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

Can a Bill Only Do Three Things?

Bills can add a new section of law, amend an existing section of law, or repeal an existing section of law

By Chris Micheli, October 3, 2022 3:10 pm

Capitol observers know that bills can add a new section of law, amend an existing section of law, or repeal an existing section of law, or a combination of those three actions. But, are there any other actions a bill can make?

The answer is yes. Bills can also “add by renumbering” or “amend and renumber.” What do those two phrases mean?

A bill can “add by renumbering” an existing section of a code, of which there are 29 in California, separated by subject matter, beginning with the Business and Professions Code and ending with the Welfare and Institutions Code.

A bill can also “amend and renumber” an existing section of code. There are three places that a reader can determine that a bill is amending and renumbering:

The first place is in the bill’s Title. The title will begin with the following: “An act to amend and renumber…”

The second place is in the bill’s Legislative Counsel’s Digest. The Digest will include language such as the following: “The bill would also make nonsubstantive changes to the program by renumbering a code section …”

The third place is in the bill’s substantive provisions. An example is the following:

Section 53599.2 of the Health and Safety Code is amended and renumbered to read:

53599.2. 53559.2.

The above descriptions are of the two other ways that a bill in the California Legislature can take action. So, there are actually a total of five possible actions that a bill can take individually or in combination.

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