The Indiana General Assembly
The Indiana General Assembly, with the governor, is responsible for enacting laws by which the residents of our state must abide.
It has the authority to enact laws in any area not prohibited by Indiana's Constitution or by the U.S. Constitution. However, federal law can override state statute.
General Assembly Organization
The Indiana General Assembly is made up of two chambers, the House and the Senate. Legislators serving in the House are called Representatives, and members of the Senate are called Senators.
One legislator is elected from each of the 100 Statehouse districts and 50 state Senate districts in Indiana. Both House and Senate districts are determined by population.
Thus, each member of the House represents roughly the same number of voting age residents, and the same is true for each Senator. Because there are fewer Senate districts, Senators represent a larger number of residents than
Sessions of the General Assembly begin each year in January. Short sessions, held in even-numbered years, last up to 30 days and end by mid-March. Long sessions, held in odd-numbered years, last up to 61 days, ending in April.
Indiana's biennial budget is the reason for the differences in session lengths. The state budget is considered in the long session, providing more time for legislators to complete business on the state's finances as well as non-budgetary legislation. 2007 is a long session year.
How a Bill Becomes a Law
Click here to see a diagram of Indiana's process
A legislator drafts or authors legislation.
2. First Reading/Introduction:
The author files the bill for introduction in the chamber where he or she serves (either the House or Senate). The bill is then assigned a number and referred to a committee.
3. Committee Action:
Bills get referred to committees by subject matter. A committee can take no action on a bill, killing it (thus, the bill is "dead"). Or a committee can hold public hearings, debate, amend, and/or vote on the bill. If the bill is approved by the committee, it moves on to the full chamber or "floor" for action.
4. Second Reading/Floor Action:
The chamber can choose to not act on the bill, killing it. Or it can debate, amend and/or send the bill to a vote. The chamber can also recommit the bill to a committee, sending it back through the previous step.
5. Third Reading/Votes:
The chamber debates the bill, and upon close of debate, takes a roll call vote. If the bill is approved, it is sent to the other chamber for consideration.
6. Second Chamber Consideration:
A legislator from this chamber "sponsors" the bill and shepherds it through under the same process above.
7. Enrollment/Conference Committee:
A bill that passes in identical form in both chambers is considered "enrolled." It is then ready to be sent to the governor for action. If the second chamber amends the bill, the legislation must return to the first chamber for concurrence on those new amendments. If the first chamber agrees to the amendments, the bill is enrolled. If the first chamber does not agree to the new amendments, a "conference committee" is convened to resolve the differences in versions of the bill. (The conference committee is made up of members from both chambers.) The bill can die in conference committee if these differences are not resolved. Only when both chambers pass an identical bill can it be enrolled.
8. Governor's Action:
The governor may sign the bill, pass it without signing it, or veto it. If the governor signs the legislation or takes no action, the bill becomes law, effective on the date specified in the bill. If the bill is vetoed, it is returned with reasons to the General Assembly.
9. Veto Override:
The General Assembly may override a veto by passing the bill again in both houses by a majority vote in each chamber.
How You Can Help
Check out the Indiana General Assembly’s Website