New Jersey Legislative Procedure

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There is an 11-step procedure for legislation to become law in New Jersey.[1]

Step One Either a Senator or a General Assembly member must propose a new law. Often the ideas for the laws come from interest groups, members of the community, or even the governor.

Step Two With the help of the Office of Legislative Services, and at the legislator's direction, the bill is written.

Step Three During session, the bill is given to the Senate Secretary or Assembly Clerk to read the title aloud. This is called the first reading. After this the bill is introduced to the public.

Step Four Often the bill will then be sent to a committee for review and revisions. Occasionally the bill will go directly to its second reading to speed the process up.

Step Five The committee will review the bill in a meeting that is open to the public. The bill may be reported to the House with either, no changes, amendments or as a substitute bill. The bill may remain in the committee if it hasn't been considered or reported.

Step Six During the second reading, the bill is re-read on the floor. At this time the bill is open for amendments. The bill is given a third reading and then the House must vote to either return the bill for a second reading or add any more amendments.

Step Seven The President or Speaker schedules the third reading on the floor. The second and third reading cannot be done on the same day except by an emergency vote of 3/4 of the members [30 votes from the Senate, 60 from the Assembly].

Step Eight The bill is passed when the majority of authorized members approves it (21 votes in the Senate, 41 in the Assembly) and it is sent to the other house. IF the final vote is not taken the bill can be either considered later on, or returned to the committee.

Step Nine The bill goes through the same process when it is given to the second House. If any amendments are given to the bill, it has to be returned to the first House to review the changes. The bill receives final legislative approval when both Houses approve it.

Step Ten The bill is then sent off to the governor for final approval. If any changes are made the governor has conditionally vetoed it. He may also veto single line items of appropriation bills. If the bill is passed in the last 10 days of a 2-year session may be "pocket vetoed."

Step Eleven After either 45 days, or with the governors signature the bill becomes law. If the governor vetoed the bill, the legislature may override the veto by a 2/3 vote (27 in the Senate, 54 in the Assembly). A law goes into effect on the day specified in the text, or if it is unspecified it goes into effect on July 4 following its passage.

To pass, 21 votes are required in the New Jersey Senate, and 41 are needed in the New Jersey Assembly.

Every two years the House begins a new legislative session. The House normally meets on Mondays and Thursdays during the year. Both Houses often take a recess during July and August.



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