Lobbying in Rhode Island

Basic Rules
Adapted from: How a Bill Becomes Law

There are certain basic rules which guide the movement of legislation in the Rhode Island General Assembly. Although these rules may vary somewhat from session to session, and although certain exceptions are permitted, bills generally must follow a certain prescribed course through both houses of the legislature to be enacted into law.  The following outline of the course of legislation is offered for your assistance. If any links on this site are not for the current year, please refer back to the above address for the current link.


  1. Any Representative or Senator may introduce a bill in his or her respective house. Legislators can also introduce bills on behalf of the Governor, other General Officers, department heads, and constituents.
  2. The Recording Secretary numbers a bill introduced in the House of Representatives. The Secretary of the Senate numbers a bill introduced in the Senate.
  3. The Speaker of the House or the President of the Senate refers the bill to the proper committee for hearing.  Under the existing rules of the Senate and House, all "Public Bills" are reproduced with a short explanation attached thereto, for distribution to the members of the legislature.

    Daily Introductions:
    Bill Text:
    Bill Status/History:
    Note: need bill number or sponsor or title
  4. Following a hearing a House or Senate Committee may take the following action on a bill:

    a.  Recommendation of passage as introduced;
    b.  Recommendation of non-passage;
    c.  Recommendation of passage with amendments;
    d.  Recommendation of passage of a substitute;
    e.  Recommendation of reference to another committee;
    f.  Recommendation of indefinite postponement;
    g.  Reporting the bill to the floor and giving no recommendation, in which case it stands or falls on its own merit;

    Committee Memberships:
    Committee Agendas:
    Committee Calendars:
    Bill Status/History:
    Secretary of State's Resources for Lobbyists:
  5. A. bill goes on the Floor Calendar when a given committee makes a recommendation of passage.

    Floor Calendars:
    Bill Status/History:
  6. After passage, in either the House or the Senate, the bill is transmitted to the other chamber where it will follow the same procedure.

    Bill Status/History:
  7. Upon passage in concurrence by the second chamber, a bill is forwarded to the Governor.

    Bill Status/History:


  1. The Governor may sign and approve a bill.  It is then returned to the Secretary of State who notifies the branch of origin of the bill's passage into law.
  2. The Governor may veto a bill and return it to the branch of origin. If three-fifths (3/5) of the members present and voting (by roll call vote) approve the bill in both houses, it becomes law, the Governor's veto not withstanding.
  3. The Governor may allow a bill to become law without his signature. If the General Assembly is in session, he transmits the bill without his signature to the Secretary of State following the sixth day (Sunday excepted) that the measure has been presented to him.  If the General Assembly has adjourned, the act becomes law unless it has been transmitted by the Governor to the Secretary of State with his disapproval in writing within ten (10) days after adjournment.

    Bill Status/History:
  4. By statute (Section 43-3-25 as amended) every statute which does not expressly prescribe the time it shall go into operation shall take effect on the first day of July of the calendar year of its enactment into law by the General Assembly.

New Session Laws http://www.rilin.state.ri.us/Genmenu/

Public Laws with Provisions Effective January 1, 2007
Public Laws - Short Title Lists with links to Public Law text 
2006 - 2005
Local Acts and Resolves - Short Title Lists with links to text 
2006 - 2005
General Laws Section List - Public Law Amendments
2006 - 2005
Salient Facts - Bills Introduced, Passed, Vetoed and Overridden 
2006 - 2005
Executive Appointments by the Governor
2006 - 2005
Bills Vetoed by the Governor
2006 - 2005
Commissions Created or Amended Since the Year 1995
Law Revision Director's Annual Report to the General Assembly
2006 - 2005
History of the Laws of Rhode Island

Adapted from:  The General Assembly and its Terms

  • Act:
    A bill passed by the Senate and House. An Act may also be referred to as a law or statute.
  • Adjournment:
    The end of a legislative day. Regular adjournments set the date for the next meeting. Adjournment sine die (without a day ) marks the end of the session, since it does not set a time for reconvening.
  • Amend:
    To formally modify by adding to or deleting from a measure.
  • Appropriation:
    Authorization for the expenditure of public funds for a stated purpose.
  • Bill:
    A proposed new or amended law.
  • Calendar:
    List of bills awaiting action, entered in order reported.
  • Caucus:
    Meeting of legislators of the same political party to decide policy and course of action.
  • Consent Calendar:
    Almost every legislature has a consent calendar for bills identified by committee reports as noncontroversial. Each such bill is read at the appointed time and briefly explained, and a vote is taken. If even a few votes dissent, the bill is returned to the regular calendar for examination. The consent calendar permits a legislature to dispose of a host of minor bills expeditiously.1
  • Constitution:
    Set of doctrines and practices that form the fundamental organizing principle of a political state.2
  • Debate:
    Formal discussion and decision on a matter before a committee or on a chamber floor.
  • Enabling act:
    A law that permits a State official or a subordinate governmental unit to take specific action.
  • Floor:
    The main level of the House and Senate chambers. When a bill is formally discussed by all the members of a chamber (that is, not in committee), the bill will be described as being "on the Floor."
  • General Assembly:
    Traditional name for the Rhode Island Legislature.
  • Grand Committee:
    A combined session of the House and Senate chambers.
  • Hearing:
    A formal meeting of a committee or commission at which testimony is presented.
  • Introduction:
    The presentation of a bill.
  • Journal:
    Record of daily proceedings in the Senate and House.
  • Lobbyist:
    A person hired by others to influence the legislative process.
  • Point of order:
    A question raised by a legislator concerning the rules of procedure.
  • Quorum:
    The number of members required for the conduct of business.
  • Recommittal:
    Sending a bill back to the committee that reported it out for consideration.
  • Resolution:
    Expresses the will of the legislature or on either branch but does not, generally, have the scope or authority of law.
  • Session:
    The period during which the legislature meets and carries on its business.
  • Sponsor:
    The legislator who introduces a bill.
  • "Sub a":
    An amended version of a bill.

    1 Legal Encyclopedia information about legislation
    West's Encyclopedia of American Law. Copyright © 1998 by The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

    2 Britannica information about constitution
    Britannica Concise Encyclopedia. © 2006 Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc. All rights reserved.

Things to Know When Reading a Bill
Underlined words -
additions to some previous text

Strike Through words - deletions from some previous text

Bills are available online in pdf and html formats. For identification during discussion there are line numbers at the left of every line of bill text. In html documents the line numbers also indicate the pdf document page number. For example, line 3-2 in an html document will correspond to line 2 on page 3 of the pdf version of the document.

Pennsylvania Lobby Training Documents

Face to Face (PDF)
The basics of effective lobbying are explained in Face to Face.

Speak Up (PDF)
A guide to communicating with elected officials.

Up On the Soapbox (PDF)
Handbook for preparing and presenting testimony


The League neither supports nor opposes candidates for office at any level of government.

© Copyright 2009-2017 League of Women Voters of RI. All rights reserved.
One Richmond Square, Suite 220 A-W • Providence, RI 02906 • (401) 339-9766 •
Contact Us

 LWVRI is a 501(c)(4) organization. Funding for this internet site was provided by the Rhode Island League of Women
 Voters Education Fund, a 501(c)(3) organization. The Education Fund provides members of the League of Women Voters,
 as well as the general public, with information and educational services on elections and on current public policy issues.
Information in regard to advocacy is not the intent of this internet site.