CAP·impact

A Resource for Understanding and Shaping California Law and Policy

One of the issues that is often discussed in legislative drafting is how to make legislation more readable. In other words, how to make the text of legislative measures easier to understand by those who are reading it, those who are subject to the law, or those who need to administer or even interpret the legislation. Some suggestions provided to students in Athabasca University’s graduate diploma in legislative drafting include providing overviews, following standard writing…
Like many other states, California requires the office of the Legislative Counsel to draft measures – including bills, resolutions, and constitutional amendments – in a gender-neutral manner. In 2018, California adopted Assembly Concurrent Resolution 260. According to the language of ACR 260, it is intended to encourage the Legislature to engage in a coordinated effort to revise existing statutes and introduce new legislation with inclusive language by using gender-neutral pronouns, or even reusing nouns to…
On occasion, a bill reader may come across a severability or savings clause contained in a California bill. Basically, the severability clause is a statement by the Legislature that if a part of a law that’s enacted is subsequently held to be invalid or unconstitutional, then the unconstitutional provision doesn’t invalidate the rest of the remaining law. A general rule that’s been developed and applied by the courts over a long period of time is…
Today we’ll take a look at some things that legislative drafters need to consider when drafting legislative constitutional amendments in California. As you know, in the California Legislature there are constitutional amendments that can be introduced in either the Senate or the Assembly and those constitutional amendments require a two-thirds majority vote in both houses in order to be placed on the statewide ballot. Once on the ballot, the amendment takes effect if a majority…
As you know, there are three types of resolution in the California Legislature – House, Joint, and Concurrent. Two of these types of resolution – Concurrent and Joint – require adoption by both houses of the Legislature before they can take effect. Passage of a resolution does not require the signature of the Governor, and all three types of resolution only require a simple majority vote to pass. Like other legislative measures, a title for…
In the California Legislature all types of legislative measures – bills, resolutions, constitutional amendments, and amendments to all those kinds of measures – can only be introduced or processed at the Assembly and Senate desks if they are in what’s called Legislative Counsel Form. The purpose of this is to ensure greater consistency in California statutes. The nonpartisan Office of Legislative Counsel – which serves as legal counsel and principal bill drafter to California legislators…
Pursuant to Article IV, Section 9 of the California State Constitution, each bill must have a title. In fact, the State Constitution specifically states, “A statute shall embrace but one subject which shall be expressed in its title. If a statute embraces a subject not expressed in its title, only the part not expressed is void. A statute may not be amended by reference to its title.” The purpose of the title is to provide…
During this pandemic, I’ve been researching and reading quite a bit about legislative drafting and studying some of the materials on the subject that are available to the public. One of these is the Seven C’s of Legislative Drafting, as put together by the people in the Graduate Diploma in Legislative Drafting at Athabasca University in Alberta, Canada. The Seven C’s come from addressing seven standards that experts have determined users of statutes and legislative…
What exactly is legislative drafting, sometimes also called bill drafting? To start, legislative drafting is defined more broadly to include primary legislation and secondary legislation.  Primary legislation is what immediately comes to mind when you think of legislation – bills, resolutions, and constitutional amendments that are debated and voted on by the legislative branch. Secondary legislation is regulations, executive orders, and other types of rules generally written by executive branch agencies. In California, this work…
The next legislative session starts on Monday, December 7, at 12 noon. Despite the fact that it is technically starting in 2020, it will be designated the 2021/2022 Legislative Session. As you might imagine, there are numerous provisions around convening the new session laid out in the Constitution, state law, and Assembly Rules. The California Constitution, in Article IV, Section 3(a), states that “The Legislature shall convene in regular session at noon on the first…