How to speak like a (CA) Capitol insider – White & Koseff

state_capitol_image_sactoHow to speak like a (CA) Capitol insider

Legislative history researchers will ask us at the ACLL Reference Desk – “Do you have the bill files — the ones with the “real” information on legislative intent?”  (No, sorry.)  What “really” happens in Sacramento,  stays in Sacramento.  It certainly stays out of the officially published documents to which a public law library has access.

A researcher may be able to locate a bill file or the Governor’s file at the State Archives.  The official Bill analysis for recent sessions is accessible on-line.  You will need a bill number first.  Reports are listed under a tab on the individual bill information screen on the California Legislation Information page. What really went on during negotiations or who was actively pushing for passage of a bill (“stakeholder” as the authors of the article referred to below beautifully define) isn’t easy to establish using the official sources even for recent legislation.

If you want to know what really happens during a legislative session, you need to understand the local patois.  “How to Speak Like a Capitol Insider” is a recent article from the Sacramento Bee byWhite and Koseff give the reader a bit of an insider view of the sausage making legislative process culture in California’s capital.

Personal favorite:

  • Roll (verb): If you get a bill out of committee whose chair opposes it, you have “rolled” the chair. A good way to get kicked off a committee.

Legislative intent

“The collective design or plan that the enacting legislature is posited to have had for the application of a statute to specific situations that might arise. ”  Black’s Law Dictionary (10th ed. 2014)

Legislative intent –  why  a bill was introduced, moved (or not) through the legislature — simple as human nature.


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