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The Legislative Bill Room, California State Capitol. (Photo: ca.gov)

Frequently Asked Questions about the Parts of a California Bill

What is contained in the Bill Text?

By Chris Micheli, June 5, 2024 2:30 am

What is a bill? The Legislative Counsel defines a bill as “a proposed law, introduced during a session for consideration by the Legislature, and identified numerically in order of presentation.”

Which Legislative Session is designated? At the top of each bill, the following language appears: “California Legislature – 2019-2020 Regular Session.” The only two items that change would be the 2-year Legislative Session, and if there is an Extraordinary Session (also called a special session), rather than a Regular Session.

How is the Bill Number determined? It follows the words “Assembly Bill” or “Senate Bill. The Assembly Chief Clerk or the Secretary of the Senate assigns the bills numbers for each bill introduced in its respective house of origin, usually in the order in which it was received at the Assembly or Senate Desk. This number remains the same throughout the legislative process, even when the measure is considered in the second house.

How is the Author(s), as well as principal coauthors and coauthors, designated? In the California Legislature, the author is the legislator who authors the bill. The first line always lists the main author(s) who introduced the bill. Below the first line lists any principal coauthor and the next line lists any coauthor. One list is used for the house of origin coauthors and another line below that is used for coauthors from the other house.

Which dates are included? The Date Introduced, as well as Date Amended, with the house making the amendment listed (i.e., the Senate or Assembly).

What is included in the Bill Title? It is a short phrase, also called the “Relating” clause because it begins with the phrase: “An act to amend/add/repeal Section ___ of the ___ Code, relating to ….” The title must encompass the subject matter contained in the bill is not changed or amended as the bill moves forward, unless the bill is “gutted-and-amended” into an entirely different subject.

What is contained in the Legislative Counsel’s Digest? It begins with the bill number, the phrase “as introduced” or “as amended,” the bill’s lead author, and a short phrase regarding the subject matter of the bill. Thereafter, the Digest contains a statement of existing state law, followed by an explanation of what this bill proposes to do to change existing law.

What are the Digest Keys? They contain the four keys: vote; appropriation; fiscal committee; and, local program.

What is contained in the Bill Text? This is the actual language of the bill to amend, add or repeal sections of the 29 Codes that exist in California law. Bills are divided into sections, which could include findings and declarations (essentially a statement of the bill’s purpose by the Legislature), as well as substantive law changes that can be codified or uncodified statutes. At the end of the text can often been found “plus sections,” which are provisions related to not statutory changes, but are parts of the bill. Examples could include an urgency clause, a state-mandated local program, etc.

What is specified before the bill text? Before the actual bill text begins, it is preceded by the required “enacting clause,” which every bill must contain and it reads: “The People of the State of California do enact as follows:”

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2 thoughts on “Frequently Asked Questions about the Parts of a California Bill

  1. i remember reading the statute in regards to retail credit card payments. In said that retailers could not charge a higher price to their customers for using a credit card, but they could offer a discount if paying with cash. Friggin rocket scientists………..

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