Officers and Leadership of the Legislature

By Chris Micheli

In both the California State Assembly and the State Senate, there are designated officers and elected leaders of these two bodies. The following is a listing of the officers and leadership positions in the Assembly and the Senate:

Assembly Officers and Leaders

Speaker — He or she is the highest ranking officer of the Assembly; usually elected by the Members at the beginning of each two-year legislative session. The Speaker or his or her designee presides over Floor Sessions and the Speaker’s powers and duties are established by the Assembly Rules.

Speaker pro Tempore — This individual is an officer appointed by the Speaker that presides over Floor Sessions in the absence of the Speaker.

Assistant Speaker pro Tempore — This person is also appointed by the Speaker that presides over the Floor Sessions in the absence of the Speaker and the Speaker pro Tempore.

Majority Floor Leader — He or she is elected by the members of the majority party’s caucus. He or she represents the Speaker on the Floor and oversees the Assembly Floor proceedings through parliamentary procedures such as motions and points of order.

Minority Floor Leader — He or she is elected by the caucus having the second largest membership in the Assembly and is generally responsible for making motions, points of order and representing the minority caucus on the Assembly Floor.

Majority WhipWhips are essentially assistants to the political leadership of each party in the Assembly. They are elected by their respective caucuses and help count potential votes on matters which present particular party concerns. There usually are Assistant Majority Whips.

Minority WhipWhips are essentially assistants to the political leadership of each party in the Assembly. They are elected by their respective caucuses, and help count potential votes on matters which present particular party concerns. There usually are Assistant Minority Whips.

Democratic Caucus ChairCaucus chairs are elected by their respective parties. They convene caucus meetings, provide political advice to their leadership, and manage staff assisting Members in providing constituent services and communications with the public.

Republican Caucus ChairCaucus chairs are elected by their respective parties. They convene caucus meetings, provide political advice to their leadership, and manage staff assisting Members in providing constituent services and communications with the public.

Chief Clerk — He or she is a nonpartisan, nonmember officer of the Assembly elected by the majority of the membership at the start of each two-year session as its legislative officer and parliamentarian.

Chief Sergeant-at-Arms — He or she is 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.

Senate Officers and Leaders

President of the Senate — The Lieutenant Governor serves as the President of the Senate. However, by law and custom, the role of the Senate President is extremely limited and he or she may be invited periodically to preside on ceremonial occasions, such as the opening of the Session. However, the only time the Lieutenant Governor is actually entitled to participate in the business of the Senate is in the case of a tie vote, when he or she casts the vote breaking the tie.

President pro Tempore — He or she is the leader of the State Senate and serves as the Chair of the Rules Committee. This individual is elected by the Members at the beginning of each Session. The “Pro Tem” is the presiding officer on the Floor, overseeing the appointment of committee members, assignment of bills, progress of legislation through the house, confirmation of gubernatorial appointees, and overall direction of policy. He or she is also the political leader of the majority party.

Majority Floor Leader — He is she is chosen by the Majority Caucus and serves as the main Floor manager for the President pro Tempore and Majority Party. He or she also is the chief assistant in political matters and strategy.

Minority Floor Leader — He or she is the second-most powerful position in the Senate. Elected by members of the Minority Caucus, he or she speaks for the Minority Party, maintains its inner discipline, and works with the President pro Tempore to set the Senate’s order of business.

Majority WhipWhips are essentially assistants to the political leadership of each party in the Senate. They are elected by their respective caucuses and help count potential votes on matters which present particular party concerns. There usually are Assistant Majority Whips.

Minority WhipWhips are essentially assistants to the political leadership of each party in the Senate. They are elected by their respective caucuses, and help count potential votes on matters which present particular party concerns. There usually are Assistant Minority Whips.

Democratic Caucus ChairCaucus chairs are elected by their respective parties. They convene caucus meetings, provide political advice to their leadership, and manage staff assisting Members in providing constituent services and communications with the public.

Republican Caucus ChairCaucus chairs are elected by their respective parties. They convene caucus meetings, provide political advice to their leadership, and manage staff assisting Members in providing constituent services and communications with the public.

Secretary of the SenateThe Secretary of the Senate is one of the three officers of the Senate who are elected by the total Membership, the other two officers being the President pro Tempore and the Chief Sergeant-at-Arms. He or she is the chief parliamentarian and keeper of the legislative records. The Secretary of the Senate is responsible for the accurate drafting of bills and the presentation of bills to the Governor. He or she is also the Executive Officer of the Senate, in charge of the day-to-day administration of the budgeting, personnel, accounting, purchases, contracting and property management.

Chief Sergeant at ArmsThe Chief Sergeant-at-Arms, elected by the total Membership of the Senate, is responsible for order on the Senate Floor, and in committees and meetings. He or she is essentially the “chief” of the Senate’s internal policing agency. The Chief Sergeant-at-Arms works closely with the California Highway Patrol and the Assembly Sergeants to maintain the security of the Capitol and Senate offices statewide. The Chief Sergeant also oversees various service officers within the house.

 

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.

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