|Glossary of legislative terms|
A proposed law which has been passed finally by both Houses and becomes
law -- whether by approval of the Governor, lack of action by the Governor
in the time allowed by the Constitution, or by passage over the Governor's
veto by two-thirds vote of the Members elected to both Houses.
A privileged motion of the highest order (precedence) -- it cannot be
made during a vote on a question or while a Member is speaking. It is non-debatable.
It requires approval of a majority voting to pass.
Changes to legislation may be proposed by an individual Legislator either
in committee or on the House Floor in the form of an amendment to a specific
portion of the pending measure. All amendments are prepared by the Legislative
Consists of 32 Members, 20 of the majority party and 12 of the minority
party. It considers all legislation that proposes state expenditures. The
committee is responsible for analyzing the Governor's budget proposal and
A legislator may challenge any ruling of the Speaker by a motion to the
body to appeal the decision of the chair.
A proposed law.
The Legislative Reference Bureau assists all Members in drafting legislation.
The prime sponsor of the bill files four signed copies of the bill with
the Legislative Bill Clerk who numbers and delivers them to the Speaker.
The Speaker reports to the House the committees to which bills have been
referred, either on the day introduced or recorded, or on the next to legislative
days the House is in session.
Lists bills and resolutions and actions to them by each House. The History
also contains a list of all Members, committee assignments, seating chart,
officers of the House, veto and item veto messages and index.
The House daily calendar lists bills an resolutions for consideration
and the legislative day which they were reported from committee or the tabled
A meeting of Members of the same party to discuss positions on legislation
and other matters before the House.
A group of people chosen to perform specific functions. There are a variety
of committees in the House, formed to manage the workload related to screening,
studying, debating and resolving differences over bills. There are standing
committees and subcommittees, special or select committees, and conference
Consists of the Speaker, ten majority party Members and five Minority
party Members who recommend to the House the names of Members to serve on
the standing committees. The Speaker appoints the committee chairmen, vice-chairmen,
subcommittee chairmen, and secretaries.
A motion made in a chamber to accept the modifications or amendments
made bu the other chamber to a bill already passed by it. It requires the
approval of a majority of the elected Members to pass.
A resolution introduced in either the House of Senate and requiring the
concurrence of both bodies. Adopted in each body my majority vote of all
Members in office.
A joint, bipartisan House-Senate committee of six members which attempts
to settle differences over bills which both chambers wish to support. In
the House, the Speaker appoints two Members from the majority party and
one from the minority party. In the Senate, the President Pro Tempore follows
the same procedure.
The Constitution requires a majority vote of Members elected (normally
102 or more votes in the House and 26 or more votes in the Senate) for final
passage of a bill.
Typically, the order of House business is as follows:
Consists of a formal statement of the reasons for (or against) some proposed
action. A legislator desiring to debate must first gain recognition from
Upon being recognized by the Speaker a Member may speak, confining him
or herself to the question under consideration and avoiding personal reflections.
When two or more Members rise at the same time and ask for recognition,
the Speaker shall designate the Member who is entitled to the floor. No
Member, except the majority and minority leaders, may speak more that twice
on any question without the consent of the House.
A motion made by any Member so that the chamber can consider and voted
separately upon the distinct parts of complex amendment of motion. A ruling
as to whether or not a question can be divided is usually made by the presiding
officer. It is non-debatable.
An act which enables a department or governmental subdivision of the
Commonwealth to carry out some action which it otherwise would have no authority
No bill, except a general appropriations bill, requiring expenditures
of or loss of revenue to Commonwealth funds, of funds of any political subdivision
shall be given a second consideration reading ton the calendar until it
has first been referred to the Appropriations Committee for a statement
of fiscal impact. Fiscal notes are required for amendments to bills, conference
committee reports, and concurrences in Senate amendments.
The general appropriation bill shall embrace nothing bu appropriations
for the executive, legislative and judicial departments of the Commonwealth
for the public debt and for public schools. All other appropriations shall
be made by separate bills, each embracing but one subject. (Article 3, section
11 of the Pennsylvania Constitution.)
Relevant, suitably related to something, especially something being discussed
A Member who has the floor may not be interrupted, except for questions
of order. The Member may consent to yield the floor for questions related
to the subject before the House.
Proposes an amendment to the Constitution and requires action by both
Houses and is not sent to Governor for approval.
A motion to lay aside a question which is pending until further action
is desired. It is a non-debatable motion and requires a majority of Members
voting to pass.
A statement inserted in the Journal of a chamber of several of its Members
indicating what their intentions were in supporting a particular bill. A
statement is put in the official record for use by the court in possible
future litigation dealing with provisions of a bill.
Are determined by a variety of factors:
Most of the action on the House floor is initiated by a Member making
a special motion. The rules determine the importance of a motion and whether
the consideration may be debated.
This motion effectively cuts off all debate on a measure and returns
immediately to the question. Requires 20 seconders to the motion and a majority
vote of Members present for passage.
Contain the text of acts, joint resolutions, vetoes, appropriations and
chronological table of statutes affected by these laws.
A motion made to inquire about procedures being followed, or to be followed,
during consideration of a measure. Members speaking may be interrupted to
make a parliamentary inquiry.
With consent of the Speaker, a Member may rise and explain a personal
matter but cannot discuss a pending question in the explanation. Questions
of personal privilege shall be limited to questions affecting the rights,
reputation, and conduct of the Members of the House.
A member rises to a point of order when he/she questions the propriety
of a procedure being followed. A speaker may be interrupted to raise a point
of order. If the presiding officer rules on a point of order, his/her decision
may be appealed and overturned by a vote of the majority of Members voting.
Known as the body of parliamentary law, apart from the rules. The individual
precedents generally are interpretations or rulings by presiding officers
on specific rules. Such rulings are not binding, but are persuasive. They
enable the Speaker to rise above the controversy of the moment by pointing
to ruling which was made on the same point in the past.
Receive immediate consideration. They include resolutions that: recall
or return bills to the Governor or Senate; originated by the Rules Committee;
provide for a joint session of the Senate and House and its procedure; and,
call for adjournment or recess.
A majority of each House shall constitute a quorum.
This motion allows a committee to further study a piece of legislation;
to delay consideration until a more favorable time. It is debatable, but
merits of the bill being recommitted are not. It requires the approval of
the majority of Members present to pass.
A motion to have a chamber reconsider a previous action on a measure.
It must be made in writing, within the next five days of actual session
after the action occurred. It is debatable and it requires a majority of
Members voting for approval of a motion to reconsider the vote by which
a bill passed of failed to pass a chamber. Motion must be filed by two members.
A motion that is made to return to a prior printer's number effectively
eliminates any amendatory changes made to a measure after that printer's
number. When a bill is amended, it is reprinted with changes inserted and
assigned a printer's number. This motion requires a simple majority to pass.
Consists of the Speaker, majority leader, minority leader, majority whip, minority whip, majority appropriations chairman, minority appropriations chairman, six Members of the majority party appointed by the Speaker, and four Members of the minority party appointed by the minority leader. The majority leader chairs the committee.
The committee makers recommendations intended to improve and expedite
the business of the House and its committees and to propose amendments to
the rules, if necessary. The committee can vote to remove certain bills
from the tabled calendar to the active calendar for consideration.
The General Assembly shall be a continuing body during the term for which
its Representatives are elected. Members are elected for two-year terms
beginning December 1st of each even-numbered year.
Unless otherwise required by House Rules, or the Constitution, actions
by the House may be approved by a majority of Members voting.
Resolutions fixing the time for final (sine die) adjournment of the General
Assembly shall be referred to the Committee on Rules for consideration by
A motion to set aside a time period to consider a particular measure.
It is debatable only as to the question of setting the special order. It
requires approval of a majority of members voting for passage.
On the petition of a majority of the Members elected to each House, the
Governor must call a special session of the House. Or, the Governor may
call a special session if, in his/her opinion, the public interest requires
Temporary special-purpose committee created to study a particular problem
or issue related to a bill. Select Committees may hold public hearings.
A bill's prime sponsor will circulate a draft of the proposed bill among
his/her colleagues inviting Members to sign on as co-sponsors.
A bill's prime sponsor is understood to be the legislator introducing
the bill, although he/she may have done so at the request of a constituent.
A motion usually made to remove parliamentary obstacles to the consideration
of a specific measure. It is non-debatable. Approval of a Constitutional
majority is needed for passage.
A motion requesting the previously set aside (or tabled) bill or resolution
be taken up for consideration again. It is non-debatable and requires approval
of the majority of Members voting for passage.
Every Member present shall vote on each question put before the House.
Unless otherwise indicated by the House Rules or Constitution, all action
by the House shall be by a majority vote of those Members present.