Making Democracy Work for All! How a bill becomes law

The 2019 Legislative Session begins early this year on January 4th, 2019.

KGNU is partnering with the League of Women Voters of Boulder County on a monthly commentary series called Making Democracy Work for All! which focuses on educating listeners on the workings of state and local government and letting them know how they can get involved at different stages of the political process.

This month League member Jeannette Hillery takes a look at how a bill becomes law in Colorado.

We all know the saying “there outta be a law”, but how does it come about? How does a bill in the Colorado legislature become a law? We’ll start with a bill being introduced in the Colorado House by a State Representative.

It is introduced in the house, given a number and first reading by the House clerk. The Speaker of the House refers it to a committee. The committee hears and votes. This is where the public can participate and attend. There will be testimony and there may be amendments.

The committee reports and the bill is sent for Second reading and voice vote on the floor of the House. There may be amendments and debate on the floor. Third reading and final passage may have more debate and the vote is recorded. If the bill passes it moves to the Senate.

The first reading by the Senate Clerk introduces the bill and it is referred to committee by the Senate President. The committee hears and votes on the bill. Again this is where the public can attend and give testimony or provide written testimony. The committee submits a report and sends the bill for second reading on the Senate Floor where more debate and amendments are possible. There is a voice vote. Third reading and final passage may have more debate, but the final vote is recorded.

If the bill is the same version in each house, then it is sent to the Governor. If the Governor signs it, it becomes law. If the Governor fails to sign within 10 days during the session or within 30 days of the General Assembly adjourning, or it is vetoed but the bill is re-passed in both the House and Senate by a two-thirds vote of all members – it becomes a law.

If amendments have been made to the bill in the second House, it must go back to the first House to accept or reject them. If the first House accepts, then the bill goes to the Governor for his signature. If the first House rejects the amendments, then a conference committee composed of members from both houses is selected and they attempt to iron out differences. If they reach agreement, it is sent to both Houses to accept and then referred to the governor. If no agreement is reached the bill Is considered dead.

More information on the Colorado General Assembly, bills and meeting schedules, can be accessed on their web site

For information about the League of Women Voters of Boulder County you can find them on facebook or at their web site