6. If no amendments have been recommended, the leadership can put the bill on the “consent
calendar” by which the members by common consent agree not to debate the bill on the
floor. If no member objects within a stated period to a bill being on the consent calendar
(even one objection will take it off), the bill will bypass floor debate and advance directly
to the vote (called “third Reading”) that will send it to the second house.
7. For a bill not on the consent calendar, the whole House (or whole Senate) meets to
discuss the bill and the recommendations that have been made by the standing
committees. This is the famous “COW”—for “Committee of the Whole” (whole House
or whole Senate). During COW, individual members can offer amendments directly;
these are called floor amendments and are approved (or disapproved) by voice vote as
they are offered.
8. After all amendments have been voted on, the bill’s principal sponsor makes a motion
that the COW recommends that the bill be passed.
9. If the COW vote is in favor of recommending the bill, the bill is reprinted with the COW approved
amendments, if any, incorporated into the original text. This new version is called the House (or Senate)
engrossed bill. The COW votes only by unrecorded voice votes. A voice vote can be verified by a standing
head-count called a “division.” If the division goes against the bill there is a roll call vote. If the roll call goes
against the bill, the bill reverts to its pre-COW status—available for debate—but except in rare cases it is in
fact dead and is not brought up again.
10. If approved by COW, the bill is voted on (this is the “Third Reading” required by the
constitution). If it passes, it goes to the second house (i.e. if it is a House bill it now goes
to the Senate).
11. In the second house, steps 1 through 10 are repeated, this time with the bill going to the
second house’s committees, consent or COW calendar and Third Reading. If it passes
the second house it comes back to the first house (its “house of origin”).
12. If the second house did not amend it, the bill now goes to the governor.