Today’s post is on securing gubernatorial appointments.

The Governor has the authority to appoint several thousand individuals to serve in his or her administration during his or her four-year term of office. Some of these positions require the advice and consent of the Senate. There are two aspects to these types of gubernatorial appointments. First, securing the appointment from the Governor and then secondly, getting the appointee confirmed by the Senate.

The likely more difficult aspect of gubernatorial appointments is not confirmation but actually securing the appointment in the first place. While there are many appointed positions across California state government, the Governor usually makes only a handful of appointments that are either controversial or are such an important post that they generate interest. A lobbyist usually comes into play more during the Senate confirmation process.

The first step in securing a gubernatorial appointment is applying for a position. There are documents that can be found on the Governor’s website including the statutory index on all available appointments. Then, there’s information on the boards and commissions including descriptions, salaries, stipends, how often they meet, etc., which is under a separate tab. And then there’s the actual appointment application, which involves an online application that allows an individual to apply for up to ten positions for consideration by the Governor and his staff.

All of these are found on the Governor’s official website.

After an individual has been notified of receiving an appointment, it must be determined whether he or she needs to be confirmed by the California State Senate. If there is no confirmation, then the individual assumes the position once he or she has been officially appointed by the Governor.

For those that require confirmation, there will be Senate Rules Committee review of that gubernatorial appointee. Now, there are two types of individuals that receive Senate Rules Committee review. There are those that are required to appear before the committee in an open hearing and then there are others who are quote: “subject to confirmation but not required to appear before the Senate Rules Committee.” These individuals submit written responses to Committee Members’ questions, but they don’t have to testify or appear in an open hearing. And of course, interest groups can submit written comments to the Rules Committee members if so desired.




Bills, Amendments, & Resolutions – Part 2 (transcript)

Today is part two of looking at bills, constitutional amendments, and resolutions. You can find last week’s post here. Today we’re going to talk about constitutional amendments and resolutions.

Constitutional amendments can be proposed by initiative ‑ that is, by the people ‑ as one of the forms of direct democracy that we have here in the state of California. In this context, we’re talking about constitutional amendments being placed on the statewide ballot by the Legislature.

Of course, in order to adopt those amendments to our state constitution, it requires a vote of the people, a simple majority. That’s 50 percent plus one.

The Legislature, just like the people, has the power to place measures on the ballot to amend California’s state constitution. These constitutional amendments are ACAs, Assembly Constitutional Amendments, or SCAs, Senate Constitutional Amendments.

Constitutional amendments proposed by the Legislature require a two‑thirds vote of each house of the Legislature for passage, rather than a simple majority vote. However, constitutional amendments are not sent to the Governor, so the Governor cannot sign or veto a constitutional amendment.

In other words, if an ACA or an SCA passes both houses of the California Legislature with a minimum two‑thirds vote in favor, that constitutional amendment is automatically placed on the next statewide ballot, with or without the consent of the Governor.

Let’s switch gears now to resolutions. Keep in mind that resolutions are formal expressions of the views of the California Legislature. Resolutions do not carry the force and effect of law.

Bills, from our prior podcast, create statutes or amend statutes. Those are the laws. Resolutions are not laws. They’re expressions of support or opposition.

Interestingly, in the California Legislature, there are three different types of resolutions. These three different types of resolutions can be considered individually by either house, or the other two have to be considered and approved by both houses.

One type of resolution is used by either house individually, meaning it only passes that single house in order to take effect. Those we call house resolutions.

The other two types of resolutions, which we call a concurrent resolution or a joint resolution, require adoption of both houses of the California Legislature before they are given a chapter number by the Secretary of State.




Bills, Amendments, & Resolutions – Part 1 (transcript)

Today, and next Monday, we’re taking a look at bills, amendments to bills, constitutional amendments, and resolutions.

In the California State Capitol, there are three types of measures that can be considered by lawmakers ‑‑ bills, constitutional amendments, and resolutions. All of them are printed by the Office of State Publishing, and they’re all made available, usually that night online, and the next day in the Bill Room, found in the basement of the California State Capitol.

Let’s look first at bills. Bills make statutes, and statutes are law. Generally, no bill, except the state budget bill, may be heard by any committee or acted upon by either house until it’s been in print for a minimum of 30 days. This rule, like many legislative rules, can be waived with a three‑fourths vote of the house of origin.

Only legislators of the Assembly or the Senate can author bills. We have a bicameral legislature, so bills must be passed by both houses of the legislature, and then acted upon by the Governor. Our Governor can sign bills, he or she can veto bills, or they have a pocket signature that can allow bills to become law without his or her signature.

Remember statutes, or laws, can only be enacted through bills. I go through the many types of bills in the podcast. There are quite a few.

What are the actual provisions of a bill? At the top of the bill, you’ll find the introduction date and the amendment, or amendment dates where there are multiple amendments. Each date is listed at the top, so you know, easily, what version of the bill you’re dealing with.

Then, of course, comes the bill number. The bill number itself is on the right‑hand side of the bill. Whether it’s an Assembly Bill or a Senate Bill is on the left‑hand side. Then, the principal author of the bill is listed. Of course, if there are any co‑authors, their names are listed under the bill’s author, and that’s done in alphabetical order.

Next comes the date. After the date, comes the title. The title identifies the code section or code sections of the bill that are being affected. It contains what they call a relating clause. “This is a bill relating to transportation,” for example.

After the title and the relating clause comes the Legislative Counsel’s Digest. The Legislative Counsel are the Legislature’s lawyers, and they must draft every bill and every amendment. In the Legislative Counsel’s Digest, they succinctly set forth a brief summary of existing law, and it says, “Existing law provides…”

At the end of the Legislative Counsel Digest are what is called the vote keys. These identify the vote required to pass the bill, whether the bill makes an appropriation or not, whether the bill is fiscal, and therefore will be heard in a fiscal committee, and the fourth key is whether the bill contains a state‑mandated local program.

Then by law, by the Constitution, every bill must have an enacting clause. Therefore, at the start of every bill, it says, “The people of the State of California do enact, as follows…,” and then the bill itself is set forth.

Finally, comes that actual bill language. The bill language is easy to follow, because language that is being repealed is in strike‑out text showing the words to be deleted or repealed, and italicized words are new provisions to the law, so it’s relatively easy to track.

This is to be continued. Next week we’ll talk about constitutional amendments and resolutions.





The Legislative Calendar (transcript)

Today’s podcast is on the legislative calendar. The legislative calendar establishes a schedule for the two‑year legislative session and provides numerous deadlines throughout the legislative process.

The calendar for the California legislative session is certainly important for those who work in and around the state capitol. California’s constitution provides the date for convening and adjourning the legislative session. Other than that, the Legislature has the freedom to set its own calendar for meetings and recesses.

Article IV of the state constitution establishes when the Legislature is to be in session. Section Three of Article IV provides that the Legislature is to convene the regular session on the first Monday of December in each even‑numbered year in order to convene its organizing session. Thereafter, the Legislature must adjourn by November 30th of the following even‑numbered year.

Now in general, the Legislature begins meeting the first week in January of each year and concludes work for the year either in mid‑September in the odd‑numbered years or by August 31st in the even‑numbered years.

During the calendar year, the Legislature traditionally schedules two recesses ‑ a one‑week spring recess which is generally the week before Easter, and a summer recess that typically lasts four weeks – either the entire month of July or roughly mid‑July through mid‑August in the odd‑numbered years.

In addition, several one‑day holidays are recognized by the Legislature. While the Legislature eliminated the Columbus Day holiday and one of the President’s Day holidays in February a number of years ago, legislators are still permitted to provide one floating holiday for their personal staff.

In addition to the regular session, the Governor may, by proclamation, require the Legislature to meet in special session. Now, a special session may run concurrently with the Legislature’s normally scheduled meeting times and/or during its recesses. During these special sessions, the legislature may act only on subjects specified in those proclamations.




Legislative Lingo (transcript)

Today’s topic is one of my favorites, legislative lingo.

It probably doesn’t come as much of a surprise that my colleagues and I, those who work in and around California’s state capital, use a number of different terms or lingo to describe different aspects of the California legislative process. I’ve tried to compile a short list of some of the more common terms used in the California legislative process.

I’ll cover a few of the terms here, and the rest are covered in the podcast. The first one is “41st senator.” There are 40 members of the California State Senate who are duly elected to represent the 40 Senate districts across the state of California, about 950,000 constituents each.

Due to the power of some of the staff in the upper house of the Legislature, there are a few staffers, particularly with committees or leadership offices, who are often viewed as being almost as powerful, if not as powerful, as some of those elected members of the State Senate. That’s why we use the term, 41st Senator.

Blue pencil. The term blue pencil is used to refer to the Governor in the State of California has an ability to line‑item veto, specific items of appropriations, either in the budget bill itself, which has numerous thousands of appropriations or individual appropriation bills.

The President of the United States does not have line‑item veto authority, but California’s Governor is one of those states that provides it. The line‑item veto authority can only reduce or eliminate items of appropriation. The Governor does not have authority to increase items of appropriation.

Gut and amend. It sounds rather ominous, doesn’t it? This is when amendments to a bill remove the current contents of the bill in their entirety. It’s gutted ‑‑ the bill is gutted ‑‑ and it’s amended, that is the language is replaced with entirely different provisions that are unrelated to the original contents of the bill. That’s a gut and amend.

Again, I cover many more terms in today’s podcast. Thanks for listening.




The Role of State Agencies in Policy Making (transcript)

Today’s podcast is about state agencies and their role in public policy development. California’s agencies – including departments, board, and commissions – engage in a fair amount of public policy making through both their rule making authority, as well as their interpretation and enforcement of existing statutes and regulations.

These state agencies are the ones who generally run the day-to-day operations of state government, and they’re charged with implementing the statutes adopted by the Legislature and signed into law by the Governor. With over 200 of these agencies in California state government, there are many state agencies that do policy development by adopting regulations and implementing statutes. They can also engage in policy making when issuing guidelines, legal opinions, management memos, and other sorts of written documents wherein they interpret and implement laws and regulations.

Generally speaking, the authority of state agencies to adopt policy through their rule making process is defined and often restricted by state statute. These statutes usually prescribe each agency’s authority to adopt policy. And of course, it’s an established principle of administrative law that an agency cannot go beyond its legally prescribed authority to regulate. On the other hand, many statutes confer broad powers to some state agencies regarding matters that directly affect the public generally. The regulations and administrative practices of these agencies often affect millions of Californians in their daily lives.

It’s important to understand the rule making process and the role of state agencies in conducting rule making. One interesting phenomenon is that businesses cannot rely in good faith upon the written determinations issued by state agencies. State agencies’ written interpretation is often not given significant legal weight by a reviewing court. In other words, despite being charged with interpreting, implementing, and enforcing California statutes and regulations, individuals and businesses that obtain written guidelines from state agencies have little to no protection from legal liability if they follow that written guidance.

The Lobbyist/Legislative Staffer Dynamic with Chris Micheli and Erinn Ryberg (transcript)

Today’s podcast is a conversation between two familiar voices here on CAP·impact – veteran lobbyist Chris Micheli and veteran capitol staffer (turned lobbyist since recording) Erinn Ryberg – talking about one of the most critical dynamics in the California Legislature, the working dynamic between legislative staffer and lobbyist.

The two walk through how that dynamic plays out over the course of California’s legislative process, from bill introduction through the committee process to the floor. They talk about how different offices will staff bills differently, and how that can affect the dynamic between staff and lobbyist.

It’s a freewheeling conversation that takes a comprehensive look at how to establish a solid working relationship between staffer and lobbyist, and how the power dynamics between lobbyists, staffers, and members play out in California’s legislative process.




McGeorge’s Lawmaking in California course – Part 1 (transcript)

In today’s post I continue my series looking at the courses offered by the Capital Center for Law & Policy at McGeorge School of Law to train aspiring Capital Lawyers who plan to work in and around California state government. Today’s post is one of two on McGeorge’s Lawmaking in California class.

McGeorge’s Lawmaking in California course is only one of a handful of law school courses that is dedicated specifically to forms of lawmaking in the state of California. It covers the fundamental components of the legislative process as well as discussions of the rulemaking process and avenues of direct democracy.

The topics covered in the course include legislative procedure, bill drafting and analysis, legislative history and intent, advocacy, relationships with the Executive Branch, and the powers and limits of the Legislative Branch of California state government.

The course is taught in downtown Sacramento at the State Capitol, rather than on the law school campus, as this provides students with the feel of the practice of Capital Lawyering. Instead of having a textbook, the course uses a close to six hundred page reader that’s full of substantive information that be readily used as a reference guide for anyone working in or around the legislative and/or regulatory processes. The reader is compiled by the course’s two professors, Diane Boyer-Vine and me.

In addition to a midterm and final – each worth 20% of a student’s grade – the course features practical writing assignments – a bill and amendment drafting project and a bill analysis drafting project. The bill drafting project not only requires that students draft a bill, but also draft a substantive amendment to address one or more opposition concerns that could be raised with the original bill and drafting an urgency clause for the bill as well as a justification for that urgency clause.

That’s the 30,000 foot overview of McGeorge’s Lawmaking in California course. Next week we’ll discuss more of the particulars of the class.




Intro to Capital Lawyering – Part 2 (transcript)

Today’s post is part two on the Introduction to Capital Lawyering course – to be called Capital Lawyering and Policy Making going forward – that is offered at McGeorge School of Law. You can find my first post on the Capital Lawyering and Policy Making course here.

McGeorge’s Capital Lawyering and Policy Making course is taught by adjunct professor Tom Nussbaum, who is a former Chancellor of the California Community College system. He also authored the course reader.

According to Professor Nussbaum, policy analysis is the rubric for problem solving that is typically applied in policy making settings, like the California Legislature. As such, the first three class sessions revolve around various policy analysis methodologies and applying policy analysis to real world issues.

The course also serves to introduce students to the various venues for lawyering in the government, with a particular focus on California state government. Of the fourteen class sessions that comprise this course, half of them focus on lawyering at the three levels of government. Four of those courses focus on California state government, two classes focus on lawyering at the federal government level, and one is dedicated to local government.

As I mentioned in last week’s post, the purpose of the course is to provide students with exposure to capital lawyering in general while educating them about the levels of government so that students understand that government may provide an avenue to resolve a client’s legal problem beyond traditional litigation of alternative dispute resolution. Students will take away from this course the knowledge that changing the law may be the best approach to solving a legal issue rather than litigating it.

In next week’s post, as part of this larger series on how the Capital Center for Law & Policy trains capital lawyers, I’ll start walking you through McGeorge’s Lawmaking in California course, which I co-teach with Legislative Counsel Dianne Boyer-Vine.




Intro to Capital Lawyering – Part 1 (transcript)

Today’s post is a continuation of last week’s post about the role of the capital lawyer. As I mentioned last week, I’ll be explaining how the Capital Center for Law & Policy at McGeorge School of Law trains capital lawyers. Today’s podcast is the first of five that will give an overview of how McGeorge School of Law trains capital lawyers.

The podcast today is part one of going over the Introduction to Capital Lawyering course. Part two will be next week’s podcast. This is the one mandatory course in the Capital Lawyering concentration. I should also note that starting in fall 2018, the name of this course will be different. The new name for the course going forward is “Capital Lawyering and Policy Making.”

The course is geared to give students the proverbial 30,000 foot view of the three levels of government, as well as the three branches of government – with a particular emphasis on California state government. The overall objective of the course is to ensure that students are informed and aware of the different avenues available to address a client’s legal issue.

Specifically, the learning objectives of the course are to introduce and acquaint students with the fundamental knowledge and skills that are essential to lawyering with California state government and with government in general; ensure that students will be able to perform policy analysis using a variety of methodologies; ensure students will be able to weigh and consider particular venues to pursue a policy change and they’ll be able to determine which venue provides the greatest opportunity for client success. The course also serves to provide students with an understanding of the many career options available to capital lawyers in and around California state government, which I go into greater detail on in the podcast. These are just a few of objectives, but there are many more.

Next week we’ll dive into the syllabus and more of the specifics of the Capital Lawyering and Policy Making course.