Glossary of Legislative Terms
Taken from California State Legislature
ACROSS THE DESK
The official act of introducing a bill or resolution. The measure is given to the Chief Clerk or his or her representative at the Assembly Desk in the Assembly Chamber or to the Secretary of the Senate or his or her representative in the Senate Chamber. It then receives a number, is sent to the State Printer, and becomes a public document available in the bill room. Amendments are also “put across the desk.”
A bill passed by the Legislature and approved by the Governor.
Disposition of any question before the Legislature.
ADJOURN IN MEMORY (AIM)
A Member may request that the Assembly or Senate session be adjourned in the memory of a person. This request must be in writing and shall be read by the Presiding Officer prior to the adjournment of session.
Termination of a meeting, occurring at the close of each legislative day upon the completion of business, accomplished by a successful motion to end session, with the hour and day of the next meeting being set prior to adjournment.
ADJOURNMENT SINE DIE
Literally, “adjournment without day,” meaning no days left; final termination of the two-year legislative session. Regular or special sessions of the Legislature are adjourned sine die at midnight on November 30 of each even-numbered year.
ADMINISTRATIVE PROCEDURE ACT (APA)
A statute containing required procedures for rule-making and administrative hearings. (Chapter 3.5, 4, and 5 [commencing with Section 11340] of Part 1 of Division 3 of Title 2 of the Government Code.)
Approval or acceptance of motions, amendments or resolutions.
ADVISE AND CONSENT
Confirmation by the Senate of certain appointees of the Governor.
An alteration made, or proposed to be made, in a bill, motion, resolution or clause, by adding, changing, substituting or omitting language. Amendments must be submitted to Legislative Counsel for drafting.
AUTHOR’S AMENDMENTS (Before Committee Hearing)
Amendments submitted by the author of the bill to the committee and submitted to the Desk by the Chair of the committee to which the bill has been referred. Permits the adoption of the amendments by the House without the benefit of a committee hearing and recommendation.
AUTHOR’S AMENDMENTS (At Committee Hearing or on the Floor)
Amendments in Committee or on the Floor that are supported by the author.
Amendments proposed by a Committee or a Committee member in a Committee hearing. Adopted by roll call vote of the Committee. May or may not be hostile.
HOSTILE AMENDMENTS (At Committee Hearing or on the Floor)
Amendments proposed by another Member in Committee or on the Floor that are not supported by the bill’s author.
ANALYSIS OF THE BUDGET BILL
The Legislative Analyst’s comprehensive examination of the Governor’s Budget; available to legislators and the public about six weeks after the budget is submitted by the Governor to the Legislature.
APA RULEMAKING PROCEDURES
Procedures set forth in the Administrative Procedure Act that generally require state agencies, when adopting regulations, to give public notice, receive and consider public comments, submit their regulations and supporting rule-making files to the Office of Administrative Law for review, and publish the regulations in the California Code of Regulations (see California Code of Regulations and Rule-Making).
A parliamentary procedure for challenging the decision of a presiding officer.
Division of the State into districts from which state and federal legislative representatives are elected (see reapportionment).
The amount of money set aside for a specific purpose and designated from a specific source, such as the General Fund or the Environmental License Plate Fund.
Established by Proposition 4, which was passed by voters in 1979 (Article XIII B, California Constitution), the appropriations limit is the maximum amount of tax proceeds that State or local governments may appropriate in a fiscal year. The limit is adjusted annually but is based on 1986–87 appropriations.
APPROVED BY THE GOVERNOR
Indicating the signature of the Governor on a bill passed by the Legislature.
Location and contents of public records kept by the Secretary of State, including copies of all measures considered at each session, journals, committee reports, and documents of historic value.
The House of the California Legislature, consisting of 80 Members, elected for two-year terms, from districts apportioned on the basis of population.
ASSISTANT CHIEF CLERK
Assists in the supervision and coordination of the operation of the proceedings and actions of the Assembly; performs the duties of the Chief Clerk in his or her absence.
A Member of the Legislature who introduces a legislative measure.
A Legislature consisting of two Houses.
A draft of a proposed law introduced by a Member of the Legislature (Assembly Bill 4000-AB 4000, Senate Bill 1-SB 1).
A summary of the purpose, content, and effect of a proposed measure or amendment, prepared for committee or floor proceedings.
The legal synopsis of a measure; prepared by Legislative Counsel (see Digest and Legislative Counsel).
The California Constitution grants the Governor “line item veto” authority to reduce or eliminate any item of appropriation from any bill including the Budget Bill. In the 1960’s the Governor actually used an editor’s blue pencil for the task (see line item veto).
BOND BILL (General Obligation Bonds)
A bill authorizing the sale of State general obligation bonds to finance specified projects or activities; the measure subsequently must be approved by the voters.
The Budget Bill after it has been signed into law by the Governor.
The spending proposal for the next fiscal year submitted by the Governor and considered by both houses of the Legislature.
BUDGET CHANGE PROPOSAL (BCP)
A document prepared by a State agency and submitted to an agency secretary and the Department of Finance to propose a budget change to the baseline budget; used in preparing the Governor’s Budget.
BUDGET TRAILER BILL
See “Trailer Bill.”
The next fiscal year that begins July 1 and concludes on June 30; the year following the current fiscal year.
CALIFORNIA CHANNEL (CAL-SPAN)
The cable television channel that televises Assembly and Senate proceedings.
CALIFORNIA CODE OF REGULATIONS
The official compilation of regulations legally adopted by State agencies and filed with the Secretary of State; the recognized source of California administrative law.
CALL OF THE HOUSE
The procedure used to compel attendance of Members and to require those in attendance to remain in the Chamber.
CALL THE ABSENTEES
Order by the Presiding Officer directing the reading clerk to read the names of Members who have not responded to a roll call.
Funds to be spent acquiring, improving or constructing fixed assets.
CAPITOL PRESS CORPS
Members of the press who are responsible for covering events in the Capitol.
The deciding vote the Lieutenant Governor may cast in the case of a tie vote in the Senate.
(1)A closed meeting of the legislators of one political party. (2) A group of legislators who meet formally because of their interest in specific issues (e.g., Rural Caucus, Women’s Caucus, Latino Caucus, Black Caucus, etc.).
A Member selected to serve as chair, with duties as prescribed by his or her caucus.
An officer of the party caucus whose duties are prescribed by the caucus.
A designation of the current presiding officer, usually in the context of a committee hearing.
The Assembly or Senate Chamber where Floor Sessions are held.
After a bill has been signed by the Governor, the Secretary of State assigns the bill a Chapter Number, for example, “Chapter 123, Statutes of 1998,” which subsequently may be used to refer to the measure.
When, during a calendar year, two or more bills amending the same code section become law, the bill enacted last (with a higher chapter number) becomes law and prevails over (“chapters out”) the code section in the bill or bills previously enacted. Chaptering out can be prevented with the adoption of “double jointing” amendments (see conflict, double jointing).
On non-Floor Session days, legislators are required to “check-in” with the Chief Clerk or Secretary of the Senate to be added to the roll for attendance purposes. A quorum must be recorded in order for legislative business to be transacted.
CHIEF ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICER
The chief Assembly staff person responsible for Assembly administrative, fiscal, personnel, and business affairs; reports to the Assembly Rules Committee.
A nonpartisan non-Member officer of the Assembly elected by the majority of the membership at the start of each two-year session as the Assembly’s legislative officer and parliamentarian.
Any member of either house, with the agreement of the author of a bill, may add his or her name on that bill as a coauthor, usually indicating support for the proposed legislation.
Bound volumes of law organized by subject matter. The code sections to be amended by a bill are referred to in the title of the bill.
A Member selected by the Speaker to preside over the proceedings and actions of a specific committee.
COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE
The entire Assembly or Senate sitting as a committee to consider any matter properly presented to it.
An identical bill introduced in the other House. This procedure is less common in the California Legislature than in Congress.
Approval by the House of origin to changes made to a bill while it was in the second House (e.g., Assembly approval of Senate amendments to an Assembly bill). If concurrence is denied, the bill is eligible to be sent to a two-house conference committee (see conference committee).
A measure that can be introduced in either House, but must be approved by both Houses and filed with the Secretary of State to take effect. The Governor’s signature is not required. These measures usually involve the business of the Legislature (e.g., adoption of the Joint Rules).
CONDITION OF THE FILE
When permitted by the Speaker (in the Assembly) or the President pro Tempore (in the Senate), a Member may make a brief statement at the close of a Floor session, to argue why it may be inadvisable for the Assembly or Senate to adjourn. The statement may be no longer than two minutes in the Assembly. The Senate has no time limit.
CONDITIONAL (OR CONTINGENT) EFFECT
The effect of a bill, or portion thereof, is made dependent upon the occurrence of a specified event (e.g., passage of another measure, securing a federal waiver, receipt of revenues, etc.) (see contingent enactment language).
Members appointed to a conference committee.
A joint Assembly and Senate committee composed of six legislators, three from each House. The conference committee meets in public session to reconcile differences between the Assembly and Senate versions of a measure. Three Assembly conferees are chosen by the Speaker; three Senate conferees are chosen by the Senate Rules Committee.
Amendments agreed upon by a majority of a conference committee. Two Members from each House must agree on the conference report in order for the report to be considered by the Houses (see Conference Committee).
The process of approving gubernatorial appointments to executive departments and many boards and commissions.
During a calendar year, when two or more bills amend the same code section, they are said to be in conflict. Technical amendments must be taken to each bill prior to its approval by the Legislature in order to ensure that all changes proposed by the enacted bills take effect (see chaptering out, double jointing).
A group of noncontroversial bills passed by a committee to another committee or the full Assembly or Senate. Bills may be placed upon the Consent Calendar if they are reported to the Floor with that recommendation and (1) have received no “no” votes in committee and (2) have had no opposition expressed by any person present at the hearing.
A person who resides within the district of a legislator.
A resolution changing the language of the State Constitution, adopted by a two-thirds vote of the Legislature or presented by initiative. It requires an affirmative vote of the majority of the electorate to become effective.
A professional committee staff person.
CONTINGENT ENACTMENT LANGUAGE
Connects two bills so that one bill will not become operative unless another bill also takes effect (see conditional effect).
To assemble a meeting. The Legislature generally convenes twice a week.
The current state fiscal year—that is, the fiscal year we are in now. The State fiscal year begins on July 1 and ends the following June 30.
The official document published by each House showing bills eligible for Floor action that day; it also includes a schedule of committee hearings and Officers and Committees of the House.
A publication produced by each House for each legislative day that contains the official record of the Floor Session, vote information, motions, parliamentary inquiries, and letters of legislative intent (see Journal).
The dates by which bills must be introduced, heard and enacted. Established by the Constitution, and by Assembly, Senate, and Joint Rules.
Power granted by the Legislature to a State agency to implement or enforce a statute, including the power to adopt regulations.
The desk at the front of the Chamber where much of the clerical work of the body is conducted. Also, a generic term for the staff and offices of the Chief Clerk of the Assembly and the Secretary of the Senate.
DESK IS CLEAR
A statement by the Presiding Officer, prior to a motion to adjourn, meaning there is no further business.
Prepared by the Legislative Counsel, it summarizes the effect of the proposed bill on current law (see Bill Digest and Legislative Counsel’s Digest).
The area of the State represented by a legislator. Each district is determined by population and is known by a number. There are 40 Senate districts and 80 Assembly districts.
Legislation introduced specifically on behalf of a legislator’s district, generally affecting only that district.
An affirmative recommendation made by a committee; moves a bill to the Floor or to the next committee, as specified, without amendment.
DO PASS AS AMENDED
An affirmative recommendation made by a committee; moves a bill to the Floor or to the next committee, as specified, providing the language of the bill is changed as specified.
Double jointing refers to technical amendments necessary when two or more bills propose to amend the same code section (i.e., are in conflict). Double jointing prevents the problem of chaptering out (see Chaptering Out, Conflict).
Legislation referred by Rules Committee to two policy committees for hearing. Both committees must approve the measure to keep it moving in the process. This is typically used for issue areas that overlap the jurisdiction of more than one policy committee.
When an author has decided not to pursue the passage of a bill.
As specified by the Constitution, the date when a law takes effect. The date is usually January 1 of the following year, unless the bill is an urgency measure or specifies another date.
The phase at the beginning of each bill: “The people of the State of California do enact as follows:”
ENACTMENT OR ENACTED INTO LAW
The act of passing legislation involves both Houses. A bill moves through the legislative process and, if agreed upon by both houses, is sent to the Governor. If the Governor signs the bill or allows it to become law without his signature, it is enacted into law.
The date the Governor signs a bill.
Whenever a bill is amended, the printed form of the bill is proofread to make sure all amendments are inserted properly. After being proofread, the bill is “correctly engrossed” and is therefore in proper form.
ENGROSSING AND ENROLLING
A nonpartisan unit in each House responsible for proofreading all forms of measures. The unit also prepares and delivers bills to the Governor for consideration.
The process of comparing the printed bill to ensure it is identical to the original and to verify that any amendments have been correctly inserted.
Whenever a bill passes both Houses of the Legislature, it is ordered enrolled. Upon enrollment, the bill is again proofread for accuracy and then delivered to the Governor. The enrolled bill contains the complete text of the bill with the dates of passage certified by the Chief Clerk of the Assembly and the Secretary of the Senate.
Occurs when bills are filed with the Governor and resolutions are filed with the Secretary of State, after they have been accepted by both Houses.
A committee meeting restricted to committee members and specifically invited guests.
EXEMPT FROM REVIEW BY THE OFFICE OF ADMINISTRATIVE LAW
A statutory provision exempting a state agency from the Administrative Procedure Act requirement to submit proposed regulations and their supporting rule-making file to the Office of Administrative Law for review. Other APA requirements apply. (See APA rule-making procedures).
EXEMPT FROM THE ADMINISTRATIVE PROCEDURE ACT
A statutory provision exempting a state agency or its regulations from compliance with all standards and procedures set forth in the Administrative Procedure Act.
A motion to delete from the record any reference to a specific action. The motion must be made on the day the vote is taken.
A special legislative session called by the Governor to address only those issues specified in the proclamation. Measures introduced in these sessions are numbered chronologically with a lower case “x” after the number (e.g., AB 28x); they take effect generally the 91st day after adjournment of the special session.
Bills that are scheduled for a committee hearing must be listed in the Daily File for not less than four days prior to the hearing. Two days’ notice is required if a bill is subsequently heard by another committee.
The number assigned to a measure in the Assembly or Senate Daily File. The file number changes each day as bills move on or off the Daily File. File numbers are assigned to measures on second and third reading and unfinished business. Legislation is taken up on the Assembly or Senate Floor in chronological order according to file number. Items considered on the Floor are referred to by file number.
The publication printed at the end of every session showing the final disposition of all measures.
A proposal made by the Director of Finance to the chairs of the budget committees in each House to amend the Budget Bill and the Governor’s Budget from the form submitted January 10, in order to reflect a revised plan of expenditure.
The initial introduction of a bill. The clerk assigns it a number and reads its title and sends the bill to be printed. The bill is then referred by Rules committee to a standing committee for a future hearing.
Any measure that contains an appropriation of funds or requires a state agency to spend money for any purpose or results in a substantial loss of revenue to the state. The Legislative Counsel determines which bills are fiscal bills, pursuant to Joint Rule 10.5. The designation appears at the end of the Legislative Counsel’s Digest. Fiscal bills must be heard by the Assembly and Senate Appropriations Committees in addition to the appropriate policy committees in each House.
The committees in each house that consider appropriations: Appropriations and Budget Committees. All fiscal bills are referred to a fiscal committee. The budget bill is referred only to the Budget Committee. Most other fiscal bills are heard by the Appropriations Committee if they have been approved by policy committees. If the fiscal committee approves the bill, it usually then moves to the Floor.
The date by which all bills with fiscal implications must be reported out of fiscal committee. Any fiscal bill missing the deadline is considered “dead” unless it receives a rule waiver allowing further consideration.
The 12-month period during which a budget is in effect. The State fiscal year begins July 1 and ends June 30 of the following year. The federal fiscal year begins October 1 and ends September 30 of the following year.
(1)That portion of the Assembly or Senate Chamber reserved for Members and officers of the Assembly or Senate and other persons granted the privilege of the Floor. (2) The term used to describe the location of a bill or the type of session, connoting action to be taken by the House. Matters may be said to be “on the Floor.”
FLOOR ANALYSIS UNIT
A nonpartisan unit in the Chief Clerk’s office which is responsible for editing the bill analyses that are prepared by committee staff. The packet of analyses is then made available for Members to reference during Floor Sessions.
The legislator responsible for taking up a measure on the Floor; usually the bill’s author in the house of origin and a Member of the other house designated by the author when the bill is heard there. The name of the Floor Manager in the second house appears in parentheses after the author’s name in the Daily File.
No visitor may observe the Assembly or Senate from the rear of the Chamber without a pass. Assembly passes are issued by the Speaker’s office; Senate passes are issued by the President pro Tempore’s office. Passes are not required for the viewing area in the gallery above the chambers.
Amendments not drafted by the Legislative Counsel Bureau.
FOUR-DAY FILE NOTICE
Joint Rule 62(a) requires bills set for hearing in the committee of first reference to be noticed in the Daily File for four days prior to hearing. Subsequent committees of reference require a Daily File notice of two days.
The balconies of the chambers from which visitors may view proceedings of the Legislature.
Referring to whether a proposed amendment is relevant to the subject matter in the bill. Legislative Counsel may opine on germaneness, but the determination of germaneness is decided by the Presiding Officer, subject to an appeal by the membership.
A spending plan for the State presented annually by the Governor in January, for consideration by the Legislature; compiled by the Department of Finance, in conjunction with state department heads.
GOVERNOR’S REORGANIZATION PLAN
A proposal to reorganize the functions within the Executive Branch, subject to approval by the Legislature.
A legal exemption whereby a situation is governed by an old law while a new law applies to all future, similar situations.
GUT AND AMEND
When amendments to a bill remove the current contents in their entirety and replace them with different provisions.
The 3” x 5¾” hardbound edition of California Legislature published for each two-year legislative session. It contains indexed versions of the Assembly, Senate, and Joint Rules; biographies of Members; and other useful information. The handbook is published by the Assembly Chief Clerk and Secretary of the Senate for their respective houses.
A committee meeting convened for the purpose of considering and acting upon or gathering information on a specific subject.
HELD IN COMMITTEE
When a bill fails to get sufficient votes to pass out of committee, it is held in committee.
HELD UNDER SUBMISSION
An action taken by a committee when a bill is heard in committee and there is an indication that the author and the committee members want to work on or discuss the bill further, but there is no motion for the bill to progress out of committee. This does not preclude the bill from being set for another hearing.
HELD WITHOUT RECOMMENDATION
An action taken by a committee when a bill is heard in committee and there is no indication that the committee wants the bill to progress out of committee. There is no motion for the bill to progress out of committee. This does not preclude the bill from being set for another hearing.
The place to call with questions about the hardware or software of the legislative computer network.
An action to delete the contents of a bill and insert entirely new provisions. May occur with or without the author’s permission.
A publication that gives a comprehensive list of all actions taken on every bill. It is published in weekly volumes by each house.
Refers to either the Senate or the Assembly in California.
HOUSE OF ORIGIN
The House in which a measure begins; the Assembly is the House of Origin for all Assembly measures. As opposed to the “Second House”—the house which hears measures following the House of Origin.
A measure by the Assembly used for stating policies, such as the House Rules, and expressing views of the House. House Resolutions require adoption by a majority vote of the Assembly.
The portion of the Daily File containing legislation that is ready for floor consideration, but, for a variety of reasons, is dormant. An author may move a bill to the inactive file if he or she wishes to take it up at a later date. Once a bill is on the inactive file, one day’s public notice is needed to place it back on the agenda.
A method of lawmaking that requires a vote of the people instead of a vote of the Legislature in order for a measure to become law. To qualify for a statewide ballot, statutory initiatives must receive signatures of voters equal to 5% of the votes cast for all candidates for Governor at the last gubernatorial election. Constitutional amendment initiatives must receive signatures equal to 8% of the same number of votes.
A computer system designed by the Legislative Data Center which allows nearly immediate access to information on bill text, analyses, Daily File, Legislative Index, Daily Journal, California Constitution, legislative rules, and the California Codes.
The period of time between the adjournment of the first year of the biennium and the reconvening of the second year of the biennium.
The assignment of the subject matter of a bill to the appropriate committee for study during the interim recess.
A committee composed of equal numbers of Assembly Members and Senators.
A resolution expressing an opinion about an issue pertaining to the federal government; forwarded to Congress for its information. Joint resolutions require the approval of both the Assembly and Senate but do not require approval by the Governor.
The Assembly and Senate meeting together, usually in the Assembly chamber. The purpose is to receive special information such as the Governor’s State of the State Address.
The official chronological record of the proceedings of each House. The Journal is the minutes of the meetings of the House, printed daily. At the end of session, the Journal is certified, indexed, and bound (see Daily Journal).
Rules of conduct determined by the people through their elected representatives or by direct vote.
LAY ON THE TABLE
A motion to set aside a matter (e.g., amendments) before the house which may not be taken up again during Floor session. The motion is not debatable.
A person engaged to present views of a group or organization to legislators. Commonly called lobbyists.
Staff director of the Joint Budget Committee. The Legislative Analyst provides a thorough, nonpartisan analysis of the fiscal impact of the Governor’s Budget.
The attorney for the Legislature, elected jointly by both houses. The Legislative Counsel and his or her legal staff is responsible for drafting all bills and amendments, preparing a digest (summary) of each bill, providing legal opinions, and generally representing the Legislature in legal proceedings.
LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL’S DIGEST
A brief summary of the changes the proposed bill would make to current law. The digest is found in the beginning of each bill (see Bill Digest).
LEGISLATIVE DATA CENTER
Department within the Office of Legislative Counsel that maintains the database in which legislation is drafted and amended; the Inquiry System, used to track and report legislation; and the computer systems used by Members and staff in their legislative work. Also provides technological support to the Legislature.
The President of the Senate; designated by the State Constitution to preside over the Senate and cast a vote only in the event of a tie. If the Governor cannot assume his or her duties or is absent from the State, the Lieutenant Governor assumes the role of the Executive for the remainder of the term or during the absence.
LINE ITEM VETO
See Blue Pencil.
An individual who seeks to influence the outcome of legislation or administrative decisions. The law requires formal registration as a lobbyist if an individual is paid $2,000 or more in any calendar month, or spends one-third or more compensated time in any calendar month, engaging in activities to influence the outcome of legislation or administrative decisions. State employees who lobby for state agencies are not required to formally register but are still subject to the lobbyist gift limits.
A Directory of Lobbyists, Lobbying Firms, and Lobbyist Employers. Photos and addresses of lobbyists are included with a list of the clients they represent. Employers of lobbyists are listed alphabetically. This directory is available on-line at the Secretary of State’s web site.