The Lawmaking Process:
To be enacted into law, a measure must be approved by the appropriate policy and fiscal committees in both the 40-member Senate and 80-member Assembly, and receive enough votes from the entire membership of both houses to pass. Then it is sent to the Governor who may veto the bill or sign it into law.
A bill might take a year or more to move through this process. During that time, there is ample opportunity for citizens to express their opinions and concerns and to influence legislation.
The following information, available via the Internet, will help you follow the process:
Senate Daily File: Tells you what bills are scheduled to be heard in Senate committee or on the Senate Floor on that day.
Legislative Calendar: Gives you the key dates and legislative deadlines for the current two year legislative session; the last day to introduce bills, when bills must move out of committee, the last day for the Governor to sign or veto bills, etc.
Description of the Legislative Process: An overview of the processes involved in a bill becoming law and the various documents that result from that process.
Senate Rules: The procedural rules that govern the Senate
Assembly Rules: The procedural rules that govern the Assembly
Joint Rules: The procedural rules that govern the legislative process.
Real Audio: You can now listen to live Senate hearings, Floor Sessions, and Press Conferences over the Internet.
Television Schedule: Since the Senate televises all the Senate Floor Sessions and most committee hearings, you may be able to watch Senate proceedings on your local cable station. Information about which cable operators carry the legislative programming, which events are scheduled to be televised, where tapes are archived, and how to order dubs is accessible via the Internet.
Legislation: A tremendous amount of information about legislation is now accessible to the public via Internet. You can find the following information about each bill.
Bill Text: Complete text of bills with annotations to identify material added/removed due to amendments
Bill History: Chronological listing of legislative activity for each bill (where the bill was heard, if amended, approved, etc.)
Bill Status: Current location of a bill and pending action
Bill Analyses: Staff reports describing the history and impact of the legislation and arguments of the groups supporting and opposing the bill
Votes: Record of votes in committee and on the floor
Vetoes: Text of Governor's veto message
Bill Tracking: You can "subscribe" to a bill.
Bill Searching: If you don't know the bill number of the legislation you are interested in, you can search by key word or code section number. The computer will return a list of all bills that contain the key word you specify. For example, if you specified "gun", you would get a list of all current bills that contain "gun" in the text.
Chaptered Bills (Statutes): After legislation has been signed into law and chaptered, it is referred to as a statute. You can get the text of a chaptered bill via Internet.
California Codes: You can get the text of the California Codes (The laws of California are organized by subject matter into 29 codes; i.e. the Civil Code, the Insurance Code, etc.) over the Internet.
California Constitution: You can also get the text of the California Constitution.
Issue Briefs and Reports: The Senate Office of Research (SOR) produces bipartisan reports, analyses, and issue briefs on issues of concern to Californians and the Legislature. You can also subscribe to SOR reports by sending an email message.
Information about each of the forty State Senators is available to the public over the Internet.
Who is your Senator? Not sure who represents you in the Senate? You can easily find out by entering your address.
Senator Profiles If you already know the name of your Senator, you can find a profile of pertinent information about him/her: occupation, party affiliation, district number, committee memberships, Capitol and District Office addresses and phone numbers, legislation he/she is authoring, etc.
Senator Publications: Some Senators also post press releases, policy positions, legislative updates, etc. on the Internet. You can view these documents on-line or you can subscribe to a Senator's information by topic. Every time that Senator posts a press release, for example, it will automatically be sent to you as email.
Senator Email Addresses: Some Senators have established e-mail addresses. All Senator email addresses follow the same format as shown in this example: firstname.lastname@example.org
Policy committee hearings are the forums for public input, the best place for citizens to make their feelings known about legislation. Legislation is heard in Standing Committees which meet on a regular basis throughout the year. Many standing committees have Subcommittees that work on particular issues. Select Committees and Special Committees study issues and problems in order to develop longer range solutions. Joint Committees have membership from both houses and consider issues of joint concern.
List of Committees: Via the Internet, you can get a list of all Senate and Assembly committees, plus for each committee you can get the membership, the chair and vice chair, the committee's policy jurisdiction, meeting schedule, the committee staff, and the committee office phone number and address.
Committee Publications: Some committees may also make committee agendas, reports, or transcripts available on the Internet. You can view these documents on-line or you can subscribe to them.