Agencies Supporting the California Legislature

Today’s podcast looks at legislative branch support agencies. While there are quite a number of important entities, the first and foremost of the entities supporting the California Legislature is the Office of Legislative Counsel.

Legislative Counsel, or Leg Counsel for short, is a nonpartisan entity that drafts legislative proposals, prepares verbal and written opinions, and provides other confidential legal services to members of the Legislature and the Governor. Every piece of legislation and every amendment must be accompanied by a Legislative Counsel Digest, which summarizes existing law and describes how the measure changes existing law.

The next entity is the Legislative Analyst Office – LAO. The LAO has provided fiscal and policy advice to the California Legislature for over 75 years. It is well known for its fiscal and programmatic expertise and its nonpartisan analyses of the California State Budget.

The LAO’s work helps set the agenda for the work of the Legislature’s fiscal committees, particularly the two budget committees, in developing the Legislature’s version of a state budget. Staff of the LAO’s office work with the legislative committees throughout the budget process, particularly the budget subcommittees, and they provide public testimony on their recommendations.

LAO used to analyze pending legislation. However, due to significant budget cuts from Prop 140 in 1990, the LAO now only analyzes the state budget. However, the LAO does have the role of preparing the ballot analyses for each measure that is submitted to the electorate on the statewide ballot.

There are two other entities that I go into greater detail in the full podcast. Those entities are the California State Auditor, which is formally known as the Bureau of State Audits, or BSA, and the California Research Bureau, which is an arm of the California State Library.

I hope you find this brief overview of legislative branch support agencies helpful.