The California Legislature will begin its work for the new session in January, and since over 2,000 bills are likely to be introduced in the next few weeks, it is helpful to describe how the legislative process works.
Based on the committee system, newly introduced bills first go before the Rules Committee, which assigns bills to policy committees based on the subject matter of the bill and committee jurisdictions. I sit as a member of Rules Committee. Bills must pass their assigned committees in order to receive a final floor vote in the house of origin, which is either the Senate or Assembly, before being forwarded to the alternate house. Once the bill arrives in the alternate house, the committee process will start all over again. The bill must also pass a floor vote in the alternate house, and if any amendments have been made it must be returned to the house of origin for a concurrence vote.
Members not assigned to the bill’s committees will usually not see the updated bill until it comes before them for a final floor vote. This is because bills are amended frequently as they move through the process! Therefore, depending on my committee assignments, I may not see a bill introduced in the Senate early in the session until it comes before me for a floor vote as late as August. If passage is delayed this year, I may not see it until sometime in 2018 as some complex bills actually have a two year cycle.
Most bills are either significantly amended, or fail to make it to the Governor’s desk because they die in the committee process. Once a bill receives final legislative approval, it is forwarded to the Governor, who is well-known for the use of his veto pen. Thus months of hard work by 120 legislators, their staffs and citizens will come down to a decision made by one man, Governor Jerry Brown.