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Legislative Process

Major print and online sources for the study of the legislative process, including bill drafting, lobbying, and statutory interpretation

GA: How a Bill Becomes a Law

The process for a bill becoming a law in the GA General Assembly is similar to the passing of federal laws.

The General Assembly consists of two houses:  a Senate and a House of Representatives elected by districts within the state. Similar to Congress, a senator or representative introduces a proposed change in legislation to their legislative body.  If this occurs before the session begins, it is called a "Prefile."  It is given a number along with a prefix—H.B. (for House bill) or S.B. (for Senate bill). 

The bill is sent to the appropriate Committee for study.  The committee studies the bill and convenes hearings if necessary.  All bills introduced at a session must be assigned to a standing committee and receive a favorable report from that committee before being considered on the floor by the full voting body of the House or Senate.

During this process changes can be made to the bill in committee as well as on the floor in the form of amendments.  The legislature votes on the final version of the bill, and if a majority vote yes, then the bill is sent to the other house and the process starts all over again.  In order for the bill to pass, an identical bill must be approved by each house of the General Assembly.  If changes are made by the next house, then the bill has to go back to originating legislature to be voted upon again.  If the two houses can not agree on the changes, a committee from both houses is set up to hammer out a compromise.

The last stage in the process is consideration by the governor.  The governor has forty days to decide whether to sign the bill into law, veto the bill (in which event it is returned to the house where it was introduced for veto override consideration), or do nothing (which allows the bill to become law automatically at the end of the forty-day period).

Futher information:

Tracking Legislation in the General Assembly

More information about the process from NGE