Overview of a Typical State Legislative Process

State Level:

The law-making process follows the term of State legislators. The length of time spent within their office at the State Capitol varies from a few months of the year to a two-year legislative term.  2023 US State Legislative calendar

Get to know your legislator:

  • What is their name and educational background? 
  • Each legislator has a support staff, often the support staffers are the folks writing legislation.
  • Legislators are focused on the needs of their own constituents.  Many will not respond quickly to inquiries from members of the public outside their elected district. 
  • Not sure you represents you?  Enter your address at https://openstates.org  to find your State & Federal legislators. 

Tips for access to your legislator: 

  • Open up a dialogue with the legislator and their office staff.
  • Know their name & background, visit their local office (bring a gift - your favorite rock? a drill core?), give them your business card. Offer to answer questions within your area of expertise.
  • Attend local fundraising events and introduce yourself to the legislator and staffers.  Prepare a 30-second "elevator speech" in advance that summarizes your experience and the topics that interest you.
  • Stay up to date on pending legislation and be prepared to move quickly! Legislation gets edited and passed with little (or sometimes no) warning. 


The steps in the legislative process outlined here are not state specific.  Each individual state has their own specific committee titles, and may have more or less steps in the process. Refer to your own state’s web page for specific descriptions of committees and process.

Steps where testimony is likely given are in bold text.  Written, as well as verbal testimony should be prepared to be provided.  Letters written in support should be concise and to-the-point, generally not more than one page in length.  Include your name and include your professional registration as a geologist, engineer, etc.

  1. A bill is introduced (often referred to as "dropped") by one or more sponsors (elected legislators).  Once introduced, other legislators may sign onto the bill as sponsors.  A bill can be dropped in both legislative chambers (referred to as “companion bills”).
  2. A bill is assigned to a committee.  Commonly, licensure bills are assigned to a committee that either deals with commerce, governmental activities, or consumer protection (less commonly, natural resources).
  3. If the bill is supported by the committee chair and is likely to be supported by a majority of committee members, it is granted a hearing for public comment.  It is important to note that issues related to bill content should be resolved prior to this step, since legislators tend not to support bills with opposition. This step is where testimony is given in support of or against the bill.
  4. If the bill is passed out of committee, it is sent to either a budget committee or ways and means (skipping budget).  A bill crafted with a dedicated fund may skip the budget committee step, since there will be little or no impact on state funding.  If sent to a budget committee, additional testimony before that committee will be necessary.  Bills sent to ways and means are acted on by the legislative leadership and, if passed on, go to the full legislative chamber.
  5. If a bill is passed by the legislative chamber in which it was introduced, it is sent on to the other chamber, where it must go through the same process.  Testimony will be needed in support of or against the bill as outlined above. (Note that if companion bills are introduced, these processes will occur nearly simultaneously).  If passed intact, the bill is then forwarded on to the governor.  If modified by either chamber, it must be returned to the other chamber for action, or negotiated for final format within a conference committee.
  6. Once passed out of the legislature, the bill goes to the governor for signing or veto (some states have line-item vetoes).

While the steps listed above are the common legislative process, it is also important for individuals promoting the passage of legislation to contact their own legislators and, if passed by the legislature, the governor’s office in support of legislation.