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A bill can be defined as an idea for a new law or an idea aimed at doing away with the existing law. Bills enter the legislative process through either the Senate or the House of Delegates. The legislature, such as the Mississippi Legislature always has the opportunity to ensure that bills are passed into laws to bring about a new dispensation or replace the existing laws. New laws are always adopted to ensure that there is efficiency and the required level of order is achieved in society. It is vital to note that bills must always pass through both chambers before becoming a law. This essay highlights the stages through which a bill passes to become a law.
First, a member brings the bill into the Senate or the House of Representatives. It is vital to note that all members have equal rights and any of them can sponsor a bill in the Senate. Individuals who bring the bill into the Senate are usually sponsors aimed at introducing a new law or changing the existing law to make it more effective. Simamba (2009) confirms that any other individual drawn from the Senate always has a chance to add his/her identity to the bill as a co-sponsor after the formal introduction of the bill is completed. At the introduction stage, the clerk assigns each bill a separate number that would be used to identify it throughout the legislative process.
Second, a special committee is appointed to spearhead the hearing process. The committee is always charged with the responsibility of hearing the bill and may conduct public hearings on it to seek the opinion of residents. In line with the opinions gathered, the committee could reject, pass, or take no action on the bill. The bill gets an opportunity to be marked up at this stage. The committee may also decide to make some relevant modifications and alterations to the bill and ensure that it meets the required standards before proceeding.
Third, the committee issues its report on the bill. The chairperson of the committee drafts a detailed report concerning the bill exemplifying its motives, significant history concerning the legislative, effect of the bill on the present laws and systems, and the opinion held by the majority committee members concerning the bill. Notably, dissatisfied members have a chance to present dissenting views in groups or as individuals. Walston-Dunham (2011) reiterates that this stage is vital as it ensures that the bill as discussed and amended in the previous stage is printed into a report.
Fourth, the bill is presented to the House for action. This is a crucial stage for the leader of the majority in the Senate and the Speaker to decide whether the bill would be brought to the full House for debating, modifications, and the ultimate passage. Several differing procedures are always put in place to govern the debate in the House and the Senate. Representatives are always limited to make amendments to bills meaning that they must seek effective permission from the Rules Committee, while matters are different in the Senate because a senator issues an adjustment to the bill without receiving a warning as long as it is done in line with the current bill. It is significant to note that any adjustment to the bill requires enormous support or otherwise it would be rejected. Amendments could also be accepted through building consensus and overall agreement among all individuals.
Fifth, the other chamber takes charge of the bill to continue with the process. After the bill has been given a green light by the Senate, the other chamber is charged with the responsibility of continuing with further debates and voting on the bill. It is important for members to adhere to the stated debating procedures in order to ensure that the required amendments are made appropriately. The other chamber may agree with the bill, reject, or amend before giving it a green light to the next stage.
Sixth, there is a conference on the bill. In cases where the other chamber makes only minimal alterations, the bill would have to be taken to the chamber where it is brought up for a supporting vote. In instances where there are significant differences between the versions adopted by the House and the Senate, another special committee is always appointed to harmonize the differences between the two versions and comes up with a single document that would be accepted by both parties. Simamba (2009) confirms that if a middle ground is reached, a special report is always prepared highlighting the recommendations of committee members for the required changes. Notably, the bill would only move to the next stage in cases where both the Senate and the House accept it. Otherwise, it would die at this stage hence restricting its progress.
The seventh stage is the governor’s action. After the bill has passed both chambers without any form of rejection, the governor is always charged with the responsibility of signing it into law. The governor must be careful to observe the deadlines needed for signing or declining to sign certain bills. In most occasions, the governor is required to sign or reject bills within five days. After the adjournment of the legislature, he/she is allowed fifteen days to act on most bills. Accordingly, the governor must respond to selected bills such as the bill on budget and the bill on supplemental appropriations within a period of five days without considering whether the legislature is adjourned or is in normal duty. In cases where the governor fails to act within the stated time, then bills become laws automatically without requiring his/her signature.
The last step is the overriding veto. A unanimous vote by members of both houses could still pass a bill that was initially rejected by a governor. Walston-Dunham (2011) opines that in cases where the governor rejects significant bills, such as the bill on budget and the bill on supplemental appropriation, an enormous vote by members from both houses would be required to overturn the governor’s veto. Therefore, a governor must be careful before placing a veto on any bill brought for signing into law.
In conclusion, bills are significant ideas that are always aimed at introducing new laws or replacing the existing laws. They always have to undergo different procedures before the governor gets the opportunity to sign them into an existing legislature. In cases where the governor vetoes certain bills and both houses do not agree, then they would override the veto and ensure that the bill becomes a law.
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