In general, a bill, which is a draft for a law, is processed in the United States Congress
(Senate and House of Representatives) and in the New York State Legislature as follows:
1. The bill is introduced in either or both houses and assigned to the appropriate
committee for study. Express your opinion to the committee chairperson or member(s).
2. The committee may hold public hearings. Arrangements may be made to testify
at these hearings.
3. The committee can “kill” the bill by failing to report it back to the legislative body for
debate and action; report it as submitted (in effect recommend passage); report it as
amended by the committee; or draft and report a new bill.
4. When reported, the bill is voted on by the entire house. Before the vote is taken,
let your legislator hear from you.
5. When finally passed in the same form by both houses, the bill is sent to the President or
Governor, who may sign or veto it. Let your executive hear from you.
6. A bill may be passed over a veto by a two-thirds vote from each house of the legislative
body. Let your legislator hear from you.
A BILL BECOMES A LAW IN NEW YORK CITY
The making of laws in the city provides similar opportunities for citizen action. The City
Council of 51 members is a single house legislature. There are standing committees for
Finance, Land Use, Governmental Operations, General Welfare, Environment, etc. Each
committee holds regular public hearings on proposed laws. The City Council members
meet at least twice a month for “Stated Council Meetings.” The mayor is required to hold
public hearings before signing or vetoing a bill.