Home Process

Legislative Terms

A proposed law or a proposed amendment, addition, or repeal of an existing
law introduced in the Legislature for consideration

A resident of a legislator’s district

A person, often acting as an agent for an organized group or interest, who seeks to bring about the passage or defeat of legislative bills or to influence the contents.

Attorney General
Serves as the chief law enforcement officer of the state and legal counselto the Governor and state agencies.

Special Committee
A committee created by resolution or appointed by a legislative leader on a temporary basis to investigate or study a specific situation. A special committee may consist of members of one or both chambers of the Legislature.

The Process

Short version…

Bill Drafting
The process starts when someone decides current law needs revision. A bill is drafted, which is essentially a list of changes to the existing compiled state statutes and code that may add, strike, or amend the text to confer new purpose, restrictions, etc.

The bill is introduced into the first chamber. This often entails the chamber Clerk and registering the official introductory draft of the legislation.

Read First / Read Second
The definition of “read” varies however rare is the instance that the bill is read verbatim on the chamber floor. At this stage a synopsis of the legislation is presented and any initial discussion or decisions on the merit of the bill may be decided and then the bill typically referred to one or more committees to continue the life process of the bill.

In most states committees do the bulk of the legislative debate, modification. They are specialized by area of oversight or expertise and will discuss and research the bill, potentially amending or substituting a new draft. The committee typically recommends to the Committee of the Whole, another way of saying the entire chamber, that the bill either Pass or Do Not Pass.

Passage Vote for Engrossment
After a bill has been ‘read’ a third time it is put to a vote for passage out of the originating house. If the vote passes the bill is then considered to be Engrossed and it sent to the other chamber of the legislative body.

Rinse and Repeat
The process then repeats itself from Introduction to Third reading in the second legislative chamber.

Passage Vote for Enrollment
Once the bill gets to third reading there is another vote for passage. Should it pass then the bill normally will be considered to be Enrolled. This version of the bill text is what will be sent to the Governor and will be codified by the Secretary of State as part of the official Chapter and Acts.

Sent to Governor
In states where Governor approval is required, the Enrolled bill is sent to the Governor. This may be ceremonial, or the Governor may have the power to veto the bill, or if left unsigned for a fixed period of time is de facto approved.


Long version

How the Michigan Legislature Is Set Up
The Michigan Legislature, like the U.S. Congress at the federal level of government, is bicameral. The Michigan Legislature is made up of two chambers: the Senate and the House of Representatives.

How an Idea Becomes a Bill in Michigan:
The legislator works with the public to conceive ideas for new legislation. The legislator will work with many different groups and special interests to carry out the process to create new legislation to address public needs. Groups such as labor, business, the legal & medical professions, teachers, farmers, and veterans have long been recognized as special interests due to well-established organizations. In recent years, there has been a noticeable increase in the development of new professional multi-client lobbying organizations that work to influence legislation with deep pocket financial resources. Many large corporate lobby groups represent different industrial interests; some of the biggest are the pharmaceuticals industry, the energy industry (i.e. oil, coal, nuclear, alternative), the insurance industry, and the banking industry.

Corporate lobby groups have achieved a landmark victory in how they can finance themselves under the guise of free speech through something called a SuperPac because of the Citizens United vs Federal Elections Commission decision in the United States Supreme Court. Any domestic corporation, foreign corporation, or foreign government can now spend an unlimited amount of funds to influence US elections because of Citizens United vs FEC. Justice Stevens cautioned Americans when he wrote in his dissenting opinion:
Citizens United vs FEC threatens to undermine the integrity of elected institutions across the Nation. The path it has taken to reach its outcome will, I fear, do damage to this institution. A democracy cannot function effectively when its constituent members believe laws are being bought and sold.

How a Michigan Bill Becomes a Law:
Bills may be introduced in either house of the Michigan Legislature. Senate bills are filed with the Secretary of the Senate and House bills are filed with the Office of the Clerk of the House. Upon introduction, bills are assigned a number. At the beginning of each biennial session, House bills are numbered consecutively starting with House Bill Number 4001 and Senate bills are numbered starting with Senate Bill Number 1. In both houses, joint resolutions are assigned a letter.

Once introduced, a bill is then referred to committee. In the House, the Speaker of the House refers the bill to committee and in the Senate the bill is assigned to committee by the Majority Leader. In committee review, the bill is debated and discussed. In both houses, a majority vote of members in the committee is required for the bill to be reported.

If a bill is reported from committee favorably with or without amendment or in the form of a substitute bill, the committee report is printed in the journal under the order of business entitled “Reports of Standing Committees” in the House, and in the Senate under “Committee Reports.” Journals are the official records of the actions of the House of Representatives and the Senate. Those records are published online here following each day’s session. Upon being reported favorably from committee, the bill and recommended committee amendment (if any) are placed on the order of “General Orders” in the Senate. In the House, the bill and amendments are referred to the order of

“Second Reading.”
At the conclusion of Third Reading, the bill is either passed or defeated by a roll call vote of the majority of the members elected and serving (pursuant to the State Constitution, approval of certain measures requires a two-thirds or three-quarters vote) or one of the following four options is exercised to delay final action on the bill:

The bill is returned to committee for further consideration;
Consideration of the bill is postponed indefinitely;
Consideration is postponed until a certain date; or
The bill is tabled.

Following either passage or defeat of a bill, a legislator may move for reconsideration of the vote by which the bill was passed or defeated. (A motion to reconsider can be made for any question.) In the Senate, the motion for reconsideration must be made within the following two session days; in the House, the motion must be made by the next succeeding session day.

If a bill passes, it is sent to the other house of the Legislature where the bill follows the same procedures described above, resulting in defeat or passage. If a bill is passed by both houses in identical form, the bill is ordered enrolled by the house in which the bill originated.

Following enrollment and printing, the bill is sent to the Governor. Upon receipt of an enrolled bill, the Governor has 14 days to consider the bill. The Governor may:

Sign the bill, which then either becomes law at the expiration of 90 days after the Legislature adjourns sine die (without day) or on a date beyond the ninetieth day specified in the bill. If the bill has been given immediate effect by a two-thirds vote of the members elected to and serving in each house, the bill will become law after the Governor signs the bill and files it with the Secretary of State or on a day specified in the bill.
Veto the bill and return it to the house of origin with a message stating the Governor’s objections.
Choose not to sign or veto the bill. If the bill is neither signed nor vetoed, the bill becomes law 14 days after having reached the Governor’s desk if the Legislature is in session or in recess. If the Legislature should adjourn sine die before the end of the 14 days, the unsigned bill does not become law. If the Legislature has adjourned by the time the bill reaches the Governor, he or she has 14 days to consider the bill. If the Governor fails to approve the bill, it does not become law.

Tracking A Bill
Read the legislation before you read someone’s opinion on it. It’s really not that hard to read the bills and it does you no good to shy away from reading the actual text of the bill. Don’t get discouraged at first if you find reading legislation cumbersome or difficult. The more bills and laws you read, the more you get comfortable reading them and the intimidation fades quickly. But where is the bill? How do you find the bill you want to read? Here you read & track a bill through the Michigan Legislature:


Michigan Compiled Laws