This time of year is an anxious time for legislators, constituents and lobbyists. Most of the bills that passed during any given legislative session are delivered to the governor after the session ends. Once in his hands the governor has only a limited time on which to act upon those bills. The ultimate success or failure of what may have been a years-long process rests in the hands of the state’s highest elected official.
During any regular session a piece of legislation that passed both the House and the Senate must be approved by the governor. The governor can choose to sign a bill or veto it. If the time for him to take action lapses without either of these two events taking place the bill becomes law without his signature. It is rare for a governor to not either sign or veto a bill. The legislation contains an effective date that was approved by the legislature at the time it was voted upon.
Some bills become law on the date they are signed. Many become law at the start of the next fiscal year on July 1 and some become law on Oct. 1. A smaller number take effect at the start of the next calendar year. Occasionally a bill becomes law on a date that may have some significant meaning. For example, a few years ago a bill that gave special benefits to Pearl Harbor survivors became effective on Dec. 7.
The governor has seven days to act on any bill that is delivered to him during the legislative session. The governor has 15 days to act upon a piece of legislation that is sent to him after the conclusion of the session. Although there is no specific requirement that a bill be delivered to the governor within a set period of time once it passes the legislature, he must be given adequate time to act upon it before its effective date.
Some bill concepts are introduced during the legislative session and become law shortly after. Others may take years to work their way through the process until they land on the governor’s desk. No matter how long it takes for a bill to get into the governor’s hands, even he is not the final arbiter of whether it becomes law. The Legislature has the authority, if it chooses to exercise it, to override a gubernatorial veto. If the governor vetoes a bill, the Legislature has until the end of the next legislative session to override that veto. If the next session expires without a veto override, the legislation does not become enacted.
I welcome your questions about the legislative process or any subject that lawmakers may have considered. Please feel free to leave your questions in the comment section and I will answer them in an upcoming post. If there is a specific topic you would like me to write about please let me know as well.