Glossary of Hawai`i Legislative Terms
A bill which has passed both houses of the Legislature,
been enrolled, certified, approved by the Governor (or if not
signed by the Governor, passes the required period without veto),
or passed over the Governor's veto, and published.
- Administration bill
A bill proposed by the executive branch
which is usually signed "by request" by the presiding officer and
which bears an alpha-numeric agency code at the bottom righthand
corner of the bill.
An alteration of the language in a bill or
resolution, usually proposed by a committee when it reports to
the full house for action on its recommendations regarding a bill
- Amendment, floor
An amendment to a bill or resolution which is
offered on the chamber floor when that bill or resolution is up
for consideration by the full house.
A legislative authorization to make expenditures
and incur obligations for specific governmental purposes; usually
limited as to time when it may be expended. One of the prime
responsibilities of the Legislature is this power to appropriate
- Appropriation bill
A bill that gives legal authority to spend
or obligate moneys from the state treasury for the purpose or
purposes specified in the bill.
- Bicameral legislature
A legislative body, like Hawaii's state
legislature, which has two houses.
A two-year period. This term is used to describe the
two-year term of the Legislature that begins in an odd-numbered
year and ends in an even-numbered year. With respect to the
State budget, the fiscal biennium begins on July 1 of an odd-
numbered year and ends on June 30 of an odd-numbered year.
The spending plan developed by the Governor consisting
of estimates of proposed expenditures for a given fiscal year or
biennium and the proposed means of financing the expenditures.
- By request
A phrase (or its initials "br") used when a
legislator introduces a bill or resolution as a courtesy to an
executive agency or private organization or person who requests
sponsorship of the proposed measure, but does not necessarily
endorse the measure.
An agenda or list of business awaiting possible action
by each chamber.
- Carried-over bill
A bill pending at the final adjournment of a
regular session in an odd-numbered year which is still alive for
consideration in the next regular session.
Conference of members of a legislative group to decide
on policies or strategies; most commonly, a "party caucus" is for
members of one or another political party.
The meeting place for the membership of either house of
the legislature where official business by the entire membership
- Companion bill
A bill identical in wording introduced in both
houses. Administration bills, for example.
- Consent calendar
A calendar on which bills considered to be
noncontroversial are placed for an expedited voting procedure.
The House of Representatives uses a "modified consent calendar"
whereby the Majority and Minority Floor Leaders earlier record
the votes of their caucus members for a series of
noncontroversial bills and announce those votes when the vote is
taken on the floor specifically naming only those members casting
- Cut-off dates
Deadlines set by a legislative body for specified
action such as bill introduction, committee action, or passage of
bills on third or final reading.
The placement of a bill on the Clerk's desk to be in
position for third or final reading.
- Division of the house
A method of voting where legislators will
rise to signify their vote.
An amended version of a bill or resolution. A draft may
be indicated next to the bill number as S.D. 1, H.D. 2, C.D. 1,
meaning that the bill was amended once by the Senate, twice by
the House, and once by a conference committee.
- Effective date
The date a bill, once passed, becomes law.
Unless a different date is specified, bills become law when
- Enacting clause
The opening clause required in all bills by the
Hawaii Constitution which formally expresses the legislative
sanction. The clause reads: "Be it enacted by the Legislature
of the State of Hawaii".
- End of the calendar
The placement of an item at the end of the
agenda or "Order of the Day". This usually occurs when passage
of a measure seems uncertain.
The final preparation of the bill in its final
form. The term literally means to write or transcribe in a large
clear, hand; however, "engrossment" in modern times is
accomplished by retyping the measure or reproducing it by some
other mechanical means.
The final legislative action on a bill, unless the
measure is considered subsequent to a veto by the Governor. The
term originally signified the writing of the bill on the official
parchment roll containing the acts of the Legislature. Although
this process is no longer implemented, the term represents the
final form of the bill which has been engrossed.
- Fiscal year
For accounting purposes, the period of financial
operations at the end of which the State determines its financial
condition and closes its books. In Hawaii, this period is from
July 1 to June 30.
The chamber area in which the members of either house sit
to consider official legislative action.
- Floor amendment
An amendment offered by a member of either
house in chambers when a bill or resolution is being considered
for official legislative action.
- Forty-eight-hour rule
The constitutional requirement (Hawaii
Const. art. III, ß15) that printed copies of the bill in the form
to be passed be made available to members at least forty-eight
hours prior to its passage on third or final reading.
- Grandfather clause
A provision exempting persons or other
entities already engaged in an activity from rules or legislation
affecting that activity. Grandfather clauses sometimes are added
to legislation to avoid antagonizing groups with established
interests in the activities affected.
- Hawaii Revised Statutes
The codified laws of the State of
- Hearing, public
A meeting of a committee of the legislature
where an issue or proposed legislation is considered and
opportunity for the public to express their opinions regarding
such issue or proposed legislation is afforded.
- Held in committee
Term used to describe a bill or resolution
that has not been reported out of a committee, usually when it
appears that the committee will not report the bill out and allow
it to move on in the legislative process.
The procedure by which members of the general public
may propose a statute, constitutional amendment, or ordinance.
The period between the adjournment of a regular session
sine die to the convening of the next regular session.
The official act of submittal of a proposed bill
or resolution signed by the legislator who offers it for
consideration by the Legislature which is in session.
- Joint committee
A committee composed of a specified number of
members of both houses.
The official record of proceedings of a legislative
Term used by a legislator during roll call to signify
that the legislator is undecided and that the Clerk should recall
the legislator's name at the end of the roll call list. In the
Senate, if a member responds "kanalua" or remains silent the
second time the member's name is called, the vote is recorded as
"aye". In the House, a member responding "kanalua" or remaining
silent three times will be recorded as voting "aye".
A person or organization seeking to influence the
passage or defeat of legislation. Originally the term referred
to persons frequenting the lobbies or corridors of legislative
chambers in order to speak with lawmakers.
- Managers, conference
Legislators who are appointed by the
presiding officers of their respective houses to resolve the
differences between the final versions of the two houses on a
particular legislative measure.
A bill or resolution which is officially introduced in
the Legislature for consideration.
- Order of the Day
The agenda of the daily order of business used
by each house.
- Pork barrel
Term used to describe appropriations made by the
Legislature which are specifically for projects in the home
districts of legislators and not necessarily based on the
programmed budget developed by the executive branch.
A clause in a bill that sets out specific exceptions to
the general law.
- Prior concurrence
The requirement that, where there is more
than one committee referral, a secondary committee must obtain
the concurrence of the committee of first referral before making
any substantive changes to the measure.
The number of members in a legislative body or committee
which must be present to conduct official business.
The bill drafting format employed by the Hawaii
Legislature using brackets, underscoring, and prefatory language
to specify the changes to a particular law being proposed by the
The stages of the legislative process requiring
official floor action on a bill.
Term used to describe the process of
determining the boundaries for the senatorial and representative
districts from which state legislators are to be elected.
The action a house of the Legislature may take to remove
a bill from a committee which has been in that committee for
twenty days for consideration on the floor by the whole house. A
recall action requires a one-third vote of the membership of the
The action whereby a measure is sent back to the
committee which reported it out for further consideration.
The action whereby a house requests the return
of a measure sent to the other house or to the Governor, but not
yet enacted into law, for the purpose of reconsidering the action
taken on that measure.
The principle or practice of referring measures
proposed or passed by a legislative body to the vote of the
electorate for approval or rejection.
The assignment, by the presiding officer, of a measure
to a committee or committees for consideration.
The reconsideration, by the presiding officer, of a
measure referred to a committee and reassignment to a different
committee or committees.
- Reporting out
The submission of a committee report to the
members of a house by a committee stating its findings and
recommendations for official action on a measure by the house.
A legislative measure, which does not have the
effect of law, but is used by the Legislature to express its
sentiments, request particular action, state its policy, and
The period of time during which the Legislature meets
to conduct official business in chambers. The term is used to
describe both the entire sixty-day period of a regular session or
the daily meetings in chamber during a regular session.
- Session Laws of Hawaii
The annual publication of all laws
enacted by the Legislature for a particular year.
- Short-form bill
A very brief bill which states, in general
terms, the purpose to be accomplished by the bill. Short-form
bills are used when time does not permit drafting the full bill
or as "vehicles" for ideas which arise after the bill cut-off
- Sine die
The final adjournment of the Legislature for session
without fixing a date for reconvening.
- Sunset law
Another name for the Hawaii Regulatory Licensing
Reform Act, the law which provides for the repeal of regulatory
boards, commissions, and programs on certain dates and for their
evaluation by the Legislative Auditor prior to the repeal date.
- Timetable, legislative
A calendar, usually set by the presiding
officers of each house, containing important deadlines for the
introduction and movement of bills and resolutions through the
The Governor's rejection of a bill passed by the
- Veto Message
A statement submitted by the Governor to the
Legislature explaining the reasons for the veto of a bill.