Legislative Terms

DMGS previously explained various legislative terms and what they really mean. As we noted before, if you are new to navigating your state capitol building, or even a seasoned veteran, you may be Googling a few legislative terms thrown around capitol halls that everyone seems to know, except you. Don’t worry – DMGS is here to help you understand a few more of these legislative terms as you prepare for legislative session.


An act is legislation that is signed into law after being passed by the legislature and signed by the governor (or in some states can go into effect without the governor’s signature).


A piece of legislation often will have amendments which are essentially edits made to the bill. Such edits may be additions, deletions, substitutions, or a complete re-write.

Bill Author

A bill author, or bill sponsor, is typically a legislator who introduces a piece of legislation for consideration by the legislature. The author sometimes has co-authors or co-sponsors, which are other lawmakers who sign on to the bill.


In a two-party system, typically the Democrat and Republican parties, bipartisan means having representation of both parties. For example, a piece of legislation can be considered bipartisan if it has cosponsors of both political parties.


A chamber refers to the meeting place of a legislative body, whether that is the state Senate or the state House/Assembly.


Committees are a group of lawmakers assigned to work on a specific topic or issue area. Committees may cover areas such as Health, Transportation, Commerce, Finance, and more.


When one legislative chamber agrees to something the other chamber has already approved, that action is concurrence.


A constituent is someone who lives in the district of a particular legislator.


Decorum refers to the etiquette and conduct of members during a legislative session.


Dissent is the casting of a vote in the negative.

First Reading

The first reading occurs when a bill is first presented for consideration. This sometimes happens at the time of introduction.

Legislative Intent

This refers to the purpose lawmakers sought or are seeking with a particular piece of legislation.


A line-item refers to a specific line number in a state’s budget bill.


These are legislators who have won their respective elections but have not yet been sworn in and taken the oath of office.

Parliamentary Inquiry

Members may seek a parliamentary inquiry to the presiding officer of their chamber to clarify a procedure or business taking place in their chamber.


Often referred to redistricting, this is the redrawing of legislative districts.


Resolutions are different than bills. Resolutions often express lawmakers’ sentiments or recognitions.


The governor can take action on bills, via a veto, if they disapprove of a certain bill.

Veto Override

Lawmakers can override a governor’s veto. Each legislature has different rules governing what the threshold is for lawmakers to successfully override a veto.

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