The Lawmaking Process
A bill is a proposed change or addition to the Ohio Revised Code - Ohio's laws. Suggestions for bills come from businesses, state agencies, legislators, private citizens, and interest groups. Lawmakers in either the House or Senate can introduce a bill.
The Legislative Service Commission prepares the first draft of a bill in proper form. The bill is then filed with the Senate Clerk or the Legislative Clerk in the House, who assigns it a bill number. Senate bills carry an SB prefix while House bill numbers are preceded by an HB.
The title of the bill is read on the House or Senate floor in a formal introduction called "first consideration". If the bill is introduced in the House, it is then sent to the Rules and Reference Committee where committee members decide which standing committee will receive the bill for further consideration. If the bill is introduced in the Senate, the Reference Committee assigns the bill to a standing committee.
Standing committees are the venue for the legislature's substantive work. Committees hold hearings to receive public testimony. During hearings, Ohio Chamber representatives, along with other lobbyists and members of the public, testify either for an interested party or against legislation. Complex bills may be referred to a subcommittee for in-depth study. After all testimony has been considered, the committee has several options: report the bill without changes; amend the bill and then report it; prepare a substitute bill; or indefinitely postpone action. If no action is taken by the committee before the end of the two-year legislative session, the bill dies. The "second consideration" of a bill occurs when the committee reports the bill back to the floor and amendments are read into the journal.
After a standing committee favorably reports a bill, the House Rules and Reference Committee or the Senate Rules Committee determines when it will be considered by the entire House or Senate. These committees issue a Calendar. The daily Calendar presents lawmakers with a list of bills to be debated during the floor session.
A bill receives "third consideration" when the full House or Senate considers it for passage. At this time, the bill's sponsor explains the content and purpose of the bill to other lawmakers. Members then debate the merits of the measure and can offer amendments. Lawmakers may pass, defeat, or postpone action.
A constitutional majority of 50 votes is required to pass most legislation in the House. In the Senate the constitutional majority is 17 votes. Emergency measures require a two-thirds majority of each body, while constitutional amendments demand a three-fifths majority for passage.
Although bills may be introduced in either the House or the Senate, they must be approved by both chambers before they can become law. For example, a bill passed by the House then goes to the Senate for hearings and floor action. The Senate may pass the bill as is, or amend it and send it back to the House for approval. If the House concurs (agrees with the Senate changes), the bill goes to the Governor for signature. If the House does not agree with changes, a conference committee of three members from each chamber works to resolve the differences.
The Ohio Constitution requires the Governor to consider each bill passed by the General Assembly. If the Governor approves the bill, it is signed and normally becomes effective after 90 days. Emergency and appropriation bills become effective immediately upon signature by the Governor. If the Governor fails to act on a bill within ten days of its receipt, the bill automatically becomes law as though it were signed and becomes effective 90 days after it is filed with the Secretary of State.
A gubernatorial veto sends the legislation back to the house of the General Assembly where it originated. If the General Assembly attempts to over-ride the Governor's veto, three-fifths of the members of each chamber must vote to override the veto and make the bill law. If the General Assembly does not attempt to over-ride the Governor's veto, the bill dies at the end of the two-year session.