While legislative rules and deadlines tend to vary from state to state, this section outlines some of the most common that have an impact on advocacy efforts. These rules and deadlines are used to make the legislative process streamlined and faster.
While deadlines are generally adhered to in states that have them, leadership in a legislative body may be able to use their powers to create exceptions.
This chart will help you find out if your state uses some or all of these deadlines and when they occur.
Many states allow bills to be introduced before a session starts. This is known as pre-filing a bill. It is important to pay attention to bills that are pre-filed as they may provide an indication of the issues that will be relevant during session, and it will give you time to prepare a strategy to oppose or support a bill before the hectic pace of session begins.
Bill Introduction Deadlines
This is the last day a member of a legislative body is permitted to introduce legislation. Some states create different deadlines for different types of bills. Bills addressing budget or fiscal issues often have a different deadline from common bills.
This is the last day a chamber may act on a bill that originated in that chamber. If a chamber does not vote to pass a bill by this date, the bill cannot be sent to the second chamber.
Many states place a limit on the number of bills a member of a legislative body may introduce. These types of limits may force a legislator to only introduce legislation that address their top legislative priorities.
Some states carryover legislation from one year to the next, meaning legislation that did not pass during the first year of a legislative session will be alive when the legislature reconvenes the next year. Most states that have this rule carryover legislation from years ending in an odd number to years ending in an even number. Only two states—New Jersey and Virginia—carryover legislation from even years to odd years.
Restrictions on Legislative Days
Some states require a legislature to adjourn by a specific calendar date, while others place a limit on the number of days a legislative body is allowed to meet in a calendar year. This chart will help you learn about these restrictions in your state.