Understanding the Legislative Process

Presented by Mindy Gould
Legislation Chair
Florida PTA
Florida’s Legislature is composed of two
The House and The Senate
Totaling 160 members
120 Members
80 Republicans/39 Democrats (1 vacant)
76 Republicans/44 Democrats (no longer a “super majority”)
Due to term limits, House members may be elected for up to
four terms (eight years) and Senate members two terms (eight
40 Members
28 Republicans/12 Democrats
26 Republicans/14 Democrats (no longer a “super majority”)
State Senators can be elected for up to two terms (eight years).
Former members can be elected again after a two year break.
The Speaker of the House is elected by the
representatives for a two-year term. The
Speaker has the power to preside over the
chamber during a session, to appoint
committee members and chairs of
committees, to influence the placement of
bills on the calendar, and to rule on
procedural motions. The Speaker pro
tempore presides if the Speaker leaves the
Chair or if there is a vacancy.
The Senate President is a constitutional
officer who leads the Florida Senate for a
two-year term. The President, who is elected
by members of the Senate, manages the
operations of the Senate and presides over its
sessions. The President’s many duties
include: selecting a Majority Leader,
appointing Senators to standing Senate
committees, appointing committee chairs,
and appointing citizens to a variety of boards
and commissions.
The Senate and the House of Representatives makes “rules” or
laws that govern our state.
Members of the legislature, Senators and Representatives, are
chosen by the citizens of Florida to represent them and the
area in which they live. These areas are call Districts.
Each member of the Florida Legislature must live in the
district that he or she represents and be at least 21 years old.
Each Senator and Representative is responsible for making
sure that the people who elected him or her have a voice in all
matters concerning the state.
In general, Senate bills are designated “SB” and are even numbered.
House bills are designated “HB” and are odd numbered.
All bills contain a title (“Relating to…”) and provides a brief
description of the bill and an enacting clause (“Be it enacted by the
After a bill has been introduced and assigned a number, it is
referred to the Committee which has jurisdiction over the issue. For
example: an Education bill would be referred to the Education PreK12 Committee in the Senate and the Education Committee in the
A bill must have a “matching” (identical or companion) bill in the
other house for it to move forward.
The Committee is the head of the Legislative process.
Committees do the fact-finding process.
The formation of committees breaks down the membership
into numerous small groups.
In the preliminary screening of a bill the committee will hear
from the Legislator who introduces the bill.
The Committee will also hear from other legislators who
either favor or oppose the bill.
Bills may be referred to more than one
committee and it may be split so that parts
are sent to different committees. Bills are
placed on the calendar of the committee to
which they have been assigned.
There are four types of Committees:
Standing Committees
Select Committees
Conference Committees
Joint Committees
Standing Committees are those with
continuing authority to consider matters
within their subject filed.
A Standing Committee may report a bill
favorably, unfavorably, or favorably with
Select Committees are created for the
purpose of dealing with a specific and usually
rather narrow situation.
Unlike Standing Committees that continue in
existence for the duration of the term, a
Select Committee usually goes out of
existence when the purpose of which it was
created has been accomplished.
A Conference Committee is actually two committees, one
appointed by the House Speaker and one by the Senate
President to resolve differences on a specific piece of
A majority of the members of the committee from each house
must agree before a Conference Report may be submitted to
the Senate and the House.
Amendments may NOT be offered to the Conference Report
and the report must be accepted or rejected in its entirety.
Joint Committees are composed of House and
Senate members and sometimes include nonlegislators.
They do not have the power to introduce or
act on legislation.
Their primary purpose is often administrative
but will, on occasion, involve policy matters.
Agriculture Committee
Banking and Insurance Committee
Budget Committee
Children, Families, & Elder Affairs Committee
Commerce & Tourism Committee
Communications, Energy, & Public Utilities Committee
Community Affairs Committee
Criminal Justice Committee
Education PreK-12 Committee
Environmental Preservation & Conservation Committee
Governmental Oversight & Accountability Committee
Health Regulation Committee
Higher Education Committee
Judiciary Committee
Military Affairs, Space, & Domestic Security Committee
Reapportionment Committee
Regulated Industries Committee
Rules Committee
Transportation Committee
Appropriations Committee
Economic Affairs Committee
Education Committee
Finance and Tax Committee
Health & Human Services Committee
Judiciary Committee
Redistricting Committee
Rules & Calendar Committee
State Affairs Committee
Throughout the committee process, a bill is
discussed and debated. Amendments or
changes can be added to the bill. This
process allows the idea to be thoroughly
discussed and debated by the legislators, the
public, and those specific people who the bill
will affect.
After passing out of committees the bill is
brought before the entire chamber of the
House and Senate.
Committees have several options when
considering a bill. They can:
Approve the bill
Defeat the bill
Choose to amend the bill
Bills must be “read” three (3) times in the chamber before being
voted on by the full chamber.
Once the bill has passed each of the committees to which it is
assigned, it is available to be voted on by the entire body of
A bill passes by receiving a majority of the votes in that chamber.
Each bill must be passed by both chambers before it becomes a
If a bill does not make it all the way through this process before
the end of session, the bill dies and must begin the process
anew the next year.
The bill is then sent to the Governor for signature into law.
If the Governor receives the bill during the 60 day Legislative
Session, he or she has 7 days from the date the bill is
presented to act on the piece of legislation. If the Governor
receives the bill after the conclusion of the Legislative
Session, he or she has 15 days to act.
The Governor has the following options:
SIGN = Bill becomes law
VETO = Returns to the house of origin. An Override of a veto
can be made with a 2/3 vote (super majority).
NOT ACT = Becomes law with his signature.
A bill can become law without the Governor’s signature if the
Governor takes no action for 15 days.
The Appropriations Bill, also known as the
Budget, is the ONLY bill that the legislature
is constitutionally required to pass during
If the budget is not passed, the session will
be extended, or “Special Session” will be
The budget MUST pass – unlike the budget
for the Federal Government.
Generally, each regular Legislative Session
convenes on the 1st Tuesday in March and
runs for 60 Calendar Days.
In a regular calendar year (except in a
redistricting year, as in 2012) Interim
Committee meetings begin in November and
run through February of the next year before
the beginning of the Legislative Session.
HB 1191 Relating to Parent Empowerment (Bileca)
1/03 – HOUSE – Filed
1/09 – HOUSE – Referred to K-20 Innovation Subcommittee, Rulemaking & Regulation Subcommittee;
Education Subcommittee
1/24 – HOUSE – Favorable with CS (Committee Substitute) by K-20 Innovation Subcommittee; 11 Yeas, 3
1/25 – HOUSE – Committee Substitute Text Filed
1/26 – HOUSE – Now in Rulemaking & Regulation Subcommittee
2/03 – HOUSE – Favorable with CS by Rulemaking & Regulation Subcommittee;
8 Yeas, 6 Nays
2/06 – HOUSE – Committee Substitute Text (C2) Filed
2/07 – HOUSE – Now in Education Committee
2/16 – HOUSE – Favorable with CS by Education Committee; 11 Yeas, 6 Nays
2/20 – HOUSE – Committee Substitute Text (C3) Filed
2/29 – HOUSE – Read Second Time
3/01 – HOUSE – Read Third Time; Amendment Failed; Passed 80 Yeas, 34 Nays
In Messages – Refers to the location of a bill passed by a chamber en route to or residing in the other
Chamber for consideration.
SB 1718 Relating to Parent Empowerment (Benacquisto)
1/06 – SENATE – Filed
1/17 – SENATE – Referred to Education PreK-12; Budget Subcommittee on
Education PreK-12 Appropriations; Budget
1/24 – SENATE – Committee Substitute (CS) Education PreK-12, 5 yeas 0 nays
1/25 – SENATE – Now in Budget Subcommittee on Education PreK-12
2/28 – SENATE – Favorable with 1 amendment, 4 yeas 3 nays
3/01 – SENATE – Read 1st time with CS (Committee Substitute)
3/06 – SENATE – Placed on Special Order calendar
3/08 – SENATE – Read 2nd time. Amendments adopted.
3/09 – SENATE – Read 3rd time. Failed 20 yeas 20 nays.
Florida PTA keeps you updated on all
legislative activity before and throughout the
legislativ session. We send out alerts when a
bill we are following, based on our position
statements, is up for a vote.
To keep informed and to “take action” sign up
for Florida PTA’s CapWiz system at:
Meet your Representatives at their district offices
Correspond with your Legislators
Make phone calls to your elected officials
Invite your Representatives to your school
Think of creative legislative campaigns for the
parents and students at your school
Get your friends and family members involved
Attend Town Hall meetings
FLORIDA PTA – www.floridapta.org
NATIONAL PTA – www.pta.org
FLORIDA SENATE – www.flsenate.gov
FLORIDA HOUSE – www.myfloridahouse.gov