Misconception Monday – Miscellaneous Items

Today’s post is the final one in my Misconception Monday series. In today’s podcast, we will be covering the grab bag of remaining misconceptions related to California government and the California Legislature. You can find all my Misconception Monday podcasts, including this one, here.

Today’s first misconception is that constitutional office appointments require confirmation only by the State Senate, which has the power of advice and consent on gubernatorial appointments. For nominees to any of the state constitutional offices, those individuals must be confirmed by both the Assembly and the Senate.

Another misconception is that committee jurisdictions are the same in both houses. As an example, if I had an insurance bill, the incorrect assumption would be that if my bill was referred to the Senate Insurance Committee it will then be referred to the Assembly Insurance Committee. There are 32 Assembly committees and 22 Senate committees. Not all Senate bills in the insurance area are in fact referred to the Assembly Insurance Committee, and vice versa. One example, say my insurance bill is a workers compensation insurance bill. In the Assembly, it would go to the Insurance Committee, but in the Senate, that bill would go to the Committee on Labor and Industrial Relations.

A third misconception, one that seems relevant in an election year, is that the California Legislature and the people, through the initiative process, can make the same sorts of statutory changes. While it is true that the people can make changes to statute or the California Constitution via the initiative process, the Legislature can only put forth constitutional amendments. That is because they already pass bills and those bills make statutes. The one exception is a bond measure.

A bond measure is placed on the ballot by a bill that’s been passed by the Legislature and signed by the Governor. The voters must then approve the bond measure.

There are many more misconceptions that I cover in today’s podcast. I hope you’ve enjoyed this podcast, and my Misconception Monday series.

Misconception Monday – Floor Actions

In today’s penultimate episode of Misconception Monday, we will be exploring common misconceptions about the California legislative process related to floor actions. As always, you can find my other Misconception Monday podcasts here.

The first misconception is that legislators in either house of the California Legislature can change their vote on bills that have already been considered. The Assembly allows its members to add or change their votes after the final vote has been announced, so long as that final outcome in the Assembly is not impacted. Pursuant to Senate Rule 44, the State Senate has a slimmed down version of this. Only the President Pro Tem of the State Senate and the Republican leader are allowed to change their votes, but again, only so long as the final outcome of the bill is not affected.

Another misconception is that all bills without opposition are placed on the Consent Calendar. The two houses of the California Legislature have different rules handling bills on the Consent Calendar. Under Senate Rule 28.3(a), if a Senate bill or Assembly bill is amended in the Senate to either create a new bill or to rewrite the bill, then a standing committee may not place the bill on its Consent Calendar.

A third misconception, and the last one that I will cover here – you’ll need to listen to the brief podcast for the rest of the misconceptions – is that parliamentary inquiries and points of personal privilege are the same. This is not the case. A parliamentary inquiry is a procedural question posed by a legislator during a committee hearing or a floor session. On the other hand, a point of personal privilege is an assertion by a member of the California Legislature that his or her rights, reputation, or conduct has been impugned, thereby entitling the member to repudiate these claims.

Misconception Monday – Committee Hearings

Today’s Misconception Monday podcast concerns committee hearings. Before we dive in, remember that you can find all my Misconception Monday podcasts here.

Today’s first misconception has to do with the legislative calendar, which states, “No committees may meet during the last two weeks of session,” but that isn’t always the case.

With a rule waiver, policy committees can meet during this time period. Further, under Senate Rule 29.10 and Assembly Rule 77.2, when dealing with bills that have been substantially amended in the other house that are referred back to a policy committee hearing, those committees are not subject to the prohibition.

Another misconception is that supermajority vote bills must pass out of committee by a supermajority vote. This is not the case. The supermajority vote specification by Legislative Counsel only applies to floor votes in the California Legislature. All bills require only a majority vote to pass out of committee.

Another important misconception is that a committee can pass a bill based on the majority of the committee members present and voting. The majority vote requirement applies to the full membership of the committee, not just the members present. So, if a standing committee has nine members, five votes are required to pass a bill from that committee, even if only seven members are present to vote on it due to abstentions or absences.

There is also the misconception that both the Assembly and the Senate fill vacancies on committees for hearings. While the Speaker of the Assembly may appoint replacements for a committee hearing when a member is absent for the day that is only a custom and practice of the Assembly. The Senate Rules Committee does not fill absent slots for committee hearings.

The last misconception that I will cover here – you’ll have to listen to the podcast to hear the rest – is that a Committee Chair cannot preside at a committee hearing on a bill for which he or she is the author. This is the general rule, with one key exception. That exception is when the Budget Committee is hearing the budget bill, of which the Budget Committee Chair is the author.

Misconception Monday – Governors Role in the Legislative Process

Welcome to another episode of Misconception Monday, where I dispel common misconceptions about various aspects of the California Legislature and the legislative process. On this week’s podcast, ahead of Governor Brown’s final State of the State address on Thursday, we will be covering common misconceptions about the Governor’s role in the legislative process.

The first misconception is that the Governor’s line-item veto authority only applies to budget bills. Actually, according to the California State Constitution, “The Governor may reduce or eliminate one or more items of appropriation while other portions of a bill.” So the Governor can reduce or eliminate any appropriation in any bill. When the Governor uses his or her line-item veto authority, he or she must send the bill back to its house of origin in the California legislature with a statement detailing the items that were reduced or eliminated, as well as reasons for those line-item vetoes. The legislature can override a line-item veto the same way that it can override a veto, that is with a two-thirds vote of both houses in the California legislature.

Another misconception is that the Governor, like the President, can pocket veto a bill. Actually, in California, we have the exact opposite, a pocket signature rule. If the Governor fails to act on a bill, either intentionally or accidentally, then that bill becomes law without his or her signature.

Another misconception, and one that is important to those who are watching a particular piece of legislation that is sitting on the Governor’s desk, is that the Governor has 30 days to act on legislation sent to his or her desk. Actually, the general rule is that the Governor has 12 days to act on legislation once it reaches his or her desk. It is only at the end of the yearly legislative session that the deadline extends from 12 days to 30.

You’ll have to listen to the full podcast for the rest of the common misconceptions about the Governor’s Role in the legislative process. You can also find the rest of my Misconception Monday podcasts here.

Misconception Monday – State Budget

Hello. This is Episode 8 of my Misconception Monday series. If this is your first time tuning in to these, you can listen to the previous episodes here.

Today’s podcast, just in time for the announcement of the Governor’s January budget proposal on Wednesday morning, will cover misconceptions about the State Budget. Some of the misconceptions that we will talk about in this podcast relate to the Governor’s May Revise, the federal and state fiscal years, trailer bills, and Budget Subcommittees.

Misconception Monday – Special Sessions

Hello, and welcome to Episode 7 of my Misconception Monday series. If this is your first time catching one of these podcasts, you can get a better sense of what they are about by checking out my previous Misconception Monday posts here.

In today’s podcast, I discuss some common misconceptions about Special Sessions. Special session is the informal term. The formal term is Extraordinary Session, because these sessions can only be called by the Governor on extraordinary occasions. You will have to listen to the rest of the podcast to learn about the other misconceptions related to Special Sessions.

Misconception Monday – Elections

Hello, and welcome to Episode 6 of my Misconception Monday series. In this series of podcasts, I identify and dispel common misconceptions that are related to the many aspects of the California legislative process. You can revisit my previous Misconception Monday posts here.

In today’s podcast, I discuss some common misconceptions about elections in California. Some of the misconceptions include when the general election is held statewide for Legislators; the signature threshold for statutory initiatives and constitutional amendment initiatives; and which bills enacted by the Legislature, and signed by the Governor, are subject to referendum.

Misconception Monday – Ethics

Hello, and welcome to Episode 5 of my Misconception Monday series. In this series of podcasts, I identify and dispel common misconceptions that are related to the many aspects of the California legislative process.

Today we’ll be moving away from podcasts on common misconceptions as they relate to bills. If you want to refer back to those, you can always go back and listen to my podcasts on bills, bill deadlines, bill referrals, and bill amendments.

Today we’ll move in to a topic that ties in to the news about the sexual harassment that has been going on in the Capitol, both here in Sacramento and in Washington, D.C.. The topic of today’s podcast is common misconceptions about legislative ethics.

Relevant to the ongoing conversation about sexual harassment in the Legislature are the following common misconceptions that I call out in the podcast.

One misconception is that both houses of the Legislature have adopted a formal standard of conduct for their members. In fact, only the California State Senate has adopted an official code of conduct for its members. The Assembly has not adopted one.

Another misconception is that only a court of law can remove a legislator from office. Actually, the California State Constitution, Article IV, Section 5 (a) (1) reads:

Each house of the Legislature shall judge the qualifications and elections of its Members and, by rollcall vote entered in the journal, two-thirds of the membership concurring, may expel a Member.”

So it is the members of the Legislature, and not a court of law, that can remove a member from office. You can also refer to a post by my colleague, McGeorge Professor Leslie Gielow Jacobs, on disciplining elected officials to learn about some other ways elected officials can be removed from office.

I hope you enjoy today’s post and podcast on common misconceptions related to legislative ethics.

Misconception Monday: Bill Amendments

Welcome to Episode 4 of my Misconception Monday series of podcasts. In today’s episode, we will dispel common misconceptions about bill amendments. If you want to get a better sense of what this series is about – and to learn about other common misconceptions about the California legislative process – you can refer back to my previous Misconception Monday posts on bills, bill deadlines, and bill referrals. I hope you learn something, and more importantly, enjoy.


Misconception Monday – Bill Referrals

Welcome to Episode 3 of Misconception Mondays, where I dispel common misconceptions about California’s legislative process. Today’s episode will take a focused look at bill referrals. To learn more about the California Lawmaking process, can check out my previous episodes on Bill Deadlines and Bills.