For many of us the political process is something we haven't thought about since a high school class on economics and government relations but as time progresses we find it’s more important, now more than ever, to be involved in our local government. We put together some basic points and tips for how a bill becomes a law, talking with your legislator, and providing verbal and written testimony. If you have any questions or advice for making this page better, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A legislative session in Ohio lasts two years. There are 3 divisions that make up the legislative body, the House of Representatives, the Senate, and the Governor. There are multiple steps for a bill to become a law. For the sake of simplicity we will use an example of this process beginning in the House of Representatives but this process can begin on the Senate side as well.
The first step is for a legislator in the House of Representatives to introduce a bill, this person is known as the bill sponsor. The bill gets assigned to a committee. There are three steps in the process once a bill is in a committee sponsor testimony, proponent testimony, and opponent testimony. The bill sponsor is invited to introduce the bill to the committee, this is called sponsor testimony. If the bill is heard a second time, the committee will call for proponent testimony, or for people and organisations that are in favor of the bill to provide testimony and explain why the bill is needed. The bill then gets a third hearing, which is for the opponents or for those who are not in favor of the bill to provide testimony and explain why the bill is not needed. The committee may vote on the bill on the third hearing or it may have additional hearings for proponents and opponents combined. Members of the committee may also present amendments to change the bill based on the testimony heard.
If the bill is voted in favor out of the committee, it is then sent to the House floor for a reading. If the bill is assigned for a vote and it is voted in favor it is sent to the Senate where this process repeats. If the bill is successful on the Senate side, it is sent back to the House for reconciliation of any changes made while the bill was on the Senate side. This is called a Concurrence Vote.
If the bill is successful past this point it is sent to the Governor to be signed into law. The Governor has 10 days to sign the bill or veto the bill. The Governor may choose not to sign or veto the bill and have it go into effect as law without his signature. If the Governor chooses to veto the bill, the legislature may choose to override his veto by 3/5ths (2/3rds for an emergency bill) of the total legislature voting to overturn the veto.
One of the most effective ways to advocate for your issue, is by face to face meetings with your legislator. When you call the office, you will be speaking with the legislative aide. This is the assistant for your elected official. You can request in district meetings (your legislator lives in the district they represent) or you can request a meeting downtown in Columbus, Ohio. If in person meetings is difficult for you, the next best way to connect is by calling and sharing your position on legislation. Handwritten personalized letters are also effective ways of connecting with your legislator. Finally, personalized emails work but are the least effective way of advocating for your issue. It’s also best to avoid using pre-written generic form letters written by organizations. It’s important to maintain mutual respect at all times during your exchange with your legislator or their legislative aid.
Tips for face to face meetings:
Tips for calling
Sample script when calling:
“Hi, my name is __________. I am a constituent of (legislator name) and I would like him/her to support (bill number). This legislation is important to me because _________________. If possible, I would like to schedule an in district meeting with (legislator name) to discuss this further.”
If you are interested in submitting written or verbal testimony for a bill, follow these steps to successfully submit to the legislature:
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