Tuesday, April 30, 2013

High School Civics class revisited

by Wendy Waren, VP of Communications
I don’t know about you, but I’ll be celebrating (or commiserating) my 20 year high school reunion next year. That’s seems like light years ago, as I vaguely recall the lessons of my civics teacher—Coach Rousell. In high school, I didn’t much care for civics or politics, but in everyday life, it’s really important to know how to advocate on your behalf or on behalf of your career, business, community and even family.

Recently, the 2013 Louisiana Legislature kicked off and top of mind is the $1.3 billion budget deficit and which programs will be on the chopping block. Some bills introduced, monitored by the Louisiana Restaurant Association (LRA), have resulted in phone calls to the office, some of which were members requesting a refresher course on the legislative process.

As someone who spends much of my time during session tracking bills through the process, here’s my overly simplified version. You may refer to the old School House Rock video if you seek a little entertainment while learning.

A bill is filed by a legislator and then assigned to a committee, determined by its respective topic relative to a specific committee. There are 17 standing senate committees and 16 standing house committees.

The full committee decides whether to "kill" the bill or send it to the floor of its chamber for approval. For example, a senate bill will go through the senate committee and then to the floor and if it passes favorably, it move to the corresponding house committee, then to the house floor for a full vote.

The last step before becoming law is a signature by the Governor. 

This year, the session is two weeks shorter than 2012’s Session and runs through June 6.

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