There Oughta Be a Law…
"There oughta be a law…." In California, at least, that is likely the case. In 2015 alone, Governor Jerry Brown signed 808 bills and vetoed 133. Most of those 808 bills are relatively modest measures. All of them, however, in one way or another, went through the legislative process. This process is driven by a complex set of rules starting with the Constitution and working its way through Joint Rules and rules of the Assembly and Senate and finally to the venerable Mason’s Manual. These rules, while important when moving a piece of legislation to the Governor, do not explain how a bill becomes law. That process is not rule driven; it is, by and large, driven by political sensitivity, coalition building, and sound drafting.
The California Legislature has 120 members – 40 in the Senate and 80 in the Assembly. To pass a regular piece of legislation, you need 21 senators and 41 Assembly members to vote for your bill. By operation of the rules of the Assembly and Senate, members are limited to introducing 40 bills per two-year session. A quick calculation means that over a session, as many as 4,800 bills can be introduced. That number does not include resolutions or committee bills or bills from any members to whom the Rules Committee has given approval to introduce more than their share of legislation.