It's Time to Take Action
You can make a big difference in just 5 minutes. With FCLCA’s Legislative Action Center, that’s all it takes to learn about the issues and send an email to your elected officials.
We’ll send you important updates on bills and initiatives and how you can speak out.
For just $60 a year ($35 low income) you can celebrate FCLCA’s 60 years of advocacy and support a voice of conscience at the Capitol. Contributions include 4 issues of the FCLCA Newsletter.
Send an email to your elected officials. Follow the bills we are working on in this legislative session.
Lifecycle of a Bill
To answer these questions, it’s crucial to know the process of lawmaking in California.
Rather see it in pictures? See here.
Read more about how FCLCA (and you) can have an impact during these steps.
How a bill becomes law
Overview of Legislative Process
The process of government by which bills are considered and laws enacted by the California State Legislature is commonly referred to as the legislative process.
The California State Legislature is made up of two houses: the Senate and the Assembly. There are 40 Senators and 80 Assembly Members representing the people of the State of California.
The Legislature maintains a legislative calendar governing the introduction and processing of the legislative measures during its two-year regular session.
The Legislature functions to create laws that represent the best interests of the citizens within each legislative district. Proposals for new laws are called bills. To become a law, a bill must successfully pass through a number of steps.
2. First Reading
The bill is then sent electronically to the Office of State Printing. A bill must be in print for 30 days, giving time for public review, before it can be acted on.
Bills are assigned to policy committees according to subject area. (For example, an Assembly bill dealing with a criminal justice issue would go to the Assembly Public Safety Committee; a Senate bill dealing with health care facilities would first be assigned to the Senate Health and Human Services Committee for policy review).
Each house maintains a schedule of legislative committee hearings. Prior to a bill's hearing, a bill analysis is prepared that explains the intended effect of the bill on current law, together with background information. Typically the analysis also lists organizations that support or oppose the bill.
The public may attend legislative committee hearings.
During the committee hearing the author presents the bill to the committee, and testimony may be heard in support or opposition to the bill.
Bills may be amended several times. The committee can pass the bill, pass the bill as amended, or defeat the bill. It takes a majority vote of the committee membership for a bill to be passed and sent to the next committee or to the floor.
Bills that require the expenditure of funds must also be heard in the fiscal committees, Senate Appropriations and Assembly Appropriations. Each committee is made up of a specified number of Senators or Assembly Members. (see all committees and their members here)
4. Second Reading
Bills that require an appropriation, or that take effect immediately, ordinarily require 27 votes in the Senate and 54 votes in the Assembly to be passed.
Other bills generally require 21 votes in the Senate and 41 votes in the Assembly.
If a bill is defeated, the Member may seek reconsideration and another vote.
6. Repeat Process in Other House
7. Resolution of Differences
If the house of origin does not concur in those amendments, the bill is referred to a two-house conference committee to resolve the differences. Three members of the committee are from the Senate and three are from the Assembly.
If a compromise is reached, the bill is returned to both houses for a vote.
The Governor has three choices: sign the bill into law, allow it to become law without his or her signature, or veto it. A governor's veto can be overridden by a two-thirds vote in both houses.
Most enacted bills go into effect on the first day of January of the next year. Urgency bills, and certain other measures, take effect immediately after they are enacted into law.
9. California Law
Each bill is given a chapter number and the Secretary of State stamps it with the Great Seal of the State of California. These chaptered bills are statutes, and ordinarily become part of the California Codes. The California Codes are a comprehensive collection of laws grouped by subject matter.