As a citizen, there are lots of opportunities for you to influence your state's political process. Get started by following these steps.
- 1. Get Informed
- 2. Express Yourself
- 3. Take Action
1. Get Informed
Arm yourself with knowledge and information about the issues that concern you. As an informed citizen, you will have a much greater ability to argue your point of view. Here are some sources of information that you can tap into.
The Legislative Bill Room
The Legislative Bill Room is located in the basement of the Capitol. It serves as the liaison between the Office of State Printing, the Legislature, and the public. Here you can get copies of all bills and resolutions within the past two legislative sessions, or four years. You can receive up to 100 copies per year free of charge.
If you're interested in learning about the day-to-day activities of the Legislature, the Bill Room also makes these documents available to the general public.
The Daily Journals: You can read details of the Legislature's activities in each house's Daily Journal. These are the certified, official records of each day's proceedings.
The Daily Files: These files, one for each house, contain the daily agenda or calendar of business. They provide a day-by-day record of all actions taken on any given piece of legislation.
The Legislative Index and Table of Sections Affected: Used together, these two documents form a "bill finder." The Legislative Index provides an alphabetical index, by subject matter, of all legislation that has been introduced. The Table of Sections Affected lists alphabetically, by code, all sections that are added to, deleted from, or amended in proposed legislation.
The Analysis of the Budget Bill: The legislative analyst prepares this document, which contains a detailed critique of the administration's proposed budget. You can also find out about current legislation through the Internet.
California State Archives
The California State Archives collects, catalogs, preserves, and provides access to the historic records of state government and some local governments. The archived collections document the broad scope of California government and its impact on the people of the state. Over 65,000 cubic feet of records of all types are represented including millions of documents and bound volumes; 20,000 maps and architectural drawings; 250,000 photographs; 7,500 video and audio tapes; and hundreds of artifacts.
Use the California Digital Library link to search the Archives' collections on the Internet.
Government Policy Sources
Learn about the issues the Governor is addressing while in office. Much of the legislative work of the state takes place in committees. Find out what bills the Assembly Committees and Senate Committees are addressing.
2. Express Yourself
Once you have educated yourself about the issues and formulated an opinion, let someone know what you think. Here's a brief list to get you started.
Contact the Governor
As a citizen, you are welcomed and encouraged to express your opinions to the Governor. There are several ways to do this. Visit the Governor's Office located in the East Annex of the Capitol. With the Governor's busy schedule, it's unlikely that you will actually speak with him/her personally. But you can leave a letter at the front desk. If you can't make it to the Capitol, you can email or write to the Governor at the following address:
Governor of California
State Capitol Building
Sacramento, California 95814
There are also district offices in Fresno, Los Angeles, Riverside, San Diego, San Francisco, and Washington D.C.
Contact Your Legislator
The California Legislature is responsible for creating laws that represent the best interests of California's citizens. Find your Legislator and let him or her know what your opinions are on issues that are of concern to you.
Contact an Advocacy Group
Legislative advocates, also called lobbyists, play a critical role in California politics by voicing and defending the concerns of public and private groups to the Legislature. There are hundreds of groups that address a myriad of political issues every year. All advocacy groups are required to register with the Secretary of State's Office. A current directory of legislative advocates can be found on the Internet.
3. Take Action
It's important that your participation in the political process doesn't end with expressing your opinion. You can do something to actually change current policy. The simplest thing you can do is register to vote.
If you want to do more, testify at a committee hearing. Did you know that the most critical phase in the lifecycle of a bill becoming a law takes place in the committee hearings? All committee hearings are open to the public. Anyone, including you, can testify on behalf of, or against, a proposed bill. Legislators, lobbyists, subject-area experts, and private citizens are generally in attendance at any given committee hearing. The schedule for committee hearings appears in the Daily File at least four days prior to the hearing of the first committee and at least two days prior to subsequent hearings. You can call the Bill Room at 916-445-2323 to obtain the Daily File.