Go to Content Go to Navigation Go to Navigation Go to Site Search Homepage

Guide to Louisiana Legislature

Navigating the legislative session can be a difficult process for beginners, but it doesn’t have to be. We've broken down the basics of the legislative process, how to follow along with us, and how to contact your legislators.

During these legislative sessions, state lawmakers come together to introduce, debate, and implement policies that can have a significant impact on our lives. We want to ensure you have the resources you need to advocate and use your voice to make a difference on issues that matter to our community.  

How does the Legislature work? 

Every year, the Legislature meets at our State Capitol in Baton Rouge where legislators introduce bills. The 2024 regular legislative session convenes at noon on Monday, March 11 and the final adjournment will end no later than 6 p.m. on Monday, June 3.  

The Legislature is made up of two bodies forming the legislative branch of our state government: The Senate and the House of Representatives work alongside the governor to create laws and establish a state budget. 

The Louisiana House of Representatives is comprised of 105 members, each elected to a four-year term, and the Louisiana Senate is comprised of 39 senators who are limited to three four-year terms (12 years).  

Legislators work to draft, introduce, debate, and vote on bills, either passing or defeating them. Bills that pass both chambers of the legislature are then sent to the governor to be signed into law or vetoed.  

During even-numbered years (like this year, 2024), we have what is called a Regular Session, when lawmakers can introduce any kind of bill except for legislation regarding new taxes or an increase in existing taxes.  

Fiscal Sessions happen during odd-numbered years, when legislators introduce bills related to taxes and are limited to filing up to five non-fiscal bills per member.  

How does a bill become a law? 

1. Introduction

Before a bill is introduced in Congress, it starts out as an idea. Anyone can come up with the concept of bill, including you. However, the bill can only be ‘introduced’ by a member of Congress (House Represenative or Senator) who can then correspond with fellow members of their chamber to co-sponsor bills with them, if they choose. Our state constitution requires three readings of bills on separate days.

2. First Reading

The bill title is placed on the calendar to be considered in either the House or Senate, depending on which chamber the sponsor belongs to. If the legislator who sponsored the bill is a House Representative, it will be introduced in the House chamber and, if passed, then progress to the Senate. If the legislator who sponsored the bill is a Senator, it will be introduced in the Senate chamber and, if passed, then progress to the House.

3. Second Reading

The bill is read for a second time and assigned to one of the committees for a hearing. Bills are assigned to committees depending on the subject area, and they are referred to a committee by the Speaker of the House or by motion in the Senate depending on the respective chamber.  

4. Committee Hearing

The bill is presented to the assigned committee by the author, and the public can testify for or against the bill during this hearing. Then, the committee will vote on whether to pass (advance) or defeat (kill) the bill. For more information on committees, see our "Basic Legislative Lingo" section further down on this page.

5. Committee Report

After each hearing, a report is filed highlighting any action taken on the bills and/or resolutions that day. It is read at the end of that afternoon’s session.  No bill can be passed unless a committee has reported on it.  

6. Third Reading/Final Passage

The bill is read for a third time. Here, it is debated in the respective chamber and members can propose amendments. It is then voted by members for final passage. This roll call (vote) is recorded and can be viewed. If the bill passes, it moves on to the other chamber (the House or Senate) where it will go through the full process again!

7. Conference Committee

If the other chamber amends the bill, it must then go back to the original chamber where it was introduced to be approved again as amended (concurrence). However, if both chambers can’t come to an agreement, the bill is sent to two conference committees (composed of three Senators and three House Representatives) to resolve differences. Once a proposed compromise has been reached, both chambers will vote a conference report.

8. Passage

Once the bill has passed both the House and the Senate, it goes to the Governor where it can be signed into law or vetoed within 10 days of delivery.  

Where can I view a bill?  

The Louisiana Legislature website is a great resource to look up bills. Users can search and track bills using MYLEGIS, a platform where you can add bills to a “tracker” and see the bill status, committee hearing dates, and when the bill is scheduled to be voted on in the House and/or Senate.  

To view bills without making an account, you can do a simple search for legislation in the current session.

How can I watch committee meetings?

Legislative committee hearings are all open to the public. 

You can also submit witness cards (see "Basic Legislative Lingo" below for more) to let your senator or representative know whether you favor or oppose a bill. You can also indicate on your card whether you would like to testify in front of the committee about your position.

Watch committee meetings online here 

View upcoming committee meeting schedules here - This is where you can find which “room” to tune into when watching specific committee meetings online. 

Basic Legislative Lingo

Act: A bill that has been approved by both chambers, signed by the Governor, and given an act number by the Secretary of State. 

Amendment: A change made to the language of a bill by adding or deleting passages. 

Adjournment: End of a session for the day, with the hour and the day of the next meeting set.  

Adjournment Sine Die: Latin for “without a day,” meaning that session is being adjourned for the final day. 

Bill: A legislative instrument written by a legislator to create a new law or repeal/reform a current law.  

Caucus: An informal group of legislators such as the Black Caucus or the Women’s Caucus. which are sometimes referred to as delegations. Here is a list of caucuses and delegations in Louisiana. 

Chamber: The rooms where the House and Senate meet.

Committee: Groups composed of lawmakers that must review all proposed legislation in its assigned policy area.  

The rules of the House and Senate specify the subject areas covered by each committee. Committees meet at regularly scheduled times during the session and at other times during or outside of the session at the discretion of the committee chair.  

Each committee may create subcommittees to consider particular bills and make recommendations to the full committee. Committees typically hold hearings, hear testimony from interested parties, debate the merits of proposed legislation, and vote whether or not to allow the bill to proceed to another committee or to the full floor in their chamber. 

In Louisiana, there are 16 committees in the Houseand 17 committees in the Senate.   

Committee Report: A report of any action taken on the bills and resolutions heard at the committee meeting, typically read prior to the adjournment of the session that day.  

Conference Committee: A committee composed of three members from each chamber to resolve differences in a bill when the chamber of origin refuses to concur in one or more amendments adopted by the opposite chamber.  Once the committee comes to an agreement, both chambers must vote on the conference report. 

Congress: The governing legislature comprised of two chambers: the Senate and House of Representatives.  

Constituent: A person who live in a representative’s district.

Witness Cards: A mechanism for the public to express (or request the opportunity to provide testimony) in support or opposition to a proposed bill or resolution. These cards are available in the committee room and overflow rooms on the witness tables where you can fill them out and hand them to a designated staff member or sergeant-at-arms.   

Red Cards: A witness card used to oppose a bill or resolution.  

Green Cards: A witness card used to support a bill or resolution.  

The length of committee meetings and number of people allowed in the room are limited, so we advise larger groups to appoint someone to speak on behalf of your group/organization. 

Visit the official Louisiana Legislature Glossary page for more! 

Planned Parenthood cares about your data privacy. We and our third-party vendors use cookies and other tools to collect, store, monitor, and analyze information about your interaction with our site to improve performance, analyze your use of our sites and assist in our marketing efforts. You may opt out of the use of these cookies and other tools at any time by visiting Cookie Settings. By clicking “Allow All Cookies” you consent to our collection and use of such data, and our Terms of Use. For more information, see our Privacy Notice.

Cookie Settings

Planned Parenthood cares about your data privacy. We and our third-party vendors, use cookies, pixels, and other tracking technologies to collect, store, monitor, and process certain information about you when you access and use our services, read our emails, or otherwise engage with us. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences, or your device. We use that information to make the site work, analyze performance and traffic on our website, to provide a more personalized web experience, and assist in our marketing efforts. We also share information with our social media, advertising, and analytics partners. You can change your default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of required cookies when utilizing our site; this includes necessary cookies that help our site to function (such as remembering your cookie preference settings). For more information, please see our Privacy Notice.

Marketing

On

We use online advertising to promote our mission and help constituents find our services. Marketing pixels help us measure the success of our campaigns.

Performance

On

We use qualitative data to learn about your user experience and improve our products and services.