Historic Rooms

  • Legislative Bill Room
  • Governor's Anteroom
  • Governor's Main Office
  • Governor's Private Office
  • Archives Exhibit Room
  • 1902 Secretary of State Office
  • 1906 Treasurer's Office
  • 1933 Treasurer's Office
  • Library Exhibit Room
  • President pro Tempore's Office
  • Speaker of the Assembly Office
  • Assembly Chamber Gallery
  • Senate Chamber Gallery
  • Committee Room

Printed and Made Available

The Legislature may make no law except by statute and may enact no statute except by bill.... No bill may be passed … unless the bill with any amendments has been printed [and] distributed to the members…. – Article IV, Section 8, California State Constitution

As Article 4, Section 8(b) of the California Constitution shows, bills are the foundation of California laws. In the spirit of democracy, the Constitution requires that any bill introduced into the Legislature must be printed and made available before any action is taken.

The Legislative Bill Room, located next to the basement rotunda, 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.

The amount of paper generated through the Bill Room is tremendous. For every proposed bill, at least 2000 copies are made. Multiply that amount by the number of bills proposed each legislative session, which can be more than 6000, and you'll get an idea of just how much paper that is! This figure doesn't even take into account the re-printing of a bill when it's amended. Nor does it take into account other documents that are generated by the Legislature.

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.

Together, these documents provide an up-to-date record of legislation for the current session.

Stepping into the Offices of the Governor

The supreme executive power of the State of California is vested in the Governor, whose duty it is to see that the law is faithfully executed. — California State Constitution: Art. V, Sec. 1

Historically, the anteroom, or reception room, was the first in a suite of three rooms that served as the Governor's offices. It has been restored to how it might have appeared in 1906, when Governor George Pardee was in office. At the time, two of the Governor's staff of four worked in this room. Most notable was messenger Jacob Soares, the first African American to work in the Governor's Office. His career in state government began in 1899 when he worked under Governor Henry Gage. He would go on to spend 31 years working in state government service.

Governor's Responsibilities

As the leader of the executive branch of California's government, the Governor is the Commander in Chief of the state's militia, serves as the liaison between California's state government and the federal government, supervises all executive and ministerial officers, and promotes California trade with foreign nations.

In addition, the Governor has appointment power, which is used to fill vacancies in the judiciary and to appoint officers of various state agencies. The Senate must confirm certain gubernatorial appointments with a majority vote. The Governor also has responsibilities to the Legislature – to approve the passage of bills and to present a yearly State of the State Address to a joint session of the Legislature.

Holding the Office of the Governor

Since 1850, the qualifications for holding the office of Governor, the supreme executive power of the State of California, have evolved. The first California Constitution of 1849 specified that the Governor must be at least 25 years of age, a citizen of the United States, and a resident of California for no less than two years.

At the time, these qualifications differed from the requirements of many other states. Specifically, the residency requirement was lower than the usual five years because many newly arrived Californians would otherwise not have qualified. In addition, while most states specified a minimum length of citizenship, California's Constitution did not. This difference avoided discrimination against the native-born Californios, individuals of Spanish or Mexican descent, who had become American citizens only the year before as a result of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. In 1879, a new Constitution modified these requirements to mandate a minimum of five years for both residency and citizenship. The age requirement stayed in effect until 1972, when it was reduced to 18 – the current voting age – to be in compliance with the Twenty-sixth Amendment of the United States Constitution, ratified the year before.

Getting Down to Business

The smooth and efficient operation of the state requires a reliable staff and a team of advisors to help the Governor make important decisions.

Listen to an audio recording about the Governor's Office

This space served as headquarters for key members of the Governor's staff from 1869 to 1951. The room has been restored to appear as it would have in 1906, when A. B. Nye and J. Arthur Elston served under Governor George Pardee and occupied this office. Nye was the Governor's chief aide and political advisor; Elston was his Executive Secretary.

These two staff members played a particularly critical role in maintaining communications with the public during the devastating San Francisco Earthquake of 1906.

Today, the Governor continues to rely on a personal staff to carry out the day-to-day operations of the office. The most important aide among the Governor's staff is the Executive Assistant, who is usually a close political advisor.

In addition to the personal staff, the Governor's Cabinet plays a critical role in meeting the wide-ranging responsibilities and duties of the office. The Cabinet is comprised of a group of experts, appointed by the Governor, who help to establish and implement the Governor's policies. It includes the Director of Finance, the Director of Industrial Relations, and the Director of Information Technology, as well as the Secretaries of ten major state agencies:

Business, Transportation and Housing
Child Development and Education
Environmental Protection
Food and Agriculture
Health and Welfare
State and Consumer Services
Trade and Commerce
Veterans Affairs
Youth and Adult Correctional Agency

Not So Private Anymore

"The Governor Will Be Accessible."
- San Francisco Chronicle, 1903

George Pardee's 1903 gubernatorial campaign emphasized an "open door" policy, a reaction to the perception of secrecy that had been associated with previous administrations. Pardee was elected and remained true to his word. The door to Pardee's private office stayed open throughout his term.

The room that once served as Pardee's private office has been restored to appear as it did at one time, during his tenure in the early 1900s. The expansion of California's state government and the need for more space led to the relocation of the offices of the Governor to the Capitol's East Annex in 1951.

Anyone could walk in and speak to the Governor with a minimal amount of protocol. . In fact, a 1903 article in the San Francisco Chronicle described Pardee's office as follows:

"No secrecy is practiced in the Governor's office now and all who go there on public business must be willing to let others hear their conversation with Governor Pardee..."

Pardee's concern for openness encompassed communication not only between the public and the government, but also among governmental agencies themselves. He pressed for better communication among the Legislators in his 1903 inaugural address, saying:

"We have each and all been elected by the people; we are all their servants, and faithful attention to their affairs - not senseless rivalries - is what they expect at our hands. They will not commend us if we engage in personal bickerings or neglect of the public business while trying to thwart one another and gain a supposed political advantage for any party or any person."

Unfortunately for Pardee's political future, his emphasis on communication and cooperation was accompanied by an unwillingness to take sides between opposing factions. These and other concerns eventually undermined his standing among fellow party members, and they did not nominate him to run for a second term.

This room is one of two exhibit spaces located on the first floor of the Capitol. Part of the State Capitol Museum, these rooms are used for the display of rotating exhibits focused on topics related to California’s rich history and current events.

The State Archives exhibit room provides a visual representation that the offices of the State Archives, now located one block south of the Capitol, were once housed in the Capitol. Unlike the other exhibit rooms that museum staff have furnished and staged to look exactly like historic offices, these rooms remain unfurnished. The architecture of the rooms, however, has been recreated in exacting detail.

Perhaps the most striking feature of the Archives exhibit room is the ceiling. Recreated from a pattern found on a small remnant of the original ceiling, today, the poppy design parget ceiling and decorative frieze rests in its former glory. Multi-colored parget plasterwork was common in the construction of the Capitol, but was something of a lost art for restoration workers in the 1970s. Artists used pastry tubes and other tools to apply plaster directly on the wall and ceiling where it was sculpted into its final forms and painted.

Linking People with Government

The Secretary of State is the chief elections officer for the State of California and helps to guarantee citizens direct access to the state's political process.

Listen to an audio recording about the Historic Secretary of State Office

The Secretary of State oversees state elections, the keystone of the public's participation in the political process. He or she files the campaign statements of all candidates, directs and verifies ballot counts, and administers voter registration.

In addition to this important role, the Secretary of State has numerous other responsibilities. A bill becomes law only after the Secretary verifies the bill's content, assigns it a chapter number, and stamps it with the Great Seal of the State of California. The Secretary also oversees the standardizations of weights and measures, receives and catalogs all legislative records, files articles of incorporation for new state corporations, and registers trademarks.

Since statehood, the Secretary of State has been an elected official and part of the executive branch of state government, but his or her responsibilities have changed over the years. Until 1889, the Secretary was charged with protecting and preserving all government documents as well as the state's historical artifacts, including the 1849 and 1879 State Constitutions. By that time, the task of organizing, cataloging, preserving, and storing the state's growing archives had become unmanageable. In 1889, J.D. Gilchrist was appointed the first Keeper of the Archives, working under the Secretary of State William C. Hendricks.

The invention of the automobile temporarily brought another responsibility within the Secretary of State's sphere. From 1905 to 1913, the Secretary issued driver's licenses and vehicle registrations. As the number of cars grew and this task became unwieldy, the Department of Motor Vehicles was created.

Although responsibilities have changed over the years, the Secretary's role as overseer of elections has remained constant. Are you registered to vote? If not, go to the Secretary of State's website.

Part of the office of the Secretary of State occupied this room until 1975. It has been restored to show how it might have appeared in 1902, when Charles F. Curry was Secretary of State. His staff of 22 included a deputy, a statistician, recording clerks, a bookkeeper, an archivist, porters, watchmen, an engineer, a fireman, and an elevator attendant. The size and diversity of his staff hints at the multitude of tasks that came under the Secretary's responsibility at the time.

The office of the State Treasurer, originally established to collect taxes and guard California's money, now produces state funds through investment and the selling of bonds.

Listen to an audio recording about the Historic Treasurer's Office

The State Treasurer's responsibilities during the early 1900s were to oversee the collection of taxes and to ensure that collected funds were safely guarded. A series of California Bank Acts significantly changed and expanded the Treasurer's role by allowing state funds to be deposited in commercial banks.

For the first time, these Bank Acts allowed the investment of state funds and established the Treasurer as overseer of those investments. As a result of these acts, today's Treasurer is also responsible for raising revenue by selling bonds and, as Chairperson of the Pooled Money Investment Board, overseeing the investment of inactive funds. In effect, the Treasurer is the State's tax collector, banker, guardian of funds, and asset manager.

As part of these responsibilities, the Treasurer serves as a consultant to the Governor, the Speaker of the Assembly, and the Senate President pro Tempore, reporting on the condition of the budget. He or she also proposes bills to the Legislature that help finance California's public institutions and stimulate the economy. The Treasurer, however, does not decide how money will be spent. That is the Legislature's role.

The Treasurer is elected by popular vote for a maximum of two, four-year terms. Should the office of Governor be vacated, the Treasurer is fifth in line to succeed to the office.

Protecting California's Financial Assets

A new steel vault was constructed in 1928. By that time, a series of California Bank Acts allowed for the deposit of state funds in commercial banks. State bonds and securities, rather than gold and silver, now occupied the majority of the vault's space.

Listen to an audio recording about the Historic Treasurer's Office

By 1933 however, the Great Depression was devastating California and on March 1, 1933, the State of California withdrew all of its unsecured funds from private banks and placed them in the Treasurer's vault. Two days later, Governor James Rolph, Jr., declared a mandatory three-day banking holiday in an effort to prevent a run on California's banks. The day-to-day operations of the Treasurer's vault were greatly affected.

In the 1930s, the Treasurer's vault had been divided into two sections by a seven-foot-high metal grill containing a door that allowed passage between the two sections. One side housed the vault officers' desks. The vault officers were in charge of delivering and receiving authorized bonds, as well as maintaining security over the vault and its contents. On the other side, a deposit officer kept track of the daily sales and receipt of bonds and securities. The deposit officer also prepared the monthly report to the State Controller, which listed the state's investments as well as the contents of the vault.

The steel vault was used until 1975, when the Capitol Restoration Project began and the State Treasury was moved to its current location at 915 Capitol Mall, across 10th Street from the State Capitol. The vault at Capitol Mall is an example of modern-day technology. The 23-ton main door is made of a combination of various metals and concrete designed to prevent drilling and torching. It has a combination lock that requires two people to open it. The vault contains three airlocks and two emergency ventilators to provide air to anyone who might become locked inside. Sound and motion detectors that are linked to an alarm system electronically survey the area surrounding the vault.

Using photographs of one of the reading rooms formerly located in the Apse, the room in the northwest corner of the building’s first floor, which had been one of the State Controller’s offices, was adapted to serve as a representation of the Library. However, museum staff have removed most of the items to accommodate rotating exhibits.

The California State Library was once housed in a portion of the State Capitol called the Apse. In 1928, the State Library and the California State Supreme Court moved from the Apse to a more modern building constructed on a plot of land located across 10th Street from the Capitol.

In 1949, workers demolished the Apse to make way for the East Annex, a massive, six-story addition grafted to the east side of the Capitol. The Apse, long considered one of the most distinctive portions of the Capitol, could not be replaced during the 1970s restoration.

Recognizing the importance of the State Library to the Capitol, especially to the era in which the building was restored, officials decided to reproduce a small part of the architectural feeling of the Library.

The office of the President pro Tempore is decorated in the rich red shades that dominate the Senate Chamber and contains several Renaissance Revival antiques once used by previous state leaders.

The President pro Tempore is the central figure in the policy-making and politics of the State Senate and is elected by a vote of all the Senators as the leader of the Upper House. He or she is responsible for its administration, policy agenda, and its relationships with the Assembly and the Executive Branch.

There is a President of the Senate, the Lieutenant Governor. Under the Constitution, he or she exercises only one function in the house: the right to cast a vote in the case of a tie. By tradition, he or she may preside at ceremonial occasions upon invitation.

The President pro Tempore chairs the Senate Rules Committee, working with the four other committee members to confirm certain appointments made by the Governor. The committee is also responsible for assigning senators to various committees and appointing committee chairpersons. It then refers legislation to the standing or temporary committees for hearings. Senators are elected to serve on the Rules Committee by a vote of the full Senate membership.

The Rules Committee establishes standing Senate Committees at the beginning of each two-year legislative session. Since it is not possible to discuss each bill at length on the Senate floor, the Senate Committees are in charge of analyzing proposed legislation before it is sent to the Senate floor for debate among all members.

By communicating your ideas to your Senators, you are enabling them to propose legislation that addresses your interests.

A Voice for the People

The Speaker of the Assembly reports to three constituencies: the voters of his or her district, the people of the entire state, and the Assembly.

The Speaker presides over the California State Assembly and serves as the link between the Assembly, other major state leaders, and the federal administration in Washington. He or she is a full member of the Assembly, elected to the office of Speaker by a majority vote of that body.

As such, the Speaker shares the duties and responsibilities of all Assembly Members, including the authoring of bills that support the interests of citizens living in the Speaker's district.

As the Assembly's presiding officer, the Speaker is responsible for swearing in Assembly Members. He or she also appoints the Speaker pro Tempore and Assistant Speaker pro Tempore. These officers may preside over the Assembly in the Speaker's absence. During floor sessions, the Speaker pro Tempore manages the day's activities, recognizing members who request to speak, responding to requests for information, and ruling on members' procedural motions.

The Speaker also appoints the Majority Floor Leader from the political party with the greatest membership. The Majority Floor Leader supervises a team of Assembly Members called "floor whips" who assist in instructing and guiding the members of the majority caucus on their votes on particular bills and motions. The Majority Floor Leader also is the primary contact for issues raised by the minority caucus.

An important responsibility of the Speaker is to appoint the chairpersons and members of Assembly committees in which bills are heard. The Speaker takes great care in choosing each committee member, factoring in political considerations as well as the candidate's experience and training. For example, the Speaker would most likely appoint Assembly Members with legal backgrounds to the Judiciary Committee rather than to the Committee on Agriculture. The Speaker, the Speaker pro Tempore, and the Majority Floor Leader all work together to review all pending legislation as it leaves these committees to be addressed on the Assembly floor.

Assembly bills must be passed on the Assembly floor by a roll-call vote; Assembly resolutions must be passed by a voice vote, before they are sent to the Senate for further action. Any Assembly bill that is then amended in the Senate, and any Senate bill that reaches the Assembly, must also be addressed and passed on the Assembly floor before it reaches the Governor's desk.

Every law must contain the words, "The people of the State of California do enact as follows." This clause affirms that the citizens of California have authorized the legislation enacted.

Government in Action

It is the duty of legislators to make just laws.

This guiding motto, displayed above the podium of the Assembly Chamber, reminds Assembly Members of their responsibility. It is a responsibility that has grown over the years. In 1849, the first Legislature passed 146 laws and 19 resolutions. Today's Legislature will propose, analyze, and debate over 6,000 bills in a single two-year session.

Assembly Members are elected to two-year terms and can serve a maximum of twelve years in the Legislature. There are a total of 80 Assembly Members. At the beginning of each two-year session, the first order of business is to elect their officers, including the Speaker of the Assembly. The Speaker's responsibilities as leader of the Assembly include appointing committee members and chairpersons, and assigning bills to committees.

Other officers elected at the beginning of each term are the Chief Clerk, Chief Sergeant at Arms, and the Chaplain.

Much of the legislative work is accomplished in committee hearings. Here, legislators analyze, consult, debate, and hear testimony from both private and public interests on every bill. If a bill successfully passes through the committee hearing process, it is forwarded to an Assembly floor session for further discussion and debate.

Since 1935, each member's desk is equipped for pushbutton voting. As members cast their votes, a green light (‘yes’ vote) or red light (‘no’ vote) appears next to each name on electronic panels located at the front of the chamber. This is unlike the Senate, where a voice roll-call vote is taken.

The public is invited to witness the Assembly's proceedings from a balcony gallery overlooking the chamber floor. This architectural feature reflects and reinforces the concepts of an open democratic system by providing access to all citizens, who are invited to observe their elected officials in action. The color green dominates the chamber, a design element borrowed from the British Parliament's House of Commons.

For the Liberty of the People

It is the duty of a Senator to guard the liberty of the Commonwealth.

This motto identifies a goal of the California State Senate and a right of the people, and conveys the significance of the legislative process – laws made in our Legislature can have an effect on the liberty guaranteed to all Californians.

Public awareness, access, and participation in the legislative process, in turn, are critical when considering laws affecting the people of California. There are many ways for Californians to influence their Legislature and, consequently, the laws that shape their lives. You can view Senate proceedings via cable television stations across California, live or on tape-delay. Better yet, experience the proceedings in person from the balcony gallery, which overlooks the Senate Chamber floor. The gallery is an architectural feature that symbolically reflects the democratic process. It enables the public to observe their elected officials in action.

While the Senate and Assembly share many traditions, they also have some important differences. The Senate is made up of only 40 Senators, each representing approximately 987,500 people. In contrast, the Assembly has twice as many members for a total of 80. The number of Senators and Assembly Members has remained constant since 1862 despite leaps in the state's population since that time. Once elected, a Senator, like an Assembly Member, can serve no more than twelve years total in the Legislature. And, unlike in the Assembly, where the electronic voting system is used, in the Senate a roll-call vote is taken by the traditional voice vote – each Senator calling out "Aye" (for yes) or "No."

The leader of the Senate is the President pro Tempore. He or she is elected by the full Senate membership and serves as Chairperson of the Senate Rules Committee. The President pro Tempore is also third in line to succeed the Governor in the event the Governor is unable to carry out his or her duties. Two other elected officers, though not actual members of the Senate, are the Secretary of the Senate and the Chief Sergeant at Arms. A third non-member officer, the Chaplain, is appointed by the Senate Rules Committee.

Visitors to the Senate Chamber will immediately notice, in contrast to the Assembly, the voting method, size of chamber, and general atmosphere. The color red dominates the Chamber, a tradition borrowed from England's House of Lords.

Let Your Voice Stand Out

Assembly and Senate committees meet in rooms similar to the one shown. Both the Assembly and Senate have many different standing committees that focus on specific subject areas, from Agriculture to Veterans Affairs. The number of committees varies from session to session, but there are approximately 32 in the Assembly and 22 in the Senate.

With more than 6,000 bills under consideration in any single legislative session, committees are essential to the workings of the Legislature.

No single Legislator could possibly analyze every bill, or piece of legislation, that passes through the Assembly or Senate. The committee system was created to separate the total number of bills into more easily managed areas of focus. Committee hearings provide Legislators, the public, and subject-area specialists a forum for analyzing and debating bills before the bills move on to the floor of the Assembly and Senate.

Assembly and Senate committees meet in rooms similar to the one shown. Both the Assembly and Senate have many different standing committees that focus on specific subject areas, from Education to Transportation. The number of committees varies from session to session, but there are approximately 29 in the Assembly and 24 in the Senate.

In the Assembly, the Speaker assigns Assembly Members to committees and selects the chairperson for each. In the Senate, the Senate Rules Committee assumes these assignment responsibilities. These officers select committee members based on their areas of expertise to ensure that every bill gets the highest quality of attention. For example, many members of the Education Committee are Legislators who have an interest in, or knowledge of, education.

Every bill passes through one or more committees in each House depending on the subject matter. The committees of the House that originated a bill are always first to hear that bill. To complete the legislative lifecycle, the bill will pass through at least one committee in each House – an Assembly Committee and a Senate Committee.

All committee hearings are open to the public, and 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.

Once a committee concludes its deliberations, committee members then vote on the bill. If the bill passes in committee or committees, it goes to the floor of the Assembly or Senate for a second reading. If the bill does not pass, it is "held in committee." Alternatively, the author can choose to rewrite the bill, and restart the process from the beginning in the next session though not in the same session.

Visit The Museum

California State Capitol Museum
10th and L Streets
State Capitol
Room B-27
1315 10th Street
Sacramento, CA 95814
(916) 324-0333
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