How a Bill Becomes a Law
Introduction (Setting the Stage)
You are working in the emergency room of a local hospital. Two children are rushed in with multiple
injuries including broken bones and lacerations to the head. You learn that the children were riding on
the front row of a school bus when a car made an illegal turn in front of the bus causing the bus driver to
brake suddenly.
You decide to research similar incidents and notice this is a common occurrence both in the state and
nationally. You are also aware of a legislative bill in your state last year to have seatbelts placed on all school buses, but it did not pass; in fact, the bill never progressed past the House Transportation
Committee which meant that the bill “died in committee.”
Here is an example of the path a bill has to take to become a law in the state of Indiana. The process is
very similar in other states. Notice how easy it is for a bill to die along the way.
How a Bill Becomes a Law, Your Idea:
As a constituent of your state and a concerned health care provider, you find yourself troubled that such
an important bill focused on child safety would not even pass through its first committee. You decide
that if the recommendations to the bill were changed to require seatbelts for those only sitting in the
front seats of the bus, the bill might have a better chance of passing. So you discuss the idea with
several colleagues and they agree that it would be worth perusing. You do not know how to move this
initiative forward so you start exploring. You find out that the idea for a bill can begin with a legislator
(elected government official), state agency, business, lobbyist, state-nursing association, or a citizen like you! You find out that Mr. Thomas Jones is your representative to the state legislature, and you realize that he is a parent in your school district.