Legislative Overview

The Legislative Process

In Florida, the bi-cameral legislature works very similarly to Congress. A Senator or Representative may have an idea for a new piece of legislation (or someone else may propose an idea to him or her). The Bill Drafting Service or the legislator draws up the language or text of the bill. The bill is then distributed to the Clerk of the House or the Secretary of the Senate, who gives it a number and prepares it for introduction.

After a bill has been introduced/read the first time, it is assigned to a committee.

The committee analyzes the proposed legislation, often conducting hearings to obtain information about the subject that the bill addresses. Once the committee has considered the pending law, it prepares a report, called a STAFF ANALYSIS. This document is one of the most important documents in Florida legislative histories. A staff analysis will usually describe the language of the bill and the differences between existing legislation and this new version. It will also discuss any economic impact that the proposed legislation will have.

Once the staff analysis is issued, the bill can then be either sent to another committee for more discussion (some bills involve more than one subject area and subsequently are evaluated by more than one committee) or sent to the general floor for a vote.

When a bill is presented on the floor, it becomes open for debate. These debates might offer a large amount of legislative intent information. When the discussions on the pending legislation have ceased, the chamber votes on the bill. If the bill passes, it is then transmitted to the other chamber where it begins the process again.

Often, this is when a bill gets amended. If a piece of proposed legislation gets amended, it must go back to the first chamber for approval. Once all of the amendments are completed, and both sides of the legislature have approved the bill, the next, and final, step is to send the legislation to the Governor for signature into law. A bill can become law without the governor's signature if the governor takes no action for 15 days.

When the legislation is finally approved, it becomes a session law. This new law is assigned a number and then sent back to a legislative committee to be codified into the Florida Statutes.