Most remember the lonely Bill sitting on the steps of Capitol Hill, desperately waiting for a chance to become a law, only to have his hopes dashed initially, but then receiving another chance at his ideal eventuality and ultimately becoming law at the end of the educational jingle.

The point of the story of course is to describe the process of a bill becoming a law at the national level, but it also illustrates an important fact that bills can be “killed” at any phase of the journey. 

The same is true also at the state level, where bills that have not yet been heard in committee are nearing their ultimate, (but not necessarily final) demise. The recent period known in Arizona as “Crossover Week” occurred, where all prospective pieces of legislation in the chamber they originated in, before proverbially “crossing over” to the other chamber, and beginning the process all over again, before either failing in the process, or being sent to the Governor's desk for a signature of approval, or veto. 

While this process may seem complex, it is not entirely void of reason. Here’s why, this session alone, over 1,700 bills have been introduced, and with the relatively small number of legislators we have in our state, to give the time necessary to thoroughly consider each piece of legislation, they prioritize bills based on any number of factors. The biggest of all usually budgetary negotiations, which this year plays an extra important role as some lawmakers believe the Governor will not sign a budget until later in the legislative session to encourage lawmakers to get done in a timely fashion. In sum, the legislature is moving at its normal pace, and we look forward to keeping track of our priority bills as they move through the process, and helping wherever we can. In the meantime, here's a quick refresher on how a bill becomes a law in Arizona. 

The Legislative Odyssey: From Introduction to Governor's Desk

First Reading: The journey begins with the first reading, where a bill's reference title is announced in an open session. This step is crucial for a bill's survival; without a first reading, a bill is effectively dead. Following this, bills in the House are assigned to relevant committees by the Speaker.

Second Reading: The Senate President assigns Senate bills to committees during the second reading. A bill's progression can be hindered or facilitated at this stage, depending on the number of committee assignments it receives.

Committee Hearing: A critical phase where a bill must secure approval from at least one committee, including the Rules Committee, to advance. These hearings provide a platform for detailed examination and public input, ensuring the bill's constitutionality and proper form.

Caucuses: Caucus meetings allow legislators to deliberate on bills, weighing their merits and drawbacks. While caucus decisions are influential, individual lawmakers retain the freedom to vote according to their convictions.

Third Reading: Post-committee approval, a bill may be placed on the "consent calendar" for a streamlined vote, bypassing full chamber debate. If a bill falters at this stage, it may be resurrected through a motion to reconsider.

Crossover Week: Successful bills then navigate to the opposite chamber, undergoing a similar scrutiny process. Amendments in this phase necessitate a return to the originating chamber for final consent.

Conference Committee: Disagreements over conflicting amendments from the different chambers may lead to a conference committee's intervention, tasked with forging a consensus on the bill's final form.

Final Vote and Governor's Decision: With both chambers' endorsement, the bill is presented to the Governor, who has the authority to sign it into law, veto it, or allow it to become law passively.

The Governor plays a pivotal role in the bill's final fate, with a defined window to act post-receipt. A veto can be overturned by a two-thirds majority in the Legislature, underscoring the importance of bipartisan support for contentious legislation.

As Arizona's legislative session unfolds, the intricate dance of bill progression continues to captivate observers. Each bill's journey is a testament to the dynamic and deliberate nature of the legislative process, ensuring that only the most vetted and viable legislation reaches the Governor's desk. This process, while complex, is foundational to the democratic ethos, embodying the principles of scrutiny, debate, and consensus essential for the governance of Arizona.