What Are They?
Bill: A proposed law which amends or repeals existing law, or proposes new statutes. Most bills require a majority vote. If there is fiscal impact, they require a two-thirds vote, except for education bills. (Designated as AB, Assembly Bill, when originated in the Assembly, or SB, Senate Bill, when originated in the Senate.)
Budget: The Governor must propose a budget by January 10 of each year. Soon thereafter, the Chair of the Assembly Budget Committee and the Senate Budget and Fiscal Review Committee introduce identical bills in their respective houses which reflect exactly the Governor's proposal.
Constitutional Amendment: A proposed change in the Constitution which, after approval of two-thirds of the legislators, is submitted to the voters. (Designated as ACA, Assembly Constitutional Amendment, or SCA, Senate Constitutional Amendment, depending on house of origin.)
Concurrent Resolution: A legislative proposal that commends individuals or groups, adopts legislative rules, or establishes joint committees. (Designated ACR or SCR.)
Assembly and Senate Resolutions: An expression of sentiment of one house of the Legislature. They usually ask a committee to study a specific problem, create interim committees, or amend house rules. They take effect upon adoption. (Designated AR or SR.)
Joint Resolution: A legislative opinion on matters pertaining to the federal government. Often urges passage or defeat of legislation pending before Congress. (Designated as AJR or SJR.)
Who Are They? What Do They Do?
Author: State Senator or Assembly Member who introduces a bill and carries it through the legislative process. Only legislators may introduce legislation in the California Legislature.
Legislative Analyst: An employee of the Legislature, appointed by the Joint Legislative Budget Committee. The Analyst and staff gather facts and make recommendations to this committee, as well as to the Senate Budget and Fiscal Review Committee and the Assembly Budget Committee in their deliberations over the budget. Also, the Analyst prepares an analysis of each of the state ballot propositions for the official ballot pamphlet distributed to voters prior to state primary and general elections.
Legislative Counsel: A staff of over sixty attorneys who draft legislation (bills) and proposed amendments, review, analyze, and render opinions on legal matters of concern to the Legislature. (Legislative Counsel's Digest is a summary of a bill's content. It appears on the face of each bill introduced into the Legislature, and it contrasts existing law with proposed law in layman's language.)
Floor Manager: Speaks for and as the author when the bill is being heard in the second house. (Assembly members are not allowed to present bills on the Senate floor, and vice versa.)
Sponsor: Interest group (such as CAROCP) or constituents from a legislator's district who bring to the legislator's (prospective author's) attention suggested legislation. An example, CAROCP sponsored AB 2235 (Sweeny) in 1996 that was a significant finance bill for ROCPs.
Standing Committee: The forum used in the Senate and Assembly for studying bills and hearing testimony from authors, proponents, and opponents.
If a majority of standing committee members approve a bill, it is sent to the floor of the same house with a "do pass" recommendation. If it has fiscal impact, it is sent on to the appropriate fiscal committee. It takes a majority vote of committee members present to amend a bill. If a measure fails passage in committee, the author may request reconsideration at that time. If granted, the bill would be reconsidered at the next meeting of that committee.
The standing committee is where much of the action takes place in the California Legislature, which uses what is known as the "committee system" as a major part of its process. Bills stand or fall (pass or fail passage) as standing committee hearings. CAROCP legislative advocate, and in some instances, CAROCP members, as well as members of the general public testify frequently before standing committees.
Many bills are heard by more than one committee in each house.
Committee Consultants and Aides: Each member of the Legislature has a district office staff plus the assistance of specialists assigned to committees and to the party caucuses to which the member is assigned or for which the member may serve as chair. This staff is responsible for assisting legislators with the functioning of committees, caucuses, and also with the technical aspects of their legislative work. Staff members fulfill a very important legislative function, and can assist a constituent when it is not possible to reach a legislator.
What Does It Mean?
Spot Bill: A bill that has been introduced but is really serving as a "place holder" for substantive language to be added at a later date.
Introduction and First Reading: Bill is submitted by Senator or Assembly Member, numbered, and read. It is assigned to a committee by the Assembly Speaker or Senate Rules Committee, and printed.
Second Reading: When a bill passes out of committee to which it is assigned, it is read on the floor for a second time.
Third Reading: The bill is read for a third time and debated. A roll-call vote follows. If passed, the bill is sent to the second house, or, if it is already in the second house (AB in Senate of SB in Assembly) and was amended there, it is returned to its house of origin for "concurrence" in amendments.
Conference Committee: If the Senate (on a Senate bill) or the Assembly (on an Assembly bill) refuses to concur in amendments to the bill made by the other house, a conference committee is appointed for each house. The Senate Rules Committee and the Assembly Speaker each appoint a committee of three -- two who voted with the majority and one who voted with the minority. The Conference Committee will report to both houses. Their report on the bill is not subject to amendment; it is either accepted or rejected, and, if rejected, another Conference Committee is appointed.
Urgency Clause: Most measures become effective January 1 of the year following enactment and signature by the Governor. In some instances it is determined that a bill is of an urgent nature. A clause so stating is inserted and the bill becomes effective the day on which it is signed by the Governor. Such bills require a two-thirds vote to pass.
Enrollment: Legislation that has passed both houses is sent to enrollment for proofreading for consistency before being sent to the Governor for approval.
Chaptered: A bill that has passed both houses and has been signed by the Governor is said to be "chaptered". The bill becomes law January 1 of the following year, unless it contains an urgency clause (takes effect immediately), or specifies in the bill its own effective date.
Sunset Clause: Acts of the State Legislature which expire after a certain date unless renewed by the Legislature.
Citizen Access to the Constitution and Representative Government: In recent years there has been a renewal of interest in the techniques of "direct democracy" where citizens are able to bypass the Legislature and act directly on policy matters. California's Constitution provides for this via the: