YMCA Youth In Government Overview
Legislative Process Explained
Each bill that is submitted and accepted to the Youth in Government program will go through the flowing process:
Step 1: Public Hearing
Step 2: Work Session
Step 3: House and Senate Debate
Step 4: Governor's Desk
STEP 1: Public Hearing
The State of Maine requires that proposed legislation have a public hearing in front of a legislative committee prior to enactment. This gives every citizen of Maine a chance to speak his/her mind on any issue that is before the Legislature. It also gives legislators an opportunity to listen to the reasons for and against a particular bill before they vote. Any citizen may attend a committee hearing a request the opportunity to speak.
In the YMCA Model Legislature, we follow the same practices as the State in holding committee hearings. Committees are composed of Senators and House members. One Senator will be elected the Senate Committee Chairperson and one Representative will be elected as the House Committee Chairperson. These officers will be elected at caucus sessions. All participants that are not members of the Lobbyist corps, the newspaper staff, or Governor's cabinet, will be assigned to one of the committees. Model Legislature Public Hearings will be held Friday evening. The Committee Chairs will post a schedule that lists the times that each bill's hearings will be held for their committee. The Chair will begin each hearing at the designated time by introducing the bill by number and title, and calling on first the sponsor, other proponents, then opponents, and final any others that wish to speak on the bill. During the hearing, all rules of parliamentary procedure will be observed.
As a general rule, the most persuasive testimony given at public hearings is brief, to the point, easy to understand, and supported by evidence. At the conclusion of a person's testimony, the committee may ask questions. When the testimony is completed and legislators have no more questions, the public comment part of the hearing of a bill is formally ended with a bang of the chair's gavel.
STEP 2: WORK SESSIONS
These are not intended to be another public hearing, though they are opened to the public. Work sessions are more informal and less emphasis should be placed on parliamentary procedure. the basic purpose of the work session is to allow committee members to discuss the bill thoroughly, draft amendments, and vote on a final recommendation of the bill. Members of the public, lobbyists and cabinet may be asked to give input. After the committee has ended its discussion about the bill a Member of the committee must make a motion for a Committee Report.
The most often used reports are:
Any bills receiving an "OUGHT NOT TO PASS" report will be reported to the floor of the House and the Senate in the following letter to the Presiding Officers that will be read at the beginning of that committee bills being considered. This will tell the members that these bills are not going to be debated, and are dead.
SAMPLE OF LETTER
YMCA Camp of Maine Youth In Government
Committee on: Transportation
November 12, 2016
Honorable Mallory Burchill, President of the Senate and Honorable Padraig Keith-Hardy, Speaker of the House;
Dear Madame President and Mr. Speaker,
Pursuant to the YMCA Youth In Government rules, the Committee on Transportation has voted unanimously to report the following bills out "Ought Not to Pass" and will therefore not be debated on the floor of the Senate or House.
BILLS: LD 2016-802,
Sen. Karter Whitman Senate Chair
Rep. Sophie Burchill House Chair
STEP 3: HOUSE AND SENATE FLOOR DEBATE
After the bills finish in committee, they will be delivered to the Youth Governor's Office. The presiding officers (President and Speaker) will conduct business on all bills. A list of the bill being discussed and the next bills to be heard will be posted inside each chamber. A chart of the action taken on bills will be kept updated by the Secretary of State in the Rotunda at the State House.
Participants may try to change this order the bills are heard in by, Suspending the Rules of that body to move a bill up or down the calendar. The House or Senate may not move bills that are not in that Chamber at that time. President of the Senate and Speaker of the House will receive the bills their chamber will have first, they will be asked to set up a bill calendar that will list bills by the order they will be heard.
If you don't understand what is happening on a bill, stand up and ask for a "POINT OF PERSONAL PRIVILEGE". This means you don't understand what is going on. Then let Presiding officer explain what is happening, and will slow the process down so you can understand what is going on. Please understand if you don't understand chances are others are feeling the same way. This will allow you and others to catch back up.
The normal course of action on a bill will be:
The presiding officer will begin each bill be having the clerk/secretary read the bill number and title. The clerk/secretary will end by giving the Committee Report. The presiding officer will then ask if it is the pleasure of the House/Senate to accept that report. This is the point at which most debate on issues begins. Any member but usually the Committee Chair or Co-Chair will begin by making the motion to accept the report. He/She will then go on to explain the committee’s reasons for their report. If another member wishes that the committee report not is accepted he/she may move to accept the minority report on the bill. If he/she hears no one he/she will bang the gavel and the report will be accepted. REMEMBER: You can only move to accept a minority report if there is a divided report.
With the floor now open to debate, members must rise and be recognized by the presiding officer. Members are allowed to speak only twice on each motion and must receive the consent of the body to speak a third time.
Debate on a bill can end in one of three ways:
Regardless of the way the debate came to a close, it must be voted on usually by either going under the gavel or a division. Once debate has been ended, the chair must get a vote on the pending motion of the committee report. He/she will ask," is it the pleasure of the House/Senate to accept the majority or minority report?" The only motion that is accepted here is a call for a Division.
DEALING WITH UNANIMOUS "Ought Not To Committee report''
Committee Chairs will send to the Speaker of the House and the President of the Senate a letter telling them the bills that received unanimous "Ought Not To Pass" reports. This letter will be read by the Clerk / Secretary to the members. This letter will inform the members that the bills listed will not be debated on the floor of the House or Senate.
TYPES OF VOTES THAT OCCUR ON THE FLOOR
All motions must be voted upon. There are several types of votes that you will encounter. They are:
Under the Gavel:
This will be the most used, on many motions the presiding officer will say, "Is it the pleasure of the House/Senate to ........" If he/she hears no one wishing to speak to that motion he/she will bang the gavel. Once the gavel has fallen, all members have voted YES on that motion. If you do not want to vote yes on that motion you must rise and call for, " A Division". The presiding officers will use this method of passing motions to speed up the process, be sure you are aware of what you are saying yes to.
If a member of the House/Senate stands and calls for "A Division", the presiding officer will then ask for all those in favor of the motion to say "YEA". Then he/she will ask for those opposed to say "NAY". He/she will then make a ruling as to which side will prevail. If a member of the body feels the vote was too close for the chair to make a clear decision, he/she must rise and again call for "A Division".
To make a clear decision on the motion the presiding officer will ask that all members stand and remain standing until they are counted. Then they will ask for all opposed to rise and remain standing until counted. The clerk/secretary will do the count. The chair will then announce the results of the count.
In the State of Maine legislature, every bill must be read in its entirety. At Youth in Government to save time we do only 1 reading of each bill. When the vote on the committee report is completed the bill must be read. Reading of the bill is ceremonial, and you will see in the sample debate that it rarely is completed. This is because members have a copy of the bill in front of them. The chair will accept a motion that further reading of the bill be dispensed with, and pass the motion under the gavel. This sounds very confusing because both the President of the Senate / Speaker of the House and the Clerk / Secretary will both be speaking at the same time.
The presiding officer will be recognizing a member that is moving to dispense with further reading of the bill and then asks if it is the pleasure of the body to not have the bill read. He/She is saying
“Senator/Rep ....(Lastname) moves that further reading of the bill be dispensed with, is it the pleasure of the House/Senate.” (Bangs Gavel) It is a vote.
The Clerk/Secretary are reading the bill word by word until they hear the gavel bang.
Once the body has accepted a committee report, the presiding officer will ask if there are any House/Senate Amendments. If a member wants to make an amendment to the bill, they must go to the Clerk / Secretary and get an amendment form. When the presiding officer asks if there are any amendments the member must:
All debate rules and voting procedures are the same on amendments.
This step is to have the bill passed to be printed in its final form. This is the final act, in the actual legislature after a bill is engrossed it goes to be printed in the final form passed on the floor.
The final step, it is just procedural in the Model Legislature and Assembly. Enactment signifies the bill is now to be sent to the other body, if the other body has already acted on it, then on to the Governor's desk.
STEP 4: YOUTH GOVERNOR'S DESK
The last part of the Youth in Government process is that all bills that pass both the House and Senate go onto the Youth Governor's desk where he/she will make the decision to sign into law, or veto
Sign into Law --the Youth Governor Signs the bill and it becomes a law
Veto--the Youth Governor vetoes the bill and it is dead unless both the House and Senate can override his / her veto by getting 2/3's of members to vote to override the Governor's decision.