Saturday, May 14, 2011

First Crop of Two-Year Bills

Yesterday (Friday, May 13) marked an important milestone in the lives of many bills introduced in 2011.  It's the day they begin an extended - and in many cases permanent - hibernation.

Specifically, today is the legislative deadline for bills to be passed out of policy committee in their house of origin - the day by which Assembly bills have to clear Assembly policy committees, and Senate bills clear Senate policy committees.  Those bills that failed to meet the deadline are now "two-year bills"; they're not dead, but they are ineligible for further consideration until January of 2012, and thus are off the radar screen for the remainder of this year (absent major political fun and games, reserved only for special bills on special occasions).  Five bills on this year's Conference of California Bar Associations Legislative Program fall into this category.

Of course, there are basically two kinds of "two-year bills."  The first are those bills which are still truly active, but need work. These bills (which include all the CCBA two-year bills) will typically sit on the back burner until the legislative calendar clears (possibly in the Summer, more typically in the Fall, after all work is done on bills still working through the process in 2011).  Then the sponsors (including their lobbyist) opponents and legislative staff will begin working out any issues with and developing amendments to the bills, so they will be well positioned for the "January sprint" in 2012, which requires the bills to make it though all house of origin hearings and votes in less than a month. Bills that don't make it die by operation of the state Constitution.

The other category of two-year bills are those which are really dead, but on procedural life support.  These bills will either lie fallow until the end of next January, when the constitution will pull the plug on their existence.  Or, in some instances, they may become effectively brand-new bills through the gut-and-amend process (i.e., the old subject matter is removed and new subject matter inserted).  This practice is not all that common, because any new bill so created must still make it through its house of origin in less than a month next January, and therefore must be almost completely non-controversial. 

For the time being, however, the two-year bills can rest quietly, while we turn our attention to other legislation and issues.

No comments:

Post a Comment