How a Bill Becomes a Law
Politics. In the current atmosphere, this word often evokes negativity. Like it or not, politics affects all of us. The decision not to go 55 in a 45 MPH zone is one example of how laws effect our choices. Each year the legislature convenes and considers thousands of bills.
As a REALTOR®, you should know what goes into creating these laws.
Simply put, a law is an idea. Back when I was an intern at the Arizona State Legislature, we were taught that an idea on a cocktail napkin could make it to the governor’s desk. Regardless of where the idea comes from, there is a path that each bill must take in order to become law.
An association, lobbyist or citizen must first take the idea to a legislator and convince him or her that it’s worthy of becoming law. If the legislator agrees to sponsor the bill, it gets drafted by a group of seasoned attorneys at Legislative Council and then returned to the legislator for additional signatures called “co-sponsors.”
Basically, co-sponsors are other legislators that agree the bill is a good idea and they lend their support by “signing on.” Once the original legislator determines there are enough co-sponsors, the bill gets dropped in the Hopper — an inbox in the Chief Clerk’s Office, where the bill is assigned a number.
If the bill is introduced in the House by a representative, it starts with HB 2###; if in the Senate, it begins with SB 1### — this is a real quick-and-easy way to determine where the bill began its journey.
From there, the bill is assigned to a committee, or multiple committees, based on the subject matter of the legislation. As your lobbyist, it is my job to educate the members of these committee on the merits of the legislation. That way, once it receives a committee hearing, the legislators understand the need to vote in support of, or in opposition to, the bill.
Should the bill makes it through the committee process, it goes to Caucus. Caucus is an opportunity for Democratic and Republican members to discuss the bill in a format that is open to the public, but separated by political party. This is often times where necessary adjustments to the legislation can be examined and prepared prior to being presented to the Committee of the Whole (COW).
COW is the next stop after both caucuses; as the name suggests, it means a gathering of the entire legislative body, House or Senate. This is also a time where the bill can be amended further before it proceeds to Third Read, which is a vote by the whole (House or Senate) body. If the bill passes on Third Read, it is transmitted to the opposite chamber where it continues through the committee process, COW and Third Reading again.
Assuming the bill has made it to this point, it is a fully-vetted idea and now ready for the Final Read, to be voted on and, if approved, sent to the governor for a signature or veto. As AAR’s vice president of Government Affairs, I monitor this process every year on multiple pieces of legislation, not only for Arizona REALTORS®, but homeowners statewide.
In 2017, our state legislative session begins on January 9 and we invite you to join us on Tuesday, January 10 for our annual Arizona REALTORS® at the Capitol event. To get in front of your legislator and take the lead on protecting the real estate industry in Arizona, keep an eye on the VOICE or AAA’s online calendar for your invitation to join us.
Related video: https://youtu.be/53SYK_3zCMATags: Arizona State Legislature, caucus, Chief Clerk's Office, Committee of the Whole, COW, Final Read, Legislative Council, REALTORS at the Capitol, Third Read