Before a law is signed into existence it is called a bill. A bill can be introduced in either chamber of the General Assembly--the House of Representatives or the Senate. However, the bill must pass through many steps before it can become a law. The process can take a minimum of five days, but most take longer and many are defeated altogether.
The flow chart below illustrates the general process for creating a law in Kentucky. Below the chart you can also read a more detailed explanation of these steps.
Introduction & Committee Referral
Bills may be introduced in either the Senate or the House of Representatives. This bill can come from many sources--such as a citizen (like you!), a group of citizens, or an executive office. It is usually authored and/or sponsored by a legislator who presents it before the Committee on Committees for either the House or Senate. Each bill is then assigned a number, read by title and sponsor, and referred to a standing committee.
Standing committees consist of a group of legislators who review and discuss the bills assigned to them. These meetings are usually open to the public. The bill may be reported out of the committee with a "favorable" or "unfavorable" label. If the committee decides not to act on the bill at all then it "dies in committee."
If the bill receives a favorable report then it will have what is called a "first reading" and be placed on the Calendar (a sort of "to do" list) for the following day. Unfavorably reported bills will not likely advance to the Calendar.
Second Reading--To Rules
The bill is read by title for a second time and sent to the powerful Rules Committee. The Rules Committee can decide whether to put the bill on the Orders of the Day or to delay the bill by recommitting it to the committee it came from.
Third Reading & Passage
When a bill reaches this step it can be called up for debate and discussion among all of the representatives or senators. Amendments may be made at this time, and following the debate a final vote on the bill is taken. To pass, a bill must be approved by at least two-fifths of the members of the house (40 representatives or 16 senators), and a majority of the members must be present to vote.
Passage in Other House
If a bill passes in one house, it is sent to the other chamber, where it follows a similar path. Both houses must agree on the final version of each bill. Therefore, if one chamber amends the bill, the other chamber must concur. Sometimes the houses disagree on the amendments and compromises must be made and approved.
Once concurrence is reached and the bill has been passed by both houses, the bill is signed by the presiding officer of each house and sent to the Governor.
The Governor has three choices at this point. He or she may sign it, veto it, or refuse to act upon it. If he signs it or refuses to act upon it, it becomes a law. If he vetoes it, the bill goes back to the Legislature.
Even if the Governor vetoes the bill, the bill can be overridden by a constitutional majority of both the House and Senate. A constitutional majority is at least 51 House votes and at least 20 Senate votes. If the General Assembly does not override the veto then the bill does not become a law.