Having an understanding of the procedure for making a law can make it easier for citizens to be more active in their government.
Anyone can come up with an idea for a law but it requires the sponsorship of a congressperson to give it wings. While this initial idea may have one or more sponsors such as voters, a committee of civilians, a special interest group, a lobbyist or a member of the legislature, it is a member of Congress, either a Senator or House of Representatives member who is tasked with writing a draft of the proposed law called a bill. After the Congress member has drafted the bill, he/she becomes the official sponsor and can introduce it for consideration. Only the members of Congress can actively introduce bills.
Once introduced, the bill is sent to a House or Senate committee for review depending upon who initially sponsored it. Both the House and Senate have many different committees that cover a wide variety of issues ranging from tax law to the military. The bill goes to the appropriately related committee where they discuss and study it. The committee may decide to table it, which means it doesn’t go any further, or send it back with recommendations for changes or with no changes to be voted on. At this point the bill is debated, modified, and voted on, if recommended by the committee. The bill requires a majority vote to pass then it is sent to the other branch of Congress where the process is repeated. The process can move smooth and quickly or meticulous and slowly.
If both the House and Senate approve the bill, it is sent to the President for signing. The President has several choices. He can sign the bill and it immediately becomes a new law or he can do nothing and the bill automatically becomes a law after 10 days. He can also choose to veto the bill, which means the bill doesn’t get his approval and does not become law. However, a veto can be overturned if two-thirds of both houses of Congress support the bill.
The process for making a law in the State of Ohio is very similar. The State of Ohio has a House of Representatives with 99 Representatives and a Senate with 33 Senators. The Governor is the one who ultimately signs or vetos a bill at the state level.