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What is the Arizona State Legislature?

Created upon statehood in the Arizona State Constitution, the Arizona State Legislature represents the state of Arizona. It is a bicameral legislature, which means it is made up of two chambers – the lower chamber, the House of Representatives, and the upper chamber, the Senate. 


Arizona’s legislators meet annually, convening on the second Monday in January, and are responsible for making the state’s law and passing the state’s budget.  

How does a bill become a law?

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The first thing a legislator will do is make an official request for Legislative Council to open a folder for their bill.


After, the legislator will work with legislative council staff to draft language for the bill before finalizing it. Once the language is finalized, the legislator has to collect signatures of support for the bill from other members. After all of these steps, the bill is ready to be introduced.  

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After introduction, a bill will receive a committee assignment.


Committees are where bills will receive public testimony, it is also the first place where bills can be amended or killed. If a bill does pass its committee, it is sent to the Rules committee where the chamber’s attorney can point out any constitutionality issues.  

If there is a bill that you want to speak about in committee, you can register to do so on the AZLeg’s Request to Speak system! 

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After a bill has passed through its assigned committee and the Rules committee, it will be heard in Caucus.


Republicans and Democrats both hold their own Caucus meetings, and this is often the first time that legislators who were not in the bill’s assigned committee will learn about a bill. Caucus meetings provide those members with a time to have in depth conversations with their colleagues about bills and their impact on the state.

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There are two different types of Floor hearings that a bill will go through: Committee of the Whole and Third Read.  


Committee of the Whole (COW) is the first time the entire chamber has an opportunity to discuss the bill together. This is a time for members to ask questions and have an open dialogue about their concerns with the bill. It is also the last time a bill can be amended in that chamber.  


Third Read  is when the entire chamber votes on the bill. Most bills only need a simple majority to pass, but certain bills – like ones with an emergency clause, for example – will need a two-third majority vote to pass.  



Once a bill has passed the entire legislative process in its chamber of origin, it is transmitted to the other chamber where it will go through the same exact process – i.e. a Senate Bill will be transmitted to the House and a House Bill will be transmitted to the Senate.


If the bill receives an amendment in the opposite chamber, the amendment sponsor and bill sponsor have to meet and agree on language that will be voted on again before sending it to the Governor or Secretary of State. This is known as the concur/refuse process.   



After a bill has passed both chambers, it is sent to the Governor. The Governor then has the option of signing the bill into law or vetoing it.  


If the bill is vetoed, the legislature can attempt to override that decision but must have support from two-thirds of both chambers to do so.  

Some bills are sent to the Secretary of State instead of the Governor. These bills are often concurrent resolutions that will be put on the next general election ballot for voter approval. They can change the Arizona Constitution or Arizona Revised Statutes. You can learn more about concurrent resolutions here

Other helpful terms & phrases:

  • Adjournment: The end of the day's proceedings. Regular adjournment will set a date for the next meeting. 

  • Arizona Revised Statutes (ARS): The laws of Arizona.

  • Bill Status Inquiry (BSI): The Bill Status Inquiry application allows you to track the progress of legislation as it makes its way through the legislative process. It can also be used retrospectively on prior legislation.

  • DP/DPA: Do Pass. Do Pass Amended. 

  • Effective Date: When a bill goes in to effect.

  • Engrossed Bill: Official copy of a bill as passed by either the House or the Senate.

  • Request to Speak (RTS): The Request to Speak application allows you to sign in, register your opinion and leave a comment for the committee members.

  • Sine Die: A Latin phrase meaning "without a day," it marks the end of the legislative session and terminates all unfinished business.

  • Standing Committee: A permanent committee established by the Senate or House where bills are assigned for consideration. 

  • Strike everything amendment (Striker): An amendment to a bill that replaces the contents of the previously introduced or adopted bill. It may or may not have anything to do with the bill it replaces. These can only happen in committee.

Full list of legislative terms. 

What is the current party composition of the Arizona Legislature?

Arizona is divided into 30 legislative districts. Each district elects one senator and two representatives. This means there are 90 legislators in total – 60 in the House and 30 in the Senate. This style of districting is referred to as nesting and is only found in seven US state legislatures.

Under article 4, part 2, section 21 of the Constitution of Arizona, Legislators are elected every two years and are term limited to eight consecutive years in an office but can run again after two years. However, members who reach the term limit in one chamber will often seek election in the opposite chamber.  

Right now, the Arizona State Government has a political split with a Democratic Governor in office but Republicans holding a slight majority in both the House of Representatives (31-29) and Senate (16-14).  

What is the budget process?

While Arizona state legislators pass laws, their only constitutional job is to annually pass a state budget. There is no official deadline for passing the budget, but a government shutdown could occur if a budget is not passed by the beginning of the new fiscal year on July 1.  

Here are the key events that take place in the budget process:  

  • Budget instructions are sent to Arizona state agencies in July.  

  • State agencies have until Sept. 1 to submit their budget requests to the Governor. 

  • The Governor submits their proposed budget to the state legislature five days after the legislature convenes.  

  • The legislature votes on the budget, which only needs a simple majority to pass.  

While the Governor is required to submit a balanced budget to the legislature, the legislature is not required to pass a balanced budget. However, the Governor has the ability to line-item veto things in the budget.  

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