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How a Bill becomes a Law in Tennessee / Know your way through the Legislative process.

Formal expressions of legislative intent may be made in any of three ways:



A bill is a form in which a proposed law is drafted for introduction in the Legislature, and it remains a bill until final legislative and executive action is taken upon it.


Acts, public and private, are the end results of bills and do not become acts until they are passed in identical form by both houses of the Legislature and are (1) signed by the governor; or (2) allowed to become a law by the governor’s failure to return the bill stating his objections to it; within ten days (Sundays excepted) after it has been presented to him; or (3) passed by a majority of all the members of each house, notwithstanding the objections of the governor, where he has vetoed the bill.


There are three types of bills in Tennessee: the terms—public acts, general acts, public laws—are used interchangeably in referring to legislative enactments of statewide application, although “public acts” is the official designation.


General bills apply to all areas of the state and amend the TCA, though the Attorney General has ruled that, in certain circumstances, counties may be excluded upon vote of the membership.


General bills of local application are acts which amend the Tennessee Code, but rather than applying statewide, they apply only to specific areas of the state. These areas are usually designated by population brackets.


Private, local, or special acts refer to acts applicable to one subdivision or part of the state and require approval of the legislative body governing the area to which the act applies.




Resolutions, unlike bills, do not become the law of the state when acted upon by the Legislature, but serve merely to express the will of the majority of the body by which they are adopted. Resolutions are termed House Resolutions or Senate Resolutions depending upon the house in which they are adopted. Resolutions passed by both houses are joint resolutions.


Joint Resolutions


Joint resolutions are a higher form of expression of the legislative will than resolutions. Although they are not laws, they do have the force of law for certain limited purposes. If they originate in the Senate, they are Senate Joint Resolutions; if they originate in the House, they are House Joint Resolutions. Joint resolutions require the approval of the governor and are subject to the same rules as bills with reference to vetoes, passage over the governor’s veto, and taking effect upon failure of the governor to sign or veto them.


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