Senate Concurrent Resolution 32 (Atkins) was adopted March 30 of this year and sets forth the Joint Rules of the Senate and Assembly for the 2021–22 Regular Session. Joint Rule (JR) 26.5 is titled “Reference to Committee.” This section provides in full:
26.5.Pursuant to Rule 26, whenever a bill is returned to its house of origin for a vote on concurrence in an amendment made in the other house, the Legislative Counsel shall promptly prepare and transmit to the Chief Clerk of the Assembly and the Speaker of the Assembly in the case of an Assembly bill, or to the Secretary of the Senate and Chairperson of the Senate Committee on Rules in the case of a Senate bill, a brief digest summarizing the effect of the amendment made in the other house. The Secretary or Chief Clerk shall, upon receipt from the Legislative Counsel, cause the digest to be printed in the Daily File immediately following any reference to the bill covered by the digest. A motion to concur or refuse to concur in the amendment is not in order until the Legislative Counsel’s Digest has appeared in the Daily File or an analysis of the bill has been prepared and distributed pursuant to Senate Rule 29.8 or Assembly Rule 77.
If the digest discloses that the amendment of the other house has made a substantial substantive change in the bill as first passed by the house of origin, the bill, if it is a Senate bill, shall, on motion of the Chairperson of the Senate Committee on Rules, be referred to the Senate Committee on Rules for reference to an appropriate standing committee. If the bill is an Assembly bill, it may be referred by the Speaker to the appropriate committee.
Upon receipt of the bill, the committee may, by a vote of a majority of its membership, recommend concurrence or nonconcurrence in the amendment or hold the bill in committee. The committee shall be subject to all the requirements for procedure provided under Rule 62 for committees, other than committees of first referral, and shall be subject to other requirements for normal committee procedure as the Assembly or Senate may separately provide in the standing rules of their respective houses.
Any of the provisions of this rule may be dispensed with in regard to a particular bill in its house of origin upon an affirmative vote of a majority of the Members of that house.
First, JR 26.5 relies upon Joint Rule 26, which concerns whether the house of origin will “concur or refuse to concur in amendments” that were adopted by the other house. Basically, JR 26 provides that, when the other house amends a bill passed by the house of origin, the house of origin considers the amended bill and must either “concur” or “refuse to concur” in the amendments.
Second, JR 26.5 requires the Legislative Counsel to “promptly” prepare a “brief digest” of the amended bill when the bill is back in its house of origin to consider whether to concur or not concur in the amendments made in the other house. This digest is required to summarize the effect of the amendment(s) made in the other house.
Third, JR 26.5 requires the Assembly Chief Clerk (for an AB) or the Senate Secretary (for an SB) to publish the brief digest in the Assembly Daily File or the Senate Daily File.
Fourth, JR 26.5 designates a motion to concur or not concur in the other house’s amendment to be not in order until the Legislative Counsel’s Digest has appeared in the Daily File or an analysis has been prepared and distributed on the floor of the bill’s house of origin.
Fifth, JR 26.5 requires a Senate bill, in which the other house made a substantial substantive change, to be referred to the Senate Committee on Rules for reference to an appropriate standing committee.
Sixth, JR 26.5 allows the Speaker to refer to the appropriate committee an Assembly bill, in which the other house made a substantial substantive change.
Seventh, JR 26.5 allows the appropriate committee, by majority vote, to recommend either concurrence or nonconcurrence in the amendment, or to hold the bill in committee.
Finally, JR 26.5 allows any of its provisions to be dispensed with by a majority vote in the house of origin.
Joint Rule 26.5 is one of those rules that is regularly invoked during the last month of the Legislative Session because it involves work by the attorneys in the Office of Legislative Counsel, the Assembly Chief Clerk’s staff, the Senate Secretary’s staff, the Speaker’s Office, the Pro tem’s Office, the Rules Committee, and one or more policy committees.
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