Legislative Process at General Convention

The General Convention—the largest bicameral legislative body in the world—is charged with setting the policies and structures of government, and having custody of The Book of Common Prayer for the Episcopal Church. Its tasks include election of officers and members of national boards and agencies; establishing standing committees and commissions; approving a budget; and electing a presiding bishop.

Legislation, in the form of resolutions, takes up much of the convention’s ten business days every three years. The resolutions are referred to any of 24 legislative committees which then report out to one of the two houses—House of Deputies or House of Bishops. Committees cover areas such as the consecration of bishops, communications, ecumenical relations, education, evangelism, prayer book and liturgy, social and urban affairs, and world mission.

Each house’s legislative routine is of resolutions presented and referred to one of 24 legislative committees, reports from legislative Committees to each house, debates, votes and actions taken in each house. There are 17 legislative sessions during the ten days the convention is officially in session.
How resolutions become an act of General Convention

The four sources for resolutions are:

Each resolution is assigned to a legislative committee of each house for discussion and debate. One house is designated as the House of Initial Action (HIA). The assigned committee holds one or more public hearings on the resolution. Hearing times are posted at least four hours in advance. Resolutions may also be reviewed by the committees on Constitution or Canons for form, and Program, Budget and Finance, if funding implications are present. After hearings and discussion, the committee can recommend a resolution be:

2.Adopted, but with amended or substituted text.
4.Referred to a CCAB
5.Or that the committee be discharged from further consideration of it.

The resolution is then placed on the Daily Calendar for floor debate and vote, or the Consent Calendar—which means it is voted on without discussion in the full house. The HIA may then accept the committee recommendation or provide its own. If the house rejects the resolution, it dies.

If adopted, it goes to the second house’s legislative committee, and goes through the same process. If the second house amends the resolution, it goes back to the first house. A resolution only becomes an Act of Convention after both houses adopt it in the same form.

Thanks for this information to the Episcopal Diocee of Chicago


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5/7/04 -j