Legislation (How to)

A bill is a document which, when introduced into the legislature, passed by both the House and Senate and approved by the Governor becomes law.  A resolution is a document introduced into one or both houses and states an opinion or desire of one or both houses. It does not require the approval of the governor and does not have the effect of law (with one exception).  A good bill will have the following parts and in most cases is a simple fill in the blank exercise. The work is in the writing of the body of the bill.

UNIFORM HEADING:

The Uniform Heading of a bill is always the same for each house (see example)

TITLE:

The Title of a bill states in clear, concise terms the content and purpose of the bill and always begins, AN ACT RELATING TO.

ENACTING CLAUSE:

The Enacting Clause states the authority by which the law is made. It is always the same: BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF OKLAHOMA.

BODY:

The body of the bill is what the bill is about. This is where the author clearly explains the purpose and scope of the bill. Each general idea is called a section and would correspond to a paragraph. Beginning with the body, each line of the bill is numbered for easy reference. There is no minimum or maximum length for the body of a bill.

DEFINITION CLAUSE:

The Definition Clause explains any word or phrase that might not be clearly understood by those reading and discussing the bill. This clause is optional.

PENALTY CLAUSE:

The penalty section sets the penalty for a violation of the law (if it can be violated). It always begins, “The penalty for a violation of this law shall be ___”

REPEAL CLAUSE:

Under normal conditions, any act that conflicted with the bill would be repealed by title and number. However, for ease at Boys State, the Repeal Clause always reads, “All acts or parts of acts in conflict herewith are hereby repealed.”

SEVERABILITY CLAUSE:

This section divides each part of the bill into constitutionally separate sections so that if one part is unconstitutional the other parts remain in effect. It is written, “The provisions of this act are sever-able and should any part be declared unconstitutional it shall not affect the other remaining parts.”

EFFECTIVE DATE:

This section sets the date the law is to go into effect. (It must be at least 90 days from the date of the governor’s signature.) Any earlier date requires the emergency clause.

EMERGENCY CLAUSE:

The Emergency Clause provides that the law shall go into immediate effect upon the signature of the governor. This clause requires a 2/3 vote for passage.

When a particular house passes a bill or resolution, it must be signed by the presiding officer of that house and sent to the opposite house for approval and then on the governor for his approval.

A GOOD BILL WILL MEET THESE TESTS

• It deals with only one general subject.

• It expresses the subject clearly and accurately in the Title

• It expresses the author’s purpose in concise, everyday language

• It is as brief and simple as possible

• It includes an enacting clause or resolving clause

• It represents clear, analytical thinking on the part of the author and is condensed to the bare essentials.

• If the bill proposes a new law it is divided into sections

• If it amends an existing law, it specifies which law (see repeal clause above)

• Each separate section is numbered consecutively.

• Words with more than one meaning, unclear meaning, etc. are not used or, if unavoidable, are used with clear definitions in the bill.

 

Sample Bill

House #_______ Bill # _______ House 2015 Session Author: ______________

TITLE

AN ACT RELATING TO PUBLIC SAFETY MAKING IT UNLAWFUL TO USE DDT IN THE STATE OF OKLAHOMA, DEFINING TERMS: PROVIDING PENALTIES FOR VIOLATIONS: REPEALING ALL CONFLICTING ACTS: FIXING AN EFFECTIVE DATE.

ENACTING CLAUSE

BE IT ENACTED BY THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES OF THE STATE OF OKLAHOMA:

BODY

SECTION 1. It shall be unlawful for any person, group of persons, firm or corporation to use a chemical insecticide called DDT.

DEFINITION CLAUSE

SECTION 2. DDT shall be defined as a chemical insecticide which is a clorinated hydrocarbon known as dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethene.

PENALTY CLAUSE

SECTION 3. The penalty for a violation of this act shall be a fine of not less than five hundred dollars ($500.00) and not to exceed one thousand dollars ($1000.00) and/or imprisonment in a county jail for a period not to exceed one year.

REPEAL CLAUSE

SECTION 4. All acts or parts of acts in conflict herewith are hereby repealed.

SEVERABILITY

SECTION 5. The provisions of this act are severable and if any part shall be held unconstitutional, the remaining provisions shall not be affected.

EFFECTIVE DATE

SECTION 6. The provisions of this act shall be effective on and after January 1, 2001.

EMERGENCY CLAUSE

SECTION 7. It being immediately necessary for the preservation of the public peace, health and safety, an emergency is hereby declared to exist by reason whereof this Act shall take effect and be in full force from and after its passage and approval by the governor.

 

 

 

NOTE: Emergency clause replaces effective date clause and requires a SEPARATE 2/3 vote.