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California Senate Chambers. (Photo: Kevin Sanders for California Globe)

Frequently Asked Questions About Using Letters to the Daily Journal

Can a letter to the journal be submitted after adjournment?

By Chris Micheli, November 16, 2023 2:55 am

What are the purposes of a Letter to the Journal? They are used when a Member may need to submit a letter to the Journal for clarification on one of their bills, or to express the author’s intent for their bill.

Where is the letter published? In either the Assembly or Senate Daily Journals, depending on which is the bill’s house of origin. While occasionally letters are placed in both journals for the same bill, or a letter is published in the other house’s journal, those are likely not to be recognized by the courts in this state.

Who submits a letter to the journal? These signed letters are submitted by the bill’s author on their letterhead and addressed to either the Assembly Chief Clerk (for an AB) or the Senate Secretary (for an SB).

What happens when the author submits the journal letter? These letters are reviewed by the staff of the two legislative leaders of the respective house before they can be accepted, which may result in revisions to the letter, if requested.

What happens to the journal letters on the Floors? Once approved by house leadership, then the house’s Majority Leader makes a motion to have the letter printed in that house’s journal. During deadline periods, the letters are generally approved as one of the final items before adjournment on the last night of Session.

Can a letter to the journal be submitted after adjournment? No, because it requires a formal motion adopted by the body to publish a letter in either Daily Journal.

Can journal letters be written by floor managers or co-authors? While there is no prohibition on this, I think courts would be less receptive to them for purposes of statutory interpretation. So, the bill’s actual author should be the one submitting and signing the letter.

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