by Patti Dahlberg
Every “i” has been dotted, every “t” has been crossed. A bill has been drafted, redrafted, discussed among colleagues and stakeholders, and then redrafted again. It’s time to introduce the bill into prime time! This first version of the bill, not surprisingly, is called the introduced (or printed) bill. After introduction, a bill may proceed through the legislative process without amendment or it may be heavily amended at every stage. Either way, each floor action on a bill will create a new version of the bill, leaving it with a new name and a stamp indicating where the bill is in the process, the date it was considered, and whether it was amended.
House Rule No. 29 describes the course of a bill that is introduced in the House, and Senate Rule No. 25 describes the course of a Senate bill. Members may propose amendments to a bill when the bill is considered by the committee of reference to which it is assigned or when the bill is considered on second or third reading. Amendments made in the House are indicated in subsequent versions of the bill using shaded text and amendments made in the Senate are indicated with double-underlined text.
The “version” of a bill indicates where it is in the process. Bills have different names, or versions, depending on where they are in the legislative process. To become law, each bill must be passed, with exactly the same wording, by both chambers. The version of a bill (as indicated on the upper right side on the first page) changes as the bill progresses through each official step: introduction, passage on second reading, and third reading final passage in the first house or “house of origin”; and introduction, second reading, and third reading final passage in the second house.
The stamps (see examples to the right), starting in the lower left margin of the bill, are boxed tidbits of information indicating in which chamber something occurred, the date it happened, and what happened. When the bill version names are replaced at each step of the process the stamps remain — leaving a trail of history on the bill.
Bills are identified at different stages of the legislative process by the following terms:
(1) Introduced (or Printed) bill. This is the bill as introduced, before any amendments are made to it. This is the initial version of the bill that is read into the record and assigned to a committee of reference for consideration in the house of origin.
(2) Preamended bill. This is an unofficial version of a bill that is released when the bill passes with amendments out of a committee of reference or out of the appropriations committee. The preamended version helps interested parties see how the bill reads with the amendments the committee adopted enrolled into the bill. But these changes, and every preamended version of the bill, are unofficial because they have not yet been adopted by the full house of origin. When a committee passes a bill and refers it to the Committee of the Whole of the house of origin, the bill moves to the second reading phase of the legislative process. During second reading, the house of origin considers the committee of reference report, which includes all of the amendments the committee adopted. The house of origin may adopt, amend, or reject the amendments made by the committee of reference. Then, the house of origin may adopt additional amendments before it finally passes, or kills, the bill.
(3) Engrossed bill. After the house of origin adopts the bill on second reading, all of the amendments adopted up to that point are enrolled into the introduced version of the bill, and the new version is known as the “engrossed bill.” Note: If the house of origin has not amended the introduced version of a bill, the introduced version of the bill becomes the engrossed bill.
(4) Reengrossed bill. Once the house of origin passes the bill on third and final reading, the bill goes through enrolling again, if necessary, so that it includes any additional amendments that were adopted on third reading. After third reading, the bill is known as the “reengrossed bill” and it includes all of the amendments made by the house of origin. The reengrossed version of the bill is transmitted to the second house for introduction and committee assignment. The reengrossed version of the bill is the version that the committee of reference considers, and may amend, in the second house.
(5) Preamended bill. If the committee of reference in the second house adopts amendments to the reengrossed bill, the staff creates a new preamended bill. As in the first house, this is an unofficial version of the bill that is designed to help interested parties see the committee amendments enrolled into the bill, but the changes are unofficial because they have not yet been adopted by the full second house. As in the first house, the second house will consider all bills referred to it by the committees of reference; it will adopt, amend, or reject the committee amendments; and it may adopt additional amendments before it finally passes, or kills, the bill.
(6) Revised bill. After the second house adopts the bill on second reading, all of the amendments adopted by the second house are enrolled into the reengrossed version of the bill, and the new version is known as the “revised bill.” Note: If the second house has not amended the reengrossed version of the bill, the reengrossed version becomes the revised version of the bill.
(7) Rerevised bill. Once the second house passes the bill on third and final reading, the bill goes through enrolling again, if necessary, so that it includes any additional amendments that the second house adopted on third reading. After third reading, the bill is known as the “rerevised bill” and it includes all of the amendments made by the second house. If the bill was not amended in the second house, the bill is scheduled for enrollment and transmitted to the Governor for action. If the rerevised bill is different from the reengrossed bill, it is sent back to the house of origin. The House of origin must decide whether to concur in the second house’s amendments and readopt the bill, or reject the second house’s amendments and request a conference committee of the two houses to resolve the differences, or reject the second house’s amendments and adhere to its own reengrossed version of the bill. Once the two houses have resolved the differences between them and adopted the same bill, the bill can be scheduled for enrollment and transmitted to the Governor for action.
(8) Enrolled bill and Final Act. The final version of the bill as adopted by both houses is known as the “enrolled bill.” This version is signed by the Speaker of the House and the President of the Senate and transmitted to Governor for action. The version known as the “final act” is the version that becomes law, either with or without the signature of Governor, unless the Governor chooses to veto it.