Past Legalization Efforts
Council Member Kathyrn Freed's Bill to Legalize Ferrets
How a bill becomes a law in New York City


* Portions in BLUE were copied from
The New York City Council Web site ~ "How A Bill Becomes A Law"

1) A bill (proposed legislation) is filed by a Council Member with the Council's law clerk.

A Council Member makes a proposal for a new law or law change. That Council Member supplies the Council's "Counsel" (Lawyers) with any relevant information they have gathered that would be helpful in writing up the new law. The lawyers then review the information. They also review existing local, State and Federal laws to determine if the proposed legislation can be legally instituted. In other words, they need to make sure it will not conflict with another preexisting law and they also check to make sure that the City Council has the authority to institute the proposed law. Once this is done, the lawyers write up an "official" wording of the new law-to-be. It's not enough to just state it. It has to be written up as an official legal document.

*Council Member Kathryn Freed proposed legislation to create a local law legalizing ferrets in NYC on 6/25/99.

2) The bill is then introduced into the Council during a Stated Meeting and referred to the appropriate committee.

Once the legislation is written into "legalese" it is introduced to the City Council and given an official number. At this point it is considered to be a "bill". The City Council is broken into several committees. Each committee is responsible for different areas of local law and policies. After the bill is introduced into Council, it is given to the committee that handles that particular area of lawmaking and policy.

* Intro 627: The Ferret Regulation Bill was introduced to The City Council on 9/9/99 and was sent to the City Council Health Committee for review. (Note: The City Council Health Committee is not the same as the Department of Health.)

3) A public hearing is held on the proposed legislation.

Several weeks later a public hearing is held. At this time, the public is invited to present any information or arguments for or against the bill. Anybody can speak at the hearing and express an opinion and/or submit documents. Often, speakers need to register in advance to allow sufficient time for all comments. In addition to the hearing, the public is encouraged to mail written documents and/or letters to the committee in support of or against the bill at any time during the decision making process.

A Public Hearing was held on Monday December 18th 2000.

4) After committee debate and public testimony, the bill may be amended.

The Committee reviews the bill, the information provided from the public hearing, information from documents and letters that have been mailed to the Committee, and from any other sources that have been submitted. At this time they may choose to amend the bill or to let it stand as is. Once they have finished reviewing the bill and made any necessary adjustments.....

The Committee made a few minor revisions. The new version of the bill is titled "Intro 627-A"

5) The committee meets again to vote on the final version of the bill.

On April 19th, 2001 The City Council Health Committee voted in favor of passing Intro 627-A.

Read more about it...

6) If passed in committee, the bill is sent to the full Council for more debate and a final vote.

If passed in committee, a date is set for the bill to be put before the entire City Council. On that date, there will be some discussion and debate, and then a vote will be taken by the entire City Council.

The FULL City Council will vote on Intro 627-A on May 9th 2001!


7) If passed by an affirmative vote by a majority of Council Members (at least 26 members) the bill is then sent to the Mayor, who also holds a public hearing.

Intro 627-A passed by EXACTLY 26 votes. Read more about it...

8) The Mayor then chooses to sign or veto the bill.

If the Mayor approves, he signs and passes the bill.

A "veto" is the Mayor's right to vote "no" on something in spite of the entire City Council voting "yes".

9) If the Mayor does sign the bill, it immediately becomes a local law and is entered into the City's Administrative Code.

10) If the Mayor disapproves the bill, he or she must return it to the City Clerk with his or her objections to the Council at the next scheduled Stated Meeting.

If the Mayor vetoes the bill, he will state his reasons for doing so, and return the bill back to the City Council.

Mayor Giuliani vetoed (turned down) the bill to legalize ferrets on May 21, 2001.

11) The Council then has 30 days to override the Mayoral veto.

The City Council will review the Mayor's reasons for not wanting to pass the bill, and take that new information into consideration. Then the City Council will vote on the bill again. However, this time they'll need a two-thirds vote to pass the bill and override the Mayor's veto, not just a majority vote.

In other words, the first time the bill came before the City Council, at least 26 members had to vote in favor of the bill for it to pass. However, this second time around, if the City Council wants to override the Mayor's veto and pass the bill, at least 34 members of the City council need to vote in favor of the bill.

The City Council had the OPTION to override the Mayor's veto, but there weren't enough votes to warrant the scheduling of a vote. In the end, we were only about 4 votes short.

Read more about it.

12) If the Council does repass the bill by a vote of two-thirds of all Council Members, it is then considered adopted and becomes a local law.


<< More about Kathryn Freed's Bill to Legalize Ferrets