Take A Letter – Legislative Intent

Take a letter – legislative intent

The California Legislature and the Governor have wrapped up this session’s business; passing and signing bills including a number of newsworthy laws – AB 5, dealing with the status of employees and independent contractors, AB 1482, California’s “anti-rent-gouging bill”, and SB 206 on student athlete compensation and representation authored by Alameda County’s own State Senator, Nancy “Nancy Cares About Athletes” Skinner.

From a legal research perspective, an interesting aspect of the last session has been noted in an article from Capitol Weekly, “Take a Letter – to the Legislature’s Journal.”   The article’s author, Chris Mitchell, points to a growing trend in Sacramento of the use of letters of intent published in the Daily Journals of the Assembly and Senate – letters which contain language that reference legislative intent in an attempt to substitute for making bill amendments.  Mitchell states that this new phenomenon seems to be growing due to amendment restrictions that were imposed by 2016’s Proposition 54 which effectively prevents bills from being amended in the final three days of the session.

Mitchell’s article discusses the history of the courts’ rulings on the use of letters of intent.  It will be interesting to see in the future how the courts react to this expanded use of the letters.

Guiding patrons seeking support for their legal arguments in the area of legislative research – helping them understand the difference between resources for legislative history and those for legislative intent – is just one of the information services provided by county law librarians.

See the Legislative Counsel’s Digests in the bill text links above and the language of intent stated in Section 1 of SB 206 for examples of intent.

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