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West Virginia Legislative Process

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Introduction > Bill Development > Resolutions >Definition of Legislative Terms Definition of Legislative Terms


While most matters taken up by the Legislature are in the form of bills, there is another kind of legislative proposal known as a resolution. There are actually three types of resolutions, none of which require action by the governor.

A joint resolution is the first step to making a change in the State Constitution. The adoption of a joint resolution by the Legislature means that a suggested amendment to the constitution is placed on the ballot at the next general election or special election for the voters to decide. The Legislature only decides that the issue should be placed before the voters, not whether the change should or does occur.

Joint resolutions are referred to committee and when they are reported back go through the same three readings as bills. Joint resolutions must be read on three separate days and must receive a two-thirds vote of the elected members in order to be adopted.

Concurrent resolutions are measures affecting the actions or procedures of both bodies. These resolutions may express the sentiments of the Legislature, authorize expenditures incidental to the session and business of the Legislature, agree upon the adjournments beyond the constitutional limitation, create special joint committees, raise a joint assembly or address other purposes which speak on behalf of both chambers.

Simple resolutions are used to express the will or order of one house on matters in which the agreement of the other house is not necessary, such as the hiring of staff for one body.

Concurrent and simple resolutions are read only once before being adopted or rejected.

Methods of Voting

In committee meetings and during floor sessions, issues are decided by member's casting votes. Votes may be taken in one of three ways: roll call vote (also termed "calling for the yeas and nays,") voice vote, and division vote. The presiding officer or committee chairperson generally determines which method of voting will be used unless a member requests another type of vote be taken.

A roll call vote records how each member in attendance actually stands on an issue. In a committee meeting, each member's name is called and the vote is recorded in the minutes of the meeting. During a floor session, voting machines are used and votes are recorded on the display boards at the front of each chamber.

In an effort to save time, a voice vote is sometimes used. The presiding officer or chair simply asks all those in favor of a measure to say "aye" and all those opposed to say "no".

After hearing the response, the presiding officer states the result determining which side prevails.

The third type of voting is called the division vote. When a division vote is taken, members are asked to rise at their seats. A head count is taken of those for and against the motion being voted on and the numbers are recorded without individual names.


A daily, written record of all action taken during a floor session is recorded for each body in either the House Journal or the Senate Journal. To see what took place on a particular day in either chamber, including bills acted on, the text of amendments and votes cast, one may go to the appropriate journal to locate the proceedings of that day.

Beyond the session activities, the journals also contain a variety of useful information by which the legislative process may be monitored. To effectively use the journals, one must first become familiar with its format.

Following the Order of Business for each chamber, the House and Senate journals begin with the floor action of the previous day. After this account, an abstract or bill history is listed. This is a numerical listing of bills introduced giving the name of the sponsor(s), the short title of the bill, the date of introduction, the committee to which it is referred, the status of the bill after it is reported from the committee and any action taken by the governor.

Appearing next are the topical indexes, which list bills by broad subject areas. If a person does not know the number of a bill, the subject can be located in the topical index along with the appropriate bill number. One can then find the bill number in the abstract or bill history to determine what action has been taken on the measure.

Other listings in the journals include resolutions, bills passed by each chamber, bills sent to conference committee, bills passed by the Legislature and bills acted on by the governor.

At the rear of each journal is the daily calendar. The calendars list legislation which will be acted on during the floor session on the day the journal is printed. In the latter part of a session, two calendars may be printed in the House Journals, the house calendar and the special calendar. Only those items on the special calendar are taken up by the body. In Senate, the Rules Committee may arrange a calendar.

Finally, a schedule of committee meetings and public hearings appears on the last page of a journal.

Required Votes

A different number of votes is needed for certain actions to be approved in one or both legislative bodies. The following is offered as a quick reference for the number of votes required in certain circumstances:

In general, the minimal number of votes needed of the full membership of each house to adopt or pass a measure is:

Type of Majority: House

Simple Majority -- 51 votes
Two-thirds -- 67 votes
Four-fifths -- 80 votes

Type of Majority: Senate

Simple Majority -- 18 votes
Two-thirds -- 23 votes
Four-fifths -- 28 votes

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