Lifecycle of a Bill

The Legislature functions to create laws that represent the best interests of the citizens within each legislative district. Proposals for new laws are called bills. To become a law, a bill must successfully pass through a number of steps. Use your mouse to explore the image below and learn more about each step in the lifecycle of a bill.

1. Idea
All legislation begins as an idea. Ideas can come from anyone. The process begins when someone persuades a senator or assembly member to author a bill.
A legislator, who acts as the author, sends the idea and language for the bill to the Legislative Counsel where it is drafted into the actual bill. The drafted bill is returned to the legislator for introduction.
2. First Reading
A bill's first reading is when the clerk reads the bill number, the name of the author, and the descriptive title of the bill. The bill is then sent electronically to the Office of State Printing. A bill must be in print for 30 days, giving time for public review, before it can be acted on.
3. Committee Hearings
The bill then goes to the Senate or Assembly Rules Committee where it is assigned to the appropriate policy committee for its first hearing. Bills are assigned according to subject area. During the hearing the author presents the bill, people testify in support or opposition of the bill, and the committee acts on the bill. The committee can pass the bill, pass the bill as amended, or defeat the bill. It takes a majority vote of the membership of the committee to pass a bill. Bills that require money must also be heard in the Fiscal Committee, Senate and Assembly Appropriations.
4. Second Reading
Bills passed by committees are read a second time in the house of origin and then placed in the Daily File for a third reading.
5. Third Reading
When a bill is read the third time, it is explained by the author, discussed by the members, and voted on by a rollcall vote. Bills which require money or which take effect immediately, require 27 votes in the Senate and 54 votes in the Assembly. All other bills require 21 votes in the Senate and 41 votes in the Assembly.
Once the house of origin approves the bill it proceeds to the other house where steps 1-5 are repeated.
If a bill is amended in the second house, it must go back to the house of origin for concurrence, which is agreement on the amendments. If agreement cannot be reached, the bill moves to a two-house conference committee to resolve differences. Three members of the committee are from the Senate and three are from the Assembly. If a compromise is reached, the conference report is voted upon in both houses.
6. Governor
The bill then goes to the Governor. The Governor has three choices. He or she can sign the bill into law, allow it to become law without his or her signature, or veto it. A governor's veto can be overridden by a two-thirds vote in both houses. Most bills go into effect on January 1 of the next year. Urgency measures take effect immediately upon being signed by the Governor and chaptered by the Secretary of State.
7. Secretary of State
Bills to become law are sent to the Secretary of State for final review. Each bill is given a chapter number and the Secretary of State stamps it with the Great Seal of the State of California.

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