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California State Assembly. (Photo: Kevin Sanders for California Globe)

Does the Legislature Use Display Bills Anymore?

Neither the Assembly Rules nor the Joint Rules Committee address the issue of display bills

By Chris Micheli, September 21, 2022 2:09 pm

What is a “display bill” and are they used in the California Legislature? Neither the Assembly Rules nor the Joint Rules of the Senate and Assembly address the issue of display bills.

However, Senate Rule 28.10 provides: “A display bill shall not be heard or acted on in any committee, or voted on by the Senate. For purposes of this rule, “display bill” means a bill that sets forth substantive changes in or additions to existing law but states in the text of the bill that its provisions are set forth for display purposes only, or words of like effect.”

A display bill looks like a regular bill introduced in the State Assembly or State Senate, but it contains language on its first page that it is “for display purposes.” This means there is no plan to move that particular bill, but instead to make the bill language available to the public in order for them to review and comment on the proposed bill language.

Because a display bill does not make any substantive change in the law, it is not referred to committee for a hearing, nor is it ever voted upon by the house in which the display bill was introduced. In recent years, display bills have not been introduced in the California Legislature. They had been used sparingly many years ago.

Display bills are also referred to as “preprint bills.” Joint Rule 54, in part, deals with these types of measures and provides:

(d) During a joint recess, the Chief Clerk of the Assembly or Secretary of the Senate, as applicable, shall order the preparation of preprint bills when so ordered by any of the following:

(1) The President pro Tempore of the Senate or the Speaker of the Assembly.

(2) The Committee on Rules of the respective house.

(3) A committee, with respect to bills within the subject matter jurisdiction of the committee.

Preprint bills shall be designated and shall be printed in the order received and numbered in the order printed. To facilitate subsequent amendment, a preprint bill shall be so prepared that, when introduced as a bill, the page and the line numbers will not change. The Chief Clerk of the Assembly and Secretary of the Senate shall publish a list periodically of preprint bills showing the preprint bill number, the title, and the Legislative Counsel’s Digest. The Speaker of the Assembly and Senate Committee on Rules may refer any preprint bill to committee for study.

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