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Rick Scott, Governor
Florida Department of Corrections, Secretary Michael D. Crews

Florida Department of Corrections
Timothy H. Cannon, Interim Secretary

Legislative Affairs Office
Frequently Asked Questions

  1. When does the regular legislative session begin and end?
  2. How does a bill become a law?
  3. How can I tell the difference between a House and a Senate bill?
  4. What does the underlining and over-striking in bill and amendment text mean?
  5. What are the meanings of "identical," "similar," and "compare" as they relate to the companion checking of bills?
  6. How do I track a bill?
  7. What is the Department’s Legislative Package?
  8. How do I get my idea into the Department’s Legislative Package?
  9. What is chapter law?
  10. When do bills become effective?
  11. How do we implement bills?
  12. How can I find out who my Senator and Representative are?
  13. What is the deadline for the Governor to sign bills?
  14. Can I lobby?
  15. Who do I contact if I have concerns about how a bill might impact the Department?

1. When does the regular legislative session begin and end?
The regular legislative session starts on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in March for a period not to exceed 60 days.

2. How does a bill become a law?
Either house may originate any type of legislation, however the processes differ slightly between houses.  A legislator sponsors a bill, which is referred to one or more committees related to the bill's subject. The committee studies the bill and decides if it should be amended, pass, or fail. If passed, the bill moves to other committees of reference or to the full house. The full house then votes on the bill.

If it passes in one house, it is sent to the other house for review. A bill goes through the same process in the second house as it did in the first. A bill can go back and forth between houses until a consensus is reached. Of course, the measure could fail at any point in the process.

3. How can I tell the difference between a House and a Senate bill?
House and Senate bills are numbered in serial order as they are filed. House bills receive odd numbers (1, 3, 5, …) and are prefixed by "H" or "HB"; Senate bills receive even numbers (2, 4, 6, ...) and are prefixed by "S" or "SB."

4. What does the underlining and over-striking in bill and amendment text mean?
Required by the rules of both houses of the Legislature, underlining and over-striking indicate changes being made to the text of existing law or an existing constitutional provision. Underlined text is new language and over-striking indicates text being removed from existing law.

5. What are the meanings of "identical," "similar," and "compare" as they relate to the companion checking of bills?
A companion is a bill introduced in one house that is identical or similar to a bill introduced in the other house. Use of companion bills permits their concurrent analysis and deliberation by both houses. Companion bills which are identical word-for-word, including titles, are marked "identical" in bill history. However, Resolutions and Concurrent Resolutions are considered identical when the only difference is the word "House" or "Senate." Companion bills are marked "similar" in bill history if they are substantially similar in text or have substantial portions of text that are identical or largely the same. If one word is different, the bills are "similar." Companion bills with selected provisions that are similar in text are marked "compare" in bill history.

6. How do I track a bill?
You can track a bill using Online Sunshine at www.leg.state.fl.us.

7. What is the Department’s Legislative Package?
The Department’s Legislative Package is the Department’s initiatives that the Secretary and Governor’s Office have approved to be taken up as a bill.

8. How do I get my idea into the Department’s Legislative Package?
The Legislative Affairs Office will ask for suggestions for legislation annually from central office and field staff.  In order to be considered for submission during the next regular session, all suggestions for legislation must be routed to the Legislative Affairs Office through the: appropriate regional director, general counsel, inspector general, assistant secretary, director, chief of staff, or Deputy Secretary.  Suggestions for legislation will be submitted using the Request for Legislative Proposal form.  The Legislative Affairs Office may ask staff for assistance to: research, draft, and collect documents needed for legislative proposals.

9. What is chapter law?
A bill becomes chapter law once it has been enacted and assigned an identifying number by the Secretary of State.  The number indicates the year passed and the printing sequence number. For example, chapter 2000-541 represents the 541st law printed in the year 2000. Chapter laws are compiled and published annually in the Laws of Florida.

10. When do bills become effective?
A bill will be given an effective date upon which an act becomes effective. If a date is not specified in the bill, an act takes effect 60 days after the final adjournment of the legislative session at which it was enacted.

11. How do we implement bills?
Enacted legislation, including legislation and/or proviso in the General Appropriations Act and Implementing Bill, will be assigned to appropriate staff for: detailed analysis; summary preparation; dissemination; and implementation schedule(s).  A project control spread sheet with anticipated due dates will be updated periodically until the final completion date is reached.  The Legislative Affairs Office will publish and disseminate those portions of enacted legislation which affect the department.  Department staff required to complete assignments due to enacted legislation, including proviso in the General Appropriations Act and Implementing Bill, will submit to the Legislative Affairs Office supporting documents to show that the assignment was completed by the due date.

Supporting documents may include, but are not limited to: copies of any required report, procedure, and/or rule; and/or a notation on the summary of enacted legislation or implementation tracking sheet coordinated by the Legislative Affairs Office.

12. How can I find out who my Senator and Representative are?
You may use the Senate’s website to find your legislators.  Go to www.flsenate.gov and move your cursor over the “Senators” tab.  Then click on “Find your Legislators.”

Check Your voter registration card -  Each address in Florida is associated with a single state senate district, a single state house district, and a single congressional district. This district information is printed on your voter registration card. United States Senators are elected statewide.

Contact your supervisor of elections To verify district assignments or get further information about voting districts and precincts in your area, contact your county's supervisor of elections.

13. What is the deadline for the Governor to sign bills?
While the legislature is in session, the Constitution allows a 7-day period following presentation of a bill to the Governor within which to sign or veto the bill. If the Legislature adjourns sine die before an act is presented to the Governor or while an act is in the Governor’s possession, the Governor has 15 days from the date of presentation in which to take action. For more information, go to Article III, section 8 of the Florida Constitution.

14. Can I lobby?
The Department encourages employees to reach out to their local Representatives and Senators about any issue that concerns them.  However, when doing so, employees must be careful to make clear to the legislative member that they are expressing an individual concern or opinion, and not expressing the position of the Department.  By law, only those persons registered as lobbyists are permitted to lobby the Legislature on behalf of the Department.

15. Who do I contact if I have concerns about how a bill might impact the Department?
Contact the Department’s Legislative Affairs Office at (850) 488-7436.