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Is a Rule Waived or Suspended in the CA Legislature?

Certain Joint Rules of the Assembly and Senate may be suspended or waived

By Chris Micheli, October 12, 2022 6:32 am

We hear most often in the California Legislature that a rule is being “waived” or that someone is seeking a “rule waiver.” However, many rules may be “dispensed with” or “suspended,” rather than waived. So, what is the correct terminology to be used? Fortunately, or unfortunately, all of the above is the answer, depending on the specific rule.

The Office of Legislative Counsel only defines one of these three terms – “rule waiver,” which is “a specific exception sought from the Assembly, Senate, or Joint Rules by an Assembly Member or Senator.” In the case of any of these three “exceptions” to the legislative rules, formal permission must be sought and received by the legislator (usually through a motion).

So, what are some examples of these three types of exceptions? 

In Article IV, Section 8(a) of the state Constitution, no bill other than the budget bill may be acted upon for the 30 days following the bill’s introduction, unless the house of origin “dispenses with this requirement.”

Article IV, Section 8(b)(1) requires each bill to be read by its title on 3 days in each house before it can be passed, except that the house “may dispense with this requirement.” And, Section 8(b)(2) requires a bill to be in print for 72 hours before a final vote, except that the notice period “may be waived.” So, the California Constitution uses “dispense” twice and “waive” once.’

The following are provisions of the Joint Rules (JR) that use the term “suspend:”

JR 10.5, concerning the rereferral of bills to the fiscal and rules committees, provides that it “may be suspended in either house as to any particular bill by approval of the Committee on Rules of the house and two-thirds vote of the membership of the house.”

JR 28.1, concerning conference committees, provides that “either house may suspend this rule by a two-thirds vote of the membership of the house.”

JR 54, concerning the introduction of bills, provides that “this subdivision may be suspended by approval of the Committee on Rules of the house of origin.” In addition, JR 54 provides that, “this joint rule may be suspended by approval of the Committee on Rules and three-fourths vote of the membership of the house.”

JR 55, concerning the 30-day waiting period, provides that “this rule may be suspended concurrently with the suspension of the requirement of Section 8 of Article IV of the Constitution or, if that period has expired, this rule may be suspended by approval of the Committee on Rules and two-thirds vote of the house in which the bill is being considered.”

JR 61, concerning deadlines, provides that “this rule may be suspended as to any particular bill by approval of the Committee on Rules and two-thirds vote of the membership of the house.”

JR 62(a), concerning committee procedure, provides that “this subdivision may be suspended with respect to a particular bill by approval of the Committee on Rules and two-thirds vote of the Members of the house.”

The following are provisions of the Assembly Rules (AR) that use the term “suspend:”

AR 6, concerning the Adoption of Standing Rules, provides that, “once adopted, the Standing Rules shall remain in effect unless suspended or amended as provided in these rules.” It also describes the vote requirements for suspending temporarily any Assembly Standing Rules and provides that “a temporary suspension applies only to the matter under immediate consideration, and in no case may it extend beyond an adjournment.”

AR 49, concerning the Limitation on the Introduction of Bills, provides that “this rule may be suspended with respect to a particular bill by approval of the Committee on Rules.”

AR 69, concerning Amendments from the Floor, provides that “subdivision may be suspended temporarily by two-thirds vote of the Members present and voting.”

AR 74, concerning the Adoption of Resolutions, provides that “this subdivision … may be suspended temporarily by an affirmative recorded vote of 41 or more Members.”

The following are provisions of the Senate Rules (SR) that use the term “suspend”:

Senate Rule 21, dealing with the Suspension of Rules or Amending of Rules, provides that “any rule not requiring more than a majority vote may be temporarily suspended without that notice by a vote of a majority of the membership of the Senate.” In addition, SR 21 provides that “… except that a rule requiring a two-thirds vote may be temporarily suspended without that notice by a two-thirds vote.”

SR 21.2, concerning the Permission of the Committee on Rules, provides that “a Senate or Joint Rule may not be suspended unless the Committee on Rules determines that an extraordinary circumstance exists that justifies the suspension.”

SR 22.5, concerning the Bill Introduction Limitation, provides that “this rule may be suspended with respect to a particular bill by approval of the Committee on Rules.”

SR 38.5, concerning Amendments Are to Be Germane, provides that “this rule may not be suspended unless the Committee on Rules determines that an extraordinary circumstance and overwhelming public interest exist that justify the suspension.”

SR 55, concerning Admission to the Senate Chamber, provides that “this rule may be suspended by a vote of two-thirds of the Members of the Senate.”

The following are provisions of the Joint Rules (JR) that use the term “waive:”

JR 29.5, concerning conference committee meetings, provides that “when this subdivision is waived with respect to a meeting of any public conference committee…”

JR 36, relating to investigating committees, provides that “this requirement may be waived by a majority vote of either house with respect to a particular bill.” In addition, JR 36 provides that “the requirements placed upon joint committees by subdivisions (a) and (b) of this rule may be waived as deemed necessary by the President pro Tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the Assembly.”

JR 62, relating to committee procedure, provides that the “notice requirement may be waived by a majority vote of the house in which the bill is being considered.”

The Senate Rules and the Assembly Rules do not describe any waivers.

As a result, it is appropriate to say that certain Joint Rules of the Assembly and Senate may be suspended or waived as set forth above. However, it is only appropriate to say that certain Assembly Rules or Senate Rules can be suspended, but none of the individual house rules can be “waived.”

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