Understanding the California Legislative Process is one of the few that is focused exclusively on the California legislative process. The book is a compilation of short chapters on the state legislative process. Although focused on California, the book provide insights into the legislative process that will apply in most of the 50 states. Beginning with a discussion about the Legislature’s powers as set forth in the state constitution, the bill delves deeply into the legislative process, including information about support entities, deadlines, types of sessions, and some of the challenges and obstacles found in the legislative process.
In addition, bill introductions and referrals, committee procedures and hearings are examined, as well as floor procedures, with a thorough review of bills and amendments. The book covers legislative publications and resources available, before turning to a discussion of ethics and the conduct of legislators and their staff.
Thereafter, the book examines some of the influences on the legislative process, such as interest groups and the media, before reviewing how to draft and analyze bills. As part of this review, several chapters address statutory interpretation and legislative intent and history research. The book also explores the role of the executive branch in the legislative process and details the state budget process.
The book concludes with a discussion about the many misconceptions of the legislative process and makes several suggestions for reform. Finally, the book includes several appendices including further reference materials for the reader and an index of topics for quick reference.
About the Author
Part One—The Legislature’s Powers and Its Role as an Institution
Chapter 1 Overview of California’s Legislature
Chapter 2 Legislature’s Constitutional Provisions
Chapter 3 Other Constitutional Powers of the Legislature
Chapter 4 Legislative Oversight
Chapter 5 Delegation of Legislative Power
Chapter 6 Impeachment by the California Legislature
Chapter 7 Who Holds Greater Lawmaking Power: The Legislature or the People?
Chapter 8 Impeachment of State Officers
Chapter 9 Filling a Vacancy in the Legislature
Chapter 10 Resignations in the California Legislature
Chapter 11 Per Diem and Legislators’ Expenses
Chapter 12 Legislative Privilege in California
Chapter 13 Legislative Oversight of Rulemaking
Chapter 14 When Do Local and State Elected Officials Take Office?
Chapter 15 Formal Roles of Governor and Lt. Governor in Lawmaking
Chapter 16 Between Election Day and Convening the New Session
Chapter 17 Legislative Records Program at SOS
Chapter 18 A Primer on Special Sessions
Chapter 19 Recalling the Legislature from Recess
Chapter 20 Practical Items for Special Sessions
Chapter 21 Fiscal Emergency Special Sessions
Chapter 22 What Are the Joint Recesses in the First Year of Session?
Chapter 23 What Are the Joint Recesses in the Second Year of Session?
Chapter 24 Electing California’s Assembly Speaker
Chapter 25 Special Session or Extraordinary Session—Which Is It?
Chapter 26 Federal Constitutional Limitations on the California Legislature
Chapter 27 Does the Legislature Enact Invalid Statutes?
Part Two—The Legislative Process
Chapter 28 Basics of California’s Legislative Process
Chapter 29 Following the Legislative Process
Chapter 30 Officers and Leadership of the Legislature
Chapter 31 Legislative Branch Support Agencies
Chapter 32 Role of the Legislative Counsel
Chapter 33 Legislative Lingo
Chapter 34 Legislative Calendar
Chapter 35 Legislative Deadlines
Chapter 36 Regular Versus Special Sessions
Chapter 37 California Legislature’s Organizing Session
Chapter 38 Differences Between the Assembly and Senate Processes
Chapter 39 Challenges to Lawmaking in California
Chapter 40 Legislative Process Obstacles
Chapter 41 When Closed Sessions of the Legislature Are Permitted
Chapter 42 Session Reports by Legislative Leaders
Chapter 43 Overview of the Assembly Rules
Chapter 44 Overview of the Senate Rules
Chapter 45 Overview of the Joint Rules
Chapter 46 The Role of Mason’s Manual
Chapter 47 Can All Legislative Rules Be Waived?
Chapter 48 Electing Officers in the California Legislature
Chapter 49 Do California’s Legislative Rules Have Constitutional Protection?
Chapter 50 Can the Public Be Excluded from Legislative Committee Hearings or Floor Sessions?
Chapter 51 Why Does the California Legislature Conduct Its Work in Certain Ways?
Chapter 52 Establishing a Quorum
Chapter 53 The “Sunrise” Process
Chapter 54 The “Sunset Review” Process
Chapter 55 Which Legislative Rules Apply / Do Not Apply to Special Session Bills?
Chapter 56 What Is Interim Study?
Chapter 57 Legislative Terms Compared
Chapter 58 Another California Legislative Process Bill Example
Part Three—Committee Procedures, Including Bill Referrals
Chapter 59 California’s Legislative Committee System
Chapter 60 Types of Legislative Committees
Chapter 61 Joint Committees of the Legislature
Chapter 62 Rules Committees
Chapter 63 Legislative Committee Rules
Chapter 64 Legislative Committee Staff
Chapter 65 Legislative Committee Hearings
Chapter 66 Referral of Bills
Chapter 67 Suspense File Process for Fiscal Bills
Chapter 68 Other Ways of Defeating Bills
Chapter 69 What Happens to Bills Authored by a Former Member?
Chapter 70 Limits on Bill Introductions
Chapter 71 The Second Bill Introduction Deadline
Chapter 72 Committees Meeting Jointly
Chapter 73 Properly Addressing the Presiding Officer of a Legislative Body
Chapter 74 Legislative Rules Known by Their Numbers
Chapter 75 What Are Committee Bills?
Chapter 76 The Astounding Workload of the California Legislature’s Committees
Chapter 77 Motions on Bills in Legislative Committees
Chapter 78 Moving a Call
Chapter 79 Special Orders of Business
Chapter 80 Historical Look at Bill Introductions
Chapter 81 Exceptions to Legislative Committee Deadlines
Chapter 82 Review of Joint Committees
Chapter 83 Conference Committees Not Generally Used
Chapter 84 Bills Held in Committee in Several Ways
Chapter 85 Return of Carryover Bills
Chapter 86 Committee Actions Without a Quorum
Chapter 87 Differences Between Senate Rules 28.8 and 28.9
Chapter 88 Are Bills with Only Findings and Declarations Substantive?
Chapter 89 It’s Not Just the Spot Bill Deadline
Part Four—Floor Procedures
Chapter 90 Conducting Business on the Floors
Chapter 91 Making the Houses Run Smoothly
Chapter 92 Legislative Floor Procedures
Chapter 93 Three Readings of a Bill
Chapter 94 Final Form of Bills and the 72-Hour Rule
Chapter 95 Methods of Floor Voting
Chapter 96 Vote Requirements for Bills
Chapter 97 Reconsideration of Bills
Chapter 98 Bills on Consent
Chapter 99 Concurrence in Amendments
Chapter 100 Sending and Withdrawing Bills from the Floor
Chapter 101 Role of Leadership Staff
Chapter 102 Letters to the Journal Process
Chapter 103 Adjournment Versus Adjournment Sine Die
Chapter 104 Phrases You Might Hear on the Floors of the California Legislature
Chapter 105 Differences in Legislative Floor Operations
Chapter 106 Frequent End-of-Session Legislative Process Questions
Chapter 107 Constitutional Vote Requirements for the Legislature
Chapter 108 Rule Waivers Heard on the Assembly Floor
Chapter 109 Rules of Decorum in the California Legislature
Chapter 110 “Batching” of Bills
Chapter 111 Motions in the Legislature
Chapter 112 Items on Concurrence in the California Legislature
Chapter 113 Addressing Some Other End-of-Session Queries
Chapter 114 Possible Locations of Measures on the Floors
Chapter 115 Why Do Legislators Speak “On Condition of the File”?
Chapter 116 “The Desk Is Clear” Statement
Chapter 117 Supplemental Files
Chapter 118 When Resolutions Are Not Adopted by the Legislature
Chapter 119 Vote Changes
Chapter 120 Presiding Over the State Senate
Chapter 121 Look at Historical Bill Actions
Chapter 122 Are Rules Waived or Suspended?
Chapter 123 Consideration of Governor’s Vetoes by the Legislature
Chapter 124 Why Is a Constitutional Amendment Given a Resolution Chapter?
Part Five—Legislative Publications and Resources
Chapter 125 Legislative Publications
Chapter 126 Where to Find California Laws
Chapter 127 Examining Legislative Records
Chapter 128 Daily Journals in Detail
Chapter 129 Daily Files in Detail
Chapter 130 Histories in Detail
Chapter 131 Look in Detail at California Legislative Publications
Chapter 132 Required Reports to the Legislature
Chapter 133 What is the Legislative Index?
Chapter 134 What is the Table of Sections Affected?
Chapter 135 What is the Statutory Record?
Chapter 136 What is the New Laws Report?
Chapter 137 Flagging Certain Items When Searching Bills
Part Six—Ethics in the Legislative Process
Chapter 138 Laws Governing the Ethics of the Lobbying Profession
Chapter 139 Legislative Code of Ethics
Chapter 140 Open Meetings Laws
Chapter 141 Role of Legislative Ethics Committees
Chapter 142 Crimes Against the Legislative Power
Chapter 143 Deal-Making in California’s Capitol—Is It Lawful?
Chapter 144 Ethics for Legislative Staff
Chapter 145 Expulsion or Suspension of State Legislators
Chapter 146 Gifts and Honoraria and State Legislators
Chapter 147 When Does the 1-Year “Revolving Door” Ban Begin and End?
Part Seven—Influences on the Legislative Process
Chapter 148 Influences on Shaping Legislation
Chapter 149 State Agencies and Their Role in Policy Development
Chapter 150 Media’s Role in the Lawmaking Process
Chapter 151 Role of the Judiciary in the Lawmaking Process
Part Eight—Legislative Lobbying and Advocacy
Chapter 152 Insights into the Lobbying Profession
Chapter 153 Types of Lobbying Clients
Chapter 154 Other Types of Lobbying
Chapter 155 Lobbying Support Services
Chapter 156 Budget Advocacy
Chapter 157 Writing Effective Advocacy Letters
Chapter 158 Providing Effective Committee Testimony
Chapter 159 Lobbying Bill Referrals
Chapter 160 Lobbying Governor’s Appointments
Chapter 161 Successful Lobbying Coalitions
Chapter 162 Negotiating Bills and Amendments
Chapter 163 Sponsored Bills
Chapter 164 Picking the Right Bill Author
Chapter 165 Tracking and Analyzing Legislation and Regulations
Chapter 166 Grassroots Lobbying
Chapter 167 Effective Meetings with Legislators and Staff
Part Nine—Drafting and Analyzing Bills
Chapter 168 Bills, Resolutions, and Constitutional Amendments
Chapter 169 Drafting Bills and Amendments
Chapter 170 Types of Bill Amendments
Chapter 171 Dissecting Bills in the Legislature
Chapter 172 California Legislation and the Single Subject Rule
Chapter 173 Germane Amendments
Chapter 174 Making Sense of Technical Amendments
Chapter 175 The Unseen Part of Passing New Laws
Chapter 176 “Spot Bills”
Chapter 177 “Gut-and-Amend Bills”
Chapter 178 General Versus Special Statutes
Chapter 179 Effective Versus Operative Dates
Chapter 180 Urgency Clause Statutes
Chapter 181 Policy Analysis in the Legislative Process
Chapter 182 A Bill’s Keys
Chapter 183 Drafting Bill Analyses
Chapter 184 Bill Drafting Guidelines and Examples
Chapter 185 Special Statute Statements in Bills
Chapter 186 What Are 2-Year Bills?
Chapter 187 Spot Bills Versus Intent Bills
Chapter 188 How is a Bill “In Print” When It Will Be Amended Days Later?
Chapter 189 Companion Bills
Chapter 190 Use of Display Bills
Chapter 191 What Are All the Legislative Measures?
Chapter 192 What Are the Two Types of Author’s Amendments?
Part Ten—Statutory Interpretation and Legislative Intent
Chapter 193 Researching California Legislative History and Intent
Chapter 194 Rules on Statutory Construction for Non-Lawyers
Chapter 195 Legislative Intent and California Courts
Chapter 196 Court Cases Affecting California’s Legislative Process
Chapter 197 Limits on Certain Types of Legislative Measures
Chapter 198 Distinction Among the Types of Legislative History
Chapter 199 Legislative History Versus Intent
Chapter 200 Using Letters to the Daily Journals for Determining Legislative Intent
Chapter 201 Volume of Daily Journal Letters Submitted by Bill Authors
Part Eleven—The Executive Branch Role in the Legislative Process
Chapter 202 Governor’s Role in the Lawmaking Process
Chapter 203 Executive Branch’s Constitutional Provisions
Chapter 204 Enrolled Bill Reports and the Governor
Chapter 205 Governor’s Reorganization Plans
Chapter 206 Why Is the Governor in Article IV?
Chapter 207 Governor Has 12 or 30 Days to Act on Bills
Chapter 208 When Does the 12-Day Period Begin?
Chapter 209 Bills Chaptered without Governor’s Signature
Chapter 210 Historical Look at Gubernatorial Actions
Chapter 211 Bills Signed by Lt. Governors
Chapter 212 Gubernatorial Records Program at SOS
Chapter 213 Signing Messages by the Governor
Chapter 214 The Governor and the Public Records Act
Part Twelve—Direct Democracy and Its Role in the Legislative Process
Chapter 215 Initiative and Referendum Processes
Chapter 216 Revising or Amending the Constitution
Part Thirteen—The Budget Process
Chapter 217 Overview of the Budget Process
Chapter 218 Changing Joint Rule 10.5
Chapter 219 The Impact of the State Budget on California Public Policy
Chapter 220 Appropriations Measures
Chapter 221 Governor’s Line-Item Veto Authority
Chapter 222 Constitutional Rules for the State Budget
Chapter 223 Timing of Appropriations Bills
Chapter 224 California State Budget Lingo
Chapter 225 About the May Revision
Chapter 226 Bills with Intent for Future Appropriations
Chapter 227 What Is a Reversion Clause?
Part Fourteen—Legislative Process Misconceptions and Reforms
Chapter 228 Common Misconceptions about California’s Legislative Process
Chapter 229 Possible Legislative Process Reforms
Index of Topics
Chris Micheli is a founding partner of the Sacramento governmental relations and advocacy firm of Aprea & Micheli, Inc. As a legislative advocate, Micheli frequently testifies before policy and fiscal committees of the California Legislature, as well as a number of administrative agencies, departments, boards, and commissions. He regularly drafts legislative and regulatory language and is considered a leading authority on state tax law developments, California's knife laws, and the state legislative process. The Wall Street Journal called him "one of the top three business tax lobbyists in the state" and the Los Angeles Times described him as an "elite lobbyist."
Over the last twenty years, he has published hundreds of articles and editorials in professional journals, newspapers, and trade magazines, whose diverse subjects range from tax incentives to transportation funding. He wrote a bi-monthly column on civil justice reform for five years for The Daily Recorder, Sacramento's daily legal newspaper. He has served on the editorial advisory board for CCH's State Income Tax Alert, a nationwide publication, as well as State Income Tax Monitor, another national newsletter, and Sacramento Lawyer, a monthly legal journal.
Micheli has been an attorney of record in several key cases, having argued before the Supreme Court of California (just two years out of law school), as well as the Court of Appeal several times. He has filed more than fifteen amicus curiae briefs in California courts and is admitted to practice law before all of the state and federal courts in the state.
He has published six peer-reviewed law review articles and is the co-editor and co-author of the book “A Practitioner’s Guide to Lobbying and Advocacy in California,” as well as the author of “Understanding the California Legislative Process,” both published in 2020 by Kendall-Hunt Publishing Company. His most recently-published books released in 2021 are “Introduction to California Government” and “An Introduction to Legislative Drafting in California.” He is also the co-author of “Guide to Executive Branch Agency Rulemaking.” He also published two law school casebooks entitled “The California Legislature and Its Legislative Process – Cases and Materials” and “Cases and Materials on Direct Democracy in California.”
He is a graduate of the University of California, Davis with a B.A. in Political Science – Public Service and the University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law with a J.D. degree. He currently serves as an Adjunct Professor of Law at McGeorge where he co-teaches the course Lawmaking in California, as well as a Lecturer in Law at the University of California, Davis, King Hall School of Law where he co-teaches the course Legislative Drafting. He resides in Sacramento, California with his wife, Liza, two daughters, Morgan and Francesca, and son, Vincenzo.
California’s influence on public policy nationwide is widely acknowledged, but the process by which the State Legislature tackles these often complex issues is not well understood. Chris Micheli’s review of California’s lawmaking process succinctly provides a valuable roadmap, including explaining the important role of legislative committees in crafting legislation and the oversight function the Legislature plays in the budget process. This book is a must for practitioners and citizen advocates alike. “
Professor Cathy Christian
Legislative and Public Policy Clinic
Pacific McGeorge School of Law
Understanding the California Legislative Process is a must-have for anyone working in or around the California Capitol. This book is an essential guide for learning the ins-and-outs of the California legislative process from a procedural and insider perspective. From commonly used terminology to understanding the direction a bill is heading, this book is a great tool that any lobbyist, staffer, or student can put to use immediately. You will find yourself reaching back to this book time and time again.
Shoeb Mohammed | Policy Advocate
No better author!
Jim Lites | California Strategies
Chris is a true master of the legislative process. Whenever I need the right answer to a question regarding the legislative process, Chris is my first call.
Mark Sektnan | Vice President
American Property Casualty Insurance Association
One of the greatest aspects of this book is that both students learning about the legislative process for the first time and veterans that work in the Legislature can benefit from the information. Whether reading the book start to finish or using it as a reference for a particular question, Chris Micheli has a way of explaining how the process works in a very relatable and clear manner.
Kirstin Kolpitcke | Consultant
California State Assembly
Chris Micheli is a well-respected political science expert and practitioner of the utmost integrity. I have worked with Chris in and around the State Capitol for over 26 years. A mentor and colleague, Chris is one of those lobbyists you can call on for advice and information. His book on the California legislative process is required reading for practitioners, historians, and political science students.
Pamela E. Gibbs, JD | Education Advocate
Understanding the California Legislative Process should be a must read for any candidate, newly elected lawmaker, lobbyist or student of California politics. This book is a one-of-its-kind compilation of quite literally all of the key elements that determine the fate of bills in the halls of the California State Capitol. Micheli provides extremely thorough real world process detail in a way that is readable, digestible, and ultimately very compelling. I highly recommend it to any prospective participant in California’s lawmaking process.
Chris Micheli has compiled the most comprehensive look at the lawmaking process in the most populous state in the country. This is a truly unique product that not only is a deep dive into the nuances of legislative process, but also offers insight and practitioner’s expertise that can only come from a veteran of California’s legislative battles. It is a must read for those who want to understand California legislating and governing beyond a superficial level.
As a veteran lawmaker, I was surprised to discover for the first-time certain details and nuances of the lawmaking process when reviewing Micheli’s Understanding the California Legislative Process. Micheli captures all of the intricacies of how legislating works in the most populous state in America, and offers insight that can only come from a professional practitioner of legislative advocacy.
Kevin Mullin | Assembly Speaker pro Tem,
California State Assembly
For those who want to understand how ideas become law in California, this is the perfect resource. Chris Micheli has a knowledge of the California legislative process that is simply unmatched.
Ashley Hoffman | Policy Advocate
Chris Micheli’s passion for California’s Legislative process comes through in this book. If you are on the road to mastering the art of public policy development in Sacramento then you will want to fully understand the rules of engagement. This book unravels the complexities associated with the process of managing legislation in California and is one of the most important roadmaps written on legislative procedure in some time. It deserves to be read by all serious students of California legislative politics.
Jamie Taylor | Senate Fellows Director
Sacramento State University