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Becoming a Law: The Governor's Role

March 31, 2014
Gov. Deal signing bills during the 2014 Legislative Session

The legislative session isn’t just about the legislators. The Governor’s job before, during and after the legislative session is also crucial. Before the session, the Governor must create a state budget which he or she will then present to the General Assembly.

During the session, the Governor can’t personally introduce bills on the floors of either chamber, but he or she can get a legislator to represent them in the General Assembly. The bulk of the Governor’s role doesn’t really begin until after Sine Die.

Every bill passed by the General Assembly must also go through the Governor before becoming a law.

“I’m Just a Bill”

The state of Georgia basically mimics the way bills become laws on the federal level, as narrated by the famous Schoolhouse of Rock song.

During the session, the Governor can ask to sign or veto a bill once it’s passed both chambers. He or she then has 6 consecutive days after the bill has passed to sign or veto if the legislature is still in session. For example, during the 2014 session that just ended on March 20, Gov. Deal signed SB 318 on March 13 in order to let the bill take effect on the weekend before March 17. (This bill allowed the sale of adult beverages on Sundays during St. Patrick's Day celebrations.)

Most of the time, though, bills are sent to the Governor after the session ends, sine die. The Governor then has 40 days to determine whether to sign the bill—creating a law—or veto the bill. If he or she vetoes the bill, it will then go back to the chamber it originated during the next year’s session to see if they wish to override the veto. A vetoed bill requires two-thirds vote of the House/Senate in order to override, according to the “veto power” outlined in the Georgia State Constitution, Article V, Section II, Paragraph IV.

In Georgia, the Governor actually has a third option. So, he or she can sign a bill making it a law, veto a bill sending it back to the General Assembly or do nothing at all. In that case, after the 40 days are up, the bill will automatically become a law.

The Budget

As we’ve discussed, the governor introduces the state budget for the next fiscal year (known as the big budget) to the General Assembly. They then discuss each item of the proposed budget and make their own changes. Once both chambers have passed a version of the budget they agree on, it goes back to the Governor.

The Governor will then review every item of the budget and decide to pass the whole budget bill, or he or she can pick out “line-item vetoes.” That means that the Governor can strike out a certain item he or she doesn’t think should be in the budget.

Once the Governor is satisfied with the budget bill, he or she can then sign it and the budget then becomes law. During the next legislative session (in the spring), the legislators review this budget again (now known as the little budget or supplemental budget) to make sure no adjustments need to be made.

All in all, the Governor, legislators and everyone in between put in a lot of hard work and long hours to make our state as best as it can be. Remember, if you ever have a question or need, feel free to reach out to your state legislators who represent you at the Capitol.

Photo Courtesy of the Governor's Office

About the Author

Bethany McDaniel is the Interactive Web Content Manager for GeorgiaGov. She graduated from Berry College in Rome, GA with degrees in Visual Communication and History.