McGeorge Adjunct Professor Chris Micheli

Today’s post answers the question, what is a bill? Despite the fact that members of the California Legislature draft thousands of bills every year no definition for the term “bill” can be found in the California Constitution or California’s Government Code. Although, it has been defined by Schoolhouse Rock.

Bills only apply to the legislature. In the two dozen states that have direct democracy, including California, the people can enact statutes but only by initiative, not by bill.

California’s Legislative Counsel defines a bill as a proposed law introduced during a session for consideration by the Legislature and identified numerically in order of presentation. Also, it’s a reference that may include joint and concurrent resolutions and constitutional amendments for rules purposes.

Article IV Section 8 (b) (1) of the California Constitution provides that the Legislature may make no law except by statute and may enact no statute except by bill. Hence, the law‑making process in the state of California requires the use of bills.

There are a few other state constitutional provisions that apply to bills. For example, in Article IV Section 8 (b) (3) it states that no bill may be passed unless, by rollcall vote entered in the journal, a majority of the membership of each house concurs.

Section 10 (a) of Article IV requires that each bill passed by the Legislature shall be presented to the Governor. Section 12 of Article IV deals with budget bills in particular.

Article IV deals with the legislative branch of state government. It sets forth the general legislative activities and process. Again, a bill is required to create a law or a statute. It is the form that is utilized by the legislature to create a statute.

You can find the full transcript of today’s podcast on Bills in the California Legislature here.