A shell bill is a bill that is introduced at the beginning of the legislative session with little or no substantive language. Shell bills are intended to serve as a placeholder for legislative proposals to be filled in later. Shell bills will typically include nothing more than a title that describes the section of law being changed or some meaningless wording changes.
Historically, a large number of shell bills have been introduced in each chamber. In the House, a majority of introduced bills are shell bills, with several hundred shells bills introduced by the House Speaker alone. Shell bills are generally assigned to the House Rules Committee and cannot be heard in committee until substantive language is added as a “committee substitute.” The Senate adopted a rule prohibiting the introduction of shell bills as of 2015.
Most House and Senate appropriations bills, which are introduced later in session and assigned to the Joint Committee on Appropriations and Budget (JCAB), are initially shell bills.
An example of a typical shell bill from the 2015 session was HB 2192 authored by Speaker Jeff Hickman, which read:
SECTION 1. NEW LAW A new section of law not to be codified in the Oklahoma Statutes reads as follows:
This act shall be known and may be cited as the “State Employee Remuneration Reform Act”.
SECTION 2. This act shall become effective November 1, 2015.