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GLOSSARY OF LEGISLATIVE TERMS


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Note: These terms are defined according to their use in the Oklahoma Legislature and in the Oklahoma State Senate.

Absolute Majority - See "Majority"

Act - a measure which has become law after: (1) being passed by both houses and approved by the Governor, (2) being passed over the Governor's veto, or (3) becoming effective without the Governor's signature.

Action - disposition of any question before the Legislature.

Adjournment - termination of a daily session; occurring at the close of each legislative day upon the completion of business, with the hour and day of the next meeting being set prior to adjournment. (See also "Sine die".)

Adoption - approval or acceptance; usually applied to amendments, resolutions or conference committee reports.

Advancement - a procedure by which a measure on the floor is moved to third reading and is no longer subject to amendment in the house in which it is being considered.

Advise and Consent - confirmation by the Senate of certain appointees of the Governor or other appointing authority.

Agenda (committee) - a list of legislative measures, by number and short title, arranged according to the order of business, to be considered in a committee meeting.

Agenda (floor) - a list of legislative measures, by number and short title, that the Majority Floor Leader plans to consider on a particular legislative day. Any other measure listed on the calendar can also be considered by the Senate that day. The floor agenda is part of the Senate Digest. (See also "Calendar".)

Amendment - any alteration made or proposed to be made in a bill, motion or clause by adding, changing, substituting or omitting portions of the measure in question. Amendments may be made at the appropriate time in committee or on the Senate floor.

Annual Session - a regularly scheduled legislative session that convenes each year. (See also "Biennial Session".)

Apportionment - a division of the state into districts from which legislators are elected based upon the distribution of the population. (See also "Reapportionment".)

Appropriation - a legislative allocation of funds for a specific purpose.

Author - the legislator who introduces and sponsors a measure in either house. (See also "Coauthor" and "Principal Author".)

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Bicameral Legislature - a Legislature consisting of two houses. (See also "Unicameral Legislature".)

Biennial Session - a regular scheduled legislative session which convenes every other year. (See also "Annual Session".)

Bill - a proposed new law or a proposed change to current law presented to the Legislature for consideration. (See also "Resolution".)

Bill Analysis - a synopsis consisting of background information, statement of purpose, section-by-section analysis and a summary of all previous legislative action on the measure.

Bipartisan - involving representatives of two political parties. (See also "Nonpartisan".)

Bloc - a group of legislators working together to achieve a common goal.

Budget - estimate of the receipts and expenditures needed to carry out programs for a fiscal period.

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Calendar - a list of legislation available to be heard by the Legislature. (See also "Agenda", "General Order" and "Consent Calendar".)

Calendar Day - any day of the year, whether or not the Legislature is in session. (See also "Legislative Day".)

Call of the Senate - a method of operation of the Senate upon a majority vote of the members present, under which the presiding officer may compel the attendance of all members and may confine the members to the chamber for the purpose of conducting business.

Carryover Legislation - legislation held over from the first regular session of a Legislature to the second regular session (from odd-numbered years to even-numbered years).

Caucus - a meeting of certain members of a legislative body to select leaders or decide policy. A caucus may be formed by a political party or may be formed by any group with a common interest.

Chair - a traditional designation of the current presiding officer.

Chamber - the meeting place of the Senate or House. The Oklahoma legislative chambers are located on the fourth floor of the Capitol.

Coauthor - a member of either house who joins the principal author in the sponsorship of a measure. (See also "Author".)

Coauthor Slip - a paper upon which a member indicates in writing an intention to Coauthor legislation. All authorship changes after introduction must be made in writing or made with unanimous consent on the Senate floor.

Codification - the process by which newly enacted law is systematically numbered within the Oklahoma Statutes.

Committee - a group of members of a legislative body to which is assigned a special task.

Standing Committee - a permanent committee set up to handle legislation in a certain field.

Special or Select Committee - a temporary committee set up to deal with a specific issue.

Joint Committee - a committee representing both houses.

Conference Committee - a joint committee whose function is to arrive at a single version of a bill which has passed the two legislative houses in somewhat different form. (See also "General Conference Committee on Appropriations".)

Committee of the Whole - a committee consisting of the entire membership of the Senate. Without prior notice, the Senate may declare itself a committee of the whole upon approval of a majority of the members.

Committee Report - the report of an action of a majority of the members of a certain committee on any measure. The committee report is transmitted to the floor. A committee report shows a recommendation for action, all committee amendments and any authorship changes. Recommendations for action are limited to "do pass" or "do pass as amended". The latter can include a committee substitute for the measure.

Committee Substitute - revised version of legislation proposed for consideration or adopted by a committee.

Concurrent Resolution - See "Resolution".

Conference Committee - See "Committee".

Confirmation - approval by the Senate of appointments made by the Governor or other appointing authority. (See also "Advise and Consent".)

Consent Calendar - schedule of legislation on which, by unanimous consent, there can be neither debate nor amendment. (See also "Calendar" and "General Order".)

Constituent - a citizen residing within the district of an elected legislator.

Constitutional Amendment - a change in the state constitution, proposed either by legislative joint resolution or initiative petition, and requiring an affirmative vote of the electorate to become effective.

Convene - to assemble the Legislature or either house thereof. The regular session of the Legislature convenes on the first Monday in February of each year. In odd-numbered years the Legislature convenes on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in January for that one day only.

Cripple the Title - see "Strike the Title".

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Daily Session - see "Session".

Deadline - a legislative day after which certain activities may not occur. The joint rules contain deadlines for such activities as bill requests, introduction, committee consideration and floor action.

Debate - the formal expression of a member's views for or against a matter.

Digest - a Senate publication prepared by the records staff containing the floor agenda, com-mittee meeting notices and the calendar.

District - a geographic division of the state on the basis of population and in accordance with conditions laid down by the courts, Congress or the Legislature.

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Effective date - the date upon which a measure actually becomes law. This date may or may not be listed in the legislation. If not, and if an emergency clause is not included, the law au-tomatically becomes effective 90 days after sine die adjournment. (See also "Emergency Clause".)

Election - the process of choosing government officials or approving legislation or constitutional amendments by the electorate.

Primary Election - an election within a party to select its candidates for public office.

Runoff Primary Election - an election between the two contenders receiving the highest number of votes in the primary election if no contender has received a majority of the votes cast.

General Election - an open election to make final determination of the winning candidate or of approval of legislation or constitutional amendments.

Emergency Clause - a provision, requiring two-thirds approval by both houses, that allows a measure to become effective immediately upon the signature of the Governor or at a specified date. A law cannot become effective fewer than 90 days after sine die adjourn-ment without an emergency clause.

Enact - to pass a law.

Enacting clause - the phrase: "BE IT ENACTED BY THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF OKLAHOMA:". All bills passed must contain an enacting clause.

Engrossment - the preparation of an exact, accurate and official copy of a measure passed by the house of origin containing the proper endorsement of that house and including all adopted committee and floor amendments; the measure is then forwarded to the opposite house for its consideration. Any amendments made in the opposite house are likewise en-grossed and re-turned to the house of origin for consideration.

Enrollment - the preparation of an exact, accurate and official copy of a measure in its final form in the house of origin, with amendments adopted in the opposite house or in a conference committee and concurred in by the house of origin incorporated in the measure; the final and official copy includes the signatures of the presiding officers of both houses and is sent to the Governor for signature.

Ex Officio - the holding of a particular office by reason of holding another. The President Pro Tempore and the Majority Floor Leader are ex officio members of all Senate committees.

Executive Nomination - nomination made by the Governor or other appointing authority of an appointee to a state agency, board or commission and sent to the Senate for its approval. The nomination is first sent to the appropriate standing committee which makes a recommendation to the full Senate.

Expiration Date - See "Lapse Date".

Extraordinary Session - See "Session".

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Filibuster - prolonged debate for the purpose of delaying or preventing action by the Legislature.

First Reading - see "Readings".

Fiscal Year - a twelve-month period at the end of which accounts are finalized. Oklahoma's fiscal year lasts from July 1 through June 30.

Floor - the interior of either chamber; "floor action" describes the consideration of measures by the entire membership of the respective chambers.

Floor Amendment - an amendment proposed for consideration on the Senate floor. When a measure is read for passage, and before advancement of the measure, members may write changes to the bill in the form of a floor amendment. These amendments are written by the members or legislative services staff, and are either adopted or fail according to a vote of the Senate.

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Gallery - the seating area for visitors and media located above the chambers (on the fifth floor of the Capitol).

General Conference Committee on Appropriations (GCCA) - a continuing conference committee which hears all appropriation bills for consideration on the floor. The GCCA is made up of members from each house and is divided into subcommittees.

General Election - see "Election".

General Order - an order of legislative business in which the Senate considers bills and joint resolutions which have been reported out of committee. Under general order, measures are subject to debate and amendment. (See also "Calendar" and "Consent Calendar".)

Gerrymander - to draw legislative district boundary lines to obtain partisan or factional ad-vantages in the election of legislators.

Grandfather Clause - section of a measure making its provisions inapplicable to activities or personnel involved prior to a specific date.

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Hearing - a session of a legislative committee at which witnesses present testimony on matters under consideration by the committee.

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Impeachment - a procedure to remove from office certain public officials accused of mis-con-duct. Impeachment proceedings take place in the House of Representatives, while trial on the charges is held in the Senate.

Initiative Petition - the method by which the people may submit proposals for legislation or constitutional amendments.

Interim - the period between sine die adjournment of one regular legislative session to the convening of the next regular legislative session.

Introduction - the filing of a measure for consideration by the Legislature. A mea-sure is con-sidered introduced upon first reading and is assigned a number at that time.

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Joint Committee - See "Committee".

Joint Resolution - See "Resolution".

Joint Rules - See "Rules".

Joint Session - See "Session".

Journal - the official record of legislative proceedings. Each house issues its own daily journal for each day of the session and a corrected, indexed and bound permanent journal after the close of the session.

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Lapse Date - a date listed in some legislation after which all or some of the provi-sions of that legislation are no longer in effect. This may be a specific date or may be dependent upon the fulfillment of certain requirements listed in the legislation. Lapse dates are used most frequently in appropriation bills.

Law - See "Act".

Lay over - to postpone action on a measure until a future time.

Legislative Day - a day on which the Legislature actually meets. (See also "Calendar Day".) There are usually four legislative days per week.

Lobbyist - a person who, voluntarily or for a fee, represents himself or herself, any individual, organization, corporation or entity before the Legislature.

Lower House - the House of Representatives.

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Majority - more than half.

Absolute majority - more than half of the entire membership.

Simple majority - more than half of the members present and voting.

Majority Floor Leader - a senator chosen by members of the majority party caucus to de-termine the order of business for the Senate. The Majority Floor Leader is an ex officio and voting member of all Senate committees. The members of the majority party caucus also choose one or more Majority Whips and Assistant Majority Floor Leaders.

Majority Whip - a senator responsible for assisting the members of the majority party in working with members of the Senate in determining and informing the leadership of the members' positions on issues.

Minority Floor Leader - a senator chosen by members of the minority party caucus to be the leader of the minority party members. The members of the minority party also choose an Assistant Minority Floor Leader, a Minority Whip and an Assistant Minority Whip.

Minority Whip - a senator responsible for assisting the members of the minority party in the same manner as the Majority Whip. (See also "Majority Whip".)

Measure - bill, joint resolution, concurrent resolution or simple resolution.

Message - communication from one house to the other or to or from the Governor concerning legislative or gubernatorial action on bills, resolutions or executive nominations.

Minutes - accurate chronological record of the proceedings of a meeting.

Motion - a proposal on procedure or action presented to a legislative body.

Motion to reconsider - a motion to consider again an action of the house in which the measure is being considered. For a motion to reconsider the final vote of a measure on third or fourth reading or on an emergency clause or special election feature, notice must be served on the same day of the action that a member may wish to lodge a motion to reconsider and the motion must be made within the succeeding three legislative days. A motion to reconsider any other action must be made by a member voting in the majority and must be disposed of on the same day.

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Nonpartisan - free from party domination. (See also "Bipartisan".)

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Officers - members and staff elected by the Senate as leadership. This includes the Lieutenant Governor who is the President of the Senate, the President Pro Tem-pore, the Majority and Minority Floor Leaders, the Assistant Majority and Minority Floor Leaders, the Majority and Minority Whips and the Secretary of the Senate.

Order of Business - the following is the order of business followed in each daily session:

1. Prayer
2. Executive Nominations
3. General Order
4. Third Reading
5. House Amendments to Senate Bills and Resolutions
6. Conference Committee Reports
7. Fourth Reading
8. Committee Reports
9. Second Reading
10. First Reading
11. Communications
12. Other Business

Override - to pass a bill after the Governor has vetoed it. This requires a two-thirds vote of each house (Three-fourths vote on emergency measures).

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Passage - favorable action on a measure before the Legislature.

Patronage - the control of appointive jobs by a political party or person in power.

Per diem - daily expense allowance for legislators.

Personal Privilege - right of a member to speak on the floor regarding a subject not currently being discussed or on the agenda.

Pocket Veto - failure of the Governor to sign a measure within 15 days following sine die adjournment, which results in veto without gubernatorial action. (See also "Veto".)

Point of order - motion calling attention to an alleged breach of order or rules.

Pre-filing - filing of bills and other proposed legislation prior to the convening of the regular session of the Legislature. Bills may be prefiled beginning on November 15 of even-num-bered years and at any time during odd-numbered years.

President of the Senate - the Lieutenant Governor.

President Pro Tempore - a senator chosen by his or her fellow members to be the chief executive officer of the Senate and to preside in the absence of the Lieutenant Governor, with powers and duties prescribed by Senate rules. The President Pro Tempore is the effective leader of the Senate and is an ex officio and voting member of all Senate com-mittees.

Presiding Officer - the senator who chairs the daily session. There may be sev-eral pre-siding officers during any daily session. The presiding officer must determine the pres-ence of a quorum upon request, interpret the rules, maintain order, recognize speakers, sign legis-lation that has passed and control the voting machines.

Primary Election - see "Election".

Principal Author - the member introducing and sponsoring a measure. A measure must have a principal author from both houses at some time during the leg-islative process. The principal authors' names appear first on the bill followed by the names of any Coauthors. (See also "Coauthor".)

Printed Bill - the version of a bill considered on the floor after a measure is reported out of committee. The printed bill shows any amendments made by the committee. This 6 x 9-inch printed bill is the one the members have on their desks for consideration on the floor when the measure is on general order.

Privilege of the Floor - permission to view proceedings from the floor of the chamber rather than from the gallery; request for such permission must be made by a legislator to the presiding officer on behalf of constituents, relatives and guests and must be approved by a simple majority. Registered lobbyists, by Senate rule, may not be granted floor privileges.

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Quorum - the number of the members (usually more than half) required to be present in the chamber or a committee meeting before business may be transacted.

Quorum call - a determination as to whether or not a quorum is present.

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Ratification - the act of approving an amendment to the United States Constitution.

Readings - presentation of a bill or joint resolution. Every measure must receive three read-ings before pas-sage, none of which may be on the same day. A fourth reading occurs at the time of final action.

First reading - the measure is introduced and its title only is read for the first time. The measure is assigned a number at this time.

Second reading - the title of the measure is read for the second time and it is referred to committee.

Third reading - the measure is read at length before a vote is taken.

Fourth reading - amendments from the opposite house or a conference committee report on a measure are read before a vote is taken. If a measure has passed both houses in the same form, fourth reading occurs upon the signature of the presiding officer.

Reapportionment - the redistricting of the state for election purposes. (See also "Apportionment".)

Recall - to retrieve, by concurrent resolution, a measure which has been presented to the Governor, for the correction of errors.

Recede - to withdraw from an amendment in which the opposite house refused to concur.

Recess - to suspend a meeting of the Senate or a Senate committee.

Reconsider - to consider again a vote on any action previously taken by the Legislature. (See also "Motion to Reconsider".)

Refer - to send a measure to committee for study and consideration.

Referendum - the method by which a non-emergency measure adopted by the Legislature may be submitted to the electorate for popular vote. Referendum may be used to amend or repeal non-emergency measures passed by the Legislature.

Regular session - see "Session".

Repeal - the removal of an entire section of law from the Oklahoma Statutes by the Legislature. The repeal of a statute or statutes is accomplished by the insertion of a repealer clause in a legislative measure which becomes law.

Rescind - to annul an action previously taken.

Resolution - a formal expression of the will, wish or direction of one or both houses.

Joint Resolution - a resolution passed by both houses of the Legislature which, if signed by the Governor, has the force and effect of law. Some Oklahoma case law suggests that joint resolutions may only be used for temporary laws and not for permanent laws. Joint resolutions which are not signed by the Governor are also used to propose amendments to the Oklahoma Constitution or to ratify amendments to the United States Constitution.

Concurrent Resolution - a resolution passed by both houses of the Legislature to ex-press facts, principles, opinions, wishes and purposes of the Legislature. Concurrent resolutions are also used to memorialize the President, Congress, cabinet members or federal agencies on a certain course of action. A concurrent resolution does not have the force and effect of law except customarily insofar as for authorizing the issuance of revenue bonds pursuant to section 4002.1 of title 70.

Simple Resolution - a resolution which expresses the opinion or will of one house only and does not have the force and effect of law. It may be used for some of the same purposes as a concurrent resolution; however, its use is not as broad as to a concurrent resolution.

Roll Call Vote - a recorded vote on a measure by which members respond either "aye" or "nay" when their names are called or by indicating the same on an electronic roll call machine. (See also "Voice Vote".)

Rules - provisions for the procedure, organization, officers and committees of the Legislature.

Joint rules - govern relationship between and matters affecting the two houses.

Senate and House rules - govern matters affecting only one house.

Runoff Primary Election - see "Election".

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Second Reading - see "Readings".

Secretary of the Senate - an officer of the Senate (not a member) elected by the members to direct the staff and oversee the preparation of daily printing and general publications and the content of forms used by the Senate for various reports and procedures. The Secretary is the custodian of all Senate records and is directed to be of assistance to the President Pro Tempore and the presiding officer. The Secretary of the Senate also serves as the secretary of the State Election Board.

Select Committee - see "Committee".

Sergeant-at-Arms - an officer of the Senate or House charged with maintaining order and carrying out the directives of the presiding officers or the members.

Session - the period during which the Legislature meets.

Regular session - the annual session.

Daily session - each day's meeting.

Joint session - the meeting of the two houses together. The Lieutenant Governor presides at joint sessions.

Extraordinary session or special session - a special session of the Legislature called by the Governor or by two-thirds of the members of the Legislature. If called by the Governor, only those subjects enumerated by the Governor may be considered.

Session Law Services - a series of volumes containing all laws enacted during one year of the Legislature. The volumes are printed at intervals. The first volume contains all laws enacted up to the date of publication of that volume and each volume thereafter contains all laws enacted after the publication of the last volume.

Session Laws - a bound volume containing all laws enacted during one year of the Legislature.

Shell Bill - a bill in which the title and body of the original version have been stricken and replaced with a title and body which may or may not relate specifically to the provisions of the original bill.

Simple Majority - see "Majority".

Simple Resolution - see "Resolution".

Sine die - adjournment "without day" being set for reconvening; final adjournment. The Legislature is required to adjourn sine die no later than 5:00 on the last Friday in May. (See also "Adjournment".)

Speaker - leader of the House of Representatives, elected by all members thereof.

Special Committee - see "Committee".

Staff - the pool of persons employed to provide services to the members of the Senate.

Personal staff - employed by an individual member of the Senate.

Leadership staff - employed by the President Pro Tempore.

Service staff - employed by the Senate Chief of Staff and includes administrative, committee and fiscal staffs.

Standing Committee - see "Committee".

Standing Rules - see "Rules".

Statute - a law enacted by the Legislature.

Statutes - a compilation of all enacted laws currently in effect.

Strike the Title - to change the title of a bill to a few words which are briefly descriptive but constitutionally unacceptable. The major intent of this action is to ensure that the bill will go to a conference committee. The same effect may be achieved by striking the enacting clause. Any Senate legislation being reported out of a Senate committee, with the exception of an appropriation bill, must have an enacting clause or resolving clause and a Senate and House author.

Supplement - an addendum to the Oklahoma Statutes printed every year, with the exception of once every ten years when the Oklahoma Statutes are published in their entirety, with additions to or deletions from Oklahoma laws to bring them up to date and to correct any errors.

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Table - to lay aside for future discussion, usually with a view to postponing or shelving the matter indefinitely.

Third Reading - see "Readings".

Title - a concise statement of the contents of a bill, prepared as a preface to the bill, as required by the Oklahoma Constitution. The purpose of the title of a bill is to alert the reader to the contents of the bill. Titles which inaccurately perform this function may cause court challenge of the measure, resulting in the striking of any contents of the bill not reflected in the title.

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Unanimous Consent - agreement to take certain procedural actions unless one or more members voices an objection.

Unicameral Legislature - a Legislature consisting of one house. Nebraska is the only state with a unicameral Legislature. (See also "Bicameral Legislature".)

Upper House - the Senate.

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Veto - disapproval by the Governor of a measure. The measure is then sent back to the Legislature with the objections. (See also "Pocket Veto".)

Voice Vote - a non-roll call vote by which members respond orally by "aye" or "nay". (See also "Roll Call Vote".)

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