Arizona State Government

A Brief Background

The Arizona State Legislature is a bicameral body made up of the Senate and House of Representatives. Arizona’s 90 legislators, meet annually at the State Capitol Complex in Phoenix starting the second Monday of January each year. While there is no set end date, the Legislature aims to end the Legislative Session in 100 days. The Governor is also allowed to call special sessions of the Legislature.

Two representatives and one senator share each of the state’s 30 electoral districts for a breakdown of 60 members in the House of Representatives and 30 Senators. Legislators are elected to two-year terms.  A legislator may not serve more than four consecutive terms in office, for a total of eight consecutive years in office.  A Legislator may run again after two years out of office.  Term-limited legislators also have the option to run for the opposite chamber – e.g. A Senator who is term-limited could run for the House of Representatives in the same district or vice versa.

The state of Arizona is one of 23 states that has a Republican Governor, House of Representatives and State Senate.

As of April of 2021, the State Senate is made up of 14 Democrats and 16 Republicans. The president of the senate, chosen by the Senate membership and a member of the majority party, presides over the body and appoints all committees and joint committees, and may create other committees or subcommittees. In the senate president’s absence, the president pro tempore presides.

In the State Senate, the majority party leadership consists of the president of the senate, president pro tempore, senate majority leader and senate majority whip. The minority leadership includes the senate minority leader, senate assistant minority leader, and at least one minority whip.

As of April of 2021, the House of Representatives is made up of 29 Democrats and 30 Republicans. The speaker of the house, elected by members of the house and a member of the majority party, presides over the body and and appoints all committees and joint committees, and may create other committees or subcommittees. In the speaker’s absence, the speaker pro tempore, who presides.

In the State House of Representatives, the majority party leadership consists of the speaker of the house, speaker pro tempore, house majority leader, and house majority whip. The minority leadership consists of the house minority leader, house assistant minority leader and minority whip.

Are you interested in learning more about the Legislative Process? Take a look at Bill to Law ( ) – The Legislative Process in Arizona by Former State Senator Randall Gnant.


How the Legislative Process Works

An Overview of the State Budget Process

The State of Arizona’s fiscal year begins July 1 of each year.  During each legislative session, the Legislature must enact a budget for the next fiscal year. 

There are some key steps and important dates in the state budget process each year:

  1. State agencies submit their budget requests to the governor by September 1.
  2. The Governor submits his proposed budget to the state legislature in January. The Governor is required by law to submit a balanced budget to the Legislature.
  3. From January through May (sometimes shorter or longer), the legislature debates the budget. A simple majority is required to pass a budget, and the legislature is required by statute to pass a balanced budget.

How an Idea Becomes a Law

Every bill starts as an idea or concept. A Member, group of Members, a Standing Committee or a Majority of a Committee, introduces the bill in the House or Senate after it is written into proper form by Legislative Council. Bills can be introduced in either the House or the Senate – the process from this point will highlight a bill originally introduced in the House.

A bill is assigned a number (House Bills are numbered starting with 2001 and designated “H.B. ____” and Senate Bills are numbered starting 1001 and designated “S.B. ____”) and then First Read and referred by the Speaker to the appropriate standing committees, to the Rules Committee and to the Chief Clerk for printing and distribution.

Committees consider the bill. The committee process may include hearings, expert testimony, and statements from citizens. Each committee reports its recommendations to the entire House, and the Rules Committee determines if the bill is constitutional and in proper form.

The bill is then heard in the Committee of the Whole (COW), an informal session of the entire House membership acting as one committee debates, amends and makes recommendations on bills on the COW calendar.

Third read comes next. This includes an electronic vote where all members present must vote (unless excused); no member can vote for another member. Members may explain their votes.

If the bill passes the house, it moves on to the Senate or vice versa.

After the bill is first read in the Senate, it is laid over for one day.

After the bill is second read, the senate president refers the bill to the appropriate standing committees and the Rules Committee.

The bill is considered by the committees it has been assigned to, which can include hearings, expert testimony, and statements from citizens. Each committee reports its recommendations to the entire Senate.

The Rules Committee agenda becomes the calendar for the Committee of the Whole (COW) and after five days, the senate president designates which items are placed on the active calendar for COW.

COW, an informal session of the entire Senate membership acting as one committee debates, amends and makes recommendations on bills on the active calendar.

Third read on the bill comes next and each senator votes electronically. Their votes appear on a computerized board at the front of the chamber. Unless excused, each senator present must vote on each item. Each senator also has the opportunity to explain their vote.

If the bill is passed by the Senate it is then returned to the House.

If the bill language is identical to that originally passed by the House, the bill goes to the Governor’s desk for signature.

If the bill comes back to the House in a different form, meaning the bill has been amended, the bill may either be accepted in the new form and sent to the Governor’s desk or rejected and sent to a conference committee.

If the bill goes to conference committee…

A conference committee is made up of representatives appointed by the speaker and senators appointed by the president. The members of the conference committee debate whether to accept the original version, add new material, delete language, or by compromising in some other way. The conference committee reports back to both the House and Senate for adoption. After final passage in both chambers, the bill is sent to the Governor.

When the bill goes to the Governor…

After the bill passes both the House and Senate, it is sent to the Governor for consideration. The Governor has three options for each bill presented:

  1. He may sign the bill into law within five days (10 days if the legislature is adjourned). If he does so, the law takes effect immediately if it is emergency or Proposition 108 legislation; otherwise the law takes effect 90 days after the legislature adjourns. The bill then becomes law and a part of the Arizona Revised Statutes (A.R.S.)
  2. He can refrain from signing the bill, in which case it becomes law without his signature after the five or 10-day period and becomes effective as described above.
  3. He can veto the bill. If the veto takes place while the legislature is still in session, the bill is returned to the legislature where a two thirds vote (or three-fourths if the bill is an emergency measure or Prop 108 legislation) is required to override the veto. If the legislature has already adjourned, the bill is dead.

How to Find or Contact Your State Legislators

If you know who your legislators are, please click here for a list of names, email addresses and phone numbers.

If you do not know who your legislators are, please click here and enter your physical address and zip code. Once you find your district, click here for a list of legislator names, email addresses and phone numbers.

Other Useful State Government Resources

Want more information or a more in-depth overview of the legislative process? Visit

The Governor & Executive Branch

The Governor of Arizona, currently Doug Ducey, is the head of the executive branch of Arizona's state government and the commander-in-chief of the state's military forces. The governor has a duty to enforce state laws, and the power to either approve or veto bills passed by the Arizona Legislature, to convene the legislature, and to grant pardons, except in cases of treason and impeachment.

The State of Arizona has more than 200 governor-appointed boards and commissions that regulate and license professions and occupations. In addition, the Governor’s Cabinet is made up of over 40 state departments and agencies. While these entities cannot make laws, they are often given the power to create, modify and examine the specific rules used to implement laws and often their decision have significant effects on the people they regulate.  Additionally, members of these agencies are experts in the areas they oversee and are used as resources by the governor in creating new policy and direction as the Governor formulates the state budget and works to implement his vision for the state.

How to Contact Governor Ducey


Mail: 1700 West Washington Street, Phoenix, AZ 85007

Phone: Phoenix – 602-542-4331 | Tucson – 520-628-6580

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