How a Bill Becomes a Law

Phase 1: The People

A bill begins with a group of people coming together with an idea that they believe should be written into law. No one person has the power to single-handedly change the status quo, but when you develop grassroot connections, talk with like-minded peers and professionals, and can argue your reasoning both concisely and persuasively, you are able to amass a coalition of individuals who support you and your idea. 


Before approaching any legislator, your coalition must be able to not only define the existing problem, but your solution to the problem and opposition that stands in the way to prevent you. For a legislator to reasonably argue for your idea on behalf of your group, they must also understand these issues in a concise, efficient manner since they are the mouthpiece for any number of given issues at one given time. They will want to know why you feel your issue is worthy of being addressed and the opposition they will face. 


With a supportive coalition and developed argument that acknowledges the entire issue, a legislator may take up your cause. The grassroot connections made initially are the best foundation for finding a legislator, either through friendly connections such as someone’s neighbor or through professional means, such as someone’s old coworker. The larger your coalition, the more possibilities you have in connecting your idea with someone who is willing to listen.


The last step for the people is writing a bill. With a sponsor in government willing to argue your case, you just need to provide them a bill which can be written into law. Many causes will use a lobbyist who is knowledgeable of not only existing legislation but is also capable of writing a fair, detailed bill that writes the original idea into law.

Phase 2: The Government

Out of the hands of the people, the bill must travel through the tribulations of government. With a prime sponsor in the House of Representatives, the bill is introduced to its relevant committee. For example, for IDLCPA, since our bill is about getting interior designers registered and licensed in the state of Pennsylvania, our bill would go to the Professional Licensure Committee, who would review it and vote on it.


With a successful vote, the bill would move to the appropriations committee, who would once again review and vote on it. To make it through all these committees, the legislators in each committee will want to be informed of what the bill is, who seeks to benefit from it, and who opposes it. Crucially, through providing this information prior to your prime sponsor, they are able to argue on your behalf and inform the legislators of your issue and its argument.


If your bill passes through all relevant committees, it goes to the entire House of Representatives for a vote. Once passed in the House of Representatives, the exact same process happens again inside the Senate. If it hasn’t been made apparent yet, this is a long and protracted process because the individuals we have selected as representatives for our state want to be informed on the issues of their constituents. They must be ready, both in the House and Senate, to not only drum up support for an issue, but also defend it against other legislators who seek to oppose it, who are usually representing on behalf of your coalition’s opposition. 


If your bill is passed by both the House of Representatives and the Senate, it is presented to the governor to sign into law. If the governor does not sign your bill in the 2 year term in which it was introduced, the entire process repeats itself.


It is a long and protracted process, but a fundamental one we have in ensuring that everyone’s voice is heard, all arguments are flushed out, and that law and reason are carefully considered.