Michigan Legislative Process

Michigan Legislative Process

A Chapter by Debbie Barry

An essay about the Michigan legislative process. Written for EDU 108: Introduction to Policy & Education.


Michigan Legislative Process

December 10, 2009


A summary of the Michigan legislative process is available online on a page titled How does a Bill become a Law?  at http://www.michigan.gov/som/0,1607,7-192-29701_29704-2836--,00.html .

In Michigan, a bill is introduced in either the House of Representatives or the Senate, or jointly by both.  "At the beginning of each biennial session, House bills are numbered consecutively starting with House Bill No. 4001 and Senate bills are numbered starting with Senate Bill No. 1. In both houses, joint resolutions are assigned a letter" (State of Michigan, 2004, para. 2).

A bill must be introduced twice in the Senate and once in the House, for a total of three times, with at least the title read each time.  This corresponds with the top level of the California legislative process shown in Figure 8.2 (Fowler, 2009, p. 201).  The bill is then printed and must be "in the possession of each house for at least five days" (State of Michigan, 2004, para. 3).

A bill is then referred to a standing committee, where it is discussed and debated.  There are eight actions a committee may take on a bill:

a. Report the bill with favorable recommendation.

b. Report the bill with amendments with favorable recommendation.

c. Report a substitute bill in place of the original bill.

d. Report the bill without recommendation.

e. Report the bill with amendments but without recommendation.

f. Report the bill with the recommendation that the bill be referred to another committee.

g. Take no action on a bill.

h. Vote to not report a bill out of committee. (State of Michigan, 2004, para. 6).

“In both houses, a majority vote of the members serving on a committee is necessary to report a bill” (State of Michigan, 2004, para. 8).  In some cases, a bill is not reported, which then requires further action.

Once a bill is favorably reported, the bill is moved to General Orders or to a Second Reading, depending on in which house it originated.  A House bill that advances then receives a Third Reading.  At this point, a bill

is either passed or defeated by a roll call vote of the majority of the members elected and serving … or one of the following four options is exercised to delay final action on the bill: (a) the bill is returned to committee for further consideration; (b) consideration of the bill is postponed indefinitely; (c) consideration is postponed until a certain date; or (d) the bill is tabled. (State of Michigan, 2004, para. 11)

The vote may still be reconsidered if a legislator questions it, with reconsideration in the Senate within the next two days of the session and reconsideration in the House within the next day of the session.

In Michigan, a bill must be printed and be “in the possession of each house for at least five days” (Constitution, Art. IV, Sec. 26, cited in State of Michigan, 2004, para. 13) before it can become a law, and it cannot take effect until at least 90 days after the end of the session.

In order for a bill to be enacted into law by the Michigan legislature, once it passes in one house it must be sent to the other house and go through the same process in the other house, just as it is stated in the Schoolhouse Rock video I’m Just a Bill (McCall, 1975).

Once a bill passes through both houses in an identical form, the bill is enrolled in the originating house, printed again, and sent to the Governor.  If it is not in an identical form, any amendments must be accepted in the house of origin before it can go on, or it has to go to a committee to work out a compromise between the houses concerning the changes.

Once a bill finally reaches the Governor, the Governor must act on the bill in one of three ways within 14 days.  The Governor may sign the bill into law; the Governor may veto the bill, which causes the bill to be returned to the house of origin; or the Governor may choose to neither sign nor veto the bill.  If the Legislature has not adjourned, bills that are neither signed nor vetoes become law after the 14 days.  If the Legislature has adjourned before the 14 days end, bills that are neither signed nor vetoed do not become laws.

“The Legislature may override the veto by a two-thirds vote of the members elected to and serving in each house. The bill then becomes law” (State of Michigan, 2004, para. 19).  If the Legislature does not vote to override a veto, the bill may fail, it may be tabled for future consideration, or it may be returned to a committee to try again to pass it.


Fowler, F.C. (2009). Policy Studies for Educational Leaders: An Introduction (3rd ed). Boston:    Allyn & Bacon.

McCall, D. (1975). I'm just a bill. [Video]. Retrieved December 9, 2009, from   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gQuI2oa5Stk

State of Michigan. (2004, March 29). How does a bill become a law? Retrieved December          9, 2009, from the State of Michigan Web site at       http://www.michigan.gov/som/0,1607,7-192-29701_29704-2836--,00.html

© 2017 Debbie Barry

Author's Note

Debbie Barry
Initial reactions and constructive criticism appreciated.

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Added on November 10, 2017
Last Updated on November 10, 2017
Tags: essay, education, michigan, legislature, legislative process, law, public policy

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Debbie Barry
Debbie Barry

Clarkston, MI

I live with my husband in southeastern Michigan with our two cats, Mister and Goblin. We enjoy exploring history through French and Indian War re-enactment and through medieval re-enactment in the So.. more..