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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.
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:
I want to search again. Documents associated with AB 357 in the Session Status - 03/09/2009 1091 bytes History - 03/09/2009 1066 bytes Bill Text Introduced - 02/19/2009 HTML - 14314 bytes
The Status link will have in it only the latest thing. Today, that shows
CURRENT BILL STATUS MEASURE : A.B. No. 357 AUTHOR(S) : Knight. TOPIC : Firearms: license to carry concealed firearm. HOUSE LOCATION : ASM TYPE OF BILL : Active Non-Urgency Non-Appropriations Majority Vote Required State-Mandated Local Program Fiscal Non-Tax Levy LAST HIST. ACT. DATE: 03/09/2009 LAST HIST. ACTION : Referred to Com. on PUB. S. COMM. LOCATION : ASM PUBLIC SAFETY TITLE : An act to amend Section 12050 of the Penal Code, relating to firearms.
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
COMPLETE BILL HISTORY BILL NUMBER : A.B. No. 357 AUTHOR : Knight TOPIC : Firearms: license to carry concealed firearm. TYPE OF BILL : Active Non-Urgency Non-Appropriations Majority Vote Required State-Mandated Local Program Fiscal Non-Tax Levy BILL HISTORY 2009 Mar. 9 Referred to Com. on PUB. S. Feb. 20 From printer. May be heard in committee March 22. Feb. 19 Read first time. To print.
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
I want to search again. Documents associated with SB 23 in the Session Status - 07/19/1999 1879 bytes History - 07/19/1999 3092 bytes Bill Text Chaptered - 07/19/1999 HTML - 101961 bytes Enrolled - 07/12/1999 HTML - 101860 bytes Amended - 07/12/1999 HTML - 102868 bytes Amended - 07/08/1999 HTML - 76148 bytes Amended - 06/30/1999 HTML - 77956 bytes Amended - 04/06/1999 HTML - 72813 bytes Amended - 03/16/1999 HTML - 82830 bytes Introduced - 12/07/1998 HTML - 60019 bytes Analyses Senate Floor - 05/08/2000 - 33598 bytes Senate Floor - 05/02/2000 - 33598 bytes Senate Floor - 05/02/2000 - 33597 bytes Senate Floor - 05/02/2000 - 34478 bytes Assembly Committee - 04/11/2000 - 13127 bytes Assembly Committee - 04/11/2000 - 8523 bytes Senate Floor - 07/19/1999 - 28354 bytes Senate Floor - 07/12/1999 - 27458 bytes Assembly Floor - 07/12/1999 - 9394 bytes Senate Floor - 07/12/1999 - 25139 bytes Assembly Committee - 07/02/1999 - 21947 bytes Senate Committee - 06/04/1999 - 7788 bytes Senate Floor - 05/29/1999 - 24066 bytes Senate Committee - 05/11/1999 - 7868 bytes Senate Committee - 03/23/1999 - 42137 bytes Votes Senate Floor - 07/12/1999 - 1162 bytes Assembly Floor - 07/12/1999 - 1515 bytes Assembly Floor - 07/12/1999 - 1482 bytes Assembly Committee - 07/12/1999 - 1006 bytes Assembly Committee - 07/06/1999 - 901 bytes Senate Floor - 06/01/1999 - 1152 bytes Senate Committee - 05/27/1999 - 935 bytes Senate Committee - 05/10/1999 - 966 bytes Senate Committee - 03/23/1999 - 944 bytes
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.
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Ask CA law questions in the How CA Laws Apply to/Affect Me Forum - most questions that start 'Is it legal ...' go there.
Not a lawyer, just Some Guy On The Interwebs.
Last edited by Librarian; 01-27-2011 at 7:34 PM..