The Process of Making Law

The process of law making begins with the development of a new policy idea. The idea may come from a senator’s constituents, a State official or an organization representing an issue of interest to the community. Once the senator has a solid policy idea, staff drafts it into bill form. Bill drafting is a highly specialized and technical task. It usually is handled by legislative staff, but sometimes senators and groups with a policy interest have their own attorneys draft bills.

The drafted bill is then sent to the other chamber for consideration. Once a bill passes both houses, it becomes law. The Governor has 10 days to sign or veto the bill. A signed bill becomes law; a vetoed bill does not. A veto can be overridden by two-thirds of the members in each house.

The concepts of law have a long history in Western thought. Utilitarian philosophers, such as Jeremy Bentham, have defined law as “commands, backed by the threat of sanctions from a sovereign to whom people have a habit of obedience.” Natural lawyers, such as Jean-Jacques Rousseau, have asserted that laws reflect innate and moral laws of nature.