California legislature

 

Conducting Business on the Floors (transcript)

Today’s post is on conducting business on the floors.

The California Legislature conducts its business both in policy and fiscal committees as well as on the floors of the State Assembly and the State Senate. Each house determines its own rules and specifies how business will be handled on their respective floors. This process of conducting their activities on the floors is called the Order of Business.

The processes between the two houses are similar in many regards, but there are a few differences as well. So let’s look at the Assembly and the Senate and how each conducts business on the floors.

Pursuant to Assembly Rule 40A, the Assembly’s Order of Business is:

  1. Roll Call
  2. Prayer by the Chaplain
  3. Reading of the Previous Day’s Journal
  4. Presentation of Petitions
  5. Introduction and Reference of Bills
  6. Reports of Committees
  7. Messages from the Governor
  8. Messages from the Senate
  9. Motions and Resolutions
  10. Business on the Daily File
  11. Announcements, and
  12. Adjournment

In addition, under Assembly Rule 63 the following constitutes the Order of Business of pending legislation as contained in the Assembly Daily File:

  1. Special Orders of the Day
  2. Second Reading – Assembly Bills
  3. Second Reading – Senate Bills
  4. Unfinished Business
  5. Third Reading – Assembly bills, and
  6. Third Reading – Senate Bills.

As for the State Senate, under Senate Rule 4, the Order of Business of the Senate is:

  1. Roll Call
  2. Prayer by the Chaplain
  3. Pledge of Allegiance
  4. Privileges of the Floor
  5. Communications and Petitions
  6. Messages from the Governor
  7. Messages from the Assembly
  8. Reports of Committees; Motions, Resolutions, and Notices
  9. Introduction and First Reading of Bills
  10. Consideration of the Daily File in the following order:
    1. Second Reading,
    2. Special Orders,
    3. Unfinished Business, and
    4. Third Reading
  11. Announcement of Committee Meetings
  12. Leaves of Absence, and finally

There are no additional special rules for the Senate found in the Senate Rules. When a bill is taken up that is not on the Daily File, it is done so without reference to file – most often known as its acronym WORF. When a bill is subject to a WORF, what the Senate or Assembly is actually doing is suspending the Orders of the day as set forth in their respective rules providing the order of business.

 

 

Floor Items (transcript)

This post is on floor items. We’re going to cover, briefly, the unfinished business file, the inactive file, the use of floor managers, and WORFs. What are they?

The unfinished business file: both the Assembly Daily File as well as the Senate Daily File contain a portion titled “Unfinished Business.” This is the section of the daily file that contains the bills that have returned to their House of origin from the opposite House.

This section of the daily file also contains bills that were vetoed by the governor. Note that vetoed items remain on the daily file for a 60‑day period following the gubernatorial veto. Thereafter, unless voted upon, they are removed from the daily file and can no longer be considered.

What’s the inactive file? Another portion of the daily file to be aware of is for bills that made it to the floor of either the Assembly or the Senate but, for whatever reason, the bill’s author has chosen not to proceed with the measure.

Bills that have failed passage can be moved to the inactive file for further consideration. If an author has moved the bill to the inactive file, he or she can remove it from the Inactive File at a later date, with specified public notice, for further consideration on the respective floor.

What are floor managers? When the bill’s author presents his or her bill on the floor of the bill’s House of origin, that is, when the Assembly bill is presented by an Assembly Member or a Senate bill is presented by the Senator, that’s different when the bill is for consideration in the opposite House.

While a bill’s author is responsible for taking up his or her measure on their own floor, a floor manager is required in the other House. A member of the other House, designated by the bill’s author when the bill is considered by the other House, is called the bill’s floor manager.

What’s a WORF? According to the rules of both Houses, bills that are not listed on the daily file can only be taken up with either unanimous consent by the members of that House or by suspension of the rules.

A bill that is not listed on the daily file but which is taken up nonetheless is referred to as a WORF. The process of taking up a WORF’ed bill is without reference to file, W‑O‑R‑F.

In order to WORF a bill, a majority of the House’s membership, that’s 41 votes in the Assembly and 21 votes in the Senate, is required to take up the bill without reference to file.

On today’s episode, we talk about the legislative, legal, and policy issues that face my favorite special interest in California state government and politics – craft beer. And to get more insight into that topic I brought Tom McCormick of the California Craft Brewers Association (CCBA) and McGeorge Professor – and craft beer law expert – Dan Croxall on the show to talk with.

Like Tom said, the best way to learn more about the craft beer industry is just to go spend time at your local craft brewery. But if you want to learn more about CCBA specifically – as well as the California Craft Beer Festival – you can always check out their website here.

You can also follow CCBA on Facebook and Twitter, and you can follow Tom on Twitter @CCBATom.

You can find Professor Croxall on Twitter @GoodBeerLawProf.

As always, if you enjoyed today’s episode, please take the time to leave us a five-star rating on iTunes, Apple Podcasts, or Stitcher Radio, and subscribe to our show wherever you listen to podcasts. All of that makes The CAP⋅impact Podcast easier to find and more accessible.

You can also stay in touch with us and let us know what you thought about today’s show and think about the show generally on Facebook and Twitter. Just like CAP⋅impact on Facebook or follow @CAPimpactCA on Twitter.

The CAP⋅impact Podcast is made possible by the Capital Center for Law & Policy at McGeorge School of Law in Sacramento, California. You can learn more about the Capital Center here, and keep up with the Capital Center on Facebook and Twitter.

Ethics for Legislative Staff (transcript)

Today’s post is on ethics for legislative staff.

Just like California legislators, who are bound by laws and codes of conduct, there are also guides for the conduct of legislative staff as they serve these elected officials and the public. For example, the National Conference of State Legislatures – NCSL – has published a model code of conduct for legislative staff. This comprehensive guide is an invaluable resource for legislative staff across the country.

The purpose of this code of conduct is to provide guidance to legislative staff so that they can better serve the public and legislative branch of state government. These staffers are invaluable to the legislative process and the institution itself. But they are also public servants, just like the elected legislators for whom they work. And just like these legislators, staff too are there to carry out the mission of the Legislature. They have a relationship of trust to the institution and the public generally.

In that regard, staff must conduct themselves appropriately towards legislators, the public, lobbyists, and their fellow staff members. Any code of conduct must detail how legislative staff should conduct themselves so that the public trust is always protected. In addition to any code of conduct, there are relevant state laws that apply to staff such as the California Government Code that provides extensive guidance to public employees.

While many of the prohibitions in the Government Code may seem obvious, they are important for staff to keep in mind as they perform their valuable public service while working in the California State Legislature. In reviewing the NCSL’s model code, it provides a number of helpful guides to legislative staff.

For a more in depth discussion of Proposition 7, and the ten other initiatives on the ballot this November you can watch the forum in its entirety on YouTube or read the full analyses here. And keep your eyes peeled on The CAP⋅impact Podcast’s feed on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher Radio, or wherever you get your podcasts from for analysis of this year’s ballot initiatives in your headphones coming next week.

Proposition 7: Daylight Saving Time

Current Law

  • In 1949, California voters adopted Proposition 12 an initiative titled “An Act Providing For Daylight Saving Time in the State of California.”
  • The key provisions established United States Standard Pacific Time as standard time within the state and provided that time advance one hour during a period from the last Sunday in April until the last Sunday in September.
  • The United States Congress passed the Uniform Time Act in 1966 to create daylight saving time nationwide, which effectively replaced the existing California law.
  • Currently under federal law, daylight saving time starts the second Sunday in March and ends the first Sunday in November.
  • Despite this fact that the existing language in the California Government Code still says that daylight saving time ends on the last Sunday in September, daylight saving time in California ends the first Sunday in November as required by federal law.
  • California’s current daylight saving time law, Daylight Saving Time Act of 1949, does not allow the California legislature to update the language in the current statute or ask the federal government to stop the twice per year time change with voter approval.

Proposed Law

  • The repeal of the Daylight Saving Time Act would allow the legislature to control changes to daylight saving because the voter initiative would be replaced by the proposed legislative initiative and no longer require voter approval to any daylight saving changes.
  • Proposition 7 updates California’s daylight saving time dates to be consistent with the federal Uniform Time Act.
  • Proposition 7 gives the California Legislature the power to ask Congress to allow California to go onto daylight saving time all year. The Legislature would need a two-thirds (2/3) vote to ask the federal government if California can change to have full-time daylight saving time, rather than changing the clocks in March and November.

Policy Considerations

Yes on Proposition 7 No on Proposition 7
  • Would allow the Legislature to update the current daylight saving language and to ask the federal government to have daylight saving time all year.
  • Does not guarantee that California would be able to stop changing the clocks because the Legislature may not ask the federal government for all year daylight saving time, or the federal government could say no.
  • The Legislature would not have to ask the voters for permission to change daylight saving laws in the future.
  • Would not change anything because California must follow the federal government’s daylight saving time rules.
  • The existing nonconforming language in the California Government Code would remain unchanged.
  • The Legislature would not have the ability to change daylight saving laws without voter approval in the future.

Analysis of Proposition 7 provided by Anna Lisa Thomas and Sarah Steimer.

Earlier this week, The National Law Review recently published the work of McGeorge Capital Lawyering adjunct professor Chris Micheli. You can find Micheli’s aritcle – A Review of 2018 Labor and Employment Legislation in California – here.

Micheli overviews the fourteen major labor and employment bills that were signed into law, as well as seven other significant pieces of legislation that made it through the Legislature but were ultimately vetoed by Governor Brown. Many of the bills that Micheli looks at are pieces of legislation inspired by the #MeToo movement that swept the nation as well as the We Said Enough movement that started here in California’s capital.

Chris Micheli – Attorney; Adjunct Professor, McGeorge School of Law; Principal, Aprea & Micheli

By: Thomas Gerhart

I always thought of the “Wild West” as a time period. I understood it to represent westward expansion during the mid-to-late 1800s. It evoked the idea of historical figures like Wyatt Earp, “Buffalo Bill” Cody, and Billy the Kid. Then, I watched the HBO series Deadwood, which highlighted lawlessness in unsettled territories and the opportunity for financial gain in the absence of law.

Despite Alaska’s nickname “The Last Frontier” and Star Trek’s claim that outer space is the “Final Frontier,” we do have a contemporary frontier. It is a place of lawlessness where, like in Deadwood, a person can make it rich­–the Internet.

On the Internet, businesses utilize new and creative ways to make money; and, just like in Deadwood, the absence of law provides an opportunity to attain great wealth. Streaming services, social media, and e-commerce all created avenues for Internet businesses to generate revenue with little regulation and, in some instances, without taxation.

One of the new ways that businesses generate revenue is by offering services for free. Facebook’s business model is to provide a free social media service to its users in exchange for personal information. Facebook then monetizes that information by selling it or using it for marketing. Facebook created a system that generates money by turning its users into human capital, essentially monetizing its users.

What is so bad about this practice? Well, the Facebook/Cambridge Analytica debacle became public knowledge in March of 2018. That data breach showed the world the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the ways that businesses use and sell consumer information. Couple that with the Equifax data breach in 2017, and there is a problem. People disclose information about themselves on the Internet, either voluntarily or as required to open an account, and businesses buy and sell that information while doing little to protect it.

This gets back to how the Internet is like the Wild West. First, there are no laws restricting what businesses may do with consumers’ personal information. Second, a business can be as secretive as it wants about its data collection practices. Yes, a business must publish its privacy policy on its website, but those policies are generally a bungle of legalese. Also, businesses can start collecting and selling information before giving their customers an opportunity to opt out. Third, there are no laws or incentives for a business to protect the information it collects.

The federal government has been silent on regulating Internet privacy, thereby giving the states the power to regulate it. California is one of only ten states that guarantees it citizens’ right to privacy in its constitution. Unfortunately, corresponding privacy laws never materialized. Enter California Assemblymember Marc Levine, who proposed AB 2182 as the first step toward regulating what businesses can do with Californians’ personal information. Levine is passionate about protecting Californians and wanted to tackle this issue. His bill had a lot of promise but, rather than develop it, other legislators defanged it. Before AB 2182 left the Assembly, legislators ensured that it would not challenge the tech industry’s power to use and abuse Californians’ personal information.

While AB 2182 was stuck in the Senate, Alastair Mactaggart and Rick Arney were finalizing three years’ worth of work to tackle this issue. They qualified a ballot measure that proposed privacy laws to protect Californians’ information. Within a few weeks of qualification, legislators reached out to Mactaggart essentially asking him what it would take to withdraw the measure. Mactaggart leveraged a pending deadline to get the Legislature enact every major provision of his ballot measure. The legislators went to work, but the first draft was a lackluster attempt with no regulatory authority. Mactaggart said that version was unacceptable. The next attempt was much better. Mactaggart withdrew his initiative shortly after Governor Brown signed AB 375 into law.

Taking effect on January 1, 2020, AB 375 forces transparency by requiring businesses to disclose their information-sharing practices prior to data collection. Businesses must give consumers the opportunity to opt out of data collection without recourse. Businesses can incentivize data collection, but they cannot discriminate against customers who exercise their “right to opt out.” AB 375 also has some retroactive applicability because Californians can contact a business and request that it delete their personal information. The business must comply with these requests, so long as it does not need the requested information as part of an ongoing business relationship. Finally, AB 375 permits Californians to file suit against businesses whose negligence results in the breach of non-encrypted or non-redacted information.

AB 375 encourages businesses to be more cautious with the data they collect, store, and sell. More importantly, it gives Californians control over their personal information. While AB 2182 is dead, AB 375 changes the landscape of the Internet in California from a lawless frontier to a regulated environment that protects Californians.

To learn more about AB 2182 and AB 375, listen to my interview on “In Session,” a podcast from the University of the Pacific Law Review.

 

Today’s podcast is on the role of legislative ethics committees.

Ethics in the California Legislature is an important topic. As such, both houses of the Legislature have their own individual ethics committees. Moreover, the Senate has adopted an official Code of Conduct for its members. While the Assembly has not, it too shares similar concerns to ensure that there are codes of conduct in place for all legislators. Both houses have extensive ethics and conflict of interest rules, and both are bound by constitutional and statutory ethics rules.

The Assembly Legislative Ethics Committee consists of six members of the Assembly who are appointed by the Assembly Speaker. This committee has the power to investigate and make any appropriate findings and recommendations concerning violations of the rules by Assembly Members. The Committee’s authority is set forth in the Standing Rules of the Assembly as well as Article III of the Government Code commencing with Section 8940.

Under these Assembly rules, any person may file a verified complaint in writing stating the name of the Assembly Member who is alleged to have violated any standard of conduct. The written complaint must set forth the particulars of the alleged violation with sufficient clarity and detail to enable the Committee to make a determination.

The Senate Committee on Legislative Ethics is appointed by the Senate Committee on Rules and it consists of six Senators. In addition to this committee, the Rules Committee appoints an Ethics Ombudsperson for assisting in the resolution of potential ethical violations as well as assisting the Senate and providing remedies for retaliatory conduct to ensure that an informant or a complainant does not suffer adverse consequences with respect to his or her employment in the California State Senate.

The Senate Ombudsperson is accessible to Senators, officers, and employees of the State Senate, as well as members of the public who wish to provide information or seek guidance about ethical standards or possible violation of standards before filing a formal complaint. All communications are confidential between the informant or complainant and the ombudsperson. The ombudsperson may refer the information to the Rules Committee Chair, the Legislative Ethics Committee Chair, and/or the Secretary of the Senate. In all cases, the identity of the informant or complainant is kept confidential unless that person consents.

The Senate Committee is required to maintain a public hotline telephone number for purposes of contacting the ombudsperson. The complaints received through this hotline are considered informal complaints and the existence of the complaints must be kept confidential. In addition, the Senate Committee must formulate and recommend Standards of Conduct for Senators as well as the officers and employees of the Senate in performing their legislative responsibilities.

Ethics will always play an important role in the Legislative process. Please listen to today’s podcast for more information on the roles, duties and responsibilities, and powers of the legislative ethics committees.

The 2017-18 legislative session was a lively one, as well as the last one ever to overseen by Governor Jerry Brown. To discuss the end of session and some of the historic legislation that came out of it, we talk with Aaron Brieno – Leg. Director to Sen. Ben Hueso – now former lobbyist Lexi Howard – she was a contract lobbyist at the time of recording – and lobbyist and friend of the show Chris Micheli.

As always, if you enjoyed today’s episode, please take the time to leave us a five-star rating on iTunes, Apple Podcasts, or Stitcher Radio, and subscribe to our show wherever you listen to podcasts. All of that makes The CAP⋅impact Podcast easier to find and more accessible.

You can also stay in touch with us and let us know what you thought about today’s show and think about the show generally on Facebook and Twitter. Just like CAP⋅impact on Facebook or follow @CAPimpactCA on Twitter.

The CAP⋅impact Podcast is made possible by the Capital Center for Law & Policy at McGeorge School of Law in Sacramento, California. You can learn more about the Capital Center here, and keep up with the Capital Center on Facebook and Twitter.

By: Devinn Larsen

The controversial practice of sexual orientation change efforts–also known as conversion therapy–attempts to change or alter an individual’s sexual orientation through various methods including but not limited to religious intervention, aversion therapy, and hypnosis. Most medical practitioners and professional medical organizations reject conversion therapy as a valid practice due to the financial and psychological risks associated with the practice such as financial burden, emotional trauma, risk of suicide, and depression.

In 2012, California became the first state to pass an outright ban of conversion therapy practices on minors. To further support and embrace California’s LGBTQ community and to protect from any harmful effects conversion therapy may cause, Assembly Member Evan Low (D – San Francisco) proposed AB 2943. The bill set out to extend the prohibition of conversion therapy practices to adults by making any advertisements for, offers to practice conversion therapy, or the actual practice of conversion therapy violations of the Consumer Legal Remedies Act (CLRA) as deceptive practices. As the CLRA declares services unlawful when represented as having the approval, benefit, or quality they do not have, the lack of substantiated evidence as to the success of conversion therapy after years of medical research sparked the introduction of AB 2943 to expand the ban of conversion therapy practices to all.

In the original version of the legislation, AB 2943 faced harsh criticism from many conservative and religious groups claiming the broad language of the bill infringed on constitutional freedoms of religion and speech. Many attempts to amend AB 2943 to better comply with individual liberties occurred, and in the latest version of the bill the CLRA violations extension included only advertisements for, offers to sell, and the actual sale of conversion therapy services.

Even with the amendments, concerns of conservative and religious groups remained prompting additional challenges relating to the breadth of the language used. After attempts to reconcile the language concerns failed and after passing through many stages on its way to becoming law, Assembly Member Low ordered AB 2943 to the inactive file, effectively killing the legislation for this legislation session.

In a statement made after the withdrawal of AB 2943, Assembly Member Low explained, “The best policy is not made in a vacuum and in order to advance the strongest piece of legislation, the bill requires additional time to allow for an inclusive process not hampered by legislative deadlines.” Only time will tell as to whether any alternative proposals of similar legislation taking such a strong stance on the protections afforded to California’s LGBTQ community will resurface.

To learn more about AB 2943, listen to my interview on “In Session,” a podcast from the University of the Pacific Law Review.

Devinn Larsen is a staff writer for the University of the Pacific Law Review and law student student at McGeorge School of Law in Sacramento.