Glossary of Legislative Terms


    A bill that has passed both Chambers of the General Assembly in identical form and has become law, with or without the Governor’s signature.


    The termination of a legislative day or session. “Adjournment sine die” marks the final closing of a legislative session, which has been informally replaced by “recess to the call of the chair” in Delaware.


    The Governor’s disapproval of a bill passed by the General Assembly. Unless overridden by a three-fifths vote of the total membership of each Chamber, a veto prevents a bill from becoming law.

    Speaker of the House

    The presiding officer of the House. The Speaker is a member who is elected to the position by a majority of the members elected to the House to run the mechanics of the House, including appointing committees and their members and assigning legislation to committee.


    A budget act that authorizes the spending of public money for specific purposes. The three major appropriation bills are:

         Budget Bill – Legislation authorizing expenditures for all branches of State government. It is the main financial plan for the State in a given fiscal year.

         Bond Bill – Also known as the Bond and Capital Improvements Act, it authorizes the issuance of bonds and funding for State infrastructure projects in a given fiscal year.

         Grant-In-Aid Bill
    – An appropriation made by the General Assembly to help support the activities of any county, municipality, corporation, non-profit organization, or person providing services to Delawareans in a given fiscal year.


    A proposed law under consideration by the General Assembly. Bills usually propose changes or additions to the existing statutory law, but can also be used to propose an appropriation, charter change, or constitutional amendment.


    A daily listing of legislative actions on bills and resolutions beginning with introduction and including those which have been reported from committee and are ready for final reading, debate, and vote by the full membership of a Chamber.


    A group of legislators who associate together on the basis of membership in a political party or common interests, and meet to discuss policy and strategy and coordinate legislative efforts.


    A compilation of Delaware’s laws. The Delaware Code is contained in a series of volumes organized according to subject matter by title, chapter, and section (e.g. Title 3, Chapter 11, and § 1102).


    An appointed group of legislators who meet to consider and make recommendations concerning the disposition of legislation and conduct investigations on behalf of the House or Senate. The Speaker of the House and President Pro Tem appoint their members to the following types of committees:

         Interim Committee - A committee established to study or investigate certain matters between regular sessions and to report its recommendation or findings to the next regular session.

         Joint Committee – A committee composed of members from both Chambers (e.g., the Joint Sunset Committee).

         Standing Committee – A committee appointed with continuing responsibility in a general issue area or field of legislative activity. (e.g. House Judiciary or Senate Executive). These committees are specific to and composed of members from one Chamber.

    Constitutional Majority

    The Delaware Constitution requires a majority of the entire membership (regardless of how many are actually present) to vote for the passage of bills and resolutions that will have the effect of law. In contrast, many motions on procedural matters require only a "simple majority", or a majority of those present and voting.

    Engrossed Legislation

    Legislation in its final and official form with all approved amendments incorporated into the text of the original legislation.


    The official record of legislative proceedings in each house.


    The general term usually used for official acts of the General Assembly.

    Division of Research

    The Division of Research is a nonpartisan confidential legislative agency that provides bill drafting, legal research, bill service, and other legislative assistance and services to members of the General Assembly, state agencies, and the public.


    An acronym meaning “laid on the table”. It is an action that occurs on the floor for various legislative reasons, including a missing witness or a needed amendment.


    Attempts made by a person or group acting on behalf of themselves or others to influence legislation.

    Majority/Minority Leader

    The member chosen by each Chamber’s political party caucus to lead it.


    A formal proposal made by a legislator on the floor or in committee requesting the Chamber or committee take a procedural action such as to table legislation or suspend rules.

    President of the Senate

    The title given to the Lieutenant Governor in his or her capacity as the presiding officer in the Senate.

    President Pro Tempore

    The Senator elected to the position by a majority of the members elected to the Senate to run the mechanics of the Senate, including appointing committees and their members and assigning legislation to committee. The President Pro Tempore is commonly referred to as the “Pro Tem”.


    The minimum number of members required to be present for the Chamber or a committee to perform its business. In the General Assembly, the quorum for each Chamber is a majority of all the members elected to the Chamber.


    A resolution is the formal expression of the opinion, sentiment or will, of one or both Houses of the General Assembly. There are three types of resolutions:

         Simple Resolutions - A simple resolution is passed by only one Chamber. The effect of its passage does not go beyond the bounds and the authority of that Chamber. It is used to govern the internal affairs of the Chambers, express congratulations or condolences, declare the sense of a Chamber on an issue, or create a task force.

         Concurrent Resolutions - A concurrent resolution is used to accomplish the same purpose in relation to the entire General Assembly that a simple resolution accomplishes for either the House or Senate singly. A concurrent resolution adopted by the General Assembly does not become a law, nor does it have the force and effect of law, nor can it be used for any purpose that requires the exercise of legislative power. It may create a joint task force.

         Joint Resolutions - A joint resolution is the most formal type of resolution. It has legal effect when it is passed by both Chambers and signed by the Governor. A joint resolution is not a law but is used to employ temporary measures and has the force of law while in effect. Disagreement exists if a joint resolution extends beyond the General Assembly that enacted it.

    Rules of Each House

    The parliamentary rules or procedure adopted by each Chamber to govern its legislative conduct and action.

    Secretary of the Senate

    The chief administrative officer of the Senate who is elected by that body. The Secretary of the Senate is not a Senator, but is a full time staff official whose duties and status are equivalent to the Clerk of the House.


    The written permanent law formally enacted by the legislature.


    A statement of legislation’s general purpose located at the very beginning of the legislation, in capital letters. The purpose of a title is to provide notice to the public of the subject matter of the legislation and the laws, if any, it affects.


     An acronym meaning “as amended by.” It is used to indicate that legislation has been changed by an amendment.

    Administrative Code

    A compilation of Delaware’s regulations. The Delaware Administrative Code is published entirely online by the Registrar of Regulations, an employee of the Division of Research, and is organized according to subject matter by title and section.

    Advisory (Legislative Advisory)

    A list of the actions taken by the Governor on legislation that has passed both Chambers and been presented to the Governor for review and action. In terms of actions that may be taken, the legislation may be signed by the Governor, vetoed by the Governor, or neither signed nor vetoed by the Governor in which case it is enacted without the Governor’s signature. Each list includes the legislation’s number, title, and sponsors and the date of the action and, if applicable, the Laws of Delaware volume and chapter number assigned to the legislation. Constitutional amendments are included on this list, even though the Governor may not sign or veto them.


    A list published daily by each Chamber of those bills and resolutions which have been scheduled for consideration.


    A separate piece of legislation having the limited purpose of deleting or inserting text, or both, in an existing piece of legislation, which is usually a bill but can be another amendment that has yet to be attached to a bill.

    Appropriated Special Funds (ASF)

    Fees that are collected and designated for a specific purpose to support program functions.

    Body (of the Legislation)

    The substantive and necessary portion of any legislation. The “Body” follows the “Be it enacted . . .” if it is a bill and the “Be it resolved . . .” if it is a resolution. If it is a bill, it may set forth the changes to the Delaware Code, the Delaware Constitution, the Laws of Delaware, or a municipal charter with one or more separate parts which are designated as “Section 1.”, “Section 2.”, etc. They are usually separated when they alter different portions of the Delaware Code, Delaware Constitution, Laws of Delaware, or a municipal charter. The body of the bill shows such changes by strike through for deletions and by underline for insertions. If it is a resolution, it accomplishes one of the purposes assigned to resolutions. If it is a bill, it may include optional parts also designated as “Sections”. The optional Sections of the body of a bill include the effective date, applicability clause, sunset clause, savings clause, grandfather clause, interpretation clause, severability clause, repealing clause, appropriations, and short title.


    Also known as the “heading” of the legislation, it provides information such as the sponsors, Chamber of introduction, the specific General Assembly involved, e.g., the 148th General Assembly, the type of legislation, and the number assigned to the legislation.


    (1) Generic term for the House or Senate; in its plural form it refers to both the House and Senate. (2) Official room for the meeting of the House or Senate.


    The Act legally creating, known as “incorporating”, a municipality which lists general powers and restrictions of powers of that municipality.

    Charter Amendment

    The mechanism used to change the charter of a municipality. A charter amendment takes the form of a bill.

    Chief Clerk of the House

    The chief administrative officer of the House of Representatives who is elected by that body. The Chief Clerk is not a Representative, but a full-time staff official whose duties include receiving and releasing all bills introduced in the House, recording all votes taken on the floor, and certifying the daily record of legislative action on bills and resolutions.

    Committee Report

    The official release of legislation from a committee signed by the members of the committee and indicating their opinions of the legislation as follows:

         M – Legislation voted out of committee on its merits, meaning that legislator recommends the Chamber take action on the legislation, but the legislator does not take a position on what action should be taken.

         U – Legislation voted out of committee as unfavorable, meaning that legislator recommends the full Chamber defeat the legislation.

         F – Legislation voted out of committee as favorable, meaning that legislator recommends the full Chamber pass the legislation.


    The document containing Delaware’s founding principles and establishing the basic structure and power of Delaware’s government. The Delaware Constitution is divided into 17 Articles labeled using Roman numerals and each Article is subdivided into sections (§).

    Constitutional Amendment

    The mechanism by which changes are made to the Delaware Constitution. The Delaware Constitution is amended by a bill passed by two-thirds of the members elected to one General Assembly (this is called an Act proposing or the “first leg” of the amendment) that is then passed by two-thirds of the members elected to the next succeeding General Assembly (this is called an Act concurring in or the “second leg” of the amendment). The Governor may neither sign nor veto a constitutional amendment.


    A citizen residing within the district of a legislator.

    Controller General

    The Controller General’s Office is a nonpartisan legislative agency that provides fiscal research and advice for the General Assembly. The Office’s responsibilities include participating in all hearings held by the Joint Finance Committee, Budget Director, and State agencies in connection with State finances and assisting the General Assembly in the discharge of its fiscal responsibility.


    Legislation which does not pass because an insufficient number of “aye” votes are accrued. Defeated legislation can be restored within three legislative days.


    Legislation which is delayed because of any number of reasons, including that insufficient information is on hand to deal with the matter; such legislation may require an expert witness, fiscal note, etc.

    Effective Date

    The time when legislation goes into effect and begins to operate. In Delaware, unless there is a specific direction in the legislation itself, legislation is effective upon enactment. Enactment occurs when the Governor signs the legislation; when the Governor has failed to act on presented legislation within 10 days, Sundays excluded; or when three-fifths of the members of both Chambers have overridden the Governor’s veto.

    Enacted or Enactment

    Legislation that has received the required vote of both Chambers and has then been signed by the Governor, not signed by the Governor in accordance with Article III, § 18 of the Delaware Constitution (see “Enacted Without Signature”), or veto overridden by three-fifths of the total membership of each Chamber.

    Enacted Without Signature

    Article III, §18 of the Delaware Constitution provides that legislation that the Governor has not acted upon, by either signing or vetoing, within 10 days of being presented to him or her, excluding Sundays, becomes law.

    Enactment Clause

    Located between the title of legislation and the body of the legislation, it formally expresses the General Assembly’s will. The clause begins, “Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Delaware”.

    Enactment Date

    The date legislation becomes law. In Delaware, the enactment date is the date when the Governor signs the legislation; the date, 10 days, excluding Sundays, after the Governor fails to act on legislation that has been presented by the General Assembly; or the date on which three-fifths of the members of both Chambers have overridden the Governor’s veto.


    (1) The process by which legislation is updated to incorporate amendments made to legislation as it progresses through the General Assembly. (2) A copy of engrossed legislation.


    The process by which a bill or joint resolution that has passed both Chambers is put into its final format and is prepared for transmission to the Governor, such preparation includes certification by the President Pro Tem and the Speaker and the Secretary of the Senate and the Chief Clerk of the House.

    Executive Order

    Action by the Governor implementing his or her authority under the law.

    Fee Impact (FI) Statement

    An analysis of the fiscal impact to the State, businesses, or consumers. It is issued by the Controller General’s Office.

    Fiscal Note (FN)

    An analysis of the financial impact to the State of a piece of legislation. It is issued by the Controller General’s Office.

    Fiscal Year (FY)

    The State’s accounting period, which begins July 1st.


    The physical part of the Chamber reserved for legislators, current and former public officers, staff, and others granted “privilege of the floor” or permission to be in this part of the Chamber. In contrast, members of the public and other visitors are permitted to observe sessions from the gallery.

    Floor Manager

    The legislator in charge of discussing on the floor a specific piece of legislation from the other Chamber. The floor manager is usually the chair of the committee from which it was released.


    The balcony of the Chamber from which visitors may view the proceedings.

    General Assembly

    The state's legislative body.

    HA or SA

    An acronym for House Amendment or Senate Amendment.

    HB or SB

    An acronym for House Bill or Senate Bill.

    HR or SR

    An acronym for House Resolution or Senate Resolution, both are simple resolutions. HCR or SCR are acronyms for House Concurrent Resolution or Senate Concurrent Resolution. HJR or SJR are acronyms for House Joint Resolution or Senate Joint Resolution.

    HS or SS

    An acronym for House Substitute or Senate Substitute.


    The shortened name for the House of Representatives. It consists of 41 members, each of whom is elected to a two-year term. All revenue generating legislation must begin in the House.


    The public presentation of legislation into the legislative process.

    Joint Rules

    Rules governing joint procedures or operations of the House and Senate.

    Joint Session

    A meeting of both the House and Senate in one Chamber.

    Laws of Delaware

    Also known as Session Laws, it is a book and online compilation containing copies of all the bills enacted during a General Assembly and any other legislative or executive document required by Legislative Council. Once a bill is enacted, it is assigned its own chapter number within the current volume of the Laws of Delaware. Chapter numbers are assigned chronologically as bills are enacted. Example: Chapter 103 of Volume 79 is the 103rd piece of legislation enacted in the 147th General Assembly.

    Legislative Council

    A joint committee made up of the leadership of both Chambers. The Chair alternates between the President Pro Tem in odd numbered years and the Speaker of the House in even numbered years. The Council oversees the work of the Division of Research and Controller General’s Office and Legislative Hall as a whole.

    Legislative Day

    The convening of a Chamber to conduct official business. It differs from a calendar day in that it does not begin and end at a set time and can span multiple calendar days.

    Legislative Session (or Session)

    (1) The period of time in which the General Assembly is convened in a calendar year for the purpose of lawmaking and consists of a regular session and may consist of one or more special sessions or extraordinary sessions. (2) The daily meeting of a Chamber.

         Regular Session – The constitutionally required legislative session beginning on the second Tuesday of January and ending no later than the last day of June.

         Special Session - A constitutionally permitted legislative session which requires the mutual call of the presiding officers of both Chambers. This normally occurs as June 30th turns into July 1 and is done by mutual call of the presiding officers of both Chambers under Article II, § 4 of the Delaware Constitution.

         Extraordinary Session - A constitutionally permitted legislative session which requires the call of the Governor. Typically, this involves only the Senate as its purpose is usually to deal with judicial nominations. See Article III, § 16 of the Delaware Constitution.


    A person engaging in lobbying, either for pay or as a volunteer.

    LFT (or Lifted)

    An acronym meaning “lifted from the table.” Legislation previously LOT is lifted for action by the Chamber or committee.

    Majority/Minority Whip

    The member chosen by each Chamber’s political party caucus to encourage membership attendance, count votes, and sometimes oversee personnel.


    Record of the proceedings of a committee. These must include the results of any committee votes and may include the reason for a member’s dissent from a committee decision.

    Motion to Lift Defeated

    Legislation previously LOT failed to receive the vote required to lift it from the table for action by the Chamber or committee.


    An acronym meaning “motion to suspend the rules” (see “Suspension of the Rules”).

    Must List

    A compilation of legislation prepared by the leadership of each Chamber’s majority caucus as the regular session draws to a close that the leadership determines must pass the other Chamber before legislative business is concluded on July 1.

    Non-Appropriated Funds (NSF)

    Federal funds or grants used to support programs.

    Order of Business

    The defined routine followed by a Chamber each legislative day.

    Per Diem

    Refers to attorneys and other staff who are hired on an as-needed basis, typically working only on legislative session days.

    Petitioned Out

    When a majority of the members elected to the Chamber sign a petition to remove legislation from a committee for action by the Chamber.

    Point of Order

    A question by a legislator to the presiding officer calling attention to a breach of order or the rules. This results in a ruling by the chair.


    An acronym meaning “placed with the bill.” It is in reference to an amendment that has been introduced to be considered with the legislation and, therefore, it goes wherever in the process the legislation is.


    (1) A mechanism used to introduce legislation before the opening of the legislative day. It takes the place of an introduction from the floor. (2) A list of all legislation that has used this mechanism to replace introduction from the floor.

    Presiding Officer

    The person designated to preside at a legislative session. Typically, the presiding officer is the Speaker in the House and the President (Lt. Governor) in the Senate.

    Register of Regulations

    A monthly publication available in print and online that provides notice of changes in agency regulations, whether new, modified, or repealed, together with supplemental information deemed appropriate by the Registrar of Regulations, an employee of the Division of Research.


    A rule adopted by a state agency to implement, interpret, or prescribe law or policy or describe its procedure or practice requirements.


    The presentation of legislation before a Chamber. This is a formal procedure which requires the legislation be read by title. Unless rules are suspended, bills and joint resolutions must receive three readings:

         First Reading – The first presentation of legislation by its title for consideration. This coincides with introduction and assignment to committee. Pre-filing legislation constitutes the first reading.

         Second Reading – The second presentation of legislation. This coincides with the reading of the committee report for the bill or joint resolution. Legislation is now placed on the Ready List.

         Third Reading – The final presentation of legislation by its title prior to discussion and a possible vote by the Chamber. Any amendments are considered at this stage prior to action on the legislation.

    Ready List

    A compilation of legislation that, if required to go through committee, has been released by committee, and is available to be placed on an agenda for its third and final reading.


    Legislation is sent from one committee to a different committee.


    When legislation is returned to the originating Chamber, at its request, from the other Chamber or from the Governor.


    A temporary suspension of the proceedings during a legislative session. It usually lasts “until the call of the Chair”.

    Reconsideration, Motion For

    The process of reviving legislation that has been defeated. This must occur within three legislative days.


    Erases a roll call vote.


    Legislation is sent back to committee, the ready list, or to the other Chamber.

    Roll Call

    Names of the members, called in alphabetical order, used to establish a quorum or take a vote on legislation or a motion before the Chamber.

    Ruling of the Chair

    The decision of the presiding officer on a point of order or procedure.


    The regular period of time during which a legislative body conducts business.


    Consists of 21 members. Each decade a Senator is elected to two 4 year terms and one 2 year term (with the 2 year term either at the beginning or end of each decade to allow for staggered terms) so as to allow for redistricting following the federal census. The Senate is responsible for confirming the Governor’s appointments.

    Simple Majority

    The requirement in Article II § 10 of the Delaware Constitution that no bill or joint resolution may pass a Chamber without the concurrence of a majority of all the members elected to that Chamber. Majority means at least one more than half of all the members elected.


    A legislator who introduces or supports legislation and whose name is attached to the legislation.

         Prime Sponsor - The originator of legislation. Legislation can only have one prime sponsor. This person introduces the legislation, shepherds it through committee and is responsible for floor managing it in his or her Chamber.

         Co-Prime Sponsor – Additional originators of legislation who may have worked with the prime sponsor on the legislation or may assist with shepherding it in the same or the other Chamber.

         Co-Sponsor – Additional supporters of a bill.


    A substitute replaces an introduced bill, but keeps the introduced bill’s number and title.


    Legislation removed from the legislative process by the prime sponsor.


    The expiration of a law.

    Super Majority

    The Delaware constitutional requirement that a specific bill must pass a Chamber with the concurrence of three-fifths, two-thirds, or three-fourths of all of the members elected to the Chamber.

    Suspension of the Rules

    A majority of all of the members of a Chamber may vote to take an action that otherwise would be prohibited by a rule of that Chamber.


    A statement that may include the intent of the legislation, a brief history of why the legislation was introduced, changes to existing laws or a description of the proposed new law, and how the legislation affects current law with its existing rights, liabilities, and proceedings. Because of this level of detail, Delaware courts have held that the synopsis of a bill is a proper source from which to obtain legislative intent.

    Tabled in Committee

    The decision of a majority of the members of a committee that the legislation should not be released from the committee. The legislation is subject to being petitioned out of the committee.

    Temporarily Deferred

    Legislation holding position on the agenda without being worked; probably awaiting an amendment.

    Voice Vote

    An oral expression of the members of the House when an amendment is presented. Members respond “aye” or “nay.” The Speaker determines which side prevails. Under House Rule 39(d), any member can request a roll call vote be taken instead of a voice vote.

    Vote Requirement

    The minimum number of votes required by the Delaware Constitution for a piece of legislation to pass one or both Chambers (See “Simple Majority” and “Super Majority”).