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Cal-in-Sac Projects Resources: Legislation

This guide provides students in the Cal-in-Sac program with research resources to prepare them for their fellowships.

Understanding the State Legislative Process - Introduction

The legislative process and terminology at the state level is similar to the federal legislative process. A bill has to pass through both houses of a state legislature before it is sent to the governor for signing (or veto). State Bills have sponsors who introduce them; they get referred to policy and fiscal committees for consideration and amendments; committee reports/analyses are written; hearings are held; votes are taken. 

While the process is pretty much the same there are certain terms and actions that are specific to the state legislative process:

  • reading of a bill three times before it goes to the next house or governor
  • there are two chambers the senate and the house also called the assembly
  • legislative meetings like floor debates, hearings, etc. are not often transcribed; often they are broadcast via a local or state television/cable channel.

This list of sources will help you get started with understanding state legislative processes and publications:

Image of the Maryland State Legislature Website, showing legislative publications about the process.

Background sources on state policy issues

Legislative Process - California

For a brief overview on how a bill becomes a law in California, see this from the California State Senate

Legislative Process
Georgetown Law Library

Overview of Legislative Process
California Legislative Information website

The Essential Guide to California Legislation


Legislation - 50 State Resources

The following resources will help you find state bills across the fifty states. Please note that time coverage varies significantly by source.

Legislation - California Resources

California Legislative Information
Find bills using the following criteria: status, author, committee or floor location, and date ranges for various legislative actions on a bill. In addition, you may perform a more complex bill search by combining criteria available using the Advanced Search search.

Clerk of the Assembly -- Provides info on daily occurances, rules, current bills, etc in the Assembly.

CA Leg. Info
1993 - 2016
Find bills by bill number, author, or keyword. Search by session. Results include: status, history, chaptered, amended, enrolled, and introduced  information.


Historic Legislation - California

Historic Legislation in California can be difficult to find.  Use the resources below to guide you through the process.

  • Paper:
    • Assembly bills: [1911]-1970 (incomplete): J87C2exa Main Library
    • Senate bills: 1903-1970 (incomplete): J87C2ex Main Library 
  • Microfim/Microfiche
    • 1967/68-1974, 1979/80-: Microfiche 1504 Main Library Newspapers & Microforms Room
    • Assembly, 1975-1978: Microfilm 2242.J Main Library Newspapers & Microforms Room 
    • Senate, 1975-78: Microfilm 2243.J Main Library Newspapers & Microforms Room
  • California Budget Bills, 1967-present Provides citation information for the CA budget bills, and online access to 1995-present
  • The Law Library has a great guide on CA legislative histories, including their holdings of bills. 

Other Legislative History Information

  • California Legislature. Assembly or Senate. Final History. 1973-
    Arranged by bill number and listing action taken on all measures on file for the year. Issued daily and cumulated weekly and then semi-annually and annually. Previous to 1973 actions were reported in the Final Calendar of Legislative Business 1899-1972 (J87C2e Main). The latter includes a Legislative Index in the back which provides subject access to bills.
  • California. Legislature. Assembly or Senate. Journal. 1849/50-
    Each journal is issued daily and cumulated annually. They include an account of proceedings (however, not verbatim or summary transcripts of debates), list of measures taken up, texts of amendments to bills, committee reports, etc. Senate committee votes are recorded and published in the Senate Journal, but the Assembly reports its committee and other votes in a separate appendix to the Assembly Journal. An Alphabetical Index provides access by subject and legislative member name. A Bill Action Index provides access by bill number.
  • California. Legislature. Legislative Index... 1973/74-
    Published at various intervals during a legislative session, it lists by subject all bills introduced in the Legislature. Part 2 contains a table showing which sections of the constitution and statutes are affected by the measures introduced.
    • J87C2e.A35 (latest 10 years) Main Library Doe Reference
  • California. Legislature. Summary Digest. 1935-
    Includes a short summary of each law enacted, and of each constitutional amendment, concurrent or joint resolution adopted by the Legislature during the year. It is arranged by chapter number and includes cross-reference tables, a detailed subject index and a statutory record. Published also since 1967 as part of Statutes of California.
    • KA80.A25 DREF (latest 10 years) Main Library Doe Reference
  • California. Legislature. Senate. Digest of significant legislation covering the period of... 1985-
    Major Assembly and Senate bills are arranged by broad subject categories (health, education, etc.). Each entry provides name of the author, a brief summary, and the disposition of the bill at the end of the session. An index by bill number is included.
    • KFC7.C33 DREF (latest) Main Library Doe Reference

Hearings - California

These publications are the result of committee action on proposed laws. The hearings contain the testimony and sources used by the committees to develop recommendations. The reports usually contain the recommendations and explain the intent of the law. Unfortunately many California hearings, especially bill hearing sessions, are not published. To find what hearings and reports are available, check the lists below, then search them by title in Oskicat or MELVYL. Selected reports through 1970 were published in the appendices of the Assembly and Senate Journals. (Appendices 1855-1944 are located in J87C2p Main)

  • California State Publications. 1945-
    Listing of official state publications issued by executive agencies, the Legislature, and the Judiciary. Hearings begin with California Documents Call Number L500. Published monthly and cumulated each year. Title and subject index. Microfiche cumulation: 1982-89, 1990-93 (reference microfiche 7150)
    • J86C2.A2 DREF
  • Assembly Publications Catalog. 1992-
    Lists reports and hearings of the State Assembly committees, caucuses, task forces and selected State commissions.
    • JK8731.A424 DREF
  • Joint Publications Catalog. 1985-1989
    Catalog lists the reports and hearing transcripts of the Assembly, Senate, and Joint Committees that are for sale. Arranged by committee name.
    • JK8731.A423 DREF
  • Hearings and Reports of the Committees of the California Legislature. (1961-84)
    Lists published hearings and reports alphabetically by committee.
    • JK8778.A3 DREF
  • California Interim Legislative Committees and Reports. (1937-76)
    Lists published reports by committee with a subject index.
    • JK8771.A35 DREF
  • California Legislative Committee Reports.
    A compilation of lists that includes List of special committees and commissions by legislative session, 1850-1936 by C. Larsen.
    • JK8771.L298 DREF
  • Records of the California Legislature. comp. by D. Snyder. (Calif. State Archives Inventory No. 2). 1971.
    Includes committee hearing transcripts and other committee records on file in the State Archives, the Government Publications Section of the California State Library, and the Assembly Office of Research.
    • CD3116.L4.S6 DREF