Our democracy works best when citizens are actively involved in the political process.
Your input is crucial. As legislators, we know first hand that the legislative process is complicated and can seem confusing. This week I would like to give you an overview of how the process works in the General Assembly.
Thank you for your continued support. Please let me know if you need help with anything.
The General Assembly
The General Assembly is made up of two houses, the Senate and the House of Representatives. There are 120 members of the House who each represent a house district. The regular long session begins in January of each odd-numbered year. We then reconvene for the short session in the next even year. During session, we meet Monday-Thursday.
Each session the Speaker of the House appoints members of the House to serve on legislative committees. These committees consider different subject matters, and legislators can serve on several committees.
I serve on the following committees:
I have served or currently serve on the following appointed committees, commissions or boards:
The First Reading
As a representative, it is my job to pass laws to benefit the state and its residents. When there are ideas for a new law, I can draft a bill to introduce in the House of Representatives. Senators introduce their bills in the Senate. The bill is first filed in the Principal Clerk’s office, where it is assigned a number. The bill sponsor will then introduce that bill during a full session of the chamber. The Reading Clerk reads the name of the sponsor, the bill, and the bill number for the first reading.
The Speaker then assigns the bill to a committee for review. The members of the committee debate the merits of the bill and can make changes to it. If the committee approves the bill, it is put on the House calendar. The committee can also decide to assign the bill to a subcommittee or refer it to another committee.
The Second and Third Readings
When the bill is brought before the body, the bill sponsor will explain the bill. Other members are allowed to ask questions and debate the merits of the bill at this time. After the legislators have debated the bill, they take a vote in favor or against the bill. If a majority of the legislators vote in favor of the bill, it has passed its second reading. The bill then goes to its third and final reading for a final vote. Legislators may also debate the bill at the third reading.
The Second House and Concurrence Amendments
If a bill passes its third reading in the chamber in which it was introduced, it then goes to the other chamber for approval and must go through the same approval process again. The bill can sit unheard or be voted down at any stage of this process. Members of the other chamber often suggest changes to the original version of the bill they receive. If the amended bill is approved, it returns to the originating chamber for review. The members of that chamber then decide whether to agree or disagree with these changes. If both chambers agree on the final version of the bill, the bill is enrolled and eligible to be signed into law. If the first chamber does not favor the changes, the presiding officer of each chamber — the Speaker in the House of Representatives and the President Pro Tempore in the Senate — appoints a conference committee to work out a compromise. If one of the bodies rejects the changes suggested by the conference committee, the presiding officers appoint new members who will try again to find a solution. If this fails, the bill dies.
Enrollment and Ratification
If the bill passes both chambers, it is enrolled. A full copy of the bill and its amendments will be presented to the presiding officers and the Governor to be signed. When the bill has been signed by everyone who needs to sign it, it is now a law and is considered ratified.
Veto and Publication
The Governor has the authority to veto some types of legislation. The Governor has 30 days after a session has adjourned to act on a bill. If the Governor decides to veto a bill after adjournment, he or she must call the General Assembly to reconvene. This is not necessary if a majority of members in both chambers sign a statement saying that it is not necessary to reconvene.
If a bill is vetoed, it is sent to the chamber where it was introduced. That chamber can override the veto if three-fifths of the present and voting members decide to do so. It must then be sent to the other chamber, which must also have a three-fifths majority before it can become a law.
When a bill becomes a law, it is enrolled as a chapter in the Session Laws of North Carolina.
Thank you for taking the time to learn more about our legislative process. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.
Please remember that you can visit the General Assembly’s website to look up bills, view lawmaker biographies and access other information.
Grant Writing Workshop
A grant writing workshop is tentatively scheduled for Tuesday, April 22, 2008, 10:00 AM-2:00 PM at the Vance-Granville Community College Civic Center in Henderson. Additional details will follow at a later time.
I plan to attend the following meetings/events:
Please invite me to attend your county, city, community or civic, etc. meetings or events.
As I’ve said many times before, I hope you will continue to let me know how you feel about the issues that are being debated by the North Carolina Legislature and the challenges you and your family are facing each day.
By working together, we can make Northampton, Vance and Warren Counties and all regions of North Carolina a better place to live, work and raise a family.