Where Do We Find California Laws?


By Chris Micheli

Like the federal government, California laws are found in three places: the State Constitution, statutes (the Codes), and regulations. The hierarchy of laws is the same as federal laws, with the constitution at the top, followed by statutes, and ending with regulations. The following is an overview of the three sources of laws in California:

The California Constitution is one of the longest constitutions in the nation at about 110 pages in length. The following are the articles of the constitution:

Article I Declaration of Rights
Article II Voting, Initiative and Referendum, and Recall
Article III State of California
Article IV Legislative
Article V Executive
Article VI Judicial
Article VII Public Officers and Employees
Article IX Education
Article X Water
Article X A Water Resources Development
Article X B Marine Resources Protection Act of 1990
Article XI Local Government
Article XII Public Utilities
Article XIII Taxation
Article XIII A [Tax Limitation]
Article XIII B Government Spending Limitation
Article XIII C [Voter Approval for Local Tax Levies]
Article XIII D [Assessment and Property-Related Fee Reform]
Article XIV Labor Relations
Article XV Usury
Article XVI Public Finance
Article XVIII Amending and Revising the Constitution
Article XIX Motor Vehicles Revenues
Article XIX A Loans from the Public Transportation Account or Local Transportation Fund
Article XIX B Motor Vehicle Fuel Sales Tax Revenues and Transportation Improvement Funding
Article XIX C [Enforcement of Certain Provisions]
Article XX Miscellaneous Subjects
Article XXI Redistricting of Senate, Assembly, Congressional and Board of Equalization Districts
Article XXII [Architectural and Engineering Services]
Article XXXIV Public Housing Project Law
Article XXXV Medical Research

Next comes the statutes. A sense of the scope of state statutes can be gained by noting the titles of California’s 29 codes which contain about 150,000 statutes. The following are the codes:

Business and Professions Code
Civil Code
Code of Civil Procedure
Commercial Code
Corporations Code
Education Code
Elections Code
Evidence Code
Family Code
Financial Code
Fish and Game Code
Food and Agricultural Code
Government Code
Harbors and Navigation Code
Health and Safety Code
Insurance Code
Labor Code
Military and Veterans Code
Penal Code
Probate Code
Public Contract Code
Public Resources Code
Public Utilities Code
Revenue and Taxation Code
Streets and Highways Code
Unemployment Insurance Code
Vehicle Code
Water Code
Welfare and Institutions Code

California has over 200 state agencies that make public policy via their authority to adopt regulations. They adopt between 500-600 new regulations each year. The website of the Office of Administrative Law (OAL) provides direct access to the California Code of Regulations (CCR), which is organized under the following 27 titles:

Title 1. General Provisions
Title 2. Administration
Title 3. Food and Agriculture
Title 4. Business Regulations
Title 5. Education
Title 7. Harbors and Navigation
Title 8. Industrial Relations
Title 9. Rehabilitative and Developmental Services
Title 10. Investment
Title 11. Law
Title 12. Military and Veterans Affairs
Title 13. Motor Vehicles
Title 14. Natural Resources
Title 15. Crime Prevention and Corrections
Title 16. Professional and Vocational Regulations
Title 17. Public Health
Title 18. Public Revenues
Title 19. Public Safety
Title 20. Public Utilities and Energy
Title 21. Public Works
Title 22. Social Security
Title 23. Waters
Title 24. Building Standards Code
Title 25. Housing and Community Development
Title 26. Toxics
Title 27. Environmental Protection
Title 28. Managed Health Care

The laws of the State of California are found in these three locations. Of course, there are also court decisions that interpret the State Constitution, statutes and regulations. So, capital lawyers need to monitor state and federal court decisions interpreting these California laws.


Chris Micheli is a Principal with the Sacramento governmental relations firm of Aprea & Micheli, Inc. He also serves as an Adjunct Professor at McGeorge School of Law in its Capital Lawyering Program.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s