Over the years, I have come across some provisions of California legislation that appear at least inconsistent with general drafting norms. This statement is not meant to be a criticism of either a bill’s author or the bill drafter; it is simply a characterization that the language is not what a bill reader would normally expect to find in a California bill.
So, what do I mean? The following are some examples with brief explanations:
Example # 1:
While it is not unique to have a statement of intent by the Legislature (see subdivision (a) below), it is unusual to thereafter find a provision (see subdivision (b) below) that would otherwise be set forth in its own statutory section in a Code. Also, more often, legislative intent statements are contained in uncodified sections of the law.
Section 14576 is added to the Public Resources Code, to read:
(a) It is the intent of the Legislature that all provisions of this division be interpreted to encourage and support the reuse, as well as the recycling, of empty beverage containers.
(b) The processing payment for a reusable beverage container shall be the same amount paid for other glass beverage containers.
Example # 2:
While it is not unusual to find a statement of legislative intent (see Section 2 below), these statements rarely contain an affirmative statement that future legislation will be enacted, especially because one Legislature cannot bind (or compel) a future Legislature to enact a statute. Moreover, this intent statement contains a specific, affirmative statement (i.e., “the office shall allocate the funds…) that is normally found in a codified statute., rather than in uncodified language in a bill.
It is the intent of the Legislature to enact future legislation to transfer funds to the office to support the Community Power Resiliency Program as described in Section 1 of this act. If the Legislature transfers funds to the office, the office shall allocate the funds based on Section 1 of this act to counties, cities, special districts, and tribes.
If the Legislature enacts future legislation to transfer funds to the office to support the Community Power Resiliency Program as described in Section 1 of this act, the office shall allocate the funds based on Section 1 of this act to counties, cities, special districts, and tribes.
Example # 3:
This provision provides a statement of intent. While the legislation can and should create the workgroup and charge it with the desired work, a mere statement of intent neither creates the workgroup nor charges the group with actually completing the specified tasks. So, why is this intent language and not statutory language to be codified?
(2) It is further the intent of the Legislature that a working group consisting of policymakers from the Legislature, the administration, the Student Aid Commission, the segments of postsecondary education, external advocates, and student representatives be convened to evaluate changes to state and federal financial aid, following the operative date of the act that adds this subdivision.
Example # 4:
We often find the following language in a sunset date clause contained in legislation. However, why is the highlighted portion included? It is obvious that a sunset date repeal or extension has to occur before the sunset clause is triggered. So, we could simply drop the highlighted language from the statute.
(j)This section shall remain in effect only until January 1, 2023, and as of that date is repealed, unless a later enacted statute, that is enacted before January 1, 2023, deletes or extends that date.
There are undoubtedly other examples of interesting, or unexpected, provisions in legislation. The above examples are ones that caught my eye in the past few months.
- AB 1287, Gender Pricing Discrimination Signed by Gov. Newsom - September 27, 2022
- Gov. Newsom Signs SB 1162 – Pay Data Reporting and Salary Range Postings - September 27, 2022
- What Is a Small Business Under California Law? - September 27, 2022