Selected SLC Research


Policy Analysis | April 27, 2017

Bill Introduction Limits and Pre-Filing Requirements in SLC Member States

Nick Bowman

Introduction

In recent years, several states and legislative chambers have created a limit on the number of bills that may be introduced each legislative session. Proponents have argued that this will force legislators to only introduce legislation that is likely to pass and may decrease the need for longer sessions or special sessions. In some chambers, the limit only applies after the chamber’s pre-filing deadline. Table 1 displays the limits placed on legislation introduced each session in the 15 Southern Legislative Conference (SLC) member states. Six SLC member states apply a limit in at least one of their legislative chambers.

Table 1. Limits on Bills Introduced Per Session in SLC Member States
State/Chamber Limit on Legislation Introduced Per Session
Alabama No limit
Arkansas No limit
Florida House Six bills per member
Florida Senate No limit
Georgia No limit
Kentucky No limit
Louisiana Five bills that were not pre-filed
Mississippi No limit
Missouri No limit
North Carolina House 15 bills per member
North Carolina Senate No limit
Oklahoma House Eight bills or joint resolutions per member *
Oklahoma Senate No limit
South Carolina No limit
Tennessee House 15 bills per member
Tennessee Senate No limit
Texas No limit
Virginia House 15 per member in odd-numbered years; five non-pre-filed bills after the pre-filing deadline
Virginia Senate Eight non-pre-filed bills after the pre-filing deadline
West Virginia No limit

* There are exceptions to this limit. See the section on Oklahoma for more information.


In addition, many states permit the practice of pre-filing legislation before a legislative session begins. Table 2 illustrates the practice of pre-filing in the 15 SLC member states. Fourteen SLC member states permit the practice of pre-filing legislation. The Florida House of Representatives allows members to introduce up to six bills per session, two of which must be pre-field. Limits on legislation that is not pre-filed, as practiced in Louisiana and Virginia, creates a de facto pre-filing requirement.

Table 2. Pre-filing of Bills in SLC Member States
State/Chamber Pre-filing of Legislation
Alabama Permitted
Arkansas Permitted
Florida House Six bills per member may be introduced, at least two must be pre-filed
Florida Senate Permitted
Georgia Permitted
Kentucky Permitted
Louisiana No member may introduce more than five non-pre-filed bills *
Mississippi Permitted
Missouri Permitted
North Carolina House Not permitted
North Carolina Senate Not Permitted
Oklahoma House Permitted
Oklahoma Senate Permitted
South Carolina Permitted
Tennessee House Permitted
Tennessee Senate Permitted
Texas Permitted
Virginia House Five non-pre-filed bills may be filed after the pre-filing deadline
Virginia Senate Eight non-pre-filed bills may be filed after the pre-filing deadline
West Virginia Permitted

* See the section on Louisiana for more information.


States with Bill Introduction Limits
Florida

A member of the House of Representatives may not file more than six bills during a regular session. Of the six bills, at least two must be pre-filed with the clerk of the House no later than 12:00 p.m. on the sixth Tuesday prior to the first day of the regular session. Bills that do not count toward these limits include: ceremonial House resolutions, memorials, concurrent resolutions regarding extension of a session of legislative organization, trust fund bills adhering to another bill, public records or public meetings exemptions bills adhering to another bill, joint resolutions adhering to a general bill, and bills that only repeal or delete provisions of the Florida Statutes or Laws of Florida.

There is no limit on the number of bills introduced in the Senate. Bills may be pre-filed but are not required to be.

Sources
“The Florida Senate: Rules and Manual 2016-2018.” The Florida Senate. November 22, 2016. https://www.flsenate.gov/PublishedContent/ADMINISTRATIVEPUBLICATIONS/2016-2018SenateRules.pdf (accessed March 17, 2017).
“The Rules of the Florida House of Representatives.” Florida Legislature. http://www.leg.state.fl.us/cgi-bin/view_page.pl?Tab=session&Submenu=1&FT=D&File=hb0001O.html&Directory=session/2004O/House/bills/billtext/html/ (accessed March 17, 2017).

Louisiana

Under the Constitution of the State of Louisiana, no member of the Legislature may introduce more than five bills that were not pre-filed, except as provided in the joint rules of the Legislature. Additionally, sessions convening in even-numbered years are general in nature; sessions convening in odd-numbered years are fiscal in nature.

In odd-numbered years, the Legislature divides all bills into three classes:

  • Class I: Measures to enact a general appropriation bill; enact the comprehensive capital budget; make an appropriation; levy or authorize a new tax; increase an existing tax; levy, authorize, increase, decrease, or repeal a fee; dedicate revenue; bills regarding tax exemptions, exclusions, deductions, reductions, repeals, or credits; or bills regarding issuance of bonds.
  • Class II: Local or special bills (those which are constitutionally required to be and have been advertised).
  • Class III: Any other subject matter not covered by Class I or Class II.

In odd-numbered years, all Class III bills must be pre-filed, and no member may pre-file more than five of these bills. There is no limit for pre-filing Class I or Class II bills, but only five of these bills may be introduced after the session begins.

Sources
“Constitution of the State of Louisiana, Article III.” Louisiana Senate. http://senate.la.gov/Documents/Constitution/Article3.htm (accessed March 20, 2017).
“Regular Session Information Bulletin.” Louisiana House of Representatives. September 30, 2016. https://legis.la.gov/legisdocs/17rs/17RS_House_Bulletin.pdf(accessed March 20, 2017).

North Carolina

The House of Representatives has a limit of 15 bills per session per member. Pre-filing of bills is not permitted. There is an exchange program, operated by the House principal clerk, for members who wish to file more than their allotment.

There are no limits on the number of bills that may be introduced in the Senate. Pre-filing of bills is not permitted.

In both chambers, bills may only be introduced in either chamber on legislative days when the General Assembly is in session.

Source
Email communication with Paul Coble, Legislatives Services Officer, General Assembly on March 13, 2017.

Oklahoma

In the House of Representatives, members may only introduce a total of eight bills or joint resolutions during a session. Simple and concurrent resolutions, which don’t have the force and effect of law, are exempt. Other exceptions to the eight-bill limit include:

  • Budget bills authored by the chair of the Appropriations and Budget Committee;
  • Bills introduced to merge duplicate sections;
  • Measures that disapprove or approve agency rules;
  • Bills relating to the Oklahoma Sunset Law;
  • Bills that simply repeal statutory language; and
  • Any other measure authorized by the Speaker.

Although the House has an eight-bill limit, members may introduce more than eight bills; however, only the first eight bills are technically eligible to be heard and the remainder are sent to the Rules Committee for consideration. In addition, there is an exchange program for members who wish to file more than their allotment.

Bills may be pre-filed, but are not required to be.

In the Senate, there is no limit on the number of bills that may be introduced each legislative session. Bills may be pre-filed, but are not required to be.

Sources
Email communication with Marcia Goff, Research Director, House of Representatives on March 13, 2017.
“Senate Rules for the 56th Oklahoma Legislature.” Oklahoma Senate. 2017. http://www.oksenate.gov/publications/senate_rules/2017-Senate-Rule.pdf (accessed March 24, 2017).

Tennessee

In the House of Representatives, members may only introduce 15 bills per session. Bills filed on behalf of the governor do not count toward the limit.

In the Senate, there is no limit on the number of bills introduced until the second Thursday of session; after that date, members may only introduce nine bills per session.

In both chambers, bills may be pre-filed, but are not required to be.

Sources
“How Many Bills Can State Legislators Introduce?” MultiState. December 21, 2015. https://www.multistate.us/blog/insider/2015/12/how-many-bills-can-state-legislators-introduce (accessed March 24, 2017).
“The Book of the States.” The Council of State Governments. 2016. http://knowledgecenter.csg.org/kc/system/files/3.14%202016.pdf (accessed March 24, 2017).
Humphrey, Tom. “Tennessee lawmakers file more than 1,400 bills.” Knoxville News Sentinel. February 13, 2017. http://www.knoxnews.com/story/news/local/tennessee/2017/02/13/tennessee-lawmakers-file-more-than-1400-bills/97758034/ (accessed March 24, 2017).
Humphrey, Tom. “Deadline Thursday for Tenn. Legislative bills in 2016 session.” Knoxville News Sentinel. January 17, 2016. http://archive.knoxnews.com/news/politics/deadline-thursday-for-tenn-legislative-bills-in-2016-session-2979ef9e-f6b6-45b7-e053-0100007ff298-365585101.html (accessed March 24, 2017).
“Temporary Rules of Order of the Senate for the 110th General Assembly.” Tennessee General Assembly. January 10, 2017. http://www.capitol.tn.gov/senate/publications/Temp%20Rules%20Of%20Order%20110th%20(1-10-17).pdf (accessed March 24, 2017).

Virginia

Senators are limited to introducing 10 commending and memorial resolutions each session. In odd-numbered years (i.e, years in which a budget bill is in effect and only budget amendments are being considered), delegates may introduce a total of 15 bills, excluding commending and memorial resolutions.

In addition, after Virginia's pre-filing deadline passes (10:00 a.m. on the first day of each session), delegates may introduce up to five non-pre-filed bills and senators may introduce up to eight non-pre-filed bills, commending and memorial resolutions are not counted for purposes of these limits. Thus, while there is no pre-filing requirement, the limit on bills after the pre-filing deadline effectively creates a pre-filing requirement.

Source
Email communication with Mark Vucci, Acting Director, Division of Legislative Services on March 14, 2017.

States with No Bill Introduction Limits

The following states have no limit on the number of bills that may be introduced each legislative session:

  • Alabama
  • Arkansas
  • Georgia
  • Kentucky
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • South Carolina
  • Texas
  • West Virginia

In these states, bills may be pre-filed, but are not required to be.

Sources
Email communication with Jerry Bassett, Senior Counsel to Legislative Service Agencies, Alabama Legislative Reference Service on March 14, 2017.
Email communication with Ann Cornwell, Director, Arkansas Senate on March 13, 2017.
Email communication with Martha Wigton, Director, Georgia House Budget and Research Office on March 13, 2017.
Email communication with David Byerman, Director, Kentucky Legislative Research Commission on March 13, 2017.
“House Rules.” Mississippi Legislature. http://billstatus.ls.state.ms.us/htms/h_rules.pdf (accessed March 20, 2017).
“Senate Rules.” Mississippi Legislature. http://billstatus.ls.state.ms.us/htms/s_rules.pdf (accessed March 20, 2017).
“Missouri Constitution, Article III.” Missouri General Assembly. http://www.moga.mo.gov/mostatutes/ConstArticles/Art03.html (accessed March 24, 2017).
“Rules of the House of Representatives.” South Carolina Legislature. 2017. http://www.scstatehouse.gov/housepage/hourule.php (accessed March 24, 2017).
“Rules of the Senate.” South Carolina Legislature. December 6, 2016. http://www.scstatehouse.gov/senatepage/senrule.php (accessed March 24, 2017).
Grissom, Brandi and Lauren McGaughy. “Let the lawmaking begin: Texas legislators file bills for the 2017 session.” The Dallas Morning News. November 14, 2016. http://www.dallasnews.com/news/texas-legislature/2016/11/14/let-lawmaking-begin-lawmakers-file-bills-2017-session(accessed March 24, 2017).
“Senate Rules.” Texas Senate. January 11, 2017. http://www.senate.texas.gov/_assets/pdf/SenateRules85.pdf (accessed March 24, 2017).
“Texas House Rules.” Texas House of Representatives. 2017. http://www.house.state.tx.us/_media/pdf/hrrules.pdf (accessed March 24, 2017).
Email communication with Aaron Allred, Legislative Manager and Legislative Auditor, West Virginia Legislature on March 13, 2017.