Key Provisions of the Legislature’s Internal Rules – The Joint Rules


By Chris Micheli

Beyond the relevant provisions of the California Constitution (contained primarily in Article IV), as well as applicable sections of the California Government Code, the State Senate and State Assembly are governed by their Joint Rules, the Standing Rules of the Senate and the Standing Rules of the Assembly. This article provides a summary of the Joint Rules of the Senate and Assembly.

Joint Rules

Note that the Joint Rules of the Assembly and Senate have not yet been adopted as of the writing of this article. However, in the interim, the Joint Rules from the previous legislation session apply. As such, the following is a summary of the Joint Rules with the corresponding rule number at the end of the explanatory sentence. Note that some Rule numbers do not exist.

Standing Committees – Each house appoints standing committees based upon each house’s own rules. (1)

Joint Meeting of Committees – Whenever the “same or like bill” has been referred to both Senate and Assembly committees, the chairs shall arrange for a joint meeting to consider the bill. (3)

Effect of Adoption of Joint Rules – Adopting Joint Rules for a special session does not modify or rescind the Joint Rules for any previous session. (3.5)

Definition of Word “Bill” – Bill as used in the Joint Rules includes any constitutional amendment or resolution. (4)

Concurrent and Joint Resolutions – Concurrent resolutions relate to matters to be treated by both houses, while joint resolutions relate to matters connected with the federal government. (5)

Resolutions Treated as Bills – Concurrent and joint resolutions are generally treated as bills, with four exceptions, such as only one formal reading in each house. (6)

Title of Bill – The title of every bill introduced must convey an accurate statement of the contents of the bill and indicate the scope of the act and the object to be accomplished. A “mere reference” to a code section by number is not deemed sufficient. (7)

Division of Bill Into Sections – A bill amending more than one code section must contain a separate section for each code section amended. (8)

Digest of Bills Introduced – A bill may not be introduced unless it has a cover attached by Legislative Counsel and is accompanied by a digest showing the changes in existing law that are proposed by the bill. Neither the Digest nor the bill can be altered. (8.5)

Digest of Bills Amended – Whenever a bill is amended, the Senate Secretary or Assembly Chief Clerk must request Legislative Counsel to prepare an amended digest and have it printed on the bill first page of the bill as amended. Any material changes in the digest must be indicated. (8.6)

Errors in Digest – If a material error in the digest is brought to the Legislative Counsel’s attention, a corrected digest is prepared and either the Assembly Speaker or Senate President pro Tempore can have a corrected version printed. (8.7)

Bills Amending Title 9 of the Government Code – A bill that amends, adds or repeals any provision of Government Code Title 9 must notify the Senate Secretary or the Assembly Chief Clerk, who then delivers a copy of the bill to the FPPC. (8.8)

Bills Amending the California Stem Cell Research and Cures Act – A bill that amends, adds or repeals any provision of the California Stem Cell Research and Cures Act must notify the Senate Secretary or the Assembly Chief Clerk, who then makes copies accessible in the Bill Room for the public and news media at least 14 days before passage. (8.9)

Bills Amending Section 6 of the Smaller Classes, Safer Schools and Financial Accountability Act – A bill that amends, adds or repeals Education Code Section 47614 must notify the Senate Secretary or the Assembly Chief Clerk, who then makes copies accessible in the Bill Room for the public and news media at least 14 days before passage. (8.95)

Restrictions as to Amendments – A substitute or amendment must related to the same subject as the original measure and an amendment is not in order when all that would be done to the bill is the addition of a coauthor, unless the Rules Committee grants prior approval. (9)

Changes in Existing Law to Be Marked by Author – In a bill amending or repealing a code section, any new matter is underlined, and any matter to be omitted is with a horizontal line through the center. When printed, the new matter is in italics and the matter omitted is in strikeout. When an entire code, or an entire title, part, division, chapter, or article of a code is repealed, those sections are not set forth in the bill or amendment. (10)

Re-referral to Fiscal and Rules Committees – A bill is re-referred to the fiscal committee of both houses when it would do any of the following: (1) Appropriate money; (2) Result in a substantial expenditure of state money; (3) Result in a substantial increase or loss of revenue to the state; (4) Result in substantial reduction of expenditures of state money by reducing, transferring, or eliminating any existing responsibilities of any state agency, program, or function. In addition, any concurrent and joint resolutions are re-referred to the fiscal committee of each house when they contemplate any action that would involve either (1) Any substantial expenditure of state money or (2) Any substantial loss of revenue to the state. This rule may be suspended with Rules Committee approval and a 2/3 vote of the house. (10.5)

Short Title – A bill may not add a short title that names a current or former Member of the Legislature. (10.6)

Heading of Bills – A bill or resolution may be authored only by a Member or committee of the house of origin. All others can be principal coauthors or coauthors. A bill may not indicate that it was introduced at the request of a state agency, officer or any other person. (10.7)

Consideration of Bills – There must be a written request to consider and act upon a bill within 30 calendar days filed with the Senate Secretary or Assembly Chief Clerk. The Rules Committees determine whether there exists an urgent need for dispensing with the 30-day waiting period following introduction. If recommended, the house must adopt the authorizing resolution by ¾ majority vote. (10.8)

Printing of Amendments – Any bill amended in either house must be immediately reprinted. The new matter is printed in italics and the matter omitted is in strikeout. If an amendment omits the entire contents of the bill, the matter omitted does not need to be reprinted. A brief statement will appear after the last line of the amended bill identifying the previous version of the bill that contains the complete text of the omitted matter. (11)

Manner of Printing Bills – The State Printer must observe the directions of the Joint Rules Committee in printing all measures. (12)

Distribution of Legislative Publications – Senate Secretary and Assembly Chief Clerk must order bills and legislative publications necessary for conducting business. No more than one copy of a bill or legislative publication is free to anyone, except Members, Legislative Counsel, and the nine constitutional officers, the courts, libraries, and the press. State Printer fixes the costs of bills and publications. The total number of each bill to be printed may not exceed 2500. (13)

Legislative Index – Legislative Counsel provides for the periodic publication of a cumulate Legislative Index, which must include tables of sections affected by pending legislation. The State Printer must print the Index. (13.1)

Summary Digest – Legislative Counsel must compile and prepare for publication of a summary digest of legislation passed at all sessions. It is a separate publication and is made available to the public at a price. (13.3)

Statutory Record – Legislative Counsel prepares for publication a cumulative statutory record, which is printed by the State Printer. (13.5)

Printing of the Daily Journal – The State Printer must print copies of the Daily Journal of each day’s proceedings. Also printed is a compilation at the end of session of all the journals in book form. (14)

What Shall Be Printed in the Daily Journal – The Daily Journal of each house must include messages from the Governor and the other house, titles of all measures when introduced or acted upon, every vote taken and paper presented, and a true and accurate account of the house’s proceedings. (15)

Printing of the Daily File – A Daily File of bills is printed each day for each house when the Legislature is not in joint recess or on days when a house does not meet. (16)

Printing of History – Each house must print weekly a complete Weekly History of all measures acted upon by the house and its committees. The History shows the action taken on each measure. During the intervening time, a Daily History must be published. (17)

Authority for Printing Orders – State Printer can only print those items upon written order by the Senate Secretary or Assembly Chief Clerk. All bills for printing must be presented to the State Printer within 30 days. (18)

Secretary and Chief Clerk to Keep Records – Senate Secretary and Assembly Chief Clerk keep a complete and accurate record of every action taken on every bill. (19)

Secretary and Chief Clerk Shall Endorse Bills – Senate Secretary and Assembly Chief Clerk endorse on every original or engrossed bill a statement of any action taken on the bill. (20)

After a Bill Has Been Passed by the Senate or Assembly – When a bill has been passed by either house, it must be transmitted to the other house promptly unless a motion to reconsider has been made. The procedure for referring bills to committees is determined by the rules of each house. (21)

Messages to Be in Writing under Proper Signatures – Messages from one house to the other are in writing and under signature by either the Senate Secretary or the Assembly Chief Clerk. (22)

Consent Calendar: Uncontested Bills – Each standing committee may report any uncontested bill with a recommendation to place the measure on the consent calendar. “Uncontested bill” means a bill that (a) receives a do-pass or do-pass-as-amended recommendation from the committee to which it is referred, by unanimous vote of the members present provided a quorum is present, (b) has no opposition expressed by any person present at the committee meeting with respect to the final version of the bill as approved by the committee, and (c) prior to final action by the committee, has been requested by the author to be placed on the Consent Calendar. (22.1)

Consent Calendar – A bill certified by a committee chair as an uncontested bill is placed on the consent calendar. Any consent calendar bill that is amended from the floor is no longer a consent calendar bill and is returned to Third Reading File. Upon objection of any Member to a bill on the consent calendar, the bill is returned to the Third Reading File. No consent calendar bill can be considered for adoption until the second legislative day. (22.2)

Consideration of Bills on Consent Calendar – A bill on the consent calendar is not debatable, but the Senate President pro Tempore or Assembly Speaker will allow a reasonable time for questions from the floor and must permit a proponent of the bill to answer the questions. Prior to voting on the first consent calendar bill, the presiding officer will call that fact to the attention of the house. The consent calendar is considered as the last order of business on the Daily File. (22.3)

Procedure on Defeat of More Than Majority Bill – When a bill requires more than a majority vote for passage and it fails to receive the necessary number of votes, an amendment to remove the higher vote threshold section(s) is in order prior to consideration of further business. If that amendment is adopted, the bill is reprinted and returns to the Daily File in the same place. (3.5)

Enrollment of Bill After Passage – After a bill has passed both houses, it is printed in its enrolled form and is compared by the Engrossing and Enrolling Clerk and the committee in the original house to determine that it is in the form approved by both houses. Then the enrolled bill is signed by the Senate Secretary and Assembly Chief Clerk and presented without delay to the Governor. A record is entered in the Daily Journal. After enrollment and signature, constitutional amendments and resolution are filed without delay with the Secretary of State and recorded in the Daily Journal. (24)

Amendments to Amended Bills Must Be Attached – Whenever a measure has been amended in the other house, it must be immediately reprinted by the house that made the amendments(s). One copy of the amendment(s) is attached to the bill and endorsed “adopted”. When concurred in by the house, it is endorsed “concurred in” and the endorsement is signed by the Senate Secretary or Assembly Chief Clerk. An amendment to the title of a bill does not necessitate reprinting. (25)

Amendments to Concurrent and Joint Resolutions – When a resolution is amended, and the only effect is to add coauthors, the resolution may not be reprinted unless specifically requested by a coauthor. (25.5)

To concur or Refuse to Concur in Amendments – If one house amends and passes a bill from the other house, that house must concur or refuse to concur in the amendments. If the house of origin concurs, then the bill is ordered to enrollment. (26)

Reference to Committee – Whenever a bill is returned to its house of origin for a concurrence vote, the Legislative Counsel must promptly prepare a brief digest summarizing the effect of the amendment(s) made in the other house. That digest is printed in the Daily File immediately. A motion to concur or not concur is not in order until the Legislative Counsel’s Digest has appeared in the Daily File or an analysis of the bill has been prepared and distributed. If the Digest disclosed that the amendment has made a substantial substantive change in the bill as first passed by the house of origin, a Senate bill is referred to the Senate Rules Committee, or an Assembly bill may be referred by the Speaker to the appropriate standing committee. Upon receipt of the bill, the committee by a majority vote can recommend concurrence or non-concurrence in the amendment, or can hold the bill in committee. This rule may be dispensed with in its house of origin upon a majority vote of Members. (26.5)

Concurring in Amendments Adding Urgency Section – When a bill has been amended in the other house to add an urgency clause, the urgency clause must first be read and put to a vote. If passed by a 2/3 majority vote, the house approves the urgency clause, and then determined whether to concur in the amendment. If either vote fails to achieve a 2/3 vote, then there is a refusal to concur in the amendment(s). (27)

When Senate or Assembly Refuses to Concur – If either house refuses to concur in amendments to the bill made by the other house, and the other house is notified of the refusal to concur, a conference committee must be appointed for each house. The Senate Rules Committee and the Assembly Speaker each appoint three Members from their respective house and each house is so notified. (28)

Committee on Conference – In appointing conferees, the Senate Rules Committee and Assembly Speaker must each select two Members from those voting with the majority about which the difference in the bill has arisen, and the other member from the minority. That determination is based upon how the Member votes on the appropriate rollcall. (28.1)

Meetings and Reports of Committees on Conference – The first Senator named on the conference committee and first Assembly Member named are the respective chairs of the conference committee. The chair from the bill’s house of origin arranges the time and place of the meetings and prepares any reports. A conference report requires at least two affirmative votes from the Assembly Members and the Senators, in which case the report is submitted to both the Assembly and Senate. A conference report is not subject to amendment. If either house refuses to adopt the report, the conferees are discharged and other conferees are appointed, except that no more than three conferees can be discharges and appointed on any one bill. The same legislator cannot be appointed to another conference committee on the same bill. A conference report must be in writing and requires the signatures all each Assembly Member and each Senator who consents to the report, as well as those Members who dissent. A dissenting report can be attached to the conference report. The vote on the conference report is the same as is required by the Constitution, statute or rule. Upon adoption of the conference report, it is deemed the vote on final passage of the bill. (29)

Conference Committees – All meetings of the Budget Bill conference committee must be open and readily accessible to the public. Any other conference committee on any bill may not meet or act on the bill except in a meeting that is open and readily accessible the public unless Legislative Counsel determines it is nonsubstantive. Legislative Counsel notes on the face of the report whether the amendments are substantive or nonsubstantive. The conference committee chairs must give notice to the File Clerk of the respective houses on any meetings. Notice must be provided at least one calendar day prior to the meeting, except the notice is not required for a meeting of the Budget Bill conference committee. But every effort must be made to inform the public that a meeting has been called. This rule can be waived, but the house’s policy committee must be immediately notified of the meeting of the conference committee. The Budget Bill conference committee must submit its report to each house no later than 15 days after the Budget Bill has been passed by both houses. If not, the conference committee is deemed to have reached no agreement. The Budget Bill conference committee may only consider differences between the Assembly and Senate versions and may not approve any item of expenditures or control that exceeds that contained in one of the two versions of the Budget Bill. A conference committee on any bill (other than the Budget Bill) may not approve any substantial financial provision in any bill if that financial provision has not been heard by the fiscal committee of each house. Also, a conference committee cannot approve substantial policy changes that have not been heard by the policy committee of each house. (29.5)

Conference Committee Reports – A conference committee report that recommends a bill be further amended requires the bill to be reprinted with the amendment(s). A conference committee report is not in order until the bill has been in print and noticed in the Daily File for at least one legislative day. If the report only recommends the amendments be concurred in, these consideration of the report is in order at any time and reprinting of the bill is not required, but notice in the Daily File of at least one day is required. A conference committee report is not in order unless the Senate Secretary and Assembly Chief Clerk have received them at least three calendar days preceding the commencement of the summer, interim or final recess. This rule may be suspended by a 2/3 vote of the house. (30)

Conference Committee Reports on Urgency Statutes – With a conference committee report that contains an urgency clause, the presiding officer first puts the urgency clause to a vote. If approved by a 2/3 vote, then the presiding officer puts forth whether the house shall adopt the conference committee report. If approved by a 2/3 vote, then the report is adopted. If either vote does not achieve a 2/3 vote, the effect is a refusal to adopt the conference committee report. (30.5)

Failure to Agree on Report – A conference committee may determine that it is unable to submit a report to the houses. That finding is submitted to the Assembly Chief Clerk and Senate Secretary in the form of a letter from the chair of the conference committee from the bill’s house of origin and the letter must contain the signatures of the conference committee members. Then the conferees are discharged and other conferees are appointed in their place. (30.7)

Authority When Rules Do Not Govern – All relations between the two houses that are not covered by the Joint Rules are governed by Mason’s Manual. (31)

Press Rules – A person must apply to the Joint Rules Committee to become an accredited press representative. The rule specifies required elements of the application and requires compliance with any Assembly or Senate rules. The press cannot assist anyone in the “prosecution of the legislative business” of others. The application is authenticated by the Standing Committee of the Capitol Correspondents Association. This group is to report any violations of press privileges. They are to be employed on a regular basis in the Capitol area preparing articles dealing with state government and politics, and not be involved in a legislative advocacy organization. This group controls the press seats and desks in the Senate and Assembly Chambers. Press cards are issued to these individuals. They may not perform for compensation any officials or candidates for office. (32)

Dispensing with Joint Rules – A joint rule can be dispensed with by a 2/3 vote of each house. If a joint rule is violated, the measure is returned to the house of origin and the disputed matter is considered in a conference committee. (33)

Dispensing with Joint Rules: Unanimous Consent – A joint rule that may be dispensed with by one house may be done by so unanimous consent if the Rules Committee of that house has approved doing so. (33.1)

Opinions of Legislative Counsel – Whenever Legislative Counsel issues a written opinion to any person other than the first-named author that analyzes the constitutionality, operation or effect of a measure that is pending of any amendment made or proposed, he or she is authorized to deliver two copies of the opinion to the first-named author as promptly as feasible. A copy of any Legislative Counsel opinion that advises a Member of a conflict between two or more bills is submitted to the policy committee chair. (34)

Resolutions Prepared by Legislative Counsel – When Legislative Counsel determines that a resolution drafting request will be similar to one already requested, Counsel must inform that Member. (34.1)

Resolutions – A concurrent or house resolution may be introduced to memorialize a death. Resolutions can be used for commendation, congratulation, sympathy, or regret with respect to any individual, group or organization. The Rules Committee must approve before introduction a concurrent resolution that requests the Governor to issue a proclamation. (34.2)

Identical Drafting Requests – When Legislative Counsel determines that a bill drafting request will be substantially identical to one already introduced, Counsel must inform that Member. (34.5)

Expense of Members – Each Member is entitled to reimbursement for living expenses while required to be in Sacramento to attend legislative sessions, while traveling to and from, or while attending any legislative function or responsibility as authorized or directed. The Assembly Chief Clerk and Senate Secretary certify expenses allowances to the Controller for payment to Members. (35)

Issuance of Subpoenas – A subpoena for a witness or the production of documents may be issues by the Senate Rules Committee, Assembly Speaker or the committee chair conducting an investigation only if permission has been secured from the Rules Committee. (35.5)

Investigating Committees – Either house or both houses jointly may by resolution or statute provide for the appointment of committees to ascertain facts and make recommendations as to any subject within the scope of legislative regulation or control. Each committee may employ clerical, legal and technical assistants. Each committee may adopt rules to govern its procedure. Each committee may subpoena witnesses and require production of documents of any kind. All state and local agencies, officers and employees must furnish to the committee any requested documents. They may meet at any time in public or executive session and do all things necessary to perform their duties, with specified exceptions when the Legislature is in session or in joint recess. Any requirements may be waived by the Joint Rules Committee. (36)

Expenses of Committee Employees – Employees of legislative committees are entitled to allowances in lieu of actual expenses for hotel and meal expenses from time-to-time. (36.1)

Appointment of Committees – Appointments can be made and vacancies filled in the manner provided by the Joint Rules whenever a joint committee is created by statute or resolution. The Assembly Speaker and Senate Rules Committee make their respective appointments. (36.5)

Appointment of Joint Committee Chairpersons – The chair of each joint committee, except JLBC and JLAC, is appointed by the Joint Rules Committee based upon a recommendation by the Senate Rules Committee and the Assembly Speaker. (36.7)

Joint Committee Funds – Each joint committee, except JLBC and JLAC, must expend funds made available to it. (36.8)

Joint Legislative Budget Committee – The Joint Legislative Budget Committee is created and is a continuing body. It must ascertain facts and make recommendations to the Legislature concerning the State Budget, the revenues and expenditures of the state, and the organization and functions of the state and its departments and agencies with a view to reducing the cost of state government and securing greater efficiency and economy. The committee has eight senators and eight assembly members. The committee can adopt its own rules and can create subcommittees. JLBC may render services to any investigating committee of the Legislature. JLBC may appoint a Legislative Analyst. The duties of the Legislative Analyst are specified in this rule. Reports are made available to Members of the Legislature and the Assembly and Senate Offices of Research. The Legislative Analyst receives requests from Members to conduct studies or provide information that falls with its scope of responsibilities and that concerns the administration of the government. JLBC must be notified of the study request and JLBC provides an estimate of the cost. The Rules Committee hears any resolutions requesting a study by the JLBC. (37)

Citizen Cost Impact Report – Any Member or legislative committee may recommend that the Legislative Analyst prepare a citizen cost impact analysis on proposed legislation. But the recommendation must first be reviewed by the Rules Committee, which makes the final determination as to which bills are assigned for preparation of an impact analysis. In selecting specific bills for assignment to the Legislative Analyst, the Rules Committee must request the Legislative Analyst to present an estimate of time and prospective costs for preparing the analyses. Only those bills that have a significant cost impact are assigned. The Rules Committee can provides funds to offset added costs to the Legislative Analyst. The citizen cot impact analysis includes the economic effects that the Legislative Analyst deems significant and believes will result directly from the proposed legislation. The report is delivered to the committee. The Legislative Analyst must submit at least once per year a report to the Legislature on the trends and directions of the state’s economy, and must list the alternatives and make recommendations regarding legislative actions that will ensure a sound and stable state economy. (37.1)

Joint Legislative Audit Committee – Joint Legislative Audit Committee is created pursuant to the constitution and Government Code. JLAC has seven Members of the Senate and seven Members of the Assembly. Four members from each house constitute a quorum of the committee and the number of votes required to take action on any matter. The chair of JLAC provides the requesting Member any report that was prepared by the Bureau of State Audits. (37.3)

Study or Audits – Joint Legislative Audit Committee establishes priorities and assigns work to be done by the Bureau of State Audits. A bill requiring action by the BSA must contain an appropriation for that cost. A resolution calling for a BSA study or audit must be referred to the rules committee. An estimate from JLAC must be obtained. (37.4)

Waiver – The requirement of an appropriation for the cost of a BSA study or audit can be waived and, if the cost is less than $100,000, the chair of JLAC may waive it. (37.5)

Administrative Regulations – Any Member may request the Senate Rules Committee or the Assembly Speaker to direct a standing committee or the Office of Research to study any proposed or existing regulation. Upon receipt of the request, a determination is made whether to undertake the study. The study may consider whether the regulation (1) Exceeds the agency’s statutory authority; (2) Fails to conform to the legislative intent of the enabling statute; (3) Contradicts or duplicates other regulations adopted by federal, state, or local agencies; (4) Involves an excessive delegation of regulatory authority to a particular state agency; (5) Unfairly burdens particular elements of the public; (6) Imposes social or economic costs that outweigh its intended benefits to the public; and, (7) Imposes unreasonable penalties for violation. The reviewing unit transmits its concerns to the Assembly Speaker, Senate Rules Committee, and the promulgating agency. A report may include a recommendation that the Legislature adopt a concurrent resolution requesting the state agency to consider its action or that the Legislature enact a statute to restrict the regulatory powers of the state agency. (39)

Joint Rules Committee – The Joint Rules Committee is created and has a continuing existence during session and any recess and includes members of the two Rules Committees, as well as legislative leaders in both houses. The joint committee is charged with the relationship between the two houses and procedures, the legislative branch of government, legislation, operation of the Legislature and its committees, aides to the Legislature, and information and statistics. It can allocate space in the Capitol Building, approve Legislative Counsel in litigation, contract with other agencies for services, appoint a chief administration officer, appoint chairs of joint committees, and other duties. (40)

Review of Administrative Regulations – The Joint Rules Committee must approve any request for a priority review made by a committee pursuant to the Government Code and must submit approved requests to the Office of Administrative Law. (40.1)

Subcommittee on Legislative Space and Facilities – A Subcommittee on Legislative Space and Facilities is created under the Joint Rules Committee which three members from each house. The subcommittee must consider the housing of the Legislature and legislative facilities, and can contract for services, work with local government, etc. (40.3)

Claims for Workers’ Compensation – The Rules Committee Chair of each house must sign any required workers’ compensation report regarding any injuries arising out of the court of employment of any Member, officer or employee of either house or committee. (41)

Information Concerning Committees – Rules Committee of each house must provide for a continuous accumulation of information regarding legislative investigating committees and this information is available to the public and is published periodically. (42)

Joint Committees – Any concurrent resolution creating a joint committee or allocating moneys must be referred to the Rules Committee of each house. (43)

Conflict of Interest – While serving, Members of the Legislature may not have any financial or other interest, direct or indirect, and may not engage in any business or transaction or professional activity, or incur any obligation of any nature, that is in substantial conflict with the proper discharge of his or her duties in the public interest and his or her responsibilities as described by state laws. Members during his or her term may not accept other employment that will impair his or her independent judgment regarding official duties; to disclose confidential information; willfully and knowingly disclose for gain any confidential information acquired in the course of official duties, accept any employment, fee or thing of value for appearing or taking any other action on behalf of another person regarding a licensing or regulatory matter before any state board or agency. This rule does not prohibit a Member who is an attorney from practicing before the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board or the Commissioner of Corporations, or any matter before any state board or agency to a state or federal court proceeding. This rule does not prohibit a Member from making an inquiry for information on behalf of a constituent before a state board or agency if no fee or reward is given or promised. This rule does not apply to a partnership of which a Member is a member if he or she does not share in the fee. A Member cannot receive any compensation or gift for any service, advice, or assistance related to the legislative process, except for fees for speeches or published works on legislative subjects and for reimbursement of expenses for actual travel and subsistence for which the State of California does not make payment. A Member cannot participate on the floor or in committee in the enactment or defeat of legislation in which he or she has personal interest, except in specified instances provided in this rule. This rule also specifies when a Member does or does not have an interest that is in substantial conflict with the proper discharge of his or her duties in the public interest. A conflict is not created solely by reasons of a relationship to any potential beneficiary that is defined as “remote interest” under the Government Code or because he or she received a campaign contribution, so long as the campaign contribution is not made in violation of the law and does not influence the Member’s vote or action. A person may not induce any Member of the Legislature to violate any part of this rule. (44)

Ethics Committees – The Senate Legislative Ethics Committee and the Assembly Legislative Ethics Committee received complaints concerning Members of their respective houses and may investigate and make findings and recommendations concerning any violations of the Government. Each house adopts its own rules for the establishment and procedures of its ethics committee. (45)

Designating Legislative Sessions – Regular sessions are identified with the odd-numbered year subsequent to each general election with a hyphen and then the last two digits of the following even-numbered year. (50)

Designating Extraordinary Sessions – All extraordinary sessions are designated in numerical order by the session in which it is convened. (50.3)

Days and Dates – Day means a calendar day and when a deadline or recess falls on a Saturday, Sunday or Monday that is a holiday, then the date is the preceding Friday. (50.5)

Legislative Calendar – This rule specifies when the Legislature observes the calendar during the first year of the regular session, including the Organizational Recess, Spring Recess, Summer Recess, and Interim Study Recess. The Legislature observes the following calendar for the remainder of the legislative session: Spring Recess, Summer Recess, and Final Recess. The recesses specified by this rule shall be designated as joint recesses. (51)

Recall from Recess – The Legislature may be recalled from joint recess and reconvene in regulation session by joint proclamation of the Senate Rules Committee and Assembly Speaker; ten or more Members of the Legislature may present a request for recall to the Assembly Chief Clerk and Senate Secretary. Within 10 days, the Assembly Speaker and Senate Rules Committee must act upon the request. If they concur, they must issue a joint proclamation to recall the Legislature from joint recess. (52)

Procedure on Suspending Rules by Single House – When the rules authorize suspension of a Joint Rule regarding a particular bill by action of a single house after Rules Committee approval, then a written request to suspend the joint rule must be filed with the Assembly Chief Clerk or the Senate Secretary and transmitted to the Rules Committee of the appropriate house. The Rules Committee then determines whether an urgent need exists for suspending the joint rule for a bill. If the Rules Committee recommends the suspension of the rule, the Member may offer a resolution to grant permission to suspend the rule. (53)

Introduction of Bills – A bill may not be introduced in the first or second year of the regular session after specified dates. These deadlines do not apply to constitutional amendments, committee bills, or bills introduced with permission of the Assembly Speaker or the Senate Rules Committee. Bills cannot be introduced while the houses are in joint summer, interim or final recess. Bills are numbered consecutively during the regular session. The Assembly and Senate Desks remain open, except during a joint spring, summer, interim, or final recess for the introduction of bills during business hours Mondays through Fridays, except holidays. After printing and numbering, the bills are referred to the Rules Committee. Unless approved by the Rules Committee, a Member may not author a bill during a session that would have substantially the same effect as a bill that he or she introduced during that session, but this restriction does not apply in cases where the previously introduced bill was vetoed by the Governor or its provisions were “chaptered out” by a later chaptered bill. An objection based upon this may only be raised in the house of introduction. The chair rules on the objection. During a joint recess, the Assembly Chief Clerk or Senate Secretary will prepare preprint bills when ordered by either legislative leader. Preprint bills are designated and printed in the order received. Bills providing for appropriations related to the Budget Bill can only be authored by the Senate Budget & Fiscal Review Committee or the Assembly Budget Committee. This provision may be suspended by approval of the Rules Committee. This joint rule may be suspended by Rules Committee approval and ¾ majority vote of the house. (54)

30-Day Waiting Period – A bill other than the Budget Bill may not be heard or acted upon by either committee or either house until it has been in print for 30 days. This rule may be suspended by approval of the Rules Committee and a 2/3 vote on the floor. (55)

Return of Bills – Bills introduced in the first year and passed by the house of origin by January 31 are “carryover bills.” If this does not occur, those bills from the first year are returned to Assembly Chief Clerk or Senate Secretary. This rule does not apply to constitutional amendments. (56)

Appropriation Bills – Appropriations bills that may not be sent to the Governor are held, after enrollment, by the Assembly Chief Clerk or the Senate Secretary. The bill are sent to the Governor immediately after the Budget Bill has been enacted. (57)

Urgency Clauses – An amendment to add an urgency clause to a bill may not be adopted unless the author has first secured Rules Committee approval in that house. (58)

Vetoes – The Legislature may consider a Governor’s veto for only 60 legislative days or until adjournment sine die, whichever is shorter. (58.5)

Publications – During periods of recess, the houses must publish Daily Files, Histories, and Daily Journals. (59)

Committee Hearings – A committee cannot take action on a bill at any hearing held outside of the State Capitol. A committee can hear the subject matter of a bill for an information hearing during a recess with four days’ file notice prior to the hearing. A bill cannot be acted upon by a committee during a joint recess. (60)

Deadlines – This rule sets forth deadlines that must be observed by the Senate and Assembly for bills considered in the odd-numbered year (subdivision a) and the even-numbered year (subdivision b). A policy committee can report a fiscal bill to the fiscal committee after the policy committee deadline within two legislative days after that deadline. These deadlines do not apply to the rules committees of both houses, or under Assembly Rule 77.2. A constitutional amendment or an urgency bill may be considered during the time when no committee may meet for any purpose. This rule may be suspended with Rules Committee approval and 2/3 majority vote of the house. (61)

Committee Procedure – Notice of a hearing on a bill by the committee of first reference in each house must be published in the Daily File at least four days prior to the hearing. Otherwise, the notice must be two days prior to the hearing. That notice may be waived by a majority vote of the house. A bill may be set for hearing in a committee only three times. A “set” is whenever the bill has been noticed in the Daily File for one or more days. If the committee postpones the hearing, then the hearing is not counted as one of the three times. After hearing a bill, the committee may vote on the bill. After a committee has voted on a bill, reconsideration may be granted only one time. Reconsideration may be granted within 15 legislative days or prior to the interim joint recess, whichever occurs first. If a bill fails passage, or reconsideration fails, the bill is returned to the Assembly Chief Clerk or the Senate Secretary and may not be considered further during the session. This rule may be suspended with Rules Committee approval and a 2/3 vote of the house. When a standing committee takes action on a bill, the vote must be by rollcall vote only. All votes are recorded by the committee secretary. The chair of the committee must transmit a copy of the record of votes to the Assembly Chief Clerk or Senate Secretary. With unanimous consent, a committee may substitute a rollcall from a prior bill so long as those Members substituted are present at the time. A bill cannot be passed out by a committee without a quorum being present. But this rule does not apply to specified matters: procedural motions, withdrawal of a bill at the author’s request, return of a bill when no vote has occurred, and assignment of a bill to committee. Committee chairs at any time may order a call of the committee. (62)

Uniform Rules – A standing committee may not adopt or apply any rule that is not equally applicable to the bills of both houses. (63)

Votes on Bills – Every meeting of each house and standing committee where a vote is to be taken must be public. (64)

Conflicting Rules – Rules 50 and above prevail over any conflicting joint rule with a lesser number. (65)


Chris Micheli is an attorney and registered lobbyist with the Sacramento governmental relations firm of Aprea & Micheli, Inc. He also serves as an Adjunct Professor at McGeorge School of Law.


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