BY TAYLOR BENNETT, COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT POLICY COORDINATOR, THE HUB
This year was a record setting year for the WV Legislature. Not only was it the second year in a row in which a balanced budget bill was passed without the need for a special session, legislators managed to review and pass a whopping 294 bills this year.
Before any of them can make the final leg of their journey – a trip across the governor’s desk – they first must undergo a rigorous review process.
Up for Review
This final step conducted by the legislature ensures that each bill is worded so that it will function as legislators intended when the bill was passed and that any errors are corrected. The Clerk’s office in both the Senate and the House complete this review under the supervision of a special committee called the Committee on Enrolled Bills.
It can take several days between when a bill is passed by both houses, and the time that the bill reaches the Governor’s desk. This lag time is due to the fact that a great number of bills are passed on the last few days of session and the fact that the budget bill, which has a stricter set of deadlines than other bills, is prioritized
On to the Governor
When evaluating whether or not to sign a bill, a governor has a very specific timeline they must follow. If the legislature is in session, the governor has five days to approve or veto any bill they receive. After the session ends, they can take up to 15 days to deliberate before taking action. The only exceptions are bills that deal with the budget or supplemental appropriations, in which case they only get 5 days to make a decision.
The time bills have in this queue presents a last opportunity for citizen advocates to intervene in the process by either expressing support for or opposition to legislation.
During this deliberation period, the governor is deciding between three choices — approve, veto, or ignore.
If the governor likes a bill, they can simply sign their name and the bill will become law on the effective date listed in the legislation.
If the governor does not like a bill, they have the authority to veto it and prevent it from becoming law. For regular bills, the legislature is able to override this veto power with a majority vote. In the case of the budget or supplemental appropriations bills, though, it takes a two-thirds vote from both houses to override the veto.
In the case that the governor doesn’t take action before these deadlines, the bill automatically becomes a law without a signature.Keep posted on which actions are being taken on bills using this section of the WV Legislature’s website.