Skip to Main Content
Levin College of Law

Florida Legislative History

Getting Started

What is Legislative History?

Legislative history refers to the record of materials generated as a piece of legislation goes through the legislative process. The legislative history for a bill begins when the bill is introduced in either the Florida Senate or Florida House of Representatives and ends when the bill either is enacted into law or is not enacted into law due to lack of support from the legislature or the governor.

As a bill works its way through the legislative process, various documents are generated, including different versions of the bill, committee reports, and voting histories.

Why use Legislative History?

Perhaps the primary reason for compiling a legislative history is to try to determine legislative intent; in other words, determining the goals of the Florida Legislature at the time of a bill's passage.

There are many sources of legislative intent, including the text of the bill as proposed, any amendments that were proposed or rejected, any bill analysis done on a bill, the record of hearings on the bill, speeches and floor debates made prior to the vote on the bill, and legislative journals.

Legislative Material

The Legislative Process

In Florida, the Senate and the House of Representatives comprise the Florida Legislature. Legislators introduce legislation called bills. These are drafted or reviewed by the Drafting Service of the Florida Senate and Florida House of Representatives. Once filed the bills are given a bill number. Senate bills are given an SB designation paired with an even number, House bills are given the HB designation paired with an odd number.

After a bill is introduced it will be referred to one or more committees related to the subject of the bill. The committee analyzes the bill and may conduct hearings to obtain more information about the subject of the bill. After consideration, the committee votes to amend, pass, or defeat the bill. If the bill is defeated in committee, it is dead for the rest of the session. 

If the bill passes the committee, it moves to the other committees or to the full chamber (Senate or House). A bill is read three times in the chamber before being voted on by the full membership of the chamber. 

If a bill passes in either chamber, it is sent to the other for review. The bill goes through the same process in the second chamber as it did the first. If amendments are made in the second chamber, the bill will go back and forth between the Florida Senate and Florida House of Representatives until a consensus is reached.

If a bill is approved by both chambers of the Florida Legislature and sent to the governor during the legislative session, it is called an act. The governor has seven days to act. If the governor receives the approved bill after the conclusion of the session, the governor has fifteen days to act. The governor can sign a bill, veto a bill, or take no action, in which case the bill becomes law without the governor's signature. 

A bill must make it through the entire process before the end of the session. If a bill fails at any step, it is dead and must begin the process again in the next session.