Legislative Terms


The following abbreviations are commonly used:

HB House Bill

SB Senate Bill

SCR Senate Concurrent Resolution

SR Senate Resolution

HR House Resolution

SCA Senate Constitutional Amendment

SJR Senate Joint Resolution


Act: A bill passed by a legislative body and signed by the Executive.

Adjournment: To terminate a session of a legislative body.

Amendment: An action of a legislative body to delete, alter, or revise the language of a bill or an act. Bills in Congress may be amended by either House at any one of a number of stages in the legislative process.

Appropriation: A legislative grant of money for a specific purpose.

Authorization: A legislative action that establishes a substantive program, specifies its general purpose and the means for achieving it, and indicates the approximate amount of money needed to implement the program. In Congress, an authorization bill is usually enacted before the appropriate bill providing financing for the program is considered.


Bill: A proposed law. Most legislative proposals before a legislative body are in the form of bills. Bill drafting is the process of formulating legislative proposals.


Calendar: An agenda or list that contains the names of bills or resolutions to be considered before committees or in either chamber of a legislature. The placement of a bill on a calendar is no guarantee that the bill will be considered by that chamber or that it will be taken up in the listed order.

Caucus: An informal meeting of a group of the members sometimes called on the basis of party affiliation.

Committee Chairperson: The member of the majority party who heads a standing or select legislative committee.

Committee of the Whole: An informal procedure used by a legislative body to expedite business by resolving itself into a committee for the consideration of bills and other matters.

Concurrent Resolution: A special measure passed by one house with the other concurring, but not requiring the President/Governor’s signature.

Conference Committee: A special joint committee appointed to reconcile difference when a bill passes the two Houses in different forms.

Consent Calendar: File of noncontroversial bills which it is unanimously agreed should be passed.


District: A political-geographical division of a state from which a legislator is elected.


Engrossment: Comparison of the printed bill to assure its likeness to the original and that amendment are properly inserted.

Enrollment: The filing of resolutions with the Secretary of State and of bills with the Governor, following the final proofreading by the House of origin.


Floor: A colloquialism describing the interior of either House.


Held in Committee: A bill that fails to get sufficient votes to pass out of committee.

Hearing: A public session of a committee of a legislative body to obtain information on a proposed law or resolution.

Hopper: To toss a bill in the hopper is to present it for formal introduction and first reading.


Interim: The interval between regular sessions, or a long recess within a session.

Interim Study: A bill referred for interim study is dead for the session. The subject matter of the bill is assigned by the Rules Committee to an appropriate committee for study during the period the Legislature is not in session (the interim).


Joint Committee: A legislative committee composed of members of both Houses.

Joint Resolution: A measure, similar to a bill, which must be approved in both Houses and by the President.


Majority Floor Leader: The chief spokesperson and strategist of the majority party, who directs the party’s forces in legislative battles.

Motion: A formal proposal offered by a member while the House is in session.


Position Papers: The written position of an organization or a person a particular issue. Usually brief.


Ranking Member: That member of the majority party on a legislative committee who ranks first after the chairperson.

Readings: The three reading of a bill required at different stages of the legislative process. In Congress, the first reading occurs when the bill is introduced and printed by title in the Congressional record. The second, often a reading in full, takes place when the bill is brought out of committee for consideration before the chamber. The third reading, usually by title only, comes after amendments have been voted on and the bill comes up for a final vote.

Representative: A member of the House of Representatives in Congress.


Senate: The upper house of the United States Congress.

Senator: A member of the United States Senate.

Session: The period during which a legislative body assembles and carries on its regular business.

Speaker of the House: The presiding officer in the House of Representatives.


Veto: Vote of an Executive is disapproval of a measure. May be overridden. A “pocket veto” occurs when a Governor fails to sign a bill after final adjournment and cannot be overridden.


Whip: An assistant floor leader who aids the majority or minority floor leader of each party in each house of Congress.