We are happy to report that the answer is NO! That being said, there are some common terms that get used around the Capitol that you should be familiar with. Here is a glossary following of terms that you will likely see and hear as you shepherd your bill through the legislative process:
adjourn: To conclude a day’s session or committee meeting.
amend: The action of adding, omitting, or altering the language of a bill.
bicameral: A legislature containing two houses.
biennium: 1) The two-year period by which the state budget is set. Money is appropriated for a two-year budget cycle during the odd-numbered years. The fiscal biennium runs from July 1 in an odd-numbered year to June 30 in the next odd-numbered year; or 2) The two-year legislative term, which begins in January of an odd-numbered year and ends in December of an even-numbered year.
bill: A proposal calling for a new law, a change in current law, the repeal of current law, or a constitutional amendment.
caucus: 1) A group of House members of the same political party or faction such as the “DFL Caucus,” the “Republican Caucus,” the “Majority Caucus,” or the “Minority Caucus’’; or 2) A meeting of such a group.
chief author: The main author of a bill.
committee or division: A group of senators or House members that hear bills, make preliminary decisions about them, and report to the legislative body as a whole.
companion bills: Identical bills introduced in the House and Senate.
conference committee: A group of either three or five members from each body that work out a compromise when the House and Senate pass different versions of a bill.
floor: After a bill passes through the committee process, it is sent to the “floor” in either the House or Senate, meaning it is placed on any of the various bill lists while awaiting debate by all members.
hearing: Meeting of a committee or division at which the public has an opportunity to voice its opinions about proposed legislation.
House file or Senate file: The number assigned to a bill before it is introduced. It is listed at the top of the bill. HF 2379 or SF 5143, for example.
introduced (n., introduction): The formal presentation of a bill to a body of the Legislature. The bill gets its first reading at this time and is then referred to a committee or division.
legislature: Name for the entire group of senators and representatives.
lobbyist: A person acting individually or for an interest group who tries to influence legislation.
majority: The party that has the most members elected in either the House or Senate.
minority: The party that has the fewest members elected in either the House or Senate.
omnibus: A term used to describe tax, education, appropriations, and other bills that may contain many different proposals.
page: A person employed by the House or Senate to run errands, assist committees, and perform a variety of other legislative tasks.
President of the Senate: The person who presides over Senate floor action and debate.
sine die: When the Legislature adjourns “without a day,” in the even-numbered years, the second year of the biennium.
Speaker of the House: The person elected by members of the House of Representatives to preside over House floor action and debate.
veto: The constitutional power of the governor to refuse to sign a bill, thus preventing it from becoming law unless it is passed again (with a two-thirds majority) by both houses of the Legislature.
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