HOW OUR LAWS ARE MADE: Sources of Legislation| Post No. 111907-2

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Sources of ideas for legislation are unlimited and proposed drafts of bills originate in many diverse quarters. Primary among these is the idea and draft conceived by a Member or Delegate. This may emanate from the election campaign during which the Member had promised, if elected, to introduce legislation on a particular subject. 

The entire campaign may have been based upon one or more such proposals. The Member may have also become aware after taking office of the need for amendment to or repeal of an existing law or the enactment of a statute in an entirely new field. 

In addition, the Member’s constituents, either as individuals or through citizen groups or associations may avail themselves of the right to petition and transmit their proposals to the Member.  

The right to petition is guaranteed by the First Amendment to the Constitution. 

Similarly, state legislatures may ‘‘memorialize’’ Congress to enact specified federal laws by passing resolutions to be transmitted to the House and Senate as memorials. 

In modern times, the ‘‘executive communication’’ has become a prolific source of legislative proposals. This is usually in the form of a message or letter from a member of the President’s Cabinet or the head of an independent agency—or even from the President— transmitting a draft of a proposed bill to the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President of the Senate. Despite the structure of separation of powers, Article II, Section 3, of the Constitution imposes an obligation on the President to report to Congress from time to time on the ‘‘State of the Union’’ and to recommend for consideration such measures as the President considers necessary and expedient. 

The most important of the regular executive communications is the annual message from the President transmitting the proposed budget to Congress. 

Several of the executive departments and independent agencies employ trained legislative counsels whose functions include the drafting of bills to be forwarded to Congress with a request for their enactment. In addition, congressional committees sometimes draft bills after studies and hearings covering periods of a year or more. 


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