The Coronavirus’ Impact on Bills in the California Legislature

Chris Micheli
Chris Micheli is a Principal with the Sacramento governmental relations firm of Aprea & Micheli, Inc.

As you may recall, there were 2,203 bills introduced by the February 21 deadline for the 2020 California Legislative Session. Since that time, there were 20 more bills introduced (committee bills, for example, are not subject to the February deadline), 14 additional bills in the Assembly and 6 additional bills in the Senate. Out of the 2,223 bills introduced so far this year, 682 are Senate Bills and 1,541 are Assembly Bills.

Based upon the policy committee hearings that are scheduled to consider bills in the Assembly and Senate during the month of May, 163 SBs and 398 ABs have been set for consideration. That means a total of 561 bills have been set for hearing out of the total bills introduced this year, which is 25% of the total number of bills that could have been considered by policy committees this year. 24% of the SBs and 26% of the ABs have been set for hearing.

As such, 19 Senate policy committees will hear those 163 measures, with one committee hearing just a single bill and two committees hearing 16 bills each. 26 Assembly policy committees will hear those 398 measures, with one committee hearing just a single bill and one committee hearing 52 bills. Three Assembly policy committees will not hear a single bill.

After consideration by the policy committees, not all measures will pass, and those that do will have to clear the Appropriations Committee and the Floor of their respective houses of origin. Thereafter, obviously, the process will repeat itself in the other houses, so even fewer bills that are being considered by the policy committees will get through the process.

As readers are aware, legislators in both the Assembly and the Senate were asked by their respective leaders to substantially reduce the number of bills each member was carrying. In addition, legislators, their staff, and interest groups recognized the obvious need to prioritize bills that should be considered this year, whether directly related to the pandemic or not.

As such, bill packages have been substantially reduced and the number of bills set for policy committee hearings is a recognition of the deep impact of the pandemic on the state’s legislative process. Of course, there are more than three months left in the California Legislative Session, which also means that there is opportunity for consideration of additional measures, such as proposals that undoubtedly will be “floated” during the August budget debates, as well as possible activity on the nearly one hundred budget trailer bills that exist between the two houses.

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