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The Life Style of Legislation

Find out how an idea becomes law and the role CBA plays in the legislative process.

Legislation can only be introduced by elected Senators and Assembly Members; however, concerned citizens, agencies, the governor or lobbyists can suggest legislation and ask a legislator to author a bill. The legislator is considered the author of the measure and the person or organization who suggested the legislation is referred to as the sponsor. If the legislator agrees to carry the bill, they must provide Legislative Counsel (a group of attorneys that provides nonpartisan legal services relating to the legislative process) with an explanation of what the bill is trying to accomplish and why. Then, Legislative Counsel writes the language as it will appear in the bill.

Next, the member puts the measure “across the desk” where it is given to the clerk who assigns it a bill number and sends it to the printer. Now the measure is ready to be read on the floor for the first time. According to the California Constitution Article IV Section 8(b), “no bill may be passed unless it is read by title on 3 days in each house.” After the measure is read, it must be sent to the Committee on Rules of the house of origin (the author’s legislative house) to be assigned to a standing policy committee based on the subject matter of the bill. Pursuant to the California Constitution Article IV Section 8(a), no measure may be heard or acted upon until 31 days after it is introduced. This waiting period can only be waived by a ¾ vote of the house.

At least 30 days after the measure was first read, the standing policy committee the bill was referred to holds a public hearing where the author presents the bill and explains why the committee should pass it. The chair of the committee will then give all those in support and opposition an opportunity to state their reasoning for the consideration of the committee. Among other things, the committee may approve the bill with or without amendments, amend the bill and re-refer it back to be heard in the same committee again, refer it to another committee, hold the bill in committee, or refer it to the house with or without the favor of the committee.

If and when a bill makes it out of its policy committee, it is placed on second reading where the house members will discuss and either adopt or ratify the committee’s recommendation. It is then placed on third reading and when it is eligible for consideration on the floor, the author presents it and their colleagues may discuss the measure and ask questions of the author before voting on it. If passage is refused, the measure is dead. If it is granted, the measure moves to the other house.

The measure goes through basically the same process in the second house. If the measure is passed with amendments from the second house, it must move back to the house of origin for concurrence in the amendments. If the first house does not concur with the amendments, they must hold a conference committee with three members of each house to reach a compromise on the amendments. Each house must then vote to adopt the actions taken by the conference committee. On the other hand, if the measure is so lucky as to make it out of the second house without amendments, it is enrolled and sent to the governor. The governor may sign the measure, veto it, or not sign it.

  • Signed – The measure is chaptered by the Secretary of State and becomes law January 1st of the following year. Exceptions to this include urgency measures, measures that have a date allocated in their language and special session bills.
  • Not signed – The governor is allowed a certain amount of time to consider and act on legislation when it is delivered to his office. If the governor has not signed or vetoed the legislation after this time period, the bill becomes law without his signature.
  • Vetoed – The governor may eliminate certain items of a bill or veto an entire bill. In either case, the governor must detail his reasoning for the veto when he returns the bill to its house of origin. Members of the legislature may reconsider the vetoed measures and may override the veto if ¾ of the entire legislative body vote in favor.

CBA's Role

CBA’s state government relations department staff follow legislation through the entire process. If legislation appears to have a singular and/or significant impact on financial services, CBA staff review the measure, analyze existing law and determine the reasons for the bill’s introduction. This information is sent to the appropriate CBA policy committee(s) who then provides their analysis and recommends a position on the bill. The recommended position is referred to CBA’s State Government Relations Committee which is responsible for adopting positions for all measures presented to the committee. Once CBA has adopted a position, our lobbyists advocate that position through meetings with legislators, letters and testimony in legislative committees.

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