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How a Bill Becomes a Law in Indiana

Feb 1, 2020
Maybe it’s just me, but it has been a long time since I’ve taken a civics class or watched School House Rock’s “I’m Just a Bill,” so each legislative session, I need a refresher. Below, I will walk you through the first part of a bill’s journey in the Indiana General Assembly.

Identifying an Issue: A bill can be inspired by anyone or anything, but only a legislator
Statehouse—either a Representative or a Senator—can sponsor it. This is why our relationships with Indiana legislators are so important to protect the CPA profession. Other lawmakers may be asked to co-sponsor and they may or may not be of the same political party as the sponsor.

Drafting Language: Have you ever read a bill? They can be quite complex. Legislators work with legal specialists from the Legislative Services Agency to draft the bill’s language. INCPAS provides suggested edits to bills affecting the profession to ensure the correct language is used.

Bill Introduction/First Reading: After the bill is drafted, it will be introduced by Proposed Billthe authorof the bill. House Bills start with HB and in the Senate, their bills begin with SB. If the chamber leadership doesn’t call the bill for First Reading, it “dies.” If the bill is called, it is scheduled for First Reading.

Committee Assignment: Once the bill is introduced, it will be assigned to a standing committee. You can view all of the bills that committee is hearing and watch live and archived videos of hearings on the committee at

Committee Hearings: This is where the action is! Having strong relationships
Committee Hearing
with committee chairs and members is critical at this point. If the chair of the committee gives the bill a hearing, this is an opportunity for members of the public, organizations and companies to voice their opinion on the bill. You can watch these hearings live or view an archived video at

Committee Action: Once the committee hears the bill, considers amendments and listens to anyone who is present to testify, they will vote. The options include: Approval, Amendment or Rejection. A report of this action is then sent to the originating Approving or Amending Legislationchamber. 

Second Reading: When the bill is heard for the second time by the full chamber, legislators have the option for an amendment, recommitment or engrossment. An amendment allows legislators to propose changes and they need to win the approval of a majority of the legislators present in order to be accepted. A recommitment will send the bill back to a committee for further study. An engrossment is when a bill will be reprinted to include any new language approved since introduction. If the bill passes the second reading, it’s eligible for a third reading. 

Third Reading: At this point, legislators can debate th
e bill’s merits before a final vote. In the House, the bill needs a constitutional majority to pass. That would be 51 “aye” votes. In the Senate it needs 26 “aye” votes.  

Approved Bills: Once a bill is approved, it is sent to the other chamber. The entire Governor's Signatureprocess is repeated. Each bill must have a sponsor in the new chamber. This is again where our relationships with legislators helps. 

Governor’s Signature: If the bill advances through the second chamber without amendments, it is sent to the Governor for signature where he can sign it, veto it or do nothing.

Approved BillSTEP 11
Bill Becomes Law: New laws take effect July 1 of the year of passage unless otherwise specified in the enrolled act.

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