Demystifying the Legislative Process

Joel Fox
Editor and Co-Publisher of Fox and Hounds Daily

California’s legislative process may not follow the normal structure in these abnormal times. 

How the process works out—including the Senate’s possible use of remote voting and the Assembly’s meeting as a committee of the whole—is taking shape to deal with the threat of the coronavirus. Yet, when we return to normal, there is a structure on how the process works and veteran lobbyist Chris Micheli has laid it all out in a comprehensive textbook, Understanding the California Legislative Process

Based on over 20 years’ experience dealing with the California legislature and previous extensive writings on the process, Micheli put together a textbook aimed at college students and interested parties that, through a series of short chapters, explains the complex system of making law in California. 

The book delves into the power of the legislature, starting with Article IV of the state Constitution, and includes sections on bill drafting, committee procedures, advocacy, legislative ethics, legislative publications and more. 

Under the section on the legislative process, there is even a chapter dedicated to Legislative Lingo—to help decipher the meanings behind the language that is specific to legislative procedures. 

In a time when the normal processes are upended by the extraordinary reaction to a pandemic, the legislature is still going to do its job and meet deadlines, although we can expect adjustments to the normal procedures.

Micheli suggests the process will advance with shortened deadlines, less public participation in the consideration of legislation, and fewer bills than normal to consider. Nonetheless, most of the procedures covered in his book remain intact even during these extraordinary times. 

Understanding the normal procedures of the legislative process as outlined in the book, one can measure the standard against any alterations that are employed at this time. 

Once the crisis concludes, the legislature will go back to following the rules of lawmaking and anyone who wants to understand how that works is advised to get hold of a copy of Chris Micheli’s book. 

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