By Chris Micheli
In both the California State Assembly and State Senate, there are three major publications: History (generally published each week), Daily File (published each day they are in session), and Daily Journal (published each day they are in session). The Assembly and Senate Daily Files are the agendas of the two Houses of the California Legislature. This publication is an excellent way to stay organized and easily track the day–to–day business of the Assembly or Senate.
The Daily Files contain the following helpful information:
Listing of the Officers of the Assembly and Senate
Tentative Legislative Calendar
Assembly Members’ and Senators’ office locations and phone numbers
Print Rule Table which tells you when the 31st day in print is for an Assembly or Senate Bill or Assembly or Senate Constitutional Amendment
All measures eligible for Floor action are listed by item number in the order they may be taken up. Item numbers may change day to day depending on the progress of the Legislature
The business of the committees including committee schedules and memberships; committee hearings; and, list of all bills amended and re-referred to committee
The order of business for the Assembly or Senate Floor including measures on Second Reading; measures on Unfinished Business; measures on Third Reading; measures on the Consent Calendar; and measures on the Inactive File.
The Assembly Chief Clerk and Senate Secretary provide several important tips to using the Daily Files:
To quickly see if a measure is on the Daily File, you may refer to the Bill List table located at the end of every Daily File.
The headings in the Table of Contents will change daily. Consult this page for easy reference.
To find the location of a specific bill on the Daily File, look at the bill index in the back of the Daily File.
For reference, the headings listed in the Table of Contents are in a predetermined order. This “Order of Business” on the Daily File is governed by the Assembly and Senate Rules. The measures listed on the Daily File must be called for consideration in the order in which they are listed. Although the House usually grants unanimous consent to skip around the agenda, any Member can demand the orders of the day (i.e., withhold unanimous consent to take up items out of order).
The deadlines for the legislative calendar are established primarily by Joint Rules 51 and 61, the Constitution, and statutory law. Some deadlines can be waived by a supermajority vote, and some cannot be suspended in any case. Each deadline is listed, along with relevant citations.
Standing Committee memberships are listed in the front section of the Daily File.
Committees are established by Assembly and Senate Rules. Committee room numbers, consultants’ and secretaries’ names, and phone numbers are included on this page.
The dates indicated are the earliest dates that the measures may be acted upon. This print table should be consulted before attempting to set a bill for hearing. No hearing can be set on a bill until the 30–day waiting period has expired. The House can dispense with this requirement with approval of the Rules Committee, plus a two-thirds vote (54) of the Assembly.
Also note that the Constitution (Art. IV, Sec. 8(a)) mandates a 30-day waiting period after a bill is introduced. The Constitutional requirement is usually waived at the same time as the print rule, as both requirements have substantially the same effect.
All Assembly and Senate committees must provide proper public notice prior to holding hearings on legislation. Joint Rule 62(a) mandates that a notice be printed in the Daily File for a minimum of 4 days prior to a hearing. Only 2 days’ notice is required for a bill that has already been heard in another committee (J.R. 64).
The committee name, room, hearing time, topic headings, and bills are listed in the file notice. Hearings of Assembly and Senate standing committees, sub-committees, special committees, joint committees, and select committees are listed (by date) in this portion of the Daily File. Although most hearings are held at the State Capitol, out-of-town informational hearings will be listed here as well.
Committee agendas may change on a daily basis. Often, a bill may be listed for hearing and then pulled from the calendar the day before the hearing. The 2-day and 4-day file notice requirements (J.R. 62(a)) must, of course, be adhered to when bills are added to an agenda. However, sometimes the file notice requirement is waived by the House, so it is advisable to consult the Daily File on a daily basis to determine committee agendas. Committees must be in possession of the bills prior to setting them for hearing (A.R. 56).
Item numbers change daily in the Assembly and Senate Daily Files. The bill number, author, and “relating clause” are listed first, followed by the vote requirement and bill history. History actions show what has happened to a particular Assembly or Senate Bill since it was introduced.
Second Reading is a procedural step in the legislative process. It is a listing of bills that have been “reported-out” from committees to the full House. The Assembly or Senate “ratifies” the committee recommendations when the clerk orally reads the Second Reading File, and the presiding officer announces the adoption of “all committee reports.” This technical process is almost always done by unanimous consent. Bills are not eligible for final passage at this stage.
Depending on the committee’s recommendation, the bill may appear on Second Reading for one or two days.
Bills with amendments appear for two days, while those reported-out simply “Do pass” stay on Second Reading one day, and then move to Third Reading, where they are eligible for final passage.
Committees do not amend bills. When a committee “passes” a bill with amendments, it is actually recommending amendments to the House. The Assembly or Senate routinely adopts the amendments by unanimous consent during Second Reading.
The Unfinished Business File lists Concurrences, Governor’s Vetoes, Motions to Reconsider, Notices of Intention to Remove an Item from the Inactive File, and Conference Reports Pending. Note that concurrence items are not eligible for passage until they have been listed in the File for at least one calendar day.
When the Governor returns a bill without his signature to the House of origin, it is called a veto. The veto is placed on File for 60 calendar days for consideration excluding any days the Legislature is in Joint Recess (J.R. 58.5). Vetoed bills are returned to the House of origin first. If the House of origin successfully overrides the veto, the other House may then proceed to consider the measure. The Governor’s veto message is printed in the Daily File for reference purposes. After 60 days, the veto message is deleted from the Daily File.
The Inactive File is printed near the end of the Daily File. It is a listing of bills on File that the authors or the House has chosen to place in an inactive state until further notice.
To remove an item from the Inactive File, the author/floor manager must first give one day’s notice published in the File. When the one day-notice is satisfied, the bill is placed back on the regular order of business on the Daily File (e.g., Third Reading).
Third Reading is a listing of bills eligible for final passage. A bill on Third Reading has already gone through the committee process and Second Reading. At this stage, the bill is eligible for debate and a Floor vote.
A Member may offer “Floor Amendments” to modify a bill on Third Reading, provided the amendments are delivered to the Desk by 5 p.m. the business day before session is scheduled to convene (A.R. 69(b)(1)). Four key points to note according to the Assembly Clerk and Senate Secretary:
1) Before taking up the amendments, the author should ask Desk staff if the floor analysis is ready.
2) Amendments are adopted viva voce (voice vote) or by a majority of those present and voting.
3) Hostile amendments can be tabled by the author with a vote of a majority of those present and voting.
4) “Amendments Must be Germane” — Amendments are required to be germane to the subject matter of the bill. The House has authority to determine if an amendment is germane.
Authors who are not prepared to take up their bills when called to do so have two options: “Passing and Retaining” or “Passing on File.” The House usually grants unanimous consent to “Pass and Retain” measures on Third Reading if the author is not prepared to consider the bill that day.
Passing and Retaining ensures that the measure retains its place on the agenda for the next day without penalty. A measure may be Passed and Retained indefinitely, provided the House grants unanimous consent to do so each time. If a Member withholds unanimous consent to Pass and Retain, the author must “Pass on File,” or garner a majority vote to Pass and Retain so that the measure retains its place on File. If a Member chooses to Pass on File, or is denied unanimous consent to Pass and Retain, the measure will go to the Inactive File the second consecutive time it is Pass on File.
When a bill is removed from the Consent Calendar, it is placed on the Third Reading File. In this case, the author removed his or her own bill from the Consent Calendar on a previous day, so it now appears here (on Third Reading). A Member may want to remove a bill from the Consent Calendar because it is controversial, needs amendments, or for any reason whatsoever. Once removed from Consent, a bill is placed on Third Reading and can be amended, passed, re-referred to committee, etc.
To delay the announcement of the final vote on a bill, a Member may “Move a Call.” This motion must be made prior to the Presiding Officer’s announcement of the final vote.
Members generally “Move a Call” if their measure is failing passage. The electronic roll call is then stored in the voting system so Members can read the print outs of the vote tally. Using the roll call print out (“Call Sheets”), Members “work their calls,” attempting to persuade others to change their votes.
At the end of each Floor session (and prior to adjournment), the Calls are “lifted.” The clerk posts the vote totals on the board, and Members may switch their votes at this point. If a bill still falls short of passage, the Member usually can notice reconsideration and take up the bill for reconsideration on the following day. Calls can also be used by the opponent of a bill so as to delay its passage while building opposition. The House cannot adjourn for that day while items are still on call.
Non-controversial bills that have received no “No” votes at any time in the process are eligible for the Consent Calendar. A bill is placed on Consent by the committee reporting the bill to the Floor. The recommendation of the committee must be “Do pass, to Consent Calendar” or “Do pass, as amended, to Consent Calendar.” Consent Calendar bills are not debated. The Consent Calendar is divided into 1st Legislative Day and 2nd Legislative Day.
Bills on the 1st Legislative Day Consent Calendar are not eligible for adoption until the following day, at which time they would appear on the 2nd Legislative Day Consent Calendar. Measures on the 2nd Legislative Day Consent Calendar are voted on with roll calls. This one vote is applied to all bills listed on the Consent Calendar, avoiding the tedious process of opening the roll on each individual bill.
Any Member may unilaterally remove a bill from either the 1st or 2nd Day Consent Calendar. Members usually remove bills from Consent during Motions and Resolutions. Bills removed from Consent appear on the Third Reading File the following day.
All of these publications, including the Daily Files, are important for tracking legislative activities in the Assembly and Senate. They should be regularly consulted by those who are actively engaged in legislative advocacy at the State Capitol.
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.