business owners and farmers.
Concurrence Essentially, an agreement. The Senate and House must approve identical versions of a bill before it can become law. When a version of the bill has passed on house, it is sent to the other house for approval. The second house either concurs with the bill or makes its own amendments. If the Senate and House do not agree on an identical version, the bill is sent to a conference committee.
Conference Committee For a bill to become law, it must be passed by both the House and Senate in the same form. If amendments are added to a bill in the second house and passed, a conference committee consisting of members of both houses in appointed to resolve the differences. If the conferees reach a compromise, the chambers vote on whether to accept the conference committee’s decision. Generally, conference committees are comprised of two legislators from each chamber appointed by the president pro tempore of the Senate and the speaker of the House. If the committee is unable to reach a compromise, the bill dies.
DDRS Division of Disability and Rehabilitation Services
Enacted A Bill is enacted when it is signed into law by the governor.
Engrossed Bill After a bill has passed second reading it is “ordered to engrossment,” or authenticated as the correct genuine bill to be considered on third reading.
Enrolled Act After a bill has passed both houses in the same form, it is considered an enrolled act and ready for consideration by the governor.
First Reading When a bill is introduced, it is ready for the first time and then referred to a standing committee to be considered.
First Regular Session or Long Session The first session of every new General Assembly can last up to 61 working (session) days. Beginning in early January, this session cannot extend beyond April 30. Occurring in odd-numbered years, the first regular session is often called the “long session” because of the legislative approval process of Indiana’s biennial budget.
FSSA Family and Social Services Administration
General Assembly This refers to the joint meeting of the Senate and the House of Representatives during two consecutive years. General Assembly is also used as a synonym for the combined house of the Indiana legislature.
Germane committee action and amendments to a bill must be germane (relevant) to the subject matter of the original bill in which they are inserted. Amendments or committee actions ruled not germane are disregarded and do not receive consideration by the House or Senate.
Gerrymander To draw district boundary lines in a way that favors a particular candidate or political party or reduces the voting power of a minority group.
House Bill (HB) A bill that is introduced by a State Representative and originates in the House.
House Enrolled Act (HEA) A house bill that has passed both the House and Senate.
Interim Study Committees Meeting during the months between sessions (interim), these committees study relevant issues and recommend legislation, if the committee members deem it necessary. The subjects often are suggested by legislators in the form of resolutions, but the committees are created by the Legislative Council.
Legislative Services Agency (LSA) A non-partisan state agency whose duties include bill drafting, research, code revision, and fiscal, budgetary and management analysis. Employees of the LSA assist interim and standing committees, as well.
OMPP Office of Medicaid Policy and Planning
Originating Chamber The chamber, either the Senate or House of Representatives, in when a bill is first introduced.
Resolution Generally used for congratulatory or honorary purposes, resolutions are introduced and voted upon by the Senate or House of Representative. Although they do not have the force of law when passed, resolutions also can suggest possible subjects for study in interim study committees or recommend future legislation. Most resolutions are considered symbolic and, when passed, denote the approval of the subject matter by the legislative body. Joint resolutions also can be introduced and considered by both the Senate and House of Representatives.
Roll Call This refers to the voting procedure. Before electronic voting machines were installed in the House and Senate chambers, a clerk would read the roll call and the legislators would register their decisions by voice votes. Today, an electronic board lists the names of the legislators. Individual votes are registered when legislators select “aye” or “nay” votes via buttons on their desk.
Second Reading After the bill has been printed, adding any amendments proposed by the standing committee, it is eligible for second reading. All legislators are allowed to offer amendments to the bill at this time.
Second Regular Session or Short Session Occurring in even-numbered years, the second regular session (“short session”) can extend for up to 30 working (session) days, but not beyond March 15.
Senate Bill (SB) A bill that is introduced by a State Senator and originates in the Senate.
Senate Enrolled Act (SEA) A senate bill that has passed both the Senate and House.
Session Day A session day constitutes a working say for the Indiana Senate and House of Representatives. Not necessarily consecutive calendar days, legislators may recess for varying periods of time between working days. It should also be noted that, under certain circumstances, a session day may span more than one calendar day.
Special Session A special session may be called by the governor if he or she feels “the public welfare shall require” such a meeting of the legislature. A special session is limited to 30 session days during a period of 40 calendar days.
Standing Committees These committees consider bills after they have been introduced. The Committees, which exists in both houses of the legislature, cover specific fields of interest such as agriculture, education, labor, public health and the judiciary. Committee meetings are open to the public so interested citizens and affected organizations can offer arguments for or against proposed legislation.
Stripping a Bill Occasionally, the original contents of a bill are taken out and replaced with new language. This can be done in committee or by amendments. This procedure is only allowed, however if the new contents are relevant to the original subject matter of the bill.
Third House Meeting A public meeting that takes place in a Legislator’s District. General on Saturday or Monday mornings during the months the Indiana General Assembly is in session.
Third Reading This refers to the point at which a bill undergoes final passage or rejection by a roll call vote of the members of the House or Senate. A floor debate to discuss the merits of the legislation generally precedes the final vote.
Veto After a bill has been passed by both houses in the same form, it is eligible to the governor to be signed into law. If the Governor rejects the bill, he issues a veto. A veto bill can be overridden by a constitutional majority (two-thirds) in both houses.
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