Three Readings (transcript)

Today’s post is about the three readings of a bill that are required by the California Constitution.

The California Constitution requires a bill to be read three times before it can be debated and voted upon by either house. A reading of a bill in the state Assembly or the state Senate is defined as being, “The presentation of the bill before the entire house by reading the bill’s number, the author, and the title.”

Each time the bill is read, those three provisions are read aloud on the floor by the reading clerk in either the Senate or the Assembly. There’s a misconception that the three constitutionally required readings of a bill are all the same. In fact, each is for a different specified purpose.

The first reading of a bill occurs upon introduction of the bill. The second reading occurs after a bill has been reported to the floor from committee, with or without amendments. The third reading occurs when the measure is about to be taken up on the floor of either house for final debate and passage.

Note that the three readings requirement under the Constitution can be suspended by a two‑thirds vote in either house. Let’s cover the three readings.

The first reading of a bill takes place when it is actually introduced in either house. The bill is placed across the desk of the Assembly or Senate, which is the official act of introducing a bill in the Legislature.

The second reading of the bill takes place after the bill has been reported out of committee, either the policy or the fiscal committee, to the floor of either the Assembly or the Senate.

The third reading of the bill takes place when the bill is about to be taken up for consideration ‑‑ that is, its presentation debate and vote on either the Assembly floor or the Senate floor.

Those are the three readings of a bill. Hope you enjoyed today’s post.

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