Beginner's Guide to Reading California Bills and Bill Pages
There's a good 'How a bill becomes law' article, but this thread is about the mechanics we can see when checking for current information.
Kept for historical interest, but the new bill pages are better, and discussed in post 8. See below.
I'll start with a brand new 2009 bill, AB357.
Understand it can take a couple of days for a Bill Page to be updated; at critical moments, we usually maintain an 'action thread' on a bill here at Calguns.
Clicking on that link shows this:
The Status link will have in it only the latest thing. Today, that shows
At some point, the Authors line may include co-authors.
The House Location will change if this bill passes the vote of the full Assembly.
Committee Location tells us that this bill has been assigned to the Assembly Public Safety Committee. The Senate ALSO has a Public Safety Committee, so it's important to keep them straight.
The History link shows
Right now, the interesting line is "Feb. 20 From printer. May be heard in committee March 22". Assembly rules require a bill to be in print for 30 days before it can be acted on - hearings and votes are 'actions'.
The "March 22" thing is actually off; the ASM Pub S Committee meets on Tuesdays, so the first Tuesday 30 days after Feb 20 is March 24. That's the first date anything can happen 'of record'.
It is possible for an author to amend a bill within this 30 days, so what we see as introduced may not be what a committee sees at first consideration. Such an amended bill should also appear on this Bill Page.
Here's the bill text as introduced (snipped for length)
There are three conventions in the typography.
When the bill is introduced, anything in 'normal' type is the law as it exists already; the point is to show how changes would fit into the existing text.
Where the text is reproduced in
EXAMPLEWhere text is reproduced in italic type, that text is new, and would be added by the bill.
EXAMPLEThe tricky thing here is that once there are amendments, that strikeout/italic convention refers to the previous version of the bill. The first set of strikeout parts will be gone, the first set of italic will be normal text, and only the amended text will be in strikeout/italic form.
Now, look at a bill that has made it all the way through to be law - SB 23
It has a section for Votes, in committee and for the whole House.
And it has two major status lines:
Enrolled means it passed both houses of the Legislature and was sent to the Governor.
Chaptered means the Governor signed it (or it went into effect without his signature), and it's law as of the effective date of the bill or the following January 1, if no 'urgency' specified a date.
There is a Bill Index - one for each house. All it has is Author/Bill Number/Topic.
Later on there will be a Table of Sections Affected but the one available 1/10/11 is from last session. That will indicate what sections will be changed; until the new numbering is implemented, most things of interest to Calgunners change something in the range 12000 - 12999
New Numbering in general:Once you have the bill number, you can go to the legislative site -- http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/bilinfo.html -- and enter the number into the search box to get the Bill Page.
With the 2011 session, the HTML version of table of Sections has links to the bills, so one may go directly to the bill page and read the current text and bill status information
That gives you the history.
To keep a little ahead of things, you need to read the Daily Files. They're only published as .PDFs.
Update 4/25/2011 - Senate daily file is at http://senate.ca.gov/dailyfile, still has a .PDF version
The Legislative Portal, where the Daily File link takes you, also has links to
For as little as they seem to want to listen to us, they do offer a lot of ways for us to see what they want us to see ! :)
Thanks Librarian. It's nice to have those links for those of us new to the game.
A look at the structure of California Codes
There are numerous places one can find California Codes on-line. The 'official' place is http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/calaw.html.
That one is hard to search; other easily found places are http://codes.lp.findlaw.com/cacode/ and
Looking there, one sees that there are many separate bodies of law, grouped primarily by general topic, called 'codes'.
Gun laws are mostly in Penal Code, but other laws affecting guns and gun owners are in Health and Safety Code, Government Code, Fish and Game Code.
Using the Penal Code as an example, it has some miscellaneous sections and then 'parts' (Note that this is from Findlaw, which does not yet have the renumbered PC that goes into effect in 2012):
No one uses it this way (except for a few bills) but PC 12020(a) is fully specified as
Penal Code, Part 4, Title 2, Chapter 1, Article 2, Section 12020, subsection (a).That full specification is not usually needed because the codes do not re-use section numbers within a single code.
Governor Brown chooses to announce the bills he signs or vetoes on this web page
http://gov.ca.gov/m_newsroom.php in documents titled 'Legislative Update'.
The Senate and Assembly have updated their web pages.
Committee info for the Senate is at http://senate.ca.gov/committees
JURISDICTION: Bills amending the following: a) Evidence Code, relating to criminal procedure. b) Penal Code. c) Statutes of a penal nature not related closely to a subject included in another subdivision of this rule. d) Bills relating to the Youth and Adult Corrections Agency.
JURISDICTION: Bills that are subject to Joint Rule 10.5 and are not referred to the Budget and Fiscal Review Committee. Bills that constitute a state-mandated local program.
Committee info for the Assembly is at http://assembly.ca.gov/committees
Committee Jurisdiction: Primary jurisdiction is the California Penal Code.
Committee Jurisdiction: Primary jurisdiction is fiscal bills, including bonds and alternative public financing.
Appropriations is a step a bill must pass through if there are any fiscal - $$ - effects. Usually they don't care about content otherwise.
It's important to refer to the current page for a committee to get contact information - membership changes sometimes during the session.
And, there is a new site for legislative information:
It has links to a bill-search page, and to the California Codes, and to the hearings schedules and floor schedules - pretty nice!
Reading a bill in the new format (Update 1/18/2013)
Here's the new website for bills: http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/fa...chClient.xhtml
Let's pick on AB48 of 2013, http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/fa...=201320140AB48
(Note you can construct your own link - "http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billNavClient.xhtml?bill_id=" is fixed, "201320140AB48" is 2013 2014 0 AB48, that is, first year of session, second year of session, perhaps a 'filler' 0, and the bill number.)
Just Section 1 has enough text to show the formatting.
The people of the State of California do enact as follows:OLD text, already in the Penal Code, is plain text, black.
This shows NEW text in BLUE ITALIC..
, butThis shows DELETED text as
With the 2012 renumbering, the Penal Code looks like
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