McGeorge Adjunct Professor Chris Micheli

As one might expect, the COVID-19 pandemic has made a significant impact on the bill load facing the California Legislature. Leadership asked legislators in both the Senate and the Assembly to substantially reduce the number of bills that they were going to carry this year. But just how sharply did the bill loads decline?

2,203 bills were introduced by the California Legislature’s February 21 bill introduction deadline. Since then, an additional twenty bills were introduced – 14 in the Assembly and 6 in the Senate – that were not subject to the February 21 deadline. Out of the total 2,223 bills introduced in the 2020 legislative session, 1,541 bills are Assembly Bills and 682 are Senate Bills.

Fast forward through the pandemic and into mid-May when the Legislature had returned and scheduled policy committee hearings. Just over 160 Senate Bills and 400 Assembly Bills were scheduled for policy committee hearings. That comes out to roughly 25% of the bills introduced overall (by my estimate, about 24% of the Senate Bills and 26% of the Assembly Bills) being scheduled for a hearing.

Nineteen Senate policy committees heard the 163 bills, with one committee hearing just a single bill, and two committees hearing 16 bills each. In the Assembly, 26 policy committees held hearings. One Assembly policy committee heard one bill, one heard 52 bills, and three heard zero bills.

As one can imagine, not every bill passed. About 375 bills advanced from policy committee to Appropriations, and there about 340 bills currently on the Assembly floor.

There are a few months left in the legislative session, which means perhaps some additional measures could spring to life later in the legislative session, but at this point, it’s easy to make the determination that the COVID‑19 pandemic has had a significant impact on bills in the California Legislature.

You can find the full transcript of today’s podcast here.

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