In reviewing the more than 2,600 bills introduced in the 2023 Legislative Session, I have come across a number of bill sections that could benefit from additional explanation. What I mean by that is that some sections at the end of bills, called “plus sections,” should not just merely make a statement, or a finding and declaration.
Instead, those sections should contain a brief statement that justifies the legislative statement. What is an example that shows what I am referring to? One standard plus section is when the Legislature wants to apply a proposed statute to both general and charter cities.
Some bills simply include the legislative finding and declaration that they want it to apply to all cities. The following is an example of that standard language:
The Legislature finds and declares that Section 1 of this act adding Section 65960.1 to the Government Code address a matter of statewide concern rather than a municipal affair as that term is used in Section 5 of Article XI of the California Constitution. Therefore, Section 1 of this act applies to all cities, including charter cities.
On the other hand, some bills contain an explanation of why the legislative is making a finding and declaration that the proposed statute should apply to all cities. The following is an example of this standard language with explanation (in bold italics):
The Legislature finds and declares that to lower the cost of housing production by reducing unnecessary parking requirements is a matter of statewide concern and is not a municipal affair as that term is used in Section 5 of Article XI of the California Constitution. Therefore, Section 1 of this act adding Section 65863.3 to the Government Code applies to all cities, including charter cities.
There are several other examples from recently-introduced legislation in the 2023 Session that contain explanations, rather than just a statement. The following are examples of standard language with explanations (in bold italics):
No reimbursement is required by this act pursuant to Section 6 of Article XIII B of the California Constitution because a local agency or school district has the authority to levy service charges, fees, or assessments sufficient to pay for the program or level of service mandated by this act, within the meaning of Section 17556 of the Government Code.
The Legislature finds and declares that the addition of Division 6 (commencing with Section 33300) to Title 3 of the Government Code by this act serves a public purpose and does not constitute a gift of public funds within the meaning of Section 6 of Article XVI of the California Constitution by incentivizing and attracting small-budget independent film and television production to the San Diego region, which will bring economic growth, jobs, and internships to San Diego residents.
As opposed to the first example, which did not include any explanatory information, the other examples cited tell the reader, such as the judiciary, the purpose of the legislative finding or why a particular provision is required. The later examples represent the better approach to take in drafting so that there is no ambiguity or lack of justification for any legislative determinations required by the bill’s statutory provisions.
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