How a Bill Becomes a Law
can think up an idea for a state law. If the person or
group wants that idea to actually become a law, they have
to tell the idea to a legislator (a senator or member of
the General Assembly).
the legislator likes the idea, he or she has it written
up as a bill. A bill is a proposal for a new law. People
at the Office of Legislative Services write bills. The
legislator who asks them to write it up becomes the sponsor
of the bill. Other legislators who like the bill may join
the legislator as co-sponsors.
the bill is ready to be looked at more closely to see if
it really should become a law. The introduction of the
bill in the legislature is the first step. Bills can be
introduced while the General Assembly or Senate is in session.
To introduce a bill, the Senate Secretary or General Assembly
Clerk reads the bill and its number, title, and sponsors'
that the bill has been introduced, it can go to a committee.
The committee closely studies the bill. Committees hold
meetings open to the public so that anyone can attend and
give his or her opinion about the bill. The members of
the committee might find that the bill has left out some
things or decide that some things in the bill might not
work. They can attach changes to the bill. These changes
are called amendments.
the committee has approved or amended the bill, it goes
back to the Senate or General Assembly for the second reading.
After this, it is up to the Senate President or Assembly
Speaker to schedule a debate and vote on the bill.
the day of the debate and vote arrives, the bill is read
for a third time. The senators or members of the Assembly
then publicly debate the bill, saying why the other legislators
should vote for or against the bill.
the debate, the vote is held. The bill needs to receive
a majority of votes in favor of it or else it is defeated.
A majority in the Senate is 21 votes. In the General Assembly
it is 41 votes.
the bill gets a majority of votes, it can now move on to
the other house of the legislature. If it started in the
Senate, it goes to the General Assembly. If it started
in the General Assembly, it goes to the Senate. The same
process -- committee, hearings, amendments, debate, and
vote -- is repeated in the other house.
the same bill also gets a majority of votes in the second
house, then it goes to the governor. The governor is the
head of the executive branch. If the governor signs the
bill or does not act on it within 45 days, it becomes the
law in the state of New Jersey. The law goes into effect
on July 4 of the next year or on a day stated in the bill.
governor can refuse to sign the bill. This is called a
veto. If the governor vetoes the bill, it goes back to
the legislature and does not become law unless the legislature
overrides the veto. The veto is overridden if the bill
receives a two-thirds majority vote in both houses. Two-thirds
majority is 27 votes in the Senate, and 54 in the General