Saturday, September 6, 2014

The Legislative Process - Bucketville News March 2013

Letter to The Bucketville News • March 2013 Edition


    As it is an honor to be serving you at the State House, I would like to explain the legislative process and how constituents can become involved. 
    In the first year of a new session (biennium) a House Speaker is elected, and this year we reelected Shap Smith of Morrisville. His job is to create legislative agendas and appoint committee members, based on the  legislator’s experience, interest, skills, and needs of the committee. I was reappointed ViceChair of General, Housing and Military Affairs. Each of the fourteen House committees start with a clean slate (anything not passed in the last biennium is gone), taking up new bills as they are introduced by fellow legislators.
     One of my responsibilities as a legislator is to sponsor legislation that  can become law. Constituents, the administration, or advocacy groups may  come to me seeking sponsorship. If I decide to act, I will put in a drafting request with Legislative Council, made up of attorneys for the Legislature. A legislative counsel will then put the proposed legislation in bill form, and after getting
​co-sponsors, I will offer the bill to the House. In first reading, the Speaker presents the bill on the Floor (with an official number, such as H.1) and then assigns the bill to a committee for consideration. If the committee decides to take up the bill, and determines, after probable changes and possible consultations with other committees, to move favorably forward, the bill returns to the full House for formal presentation and debate (second reading). If the bill survives third reading, it is considered passed in the House and goes onto the Senate to undergo a similar process. If the House and Senate pass out the bill in different forms, then a committee of conference will be appointed. If the committee agrees on a compromise, the goes back to each body for approval, and then onto the governor, who can sign it, veto it, or let it pass without a signature. If the governor vetoes the bill, it still becomes law it the House and Senate, by a two-thirds margin, votes to override the veto.
    Many more bills are proposed than are passed. Even if a bill is taken up by a committee, there are many opportunities during the legislative process for the bill to not go forward. Taking time on bills that will not will eventually become law, however, is not necessarily a waste of time. Unsuccessful bills often create valuable policy discussion, and some potential legislation that looks worthwhile at the onset, doesn’t, after due diligence. Our responsibility, as lawmakers, is to not only pass good laws, but to also not pass harmful ones. 
    As each of us spend a great deal of time in one of fourteen assigned committees, it is not possible for any legislator to know everything that is going on in the House or Senate. Most of us communicate with colleagues, but often an issue moving forward comes to our attention by a concerned constituent. Thus, hearing from constituents is crucial to us as representatives. Anyone can know what is happening in Montpelier, follow daily calendars and journals, track bills or resolutions, and locate committee members by going to I look forward to hearing from constituents at 58 Hi-Hopes Road, Wardsboro, VT 05355,
​802-896-9408; or, at The State House, 115 State Street, Montpelier, VT 05633-5201, 800-322-5616 (in Vermont only),     

    Thank you.
    State Representative John Moran
    Dover, Readsboro, Searsburg, Somerset, Stamford, Wardsboro and Whitingham

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