Legislative Key Terms

We thought it might be helpful to share a list of common legislative terms and what they mean in plain English. You may find it helpful while deciphering what has happened to a piece of legislation as it makes its way through the process:
All bills generally go through three readings. All readings require a majority vote to pass to the subsequent reading.

  • First Reading: Places the bill before the body.
  • Second Reading: Used to debate the bill and allow members to ask questions. This is where substitutes and amendments can be offered.
  • Third Reading: This is the final vote to pass the bill from the Chamber.
Referred and Re-Referred
This indicates that a bill has been sent to a specific committee for consideration. Sometimes bills are re-referred. This indicates that either the bill has been sent to the wrong committee or that the bill contains items outside of the committee’s purview. Re-referring often occurs when a bill has a fiscal impact (it will cost the state money to implement). Bills of this nature are often passed from the original committee to one of the money committees (Appropriations in the House or Finance and Appropriation sin the Senate) so that the fiscal impact can be decided on. If a bill is re-referred it must pass the committee it was re-referred to in order to advance.
Laying on the Table
This motion is used to remove the bill from the committee’s consideration. It is a non-debatable motion and no more discussion can occur. A bill that has been laid on the table can be brought back for committee consideration if there is a vote to do so.
Pass by Indefinitely (PBI)
This motion is also used to remove the bill from the committee’s consideration. However, a bill that has been PBI’d may NOT be brought back before the committee.
A stage in the legislative process when a bill passes the second reading in the house of origin. If amended, the engrossed version of the legislation is printed incorporating all amendments that are agreed to. If not amended, the introduced version of the legislation becomes the engrossed bill, and if an amendment in the nature of a substitute is agreed to, the substitute becomes the engrossed bill.
Legislation which has passed both the Senate and the House of Delegates. It has been signed by the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House and it has been sent to the Governor, but not yet signed. If signed by the Governor, the bill becomes a law and a Chapter of the Acts of Assembly.
This indicates that a bill has been passed by a subcommittee or committee and will be sent to the floor of the House or the Senate.
Shows that a bill has been sent to a specific sub-committee of the committee it was referred to for deliberation.
Indicates that a bill has successfully passed from the floor of the House or the Senate.
This is done when two or more pieces of legislation are introduced that are substantially similar. One bill will be chosen as the vehicle and the other bills will be incorporated into that one. The incorporated bills then disappear. The patron of the incorporated bill can become a chief co-patron or co-patron.