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Drafting Claims Bills in the California Legislature

The annual claims bill is authored by the chair of the Appropriations Committee

By Chris Micheli, May 4, 2022 6:27 am

There is an annual “claims bill” that is enacted each year in the California Legislature. The claims bill is authored by the chair of the Appropriations Committee. There are essentially two types of claims bills. The first is for payment of a legal claim, settlement, or judgment. The second is for payments of claims approved by the California Victim Compensation Board.” The following examples are the main provisions of the annual claims bills.

First, the Relating Clause usually states that the bill is “An act relating to the payment of claims against the state, making an appropriation therefor, and declaring the urgency thereof, to take effect immediately” or the clause states “An act relating to the California Victim Compensation Board, making an appropriation therefor, and declaring the urgency thereof, to take effect immediately.”

Second, the Legislative Counsel’s Digest usually provides either:

That existing law, if sufficient appropriations are not available for the payment of claims, settlements, or judgments against the state arising from an action in which the state is represented by the Attorney General is required to report the claims, settlements, and judgments to the chairperson of either the Senate Committee on Appropriations or the Assembly Committee on Appropriations, who is then required to cause introduction of legislation appropriating the funds necessary for payment of the claims, settlements, or judgments. In addition, the Digest specifies that “This bill would appropriate $___ from the General Fund to the Attorney General for the payment of claims, settlements, or judgments against the state arising from specified actions in which the state was represented by the Attorney General.”

OR

That existing law requires the California Victim Compensation Board, in cases in which evidence shows that a crime with which a claimant was charged was either not committed at all, or not committed by the claimant, to report the facts of the case and its conclusions to the Legislature with a recommendation that the Legislature make an appropriation for the purpose of indemnifying the claimant.” In addition, the Digest specifies that “This bill would appropriate $___ from the General Fund to the executive officer of the board for payment of claims for specified individuals.”

In addition, the Digest provides for both types of claims bills that “This bill would declare that it is to take effect immediately as an urgency statute.” The Digest Keys for both types of claims bills provide:

Vote: 2/3   Appropriation: yes   Fiscal Committee: yes   Local Program: no

Section One of the claims bill provides the amount of the appropriation such as the following examples: “The sum of $___ is hereby appropriated from the General Fund to the Attorney General to be allocated in accordance with the following schedule:” OR “The sum of $____ is hereby appropriated from the General Fund to the executive officer of the California Victim Compensation Board, for payment of claims as follows:”

Thereafter, individual sums are specified for individual claimants, such as the following: “for payment of the claim of ___, accepted by the board and reported to the Legislature pursuant to Section 4904 of the Penal Code.”

Section Two of the claims bills provide an urgency clause generally with the state that the urgency is required “In order to pay claims against the state and end hardship to claimants as quickly as possible, it is necessary for this act to take effect immediately.”

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