Glossary of Legislative Terms
Taken from California State Legislature
MAJORITY FLOOR LEADER
In the Assembly, the Majority Floor Leader is an officer of the Assembly appointed by the Speaker. He or she represents the Speaker on the floor and, in conjunction with the Presiding Officer, expedites Assembly Floor proceedings through parliamentary procedures such as motions and points of order. The Majority Floor Leader works directly with the Speaker pro Tempore, other members of the majority party’s leadership team, and the Minority Leader, to facilitate positive interaction between the Members during floor sessions. In the Senate, the Majority Leader is a party leader chosen by the majority party caucus.
MAJORITY POLICY LEADER
The Assembly Majority Policy Leader performs duties assigned by the Speaker, including assisting the Speaker in the development and implementation of the policy goals and objectives for the Assembly.
MAJORITY OF THE HOUSE
Quorum requirement of one more than half of the qualified members sitting at that time. For example, if there are four vacancies in the Assembly, 39 members would make a majority of the house.
MAJORITY OF THOSE PRESENT AND VOTING
A vote threshold determined by the number of members voting at that time. For example, if 40 members are voting on the adoption of amendments, a minimum of 21 “aye” votes would be necessary to adopt the amendments.
A vote of more than half of the legislative body considering a measure. The full Assembly requires a majority vote of 41 and the full Senate requires 21, based on their memberships of 80 and 40, respectively.
A member of the majority party’s leadership team in the Assembly or Senate, responsible for monitoring legislation and securing votes for legislation on the Floor.
The definitive reference manual for parliamentary procedure, unless specifically covered by the Legislature’s own written rules. Most parliamentary situations are covered by the State Constitution, Joint Rules or Assembly Rules.
The updated estimate of revenues and expenditures, submitted by the Governor no later than May 14; replaces the estimates contained in the Governor’s Budget submitted in January.
Any bill, resolution, or constitutional amendment that is acted upon by the Legislature.
MESSAGES FROM THE GOVERNOR
Official communications from the Governor that are read into the record.
MINORITY FLOOR LEADER
Elected by the caucus having the second largest house membership. Generally responsible for making motions, points of order, and representing the minority caucus on the floor.
A member of the minority party’s leadership team in the Assembly or Senate, responsible for monitoring legislation and securing votes for legislation on the Floor.
An accurate record of the proceedings (see Journal).
A formal request for action made by a legislator during a committee hearing or Floor Session.
MOTION TO RECONSIDER
A parliamentary procedure which, if adopted, reverses an action previously taken and returns the question before the body for another vote.
MOTION TO RE-REFER
This motion is utilized to send a measure from one committee to another. A motion to re-refer a bill or resolution from one committee to another committee may be made during the regular order of business. Debate is allowed as to the propriety of the re-referral, and requires 41 or more votes in the Assembly, 21 or more votes in the Senate.
MOVE A CALL
A parliamentary procedure that delays the announcement of the vote on a measure. This action gives a member additional time to gain more support or opposition to a bill. All calls must be “lifted” before the House adjourns that day.
MOVE THE PREVIOUS QUESTION
A motion made to end debate on a measure.
A measure having no financial impact on the state and, therefore, not required to be heard in an Assembly or Senate fiscal committee as it moves through the legislative process. Nonfiscal bills are subject to later legislative calendar deadlines than fiscal bills.
OATH OF OFFICE
An oath taken by members-elect prior to being seated and embarking upon official duties.
OFFICE OF ADMINISTRATIVE LAW (OAL)
The independent executive branch agency charged with reviewing state agency rulemaking and regulations for compliance with procedures and standards set forth in the rulemaking portion of the Administrative Procedure Act (APA).
Members or non-Members of the Legislature who are elected by the membership of their respective Houses at the beginning of each Session. Assembly Member officers include the Speaker and Speaker pro Tempore. Non- Member Assembly officers include the Chief Clerk and the Sergeant-at-Arms. Senate Member officers include the President pro Tempore; non-Member Senate officers include the Secretary of the Senate and the Sergeant-at-Arms.
A roll call vote in a committee or in an Assembly or Senate Floor Session before it has been concluded and, therefore, has not been formally announced. Members may continue to vote or change their votes as long as a measure remains on call. Calls are usually placed at the request of a bill’s author in an effort to gain votes. Calls can be lifted by request at any time during the committee hearing or Floor Session, but cannot be carried over into the next legislative day (see Move a Call).
A bill on Second or Third Reading or Unfinished Business awaiting Concurrence; listed in the Assembly or Senate Daily File.
ON THE FLOOR
Describing the state of being in the Assembly or Senate Chambers, where legislation is considered by the full Assembly or Senate.
OUT OF ORDER
A parliamentary ruling by the presiding officer of a committee or the house that an action is not properly before the body or relevant to its discussion and, therefore, cannot be discussed at that moment.
An effort to reverse a Governor’s veto by a vote of two-thirds of the members of each house. A successful override requires 54 votes in the Assembly and 27 votes in the Senate.
A question posed by a Member during a committee hearing or Floor Session. A Member must be recognized for this purpose and the question is then answered by the committee chair or presiding officer.
Under Assembly Rule 32, the Chief Clerk is the Parliamentarian of the Assembly, responsible for advising the house on legislative procedures.
Favorable action on a measure before either House.
PASS AND RETAIN
When a bill stays on File until the next day without penalty. If a Member wishes to wait an additional day before taking up a bill, the Member may ask the House for unanimous consent to pass and retain his or her bill on File until the next legislative day.
PASS ON FILE
When the House refuses to “Pass and Retain” a measure on the agenda, it is “Passed on File.” Although the bill remains on the agenda for the next day, if it is not taken-up the second time, it will automatically be placed on the inactive file.
A measure temporarily skipped on the agenda. If the bill’s author does not take-up the measure by the end of the day, it may be penalized or retain its place on File by unanimous consent. (See Pass on File.)
Literally means “per day.” It is the daily expense money rendered to legislators.
POINT OF ORDER
A parliamentary procedure used by a Member to bring attention to a possible violation of the rules. The presiding officer then makes a ruling on the validity of the point of order.
POLITICAL REFORM ACT OF 1974
Proposition 9 created the Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) to enforce political campaign, lobbying, and conflict of interest laws in the state of California, similar to what the Federal Elections Commission does at the federal level. Part of these reforms included creation of gift limits, lobbyist reporting requirements, and regulation of state official fundraising activities. Any bills that amend this Act have a two-thirds vote requirement for passage, and are subject to a 12-day waiting period before final passage of each house. See Elections Code, Sections 81012.
PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE
The State Constitution designates the Lieutenant Governor as President of the Senate, allowing him or her to preside over the Senate and cast a vote only in the event of a 20–20 tie.
The Member who presides over a legislative Floor Session. In the Assembly, the presiding officer can be the Speaker, Speaker pro Tempore, or any other Assembly Member appointed by the Speaker. In the Senate, the presiding officer can be the President, the President pro Tempore, or any other Senator appointed by the President pro Tempore.
A presentation of information to a group of reporters.
If a Member seeks to cut off all further debate on a measure, he or she can move the previous question and force the body to vote immediately on the issue.
A Member of either the house of origin or the second house, singled out to share credit as a coauthor below the author of a measure.
PRIVILEGE OF THE FLOOR
Permission given by the presiding officer to view the proceedings from the Floor of the chamber, rather than from the gallery. Members make this request on behalf of constituents and guests.
When action is delayed on a legislative measure until a future date without jeopardy to the measure.
The term applied to the action or discretion of public administrative officers or agencies to make law, primarily through rulemaking.
The minimum number of legislators needed to begin conducting official business in committee or on the Floor. A quorum is one more than half of the entire body.
Transmitting the message that Members are needed to establish a quorum so proceedings can begin.
Presentation of a bill before the House by reading its title. The Constitution requires a bill’s title to be read three times in each House prior to its passage. A bill is either on First, Second, or Third Reading until it is passed by both Houses (see Title).
Redistricting the State for election; completed every ten years following the national census.
(1) An official pause of any length in a committee hearing or Floor Session that halts the proceedings for a period of time but does not have the finality of adjournment. (2) A break of more than four days in the regular Session schedule such as the Spring Recess.
A motion that, if carried, allows a measure that failed or passed to be heard again in committee or on the Floor.
The method, used by members of the public, by which a measure adopted by the Legislature may be submitted to the electorate for a vote. A referendum petition must be signed by electors equal to five percent of the total vote for all gubernatorial candidates in the last gubernatorial election.
Bill referrals are made by the Assembly and Senate Rules Committees to standing committees of their respective Houses.
RE-REFERRAL PURSUANT TO A.R. 77.2 OR S.R. 29.10
A bill that has been substantially amended may be re-referred to a committee by the Assembly Speaker (A.R. 77.2) or Senate Rules Committee (S.R. 29.10). Under these rules, the presiding officer of either house can re-refer a bill to committee without consent from the body. A motion to object is out of order.
A rule made by a state agency to carry out a legislative or administrative mandate. Must meet specified standards for adoption. A legally adopted regulation has the force of law (see Administrative Procedures Act).
An opinion expressed by one or both houses which does not have the force of law. Concurrent and joint resolutions are voted on by both houses but do not require the Governor’s signature.
A vote of a committee or the full Assembly or Senate indicating the vote of each Member present and voting (as opposed to a “voice vote”). Committee roll calls are conducted by the committee secretary, who calls each Member’s name in alphabetical order with the Chair’s name called either first or last. Assembly Floor roll calls are conducted electronically with each Member pushing a button from his or her assigned seat. The green button designates “aye” and the red button designates “no.” Senate roll calls are conducted by the Reading Clerk who reads each Senator’s name in alphabetical order; the Senator voices his or her vote.
The exercise of power granted by the Legislature to a state agency to adopt regulations to implement, interpret, or make specific the law enforced or administered by it, or to govern its procedure.
Those standards and procedures which govern the operation of either or both Houses. There are Standing Rules of the Assembly, Standing Rules of the Senate, and Joint Rules.
A specific exception sought from the Assembly, Senate, or Joint Rules by an Assembly Member or Senator; formal permission must be sought and received.
Each bill introduced must be read by title three times before final passage; this is the first order of business on the Daily File. The House approves or denies committee recommendations at Second Reading, usually without debate or vote.
SECOND READING FILE
The portion of the Daily File that lists measures that have been reported out of committee. Measures which will be going to the Floor for consideration will stay on the Second Reading File for one day (without amendments) or two days (with amendments) before moving to Third Reading.
SECRETARY OF THE SENATE
Principal parliamentarian and record keeper for the Senate; elected by Senators at the beginning of each two-year Session. The Senate Secretary and his or her staff are responsible for publishing the Senate daily and weekly publications.
Staff responsible for maintaining order and providing security for legislators. The Chief Sergeant-at-Arms in each House is elected by a majority of the Members of that House at the beginning of every legislative session.
The period during which the Legislature meets. The California legislative session is biennial—it occurs over a two-year period.
Lacking a sufficient number of members of the committee; less than a quorum.
Final adjournment. Literally, “without days,” the end of session (see Adjournment Sine Die).
The highest ranking officer of the Assembly; usually elected by the Assembly Members at the beginning of each two-year legislative session. The Speaker or his or her designee presides over Floor Session. The Speaker’s powers and duties are established in the Assembly Rules.
SPEAKER PRO TEMPORE
The Speaker pro Tempore is appointed by the Speaker. He or she is an officer of the House who presides over Floor Sessions in the absence of the Speaker. As the presiding officer, the Speaker pro Tempore guides the Members through the daily business of the house, responds to parliamentary inquiries, and issues rulings on points of order when necessary.
SPECIAL ORDER OF BUSINESS
Occasionally a bill is of such importance that advanced notice is given about when it will be considered in the full Assembly, Senate, or committee. A request for a Special Order of Business may be made during a Floor Session by requesting unanimous consent to set the bill as a special order on a specific date and time. This assures adequate time for debate and allows all Members the opportunity to be present. When a bill will be heard as a Special Order of Business in committee, it is so noticed in the Assembly Daily File.
The legislator, private individual, or group who developed a piece of legislation and advocates its passage.
A bill that amends a code section in a nonsubstantive way. A spot bill may be introduced to ensure that a germane vehicle will be available at a later date. Assembly Rules provide that a spot bill cannot be referred to a committee by the Rules Committee without substantive amendments.
Created pursuant to Assembly Rules, the Standing Committees consider legislation, the state budget, and internal legislative matters, as determined by their jurisdictions. Jurisdictions are set by the Assembly Rules Committee. Standing Committees must meet specific standards for notice, analyses, quorums, and voting (see Fiscal Committees).
Works at the direction of the Joint Audit Committee. The Auditor General audits the financial condition of State agencies.
Chapter 1406, Statutes of 1972, first established the requirement for the State to reimburse units of local government for all costs mandated by the State. These costs may result from either legislative acts or administrative regulations that impose a new program or demand an increased level of service in an existing program. Proposition 4 of 1979 (Gann Initiative) incorporated this requirement into Section 6 of Article XIII B of the State Constitution.
The compilation of all enacted bills, chaptered by the Secretary of State in the order in which they become law.
STOP THE CLOCK
The term used to describe the process of continuing business after a time deadline has passed.
A subgroup of a full committee, composed of committee Members from both parties.
Brief summaries of each piece of legislation passed in the two-year session; prepared by Legislative Counsel. Measures are listed in the order they were signed into law.
A date included in a measure which causes the act to “sunset,” or become ineffective, after a certain date.
SUPPLEMENTAL DAILY FILE
Like the Daily File, Supplemental Files serve as the agenda for Floor sessions. During legislative deadlines, supplemental files may be published in addition to the Daily File, in order to expedite the business of the house. These supplemental files usually consist of concurrence items and/or measures from committee reported out the same day. By producing supplemental files, the house can take up business immediately instead of waiting for the overnight printing of a new agenda for the next day’s session. Supplemental files differ slightly in appearance from Daily Files, as they are usually printed on standard copier paper instead of bound newsprint. Several supplemental files may be produced for a single floor session during periods of heavy workloads.
A bill or set of bills, with a fiscal impact, set aside in Appropriations Committee by a majority of Members present and voting. These bills may be heard at a later hearing.
To set aside. Typically used to dispense with, or set aside, amendments to a bill rather than vote “aye” or “no” on them. A motion to table is nondebatable and, once made, must be voted upon.TAX LEVY – Any bill that imposes, repeals, or materially alters a state tax. Legislative Counsel determines whether a bill is a tax levy and so indicates this information in the title, digest, and body of the bill. Tax levies have slightly different legislative deadlines than do other measures.
The Term Limits Initiative, Proposition 140, was passed by the voters in 1990. It limits Assembly Members to three two-year terms and Senators and statewide Constitutional officers to two four-year terms.
Refers to Lobbyists.
Each bill introduced must be read three times before final passage. Third reading is the stage at which bills are eligible for Floor debate and final vote.
THIRD READING ANALYSIS
A summary of a measure ready for Floor consideration. It summarizes the bill including its most recent amendments and information regarding how Members voted on the measure when it was heard in committee (see Floor Analysis Unit).
THIRD READING FILE
The portion of the Daily File that lists the bills that are ready to be taken up for final vote on the Assembly or Senate Floor.
The third date scheduled by a committee for hearing a bill after two prior settings as requested by the author. If the measure is not successfully moved from committee after its third set, it is dead. Hearing date changes made by the committee chairperson do not count toward the set total.
The 30-day waiting period following a bill’s introduction before a bill may be heard or acted upon by the Legislature. The waiting period is required by the State Constitution and the Joint Rules, and can be waived by a three-fourths vote (60 in the Assembly; 30 in the Senate).
That portion of a measure which identifies the subject matter of a measure and the code sections it will affect (see Bill Title).
Specification in a bill that the act will be named for a state legislator.
TRAILER BILL (or BUDGET TRAILER BILL)
Legislation that implements specific changes to the law in order to enact the State Budget. Generally, a separate “trailer bill” is needed for each major area of budget appropriation, such as transportation, human services, education, revenue, etc. These bills are generally negotiated as part of the entire budget package each fiscal year.
The consent (permission) of all those Members present, absent any objection, debate, or vote; for example, unanimous consent granted to suspend the four-day File notice requirement to hear a bill in committee.
An agency regulation that should have been, but was not, adopted following procedures set forth in the rulemaking portion of the Administrative Procedure Act (commencing with Government Code Section 11340). Such regulations are invalid.
The section of the Daily File that contains bills pending concurrence in amendments taken in the second House, vetoed by the Governor, conference reports, and certain other motions.
Language in a bill which states the bill will take effect immediately upon enactment. A Floor vote on the urgency clause must precede a vote on the bill. A two-thirds vote is required for adoption of the clause and for passage of the bill.
A bill affecting the public peace, health, or safety and requiring a two-thirds vote for passage. An urgency bill becomes effective immediately upon enactment.
USUAL CURRENT EXPENSES
A term used to describe legislation that appropriates the necessary expenses of the various departments of the state government. Under the Constitution, such bills take effect immediately upon their enactment.
The formal action of the Governor disapproving a measure by returning it to its House of origin. The Governor’s veto may be overridden by a two-thirds vote of each House. The Governor can also exercise a line-item veto, where the amount of an appropriation is reduced or eliminated, while the rest of the bill is approved. A line-item veto may also be overridden by a two-thirds vote in each House (see Blue Pencil).
A vote that requires only an oral “aye” or “no” with no official count taken. The presiding officer determines whether the “ayes” or “noes” carry.
A weekly publication that gives a comprehensive list of all actions taken on every bill during that week. It is published by each House (see History).
A party officer charged with monitoring Floor activity of caucus Members.
WITHDRAW FROM COMMITTEE
A Floor vote to compel the discharge of a bill from committee.
An acronym for the term “without reference to file.” Since the rules of both houses require bills to be listed on the day’s agenda, a measure that is not listed in the official agenda would have to be taken up “without reference to file.” The Assembly or Senate may suspend the rules to take up a “WORF” item.