Most Capitol observers know that the Legislative Counsel, and her deputies, serve as the attorneys for the California Legislature, but that role is actually much broader. In today’s podcast we’ll look at the numerous activities that are undertaken by California’s Legislative Counsel.

Under Government Code Section 10207(a) the Legislative Counsel maintains an attorney-client relationship with each member of the Legislature with respect to communications between the legislator, the member, and the Legislative Counsel, unless provided otherwise by the Rules of the Legislature. As a result, all the materials arising out their relationship – such as proposed bills and amendments, analyses, opinions, and other memorandum – are actually not public records unless provided otherwise in the legislative rules.

In addition, in Government Code Section 10207(b) 1, the Legislative Counsel maintains an attorney-client relationship with the Governor with respect to communications between the Governor and the Legislative Counsel. In subdivision 10207(b) 2, whenever the Legislative Counsel issues an opinion to the Governor analyzing the constitutionality, operation, or effect of a bill or legislative measure that’s pending the Legislative Counsel delivers two copies of the opinion. First to the named author of the bill, and then a copy to any other author of the bill who requests a copy.

Government Code Section 10232 requires the Legislative Counsel to advise any state agency as to the preparation of measures to be submitted to the Legislature. And in Section 10232.5, the Legislative Counsel may provide legal services to our State Auditor.

In Section 10233, upon request, the Legislative Counsel must aid and assist any member of the Legislature regarding bills, resolutions, and measures – drafting them in proper form and furnishing to the legislator all the information that is appropriate. Note that in addition to serving as legal counsel to the Legislature, state law also requires services to be provided to the Governor regarding legislation.

The Legislative Counsel also prepares legislative measures, at the written suggestion of a judge or the Supreme Court or the Courts of Appeal or the Superior Courts. Also note that under Government Code Section 10242, the Legislative Counsel must advise the Legislature from time to time as to any legislation that’s necessary to maintain the codes, or codify such statutes that are enacted from time to time, subsequent to the enactment of codes. The Legislative Counsel cannot appear in any action or court proceeding without the prior approval of the Joint Rules Committee.

So there are quite a few statutorily required activities for the current Legislative Counsel, who is Diane Boyer-Vine. She oversees about 85 attorneys who are employed in the Office of the Legislative Counsel, as well as staff of the Legislative Data Center, who is also overseen by the Legislative Counsel. And note that the Legislative Counsel serves at the pleasure of the Legislature and is effectively elected, or appointed to their position, by the adoption of a resolution by both the Assembly and the State Senate.