Joint Committees (transcript)

Today’s post is on the work of the Legislature’s joint committees.

The California State Legislature has a number of joint committees that are comprised of members of the Senate and Assembly, and are intended to cover issues of mutual interest between the two houses.

The three main joint committees deal with legislative rules, the state budget, and state audits. Capitol observers should be aware of the work of all three of these joint committees.

The first is the Joint Rules Committee, which actually rarely meets. It consists of members of the Assembly Committee on Rules, the Assembly Majority and Minority Leaders, the Speaker of the Assembly, four members of the Senate Committee on Rules, and other Senators that are appointed by the Senate Rules Committee.

The Joint Rules Committee is required to have an equal number of Assembly Members and Senators. Among its responsibilities are: the relations between the two houses and making recommendations to improve that relationship, changes in the law to cure defects affecting the Legislature, adjustments in legislative procedures governing the processing of proposed legislation, and coordination of the work of the Assembly and the Senate and their committees by eliminating duplication of efforts. In addition, the Joint Rules Committee approves the involvement of the Legislative Counsel in litigation affecting the Legislature.

The next is JLBC – the Joint Legislative Budget Committee. It was established in state statute over 60 years ago, and it employs the Legislative Analyst – whose job it is to provide nonpartisan budget advice to the Legislature. The JLBC has equal representation from both Houses – 8 Assembly Members who are appointed by the Speaker and 8 Senators who are appointed by the Senate Committee on Rules.

The essential function of the JLBC is to make recommendations to both houses concerning the state budget, the revenues and the expenditures of the state, as well as concerning the organization and functions of the state in its departments, its subdivisions, and its agencies. Under the Joint Rules of the Assembly and the Senate, the JLBC is a continuing body.

And the third is JLAC – Joint Legislative Audit Committee. The purpose of JLAC is to have Legislators determine which state or local activities they want reviewed by the state’s Auditor General. JLAC has existed for more than 50 years in state law. Here too there’s an equal number of legislators who sit on JLAC – 7 members of the Assembly who are appointed by the Speaker and 7 members of the Senate who are appointed by the Senate Committee on Rules Committee.

During the session, they meet roughly every other month to review pending audit requests and review and vote on any new audit requests. The results of these audits are made public on the State Auditor’s website, and there’s a subscription service for these reports. The audit reports are also transmitted to the policy committees of both houses of the Legislature.

At the hearings of JLAC legislators present their audit requests and the auditor’s staff provide background and an estimate of the time and cost of the proposed audit. Thereafter public testimony is allowed and JLAC votes whether to request the audit or deny the audit request.