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Rutgers University, Newark School of Law
Bell, Bernard W.

Legislation Outline
–         How a Bill Becomes a Law
o       Power to legislate
§         Under Article I, Section 1 of the Constitution, laws will be enacted by elected representatives, not the people themselves
·        Requires bicameralism and presentment
§         Each House has a set of formal rules that are binding until changed
§         Informal norms and practices: folkways
o       Introduction of bills
§         Only legislators can introduce bills, but everyone gives them to legislators
§         Four aspects to policymaking
·        Setting the agenda (President is most powerful)
·        Specifying alternatives from which a policy choice is to be made
·        Choosing among the alternatives
·        Implementing the decision
§         Bills are routinely referred to standing committees by the presiding officer of the legislative chamber
·        Speaker must refer the bill to committee having jurisdiction over its subject matter
·        Parliamentarian (nonpartisan player) makes referral decisions using a weight-of-the-bill test to assign a proposal to the committee with the most compatible jurisdiction
·        Committees have the power of negation
o       Most bills never make it out of committee
o       Majority of the committee can compel the chair to place a bill on the agenda
o       House: majority can bypass a committee by filing a discharge petition calling for a measure to be brought to the floor
§         If half sign it, the bill is taken away from committee and brought to full House
§         Or, Speaker can call the standing committee on a Wednesday in alphabetical order to inquire whether the chairman wishes the House to consider any bill previously reported out of that committee
§         Any three members of a committee can request the chairman to call a meeting to consider the bill
§         Passes to Rules Committee
o       Senate: circumventing committee is easier because bills languishing in committees can be added as nonger

discharge bills that are pending in committee)
§         Bills may be called up and considered by the House under the suspension of the rules
·        This allows the House, with the consent of the Speaker, to consider a bill in an expedited fashion with no amendments or motions, but requires that the bill pass with a two-thirds vote
§         Can also take a bill out of order
o       Senate
§         Two calendars
·        Calendar of General Orders
·        Executive calendar (treaties, executive nominations)
§         Salient or time-sensitive bills will be considered before other bills ahead of them
·        Budget and appropriations bills are privileged
·        Reporting committee can request a special order from the Rules Committee to advance the bill for expedited floor consideration