Transcript Understanding the Legislative Process
Presented by Mindy Gould Legislation Chair Florida PTA
Florida’s Legislature is composed of two bodies:
The House and The Senate
Totaling 160 members
120 Members END OF PREVIOUS LEGISLATURE 80 Republicans/39 Democrats (1 vacant) CURRENT LEGISLATURE 76 Republicans/44 Democrats (no longer a “super majority”) Due to term limits, House members may be elected for up to four terms (eight years) and Senate members two terms (eight years)
40 Members END OF PREVIOUS LEGISLATURE 28 Republicans/12 Democrats CURRENT LEGISLATURE 26 Republicans/14 Democrats (no longer a “super majority”) State Senators can be elected for up to two terms (eight years).
Former members can be elected again after a two year break.
The Speaker of the House is elected by the representatives for a two-year term. The Speaker has the power to preside over the chamber during a session, to appoint committee members and chairs of committees, to influence the placement of bills on the calendar, and to rule on procedural motions. The Speaker pro tempore presides if the Speaker leaves the Chair or if there is a vacancy.
The Senate President is a constitutional officer who leads the Florida Senate for a two-year term. The President, who is elected by members of the Senate, manages the operations of the Senate and presides over its sessions. The President’s many duties include: selecting a Majority Leader, appointing Senators to standing Senate committees, appointing committee chairs, and appointing citizens to a variety of boards and commissions.
The Senate and the House of Representatives makes “rules” or laws that govern our state.
Members of the legislature, Senators and Representatives, are chosen by the citizens of Florida to represent them and the area in which they live. These areas are call Districts.
Each member of the Florida Legislature must live in the district that he or she represents and be at least 21 years old.
Each Senator and Representative is responsible for making sure that the people who elected him or her have a voice in all matters concerning the state.
In general, Senate bills are designated “SB” and are even numbered. House bills are designated “HB” and are odd numbered.
All bills contain a title (“Relating to…”) and provides a brief description of the bill and an enacting clause (“Be it enacted by the Legislation…”) After a bill has been introduced and assigned a number, it is referred to the Committee which has jurisdiction over the issue. For example: an Education bill would be referred to the Education PreK 12 Committee in the Senate and the Education Committee in the House.
A bill must have a “matching” (identical or companion) bill in the other house for it to move forward.
The Committee is the head of the Legislative process.
Committees do the fact-finding process.
The formation of committees breaks down the membership into numerous small groups.
In the preliminary screening of a bill the committee will hear from the Legislator who introduces the bill.
The Committee will also hear from other legislators who either favor or oppose the bill.
Bills may be referred to more than one committee and it may be split so that parts are sent to different committees. Bills are placed on the calendar of the committee to which they have been assigned.
There are four types of Committees:
Standing Committees Select Committees Conference Committees Joint Committees
Standing Committees are those with continuing authority to consider matters within their subject filed.
A Standing Committee may report a bill favorably, unfavorably, or favorably with amendments.
Select Committees are created for the purpose of dealing with a specific and usually rather narrow situation.
Unlike Standing Committees that continue in existence for the duration of the term, a Select Committee usually goes out of existence when the purpose of which it was created has been accomplished.
A Conference Committee is actually two committees, one appointed by the House Speaker and one by the Senate President to resolve differences on a specific piece of legislation.
A majority of the members of the committee from each house must agree before a Conference Report may be submitted to the Senate and the House.
Amendments may NOT be offered to the Conference Report and the report must be accepted or rejected in its entirety.
Joint Committees are composed of House and Senate members and sometimes include non legislators.
They do not have the power to introduce or act on legislation. Their primary purpose is often administrative but will, on occasion, involve policy matters.
Agriculture Committee Banking and Insurance Committee Budget Committee Children, Families, & Elder Affairs Committee Commerce & Tourism Committee Communications, Energy, & Public Utilities Committee Community Affairs Committee Criminal Justice Committee Education PreK-12 Committee Environmental Preservation & Conservation Committee Governmental Oversight & Accountability Committee Health Regulation Committee Higher Education Committee Judiciary Committee Military Affairs, Space, & Domestic Security Committee Reapportionment Committee Regulated Industries Committee Rules Committee Transportation Committee
Appropriations Committee Economic Affairs Committee Education Committee Finance and Tax Committee Health & Human Services Committee Judiciary Committee Redistricting Committee Rules & Calendar Committee State Affairs Committee
Throughout the committee process, a bill is discussed and debated. Amendments or changes can be added to the bill. This process allows the idea to be thoroughly discussed and debated by the legislators, the public, and those specific people who the bill will affect. After passing out of committees the bill is brought before the entire chamber of the House and Senate.
Committees have several options when considering a bill. They can: Approve the bill Defeat the bill Choose to amend the bill
Bills must be “read” three (3) times in the chamber before being voted on by the full chamber.
Once the bill has passed each of the committees to which it is assigned, it is available to be voted on by the entire body of members. A bill passes by receiving a majority of the votes in that chamber.
Each bill must be passed by both chambers before it becomes a law.
If a bill does not make it all the way through this process before the end of session, the bill dies and must begin the process anew the next year.
The bill is then sent to the Governor for signature into law.
If the Governor receives the bill during the 60 day Legislative Session, he or she has 7 days from the date the bill is presented to act on the piece of legislation. If the Governor receives the bill after the conclusion of the Legislative Session, he or she has 15 days to act.
The Governor has the following options: SIGN = Bill becomes law VETO = Returns to the house of origin. An Override of a veto can be made with a 2/3 vote (super majority).
NOT ACT = Becomes law with his signature.
A bill can become law without the Governor’s signature if the Governor takes no action for 15 days.
The Appropriations Bill, also known as the Budget, is the ONLY bill that the legislature is constitutionally required to pass during session.
If the budget is not passed, the session will be extended, or “Special Session” will be called.
The budget MUST pass – unlike the budget for the Federal Government.
Generally, each regular Legislative Session convenes on the 1 st Tuesday in March and runs for 60 Calendar Days.
In a regular calendar year (except in a redistricting year, as in 2012) Interim Committee meetings begin in November and run through February of the next year before the beginning of the Legislative Session.
HB 1191 Relating to Parent Empowerment (Bileca) 1/03 – HOUSE – Filed 1/09 – HOUSE – Referred to K-20 Innovation Subcommittee, Rulemaking & Regulation Subcommittee; Education Subcommittee 1/24 – HOUSE – Favorable with CS (Committee Substitute) by K-20 Innovation Subcommittee; 11 Yeas, 3 Nays 1/25 – HOUSE – Committee Substitute Text Filed 1/26 – HOUSE – Now in Rulemaking & Regulation Subcommittee 2/03 – HOUSE – Favorable with CS by Rulemaking & Regulation Subcommittee; 8 Yeas, 6 Nays 2/06 – HOUSE – Committee Substitute Text (C2) Filed 2/07 – HOUSE – Now in Education Committee 2/16 – HOUSE – Favorable with CS by Education Committee; 11 Yeas, 6 Nays 2/20 – HOUSE – Committee Substitute Text (C3) Filed 2/29 – HOUSE – Read Second Time 3/01 – HOUSE – Read Third Time; Amendment Failed; Passed 80 Yeas, 34 Nays In Messages – Refers to the location of a bill passed by a chamber en route to or residing in the other Chamber for consideration.
SB 1718 Relating to Parent Empowerment (Benacquisto) 1/06 – SENATE – Filed 1/17 – SENATE – Referred to Education PreK-12; Budget Subcommittee on Education PreK-12 Appropriations; Budget 1/24 – SENATE – Committee Substitute (CS) Education PreK-12, 5 yeas 0 nays 1/25 – SENATE – Now in Budget Subcommittee on Education PreK-12 2/28 – SENATE – Favorable with 1 amendment, 4 yeas 3 nays 3/01 – SENATE – Read 1 st time with CS (Committee Substitute) 3/06 – SENATE – Placed on Special Order calendar 3/08 – SENATE – Read 2 nd 3/09 – SENATE – Read 3 rd time. Amendments adopted.
time. Failed 20 yeas 20 nays.
Florida PTA keeps you updated on all legislative activity before and throughout the legislativ session. We send out alerts when a bill we are following, based on our position statements, is up for a vote. To keep informed and to “take action” sign up for Florida PTA’s CapWiz system at: http://www.floridapta.org/legislation
Meet your Representatives at their district offices Correspond with your Legislators Make phone calls to your elected officials Invite your Representatives to your school Think of creative legislative campaigns for the parents and students at your school Get your friends and family members involved Attend Town Hall meetings
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