How a Bill Becomes Law
A Bill is Drafted
An idea for a bill is submitted to a legislative staff attorney by a Legislator or a state or local governmental agency to be drafted into written form. The bill drafting attorney translates the concept assuring clear meaning and compatibility with the Nevada State Constitution and other laws.
All bills follow strict Nevada Constitutional Rules (Article 4, Section 18) as well as rules established by the two Houses. Constitutionally, all bills must be read three times, and each reading must be on different days. Should a bill be read more than once on the same day or one of the mandatory readings eliminated, the House must vote to suspend the constitutional rule, and the vote must pass by two-thirds of the elected members of the House to do so (Senate = 14 votes; Assembly = 28 votes).
A Legislator or Legislative Standing Committee Chair introduces the bill in one House of the Legislature where it is assigned a number, read aloud and referred to a Committee. This is the first constitutional reading of a bill and the beginning of the legislative process.
The Committee schedules a hearing to take testimony and gather information about the bill. If the Committee decides the bill has merit, the Committee may recommend the House take further action on the bill, most often, by recommending the House pass the bill or amend the bill.
Second Reading And Amendment
When a bill is reported out of Committee, it is read a second time, and if there are no amendments, the bill is ordered to the General File for its third reading and final passage. There is no debate allowed on the bill at this time as this reading is a constitutional formality.
However, if amendments are proposed to the bill, the amendments are considered and debated at this time.
- If the amendment is adopted, the bill is reprinted with the amended language and ordered to the General File for its third reading and final passage.
- If the amendment fails, the bill is ordered to General File for its third reading and final passage in its original format.
General File And Third Reading
On a bill’s third constitutional reading, the bill is debated by the full House. The bill may be passed, rejected or further amended.
- If the bill is passed, it is sent to the other House of the Legislature for further consideration.
- If the bill fails to pass, it is considered dead and there is no further consideration unless the House should reconsider or rescind its previous action.
- If the bill is amended on third reading, the bill will be reprinted with the amended language and placed on the General File for final consideration once again.
The bill goes through the same process of Introduction and First Reading, Referral to Committee and Second and Third Readings just as it did in the House of origin.
If the two Houses pass different versions of the bill and neither agrees to accept the other’s version, a Conference Committee is appointed from each House to try to reach an agreement.
- If agreement is attained, the bill is approved by both Houses and sent to the Governor.
- If agreement is not reached and approved by both Houses, the bill dies.
After the bill passes both Houses, it is written in its final form, signed by the officers of the two Houses and submitted to the Governor.
Governor’s Approval or Veto
When a bill is sent to the Governor, the Governor may sign the bill into law, veto it or let it become law without his signature.
If the Governor vetoes the bill, the bill is returned to the Legislature. A two-thirds vote of each House is necessary to override a Governor’s veto and pass the bill into law.
The Effective Date
If there is no specific date noted in the bill, a bill automatically becomes effective on October 1 of the year in which the bill is passed.