How a Bill Becomes a Law

  1. A bill always starts with an idea. This idea can come from state and local governments, elected officials, businesses, organizations, and citizens.
  2. The bill is first introduced in either the Senate or Assembly. It is given a number, read for the first time (called the first reading), and then assigned, printed, and delivered to a committee.
  3. When the bill is in committee, the committee can make various recommendations. It can recommend that the bill pass as it was written or with amendments. If a bill moves forward, it is placed on the second reading for the next legislative day. The committee can also indefinitely postpone the bill or take no action on the bill.
  4. A bill given a “Do Pass” recommendation is read a second time and placed on General File for debate and a final vote. A bill given an “Amend and Do Pass” recommendation is read a second time, and the proposed amendments are presented to the body (all members of the Assembly or all members of the Senate depending on what house the bill is in). If the amendment is adopted, the bill is reprinted before moving on to the next step.
  5. The bill is read a third time and debated. Then there is a vote. If the bill passes in the house of origin, the bill goes to the other house and follows the same steps.
  6. If amendments are made in the second house reading the bill, the house of origin must agree with the amendments. If both houses agree, the bill is adopted. If they do not, the bill fails.
  7. When the bill is accepted in both houses, it is then sent to the Governor.
  8. The Governor will either sign the bill into law, allow it to become law without a signature, or veto the bill. If a bill becomes law, it is effective on October 1st following the end of the legislative session, unless otherwise specified in the bill. 

When the Assembly is in session, you can follow bills that interest you through the legislative process on the Nevada Electronic Legislative Information System (NELIS). This resource can be found on the Nevada Legislature’s website (https://www.leg.state.nv.us/App/NELIS/REL/82nd2023). There you will find information about legislation, budgets, committees, meetings, and floor sessions.


Do you have an idea for a law?

There are many ways for a bill to become a law, but a bill always starts with an idea. The first step is to develop your idea and then present it to a legislator in either the Assembly or Senate. If the legislator likes your idea, then they may move forward and have it drafted into a bill. The bill then gets introduced into the Legislature and goes through the legislative process.

Here is more information about how you can turn your ideas into laws.

DEVELOP YOUR IDEA

You will need to work to develop your idea before sending it to your legislator. The following are questions to help form your idea and to make sure it is something you should send to your legislator. Make sure to do your research so you are well informed on the topic you would like to present as a potential bill.

  • Is your idea already included in a law in the state of Nevada? Or, is your idea similar to other laws in another state? You can use these already existing laws to support why your idea should be a law in Nevada.
  • What do you want to achieve with your bill?
  • Who will be affected by your bill?
  • Will your bill cost the state money to implement? How will the bill be funded? Where will the money come from?
  • Does this idea need to become a law, or can this issue be solved another way?

Using your answers to these questions, you can write a draft of what you would like your bill to be and send it to your legislators.

WHO MAY I CONTACT TO SHARE MY IDEA?

You can send your idea for your bill to your legislators in either the Nevada State Assembly or the Nevada State Senate. Start with the Assembly member or Senator for your district. If you do not know who your legislator is, you can check here. You may also have an idea of which committee in the Legislature would best handle your idea and may contact the chair or vice chair of that particular committee to discuss your idea. If you would like more information about the committees in the Assembly and their chairs, you can check here.

WHEN WOULD BE THE BEST TIME TO APPROACH THEM?

Current legislators are allowed more bill draft requests than newly elected legislators and are able to submit them throughout their term as a legislator, up until bill draft request deadlines. Newly elected legislators do not take office until after Election Day in November and cannot submit bill draft requests until they officially take office. Getting your idea in early with your legislator allows adequate time for them to meet with you to listen to and discuss your idea and to send your proposal off for drafting. As the Legislature gets closer to session, the legislators and bill drafting offices become busy, so it is best to get your ideas in earlier in the year before the next legislative session (Nevada’s next legislative session begins in February 2025). Just remember, even if you do meet with your legislator, they may not agree with your idea and will not submit a bill draft request. If this happens, ask their advice on how you could best work toward achieving the goal that you had in mind when presenting your idea.

HOW A BILL IS DRAFTED

When a legislator would like to take an idea and turn it into a bill, they are required to submit the idea to a legislative staff attorney. When the legal department drafts a bill, they must translate the objective of the idea into clear, concise language that follows existing laws as well as the Nevada State Constitution. They must also ensure that bill drafts are in the proper format, style, and legal form. Once a bill is drafted, it is then returned to the legislator who originally submitted the bill. They can then ask other legislators if they would like to add their names to be co-sponsors to the bill.