Legislative Session Glossary

Advocacy: The act or process of supporting or opposing a cause, proposal, or community and urging action. In the Legislature, this is generally in support of or opposition to a policy bill or funding (appropriation) request.

Amendment: A proposed edit to a bill, introduced by a lawmaker, for fellow lawmakers to consider for adoption. An amendment can be introduced by any lawmaker. These can be introduced in committee or on the floor. Adoption of an amendment generally requires 50%+1 support from lawmakers.

Bill: A proposed change to state law, filed in either the House or Senate of the Legislature. Often described as SB (Senate Bill) and HB (House Bill). Some lawmakers have limits to “bill slots,” and also have deadlines to introduce their bills, with the main deadline being the first day of the legislative session. However, through committees, amendments, and other procedural maneuvers, a new bill can be introduced at any time by the political party in control. Most bills require 50%+1 support to pass; however, there are some that require a higher threshold. In the House, bills that are numbered 1-9 are a priority of legislative leadership. Generally, the smaller the number in the House, the more important the bill is. 

Budget: The sole constitutional requirement of the Legislature is to pass a balanced budget for the next fiscal year, beginning July 1 and ending June 30. It is allocated to state agencies and state programs, including state employee wages, housing programs, healthcare, transportation, etc. A budget is a reflection of values: where our state invests, and what state leaders prioritize. This is not revenue (the money that is coming in, such as through taxes or federal dollars). A budget is expenditures, or how revenue is spent. The budget process is year-round; however, budget negotiations occur throughout the session. There are presentations and discussions in the respective appropriations committees and subcommittees, but generally the most consequential decisions are made behind closed doors, in coordination with the governor, House speaker, Senate president, as well as the House and Senate Appropriations Committee chairs. The final state budget is publicly released near the end of the legislative session. As required by 19(d) of Article III of the State Constitution, once the budget is released there is a 72-hour public-review period required before final passage is permitted. Session cannot end until the budget is passed.

Budget Offer: In the budget process, the House and Senate negotiate by sending each other a “budget offer.” The chamber receiving the offer can either accept or send a counteroffer. This process continues until all offers are accepted and the budget is complete with consensus from both chambers.

Committee: A panel of legislators chosen by the respective presiding officers (House speaker or Senate president) to perform specific functions, usually based on the policy issues, such as public safety, healthcare, or finance and tax.

Committee Chair: This is the person who is in charg of a committee. They run the meetings and in theory, decide which bills are heard in committee. They are also supported by committee staff. Increasingly, both the House and Senate committee agendas have to be approved by the House speaker or Senate president respectively, meaning committee chairs do not have unilateral power to set their agendas. Committee chairs are also decided by the Senate president and House speaker, often a reward to those loyal to them. There is also a vice chair, and in the House, there’s also the “Democratic ranking member,” who is the highest-ranking Democrat on the committee.

Committee Meeting Notice: Public announcement of a committee meeting and the bills that will be heard in the committee meeting. Committee notices are generally released two business days before the meeting is scheduled, however these deadlines are shortened following the 45th day of the 60 days of session. Many committees also stop meeting after the 45th day. The bills on the agenda do not need to be heard in any particular order. Committee agendas are determined by legislative leadership.

Committee Assignments or “Committees of Reference”: When a bill is initially publicly introduced it is then shortly thereafter assigned its committees. The Majority Party decides which committees and how many get assigned to a bill. The standard number is 3, however if a bill is a priority they can assign it less, or if they do not like the bill, they can assign it more. The committee process is designed for a smaller committee of members to vet legislation, and for the public to have the opportunity to weigh in.

Committee Weeks: Before the regular session convenes, lawmakers hold pre-session “committee weeks.” There are generally six weeks, held in the months prior to the session. During this time, there is no full floor session, but bills are being introduced and often heard and voted on in committee. After an election year, committee weeks generally begin in late November or early December. In an off-election, they begin in September.

Companion Bill: Bills introduced in the House and Senate that are identical or substantially similar in wording.

Constituent: A resident in an elected official’s district.

Co-Sponsor: A lawmaker who officially co-signs in support of a bill that they did not introduce. Lawmakers and their staff put in a request to co-sponsor a bill to the sponsor of the bill, who then has to approve the request. As advocates, if there is a bill we are supporting, a key ask of lawmakers is to co-sponsor that bill.

Debate: In the Legislature, debate is a formal process in a bill hearing. It is the time where each individual lawmaker can make an argument in support or opposition to the bill. This occurs after the bill introduction, after the sponsor of the bill answers questions on their bill, and after public testimony. After debate, the sponsor of the bill gives their closing arguments, and then the vote occurs.

District: The area from which a state senator, representative, or congressman is elected. The boundaries of state legislative and congressional districts are drawn in the decennial process known as apportionment and redistricting.

Died In Committee: Refers to when a bill is not hard on the floor of the respective chamber in which it was introduced. The bill must pass all committees of reference or be pulled from remaining committees in order to pass. A bill that dies in committee fails to pass each of its committee references during committee weeks and session.

Floor Vote: After a bill passes its committees, it then goes to a full floor vote, where all lawmakers in the respective House or Senate chamber vote on the bill. This is not necessarily the bills’ final vote. Ultimately, the same exact bill has to pass the House and Senate. While the House and Senate negotiate on the final details, a bill may have multiple floor votes.

Florida Statutes: These are the current state laws. A “statute” is what we call a state law; just as an “ordinance” is what we call a local law. Simply put, bills are proposed updates or changes to Florida statutes, and reference current laws as well as the bill’s proposed changes. You will often see “FS” followed by a number referenced in bills. This stands for “Florida statute,” and the number references a specific state law. Find Florida statutes here.

Florida Channel: The Florida Channel is the C-SPAN of Florida. It is taxpayer funded and is non-political and nonpartisan. This is where you can watch all legislative business live and archived. This includes committee hearings, floor sessions, press events, etc. The Florida Channel also produces a summary of the day’s and week’s events, which is a great resource. The post-session press gaggle of the Senate president and House speaker are also important to watch for the latest happenings in your state government. All videos available here: thefloridachannel.org

Hearing: When a bill is introduced and voted in a public forum, generally a committee meeting.

Introducer: Also referred to as “sponsor,” the legislator who files a bill for introduction or the committee that votes to file the bill for introduction. The introducer’s name appears first on the bill. A co-introducer or co-sponsor is a legislator whose name is added to a bill in addition to the introducer.

Joint Resolution (Senate Joint Resolution/SJR, House Joint Resolution/HJR): Joint Resolutions are much more consequential than a regular “resolution” or a “memorial.” This is the method the Legislature has to place proposed amendments to the state Constitution on the ballot. It must pass each chamber by a three-fifths (60%) vote of lawmakers. Once on the ballot, they require 60% voter approval for passage. 

Lawmaker: Those elected to represent you and write laws. The Florida Legislature has 160 total lawmakers: 120 representatives and 40 senators. House representatives are elected to serve two-year terms; senators are elected to serve four-year terms. House Representatives represent about 170,000 people; State Senators about 500,000 people. Find your House representative here and your state senator here.

Legislative Delegation Hearings: Before the legislative session begins, all the lawmakers who represent your county will host an in-district legislative delegation meeting. This is a public forum where the public can discuss any issue they want the Legislature to address, usually for two minutes. There is usually the local press there too. It’s a good opportunity for people to address several lawmakers and the public all at once about an issue important to you. It’s also a good moment for a direct action, press event, etc.

Preemption: A neutral policy tool that can be used for good or bad. A preemption is when a higher level of government takes away the power of a lower level of government to regulate a specific issue. The Florida legislature has abused preemptions to take away our local freedoms for a long time. 

Session: The term is used to refer to the entire period for which the Legislature has been convened.

Senate President: The presiding officer of the Senate, having been elected by the majority party in caucus for a term of two years. The Senate president for 2023-2024 is Senator Kathleen Passidomo. The Senate president for 2025- 2026 is Senator Ben Albritton.

Speaker of the House of Representatives: The presiding officer of the House of Representatives who is elected by the majority party in caucus for a term of two years at the organization session. The House speaker for 2023-2024 is Representative Paul Renner; 2025-2026 is Representative Danny Perez; 2027-2028 is Representative Sam Garrison.

Sponsor: A term used interchangeably with introducer.

Sine die: Latin for without day. This is the last day of the session. Session is traditionally 60 days long; however, the exact date is based on when the final budget is released to the public. Traditionally, there is a celebration where the sergeant at arms of the House and Senate drop a handkerchief in the fourth-floor rotunda, marking the end of session. Typically, the governor, Senate president, and House speaker give closing speeches following this tradition.

Strike-All Amendment: This is an amendment that effectively replaces the bill with brand new bill language. It “strikes” the entire bill language and replaces the bill with new language. In committee, amendments can be filed at any time by a member of the committee.

Sunshine Law: Florida’s Government-in-the-Sunshine law provides a right of access to governmental proceedings at both the state and local levels. It applies to any gathering of two or more members of the same board to discuss some matter which will foreseeably come before that board for action.

Tax Package: The bill that includes all corporate tax breaks and sales tax holidays. As the state budget needs to be balanced, the overall fiscal impact of the tax package plays an important role in the budget process. Billions of dollars have been spent in corporate tax giveaways in the state.

Veto: Objection by the governor to an act passed by the Legislature, which kills the act unless it is reenacted later by a two-thirds override vote of both chambers.

Voice Vote: Lawmakers can approve or reject amendments by a “voice vote,” meaning there is no official vote record. Lawmakers simply say “Yay” or “Nay” and the presiding officer determines which side passes.

Vote Board: The electronic voting display located in each chamber which shows how legislators are voting on a measure before the body. The final vote of a bill goes through a formal vote with a vote record. However, amendments require a motion to go “on the board” with an official vote record. On the floor, five lawmakers have to request a board vote, by raising their hands.

Vote Record: An archive of how lawmakers voted on bills and amendments. This is available online for everyone to access. These are important to educate Floridians, thank your champions, and hold accountable those who voted against our communities.