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

Don’t Call Them ‘Chaptering Out’ Amendments

Solve your problem with double jointing amendments

By Chris Micheli, December 6, 2021 10:11 am

At the end of a California Legislative Session, Capitol observers will hear about the need to have “chaptering out amendments” adopted. However, that is not the correct term to use. “Chaptering out” is the problem that needs to be addressed by amendments, and “double-jointing amendments” are the solution.

Chaptering Out refers to when provisions of one chaptered bill amend the same code section(s) as another chaptered bill does. The bill with the higher chapter number prevails over the lower chapter number bill. Chaptering Out can be avoided with the adoption of “double jointing” amendments to a bill prior to passage by both houses of the legislature and signature by the governor.

This “chaptering out” law is found in the Government Code, Chapter 6 (titled “Operation of Statutes and Resolution”), Section 9605(b), which reads as follows:

(b) In the absence of any express provision to the contrary in the statute that is enacted last, it shall be conclusively presumed that the statute which is enacted last is intended to prevail over statutes that are enacted earlier at the same session and, in the absence of any express provision to the contrary in the statute that has a higher chapter number, it shall be presumed that a statute that has a higher chapter number was intended by the Legislature to prevail over a statute that is enacted at the same session but has a lower chapter number.

Double Jointing requires technical amendments prepared by Legislative Counsel that will prevent the amended bill from “chaptering out” the provisions of another bill when both bills amend the same code section. According to Legislative Counsel, “double-jointing amendments to a bill provide that the amended bill does not override the provisions of another bill, where both bills propose to amend the same section of law.”

Unlike contingent enactment, double jointing is not driven primarily by policy considerations. Rather, double-jointing is a solution to the technical problem known as “chaptering out.” Chaptering out will occur unless the bill with the higher chapter number contains a provision to the contrary. If a bill with the higher chapter number does not contain language addressing this situation, its changes will supersede (called “chaptering out”) the changes made to the same code section by the bill with the lower chapter number.

Double jointing amendments are used to prevent this chaptering out problem from occurring by allowing all of the changes to a code section proposed by two or more bills to take effect. The double-jointing language must occur in both measures in order to be effective.

So, next time your bill has a chaptering out problem, be sure to solve your problem with double jointing amendments.

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