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BULLET How a bill becomes an ordinance in the City of St. Louis, Missouri

How Do Laws Begin?

Citizens or city agencies go to an Alderman with an idea, or the Alderman has an idea, for a new law that will solve neighborhood needs or to make St. Louis a better place to live. The Alderman will talk over the idea with other members of the Board of Aldermen and, if it is a good idea, the aldermen will sponsor a bill (Article IV, section 11) and perhaps have one or more interested Aldermen as co-sponsors.

What Happens Next?

All bills must be read at three meetings held on different days. (Article IV, section 16)

1. At a meeting of the Board of Aldermen the Chief Clerk gives the first reading of a bill and assigns it a number. The President of the Board of Aldermen refers the bill to the proper committee for a hearing.

The standing committees are:

Housing, Urban Development and ZoningHealth and Human Services
Convention and TourismTransportation and Commerce
Engrossment, Rules, and ResolutionsWays and Means
Parks and EnvironmentIntergovernmental Affairs
LegislationPublic Safety
Streets, Traffic and RefusePublic Utilities
Public EmployeesPersonnel
Neighborhood Development


2. At the committee meeting the bill is discussed, questions are asked about it, and perhaps amendments are added or substitutions are made. If a majority of the members of the committee who are present for the meeting vote in favor of the bill, it is sent to the full board for further consideration. If there is no vote on the bill or if a majority of the members present vote against the bill, it dies in committee.

3. If the chairperson reports the bill out of a committee, it is read for the second time at the next meeting of the full board.

4. At the next meeting of the full board after the second reading of the bill the debate and vote on the perfection of the bill takes place. The debate may include discussion of the need for the bill, its funding and enforcement, conflicts with other ordinances and any other aldermen may be offered at this time. If a majority of the members present to vote to perfect the bill, it is sent to the Engrossment, Rules and Resolutions Committee to be proofread and printed in its final form.

5. When the bill leaves the Engrossment Committee it is ready for the third and final passage. There may be more debate, however the bill cannot be changed unless the board votes to send it back to committee for revisions. At the time of the third reading most bill require fifteen votes for passage. (Article IV, section 16) Any bill for the sale of city property requires a minimum of twenty votes. (Article IV, section 26) If a majority of all the members vote in favor of the bill, it is considered enrolled, and the clerk announces the bill passed. All business temporarily stops while the President of the Board of Aldermen signs the bill. (Article IV, section 16)

6. At the end of the Board meeting, the Chief Clerk personally delivers the signed, enrolled copy of the bill to the mayor's Office. The Mayor must wait 10 days to sign the bill unless it contains an emergency clause in which case he can sign it immediately. If the Mayor had not signed the bill within 20 days of receiving it from the Chief Clerk the bill automatically becomes an ordinance. (Article IV, section 17)

7. If the Mayor vetoes the bill it is sent back to the Board of Aldermen. If 20 Aldermen vote to over ride the Mayor's veto the bill becomes an ordinance. (Article IV, section 17)

8. After the bill is approved the signed, enrolled copy is sent to the Register who assigns the bill an ordinance number. (Article IV, section 20)

9. Thirty days after the final approval of the bill, it takes effect as an Ordinance, unless the bill contains an emergency clause in which case it takes effect immediately. (Article IV, section 19 and Article IV, section 20)



Prepared by the St. Louis City Board of Aldermen
Revised 1998


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