Legislative Terms

Act – A bill which has been passed both houses of the General Assembly in identical form and become law, with or without the Governor’s signature.

Adjournment – Suspension of a legislative session. “Adjournment until a day certain” is a temporary suspension of proceedings during a session, while “adjournment sine die” marks the final closing of the session.

Administration Floor Leader – A legislator chosen in each house by the Governor to introduce and support bills favored or initiated by the Governor or his administration.

Appropriation – The budget act which authorizes the spending of public money for specific purposes.

Bill – A proposed law. Bills usually propose changes or additions to the existing statutory law.

Calendar – A daily listing of the bills and resolutions which have been reported from committee and are ready for third reading, debate, and voting by the full membership of a house. A “general calendar,” prepared by the Clerk of the House and the Secretary of the Senate, governs the order of business for the first 19 days of the session. A “rules calendar” sets the daily agenda for the last 21 days of a session, and is prepared by the rules committee of each house.

Caucus – A group of legislators who associate together on the basis of membership in a political party of common interests, and meet to discuss policy and strategy and coordinate their legislative efforts.

Clerk of the House – The chief administrative officer of the House of Representatives. Though not a representative, the Clerk is a full-time staff official whose duties include: receiving and printing all bills introduced in the House; recording all votes taken on the floor; and certifying the daily record of legislative action on bills and resolutions.

Code – A collection of a government’s statutes and their revisions. A state’s code is usually found in a series of volumes according to subject matter (and is usually subdivided by title, chapter, and section).

Committee – Committees of legislators include: (a) the “standing committee” which studies proposed legislation in some general field of legislative activity (e.g., agriculture, education, and health) and recommends to the full membership whether that legislation should be supported or not; (b) the “conference committee” which is composed of members appointed to both houses to reconcile difference in versions of a particular problem and report back to the full membership; (d) the “Committee of the Whole” which is the designation for either house when its entire membership meets as a committee to study matters under house rules relaxed to permit more informal discussion.

Constitutional Majority – The Georgia Constitution requires a majority of the entire membership (regardless of how many are actually present) to vote for the passage of bills and resolutions which will have the effect of law. In contrast, many motions on procedural matters require only a “simple majority,” or a majority of those present and voting.

Enrollment – Preparation of a bill in its final and official form to show precise language of the measure passed by both houses.

Hopper – The symbolic name for the place where legislators file bills for introduction with the Clerk of the House or Secretary of the Senate.

Journal – The official record of legislative proceedings in each house.

Law – A general term, usually used for official acts and statues of the legislature.

Legislative Counsel – The staff office which provides bill drafting, legal counseling, reference, and other legal assistance and services to members of the General Assembly.

Lobbying – Activities by persons or groups acting on behalf of others to influence legislation.

Majority Floor Leader – The member chosen by each house’s majority party caucus to manage the passage of those bills it favors.

Motion – A formal proposal made by a legislator to take some type of procedural action, such as adjourning or holding a roll call vote.

President of the Senate – The presiding officer of the Senate; the Lieutenant Governor. “President Pro Tempore” is the senator elected by the other members to take the place of the president in case of absence, disability, or resignation.

Quorum – The minimum number of members required to be present to perform house business. In the General Assembly, the quorum for each house is a majority of its total.

Readings of a Bill – The actual reading of a bill on three separate days in each house (the first two readings of which are by title only, with the third reading in its entirety) required by the Georgia Constitution before a bill can be debated, amended, or voted on.

Resolution – A legislative proposal, similar to a bill, that usually is used to express the opinion or will of one or both houses, for example, expressions of sympathy or appreciation. Resolutions usually do not deal with statutory law.

Rules of Each House – The procedural rules or guidelines adopted by each house to govern its legislative conduct and action.

Secretary of the Senate – The chief administrative officer of the Senate, equivalent to the Clerk of the House, with the same status and duties.

Speaker of the House – The presiding officer of the House, a member of that body, is elected every two years. The many powers of this office include appointment of committees and their officers and assignments of bills to committee. The “Speaker Pro Tempore” is that member elected to preside in the Speaker’s absence.

Statute – The written, permanent law formally enacted by the legislature.

Title – A bill’s introduction summarizing and listing the subject matter of the bill as well as statutes affected by it.

Veto – The Governor’s disapproval of a bill passed by the General Assembly. Unless overridden by two-thirds vote of the total membership of each house, a veto prevents a bill from becoming law.

Well – Term used for a legislator to speak for or against a bill to the other members from the lectern (“well”) at the front of the chambers in the House and Senate.
 

For more Legislative Terms online, visit: http://georgiainfo.galileo.usg.edu/legch

 

 

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