Note: This message is displayed if (1) your browser is not standards-compliant or (2) you have you disabled CSS. Read our Policies for more information.
The Indiana Governor's Council for People with Disabilities urges you to become involved in your local, state and national governments. This brochure provides basic and meaningful information on the legislative process so you, too, can initiate change.
"Advocacy is a tool to bring about change"
Where do you want Indiana to be?
The type and quality of services provided by our state is in your hands. You can choose to make a difference by being informed and becoming an active participant with others in the policymaking process.
The Indiana Governor's Planning Council for People with Disabilities urges you to become involved in your local, state and national governments. This brochure provides basic and meaningful information so you, too, can initiate change.
Please refer to the glossary in the back of the brochure for clarification on words in boldface and others throughout the text.
The process a bill goes through to become a law doesn't have to be complicated, time-consuming and full of red tape. Following is an outline of the steps by which a bill becomes a law in Indiana and the role you can play in the process. Keep in mind that this is a very simplified model. This example applies to a bill originating either in the House of Representatives or the Senate.
The legislative committees most likely to review legislation concerning individuals with disabilities include:
|Indiana Senate||Indiana House|
|Finance||Family & Children|
|Health & Human Services||Human Affairs|
|Public Policy||Public Policy|
|Ways & Means|
Once a bill becomes law, the state or local agency with primary responsibility for the law must implement it. Generally, the law includes a provision naming the agency charged with this task. This responsibility is important to the law because crucial elements of a program can be changed in its implementation.
Concerned citizens must monitor this process. Sometimes, as the guidelines of the law are being written and implemented, they may vary from the original scope of the law.
Concerned citizens can call the state agency responsible for implementation to request information about what is being done and what opportunities there may be for public input.
Implementation of a law, especially one which has an impact on services, usually involves changing rules and regulations and/or changing policy. Often, the public is able to change the drafts of these rules and regulations by attending and voicing opinion during the state agency's public hearing process. The preparation of the rules and regulations for actual enforcement is called promulgation. The promulgated rules and regulations must receive public notice by being published in the Indiana Register. A copy of the Indiana Register is available at any public library.
It is imperative that there is a budget available to enforce the law and support the program. A program will not work effectively if there is no budget available for support. It is also critical to notify any individual or group affected by the law. For example, if the law creates a new service program, any individual affected by the law needs to know who is eligible for the program's services and how to access the services. The public must also be aware of any law that requires any changes in everyday procedures.
Did You Know...
It is interesting to note that of the 877 bills introduces in the 1992 legislative session (464 Senate bills/413 House bills) only 158 became laws.
Bills can, however, be reintroduced in subsequent sessions. Depending on the complexity of the legislation, it usually takes an average of three to five years to get a bill signed into law.
The federal process is much like Indiana's. Please refer to the chart (not included in web version) for a simplified description.
To contact your state legislators, call:
|Indiana Senate||Indiana House|
|(317) 232-9400 Voice or||(317)232-9600 Voice or|
|(800) 382-9467 Voice||(800)382-9842 Voice or|
|(317) 232-0404 TDD||(800)382-9841 or TDD Number|
|(800) 548-9517 Voice/TDD|
Indiana Legislative Services Agency -- up-do-date information on bills, amendments, roll calls, committee schedules, legislative calendars and other pertinent materials.
|State House, Room 302|
200 W. Washington Street
Indianapolis, IN 46204
(317) 232-0404 TDD
(800) 548-9517 TDD
United States Senate and House Cloakroom
Up-to-the-minute reports of what is happening on the floor of the United States Senate or House of Representatives in Washington, D.C.
(202) 224-8541 (Democratic Senate)
(202) 224-8601 (Republican Senate)
(202) 225-7400 (Democratic House)
(202) 225-7430 (Republican House)
Association for Retarded Citizens of Indiana (ARC)
Council of Volunteers and Organizations for Hoosiers with Disabilities (COVOH)
Indiana Association of Home Health Agencies
Indiana Association of Rehabilitation
Indiana Coalition for Human Service
Indiana Parent Information Network (IPIN)
Mental Health Association of Indiana
1522 K Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20005
(202) 785-3388 Voice or (800)433-5255 Voice
(202) 785-3411 TDD
Autism Society of America, Inc.
Disability Rights Education Defense Fund (DREDF)
National Association of Developmental Disabilities Councils (NAADC)
National Association of Mental Retardation
National Mental Health Association
United Cerebral Palsy Association
Letter-writing is the most convenient and common way of communicating with your legislators. Written correspondence also gives the legislator something permanent to refer to. Although legislators sometimes receive hundreds of letters each week, your letter can have an impact. Most of our Indiana lawmakers read a significant portion of their mail personally. Some offices keep a periodic count of how their mail is running on particular issues. Be sure to write on printed personal or company stationery. This will eliminate any doubt about your name and address. If such stationery is not available, type your name and address at the end of the letter and place your handwritten signature above it. Your letters count! How to address your letters and where to send them
|The Honorable John Doe
200 W. Washington Street
Indianapolis, IN 46204
Dear Senator Doe:
|The Honorable John Doe|
Indiana House of Representatives
200 W. Washington Street
Indianapolis, IN 46204
Dear Representative Doe:
Telephone calls also can be very useful to a constituent who wants to make his or her views known to a member of the Indiana General Assembly. Phone calls can be used when there isn't time for a letter. A phone call is also more personal than an electronic message and usually has more impact. Personal calls also can be used to learn where a legislator stands on an issue. Frequently, members of the Indiana General Assembly will have two responses to an issue, one for supporters and one for opponents of an issue. Be sure to do your homework before you make the telephone call. You may end up talking with an expert!
House of Representatives Telephone Center
(317) 232-9600 Voice or
(800) 382-9842 Voice (Democrat)
(800) 382-9841 Voice (Republican)
* TDD number scheduled to be available in 1993.
Indiana Senate Telephone Center
(317) 232-9400 Voice or
(800) 382-9467 Voice (Democratic or Republican)
(317) 232-0404 TDD
(800) 548-9517 Voice/TDD
(From the Indiana State Chamber of Commerce)
The Indiana State Chamber of Commerce offers the following publications and provides bill tracking services to help you or your organization with legislative work. Please write to the Indiana Chamber of Commerce, One North Capitol, Suite 200, Indianapolis, IN 46204-2248; (317) 264-3310 for assistance, or to order any of the following publications:
How a Bill Becomes a Law in Indiana
This pamphlet describes the legislative process and how bills pass or fail. ($.25)
Here is Your Indiana Government
Here is a comprehensive book describing all aspects of state and local government. ($5)
Indiana Legislative Roster
A roster of all legislators, with addresses and phone numbers, and a map of districts is found in this handy brochure. ($.25)
Indiana Legislative Directory
This directory includes the information in the Legislative Roster, as well as brief biographical information and photos useful for identifying legislators for lobbying purposes. (Call for price).
The following publications may be found in your public library, or may be ordered by mail:
Biographies of each member of Congress, committee assignments, maps of the nation's congressional districts, and a listing of all federal departments and agencies make up this excellent reference tool.
The Almanac of American Politics and Politics in America
These reference books contain profiles of each Senator, Representative and Governor and voting records on key issues. Both books are available at most libraries and bookstores..The following publications may be ordered by mail:
How to Work Effectively with State Legislators
Discussing how to begin and carry out a legislative program from pre-session planning to post-session evaluation is simplified in this booklet. For a copy write to: The American Society of Association Executives, 1575 Eye Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20005. ($5)
The U.S. Congress Handbook
This annual guide to Congress includes members' pictures, biographies and information on Cabinet officers. For a copy please write to: P.O. Box 566, McLean, VA 22101. ($5.95)
Tell it To Washington
An excellent guide for citizen action, including the Congressional Directory is at your fingertips. To order a copy please write to: League of Women Voters of the united States, 1730 M Street, N.W., Washington, DC 20036. Publication number 349. ($1)
Gavel to Gavel, A Guide to the Televised Proceedings of Congress
In video format, information on the televised proceeding of Congress; how a federal bill becomes a law; where to go for more information and a glossary of key congressional terms is expertly produced. For a copy please write or call: C-SPAN, Suite 412, 444 N. Capitol Street, N.W. Washington, D.C. 20001; (202) 737-3220.
League of Women Voters Catalogue
This listing of over 100 publications covers subjects such as political effectiveness, government information, election services, social policies and public relations. The costs vary from $.35 to $5.00, plus shipping. Write to League of Women Voters, 1730 M Street, N.W., Washington, DC 20036.
Amendment - Any alteration to an original introduced bill proposed by either a committee or a legislator.
Chamber - Another word for House of Representatives of Senate. Also refers to the actual room where legislative action takes place.
Citizen legislature - Indiana's General Assembly is classified as a citizen legislature. Lawmaking is not a full-time profession for the state's legislators. The most common occupations of Indiana legislators are attorneys, teachers, business owners and farmers.
Conference committee - In order for a bill to become law, it must be passed by both the House and Senate in the same form. If amendments are added to a bill in the second house and passed, a conference committee consisting of members of both houses is appointed to resolve the differences. If the conferees reach a compromise, the chambers vote whether to accept the conference committee's decision. Generally, conference committees are comprised of two legislators from each chamber appointed by the president Pro Tempore of the senate and the Speaker of the House. If the committee is unable to reach a compromise, the bill dies.
Enacted - A bill is enacted when it is signed into law by the governor.
Engrossed bill - After a bill has passed second reading it is "ordered to engrossment," or authenticated as the correct and genuine bill to be considered on third reading.
Enrolled act - After a bill has passed both houses in the same form, it is considered an enrolled act and ready for consideration by the governor.
First reading - When a bill is introduced, it is read for the first time and then referred to a standing committee to be considered.
First regular session or long session - The first session of every new General Assembly can last up to 61 working (session) days. Beginning in early January, this session cannot extend beyond April 30. Occurring in odd-numbered years, the first regular session is often called the "long session" due to the legislative approval process of Indiana's biennial budget.
General assembly - This refers to the joint meeting of the Senate and the House of Representatives during two consecutive years. General Assembly is also used as a synonym for the combined houses of the Indiana legislature. Germane - Committee action and amendments to a bill must be germane (relevant) to the subject matter of the original bill in which it is inserted. Amendments or committee action ruled not germane are disregarded and do not receive consideration by the House and Senate.
Interim study committees - Meeting during the months between sessions (interim), these committees study relevant issues and recommend legislation, if the committee members deem necessary. The subjects are often suggested by legislators in the form of resolutions, but the committees are created by the Legislative Council.
Legislative council - Comprised of 16 legislators, this body was created by the General Assembly to coordinate the study of relevant issues between sessions and to recommend legislation for upcoming sessions.
Legislative Services Agency (LSA) - A non-partisan state agency whose duties include bill drafting, research, code revision and fiscal, budgetary, and management analysis. Employees of LSA assist interim and standing committees as well.
Promulgation - This term refers to the preparation of the rules and regulations under which a law shall be enforced. Normally, the agency responsible for the law's enforcement writes the rules and regulations.
Resolution - Generally used for congratulatory or honorary purposes, resolutions are introduced and voted upon by the Senate or House of Representatives. Although they do not have the force of law when passed, resolutions can also suggest possible subjects for study in interim study committees or recommend future legislation. Most resolutions are considered symbolic and, when passed, denote the approval of the subject matter by the legislative body. Joint resolutions can also be introduced and considered by both the Senate and the House of Representatives.
Roll call - This refers to the voting procedure. Before electronic voting machines were installed in the House and Senate chambers, a clerk would read the roll call and the legislators would register their decisions by voice votes. Today, an electronic board lists the names of the legislators. Individual votes are registered when legislators select "aye" or "nay" votes via buttons on their desks.
Second reading - After the bill has been printed adding any amendments proposed by the standing committee, it is eligible for second reading. Legislators are allowed to offer amendments to the bill at this time.
Second regular session or short session - Occurring in even-numbered years, the second regular session ("short session") can extend for up to 30 working (session) days, but not beyond March 15.
Session day - A session day constitutes a working day for the Indiana Senate and House of Representatives. Not necessarily consecutive calendar days, legislators may recess for varying periods of time between working days. It should also be noted that, under certain circumstances, a session day may span more than one calendar day.
Special session - A special session may be called by the governor if he or she feels "the public welfare shall require" such a meeting of the legislature. A special session is limited to 30 session days during a period of 40 calendar days.
Standing committees - These committees consider bills after they have been introduced. The committees, which exist in both houses of the legislature, cover specific fields of interest such as agriculture, education, labor, public health and the judiciary. Committee meetings are open to the public so that interested members of the public and affected organizations can offer arguments for or against proposed legislation.
Stripping a bill - Occasionally, the original contents of a bill are taken out and replaced with new language. This can be done in committee or by amendment. This procedure is only allowed, however, if the new contents are relevant to the original subject matter of the bill.
Third reading - This refers to the point at which a bill undergoes final passage or rejection by a roll call vote of the members of the House. A floor debate to discuss the merits of the legislation generally precedes the final vote.
Veto - After a bill has been passed by both houses in the same form, it is eligible to go to the governor to be signed into law. If the governor rejects the bill, he issues a veto. A vetoed bill can be overridden by a constitutional majority in both houses.