ANALYSIS – At the end of a California Legislative Session, Capitol observers will hear about the need to have “chaptering out amendments” adopted. However, that is not the correct term to use. “Chaptering out” is the problem that needs to be addressed by amendments, and “double-jointing amendments” are the solution to that problem.
Chaptering out refers to when provisions of one, later-adopted chaptered bill amend the same code section(s) as another, earlier-chaptered bill does. The bill with the higher chapter number (i.e., the one that was last chaptered) prevails over the lower chapter number bill (i.e., the one that was chaptered earlier). Chaptering out can be avoided by adopting “double jointing” amendments to a bill prior to its passage by both houses of the legislature and signature by the governor.
This “chaptering out” is found in state law, Government Code, Chapter 6 (titled “Operation of Statutes and Resolution”), Section 9605(b), which reads as follows:
(b) In the absence of any express provision to the contrary in the statute that is enacted last, it shall be conclusively presumed that the statute which is enacted last is intended to prevail over statutes that are enacted earlier at the same session and, in the absence of any express provision to the contrary in the statute that has a higher chapter number, it shall be presumed that a statute that has a higher chapter number was intended by the Legislature to prevail over a statute that is enacted at the same session but has a lower chapter number.
Double jointing requires technical amendments prepared by the Office of Legislative Counsel that will prevent the amended bill from “chaptering out” the provisions of another bill when both bills amend the same code section. According to Legislative Counsel, “double-jointing amendments to a bill provide that the amended bill does not override the provisions of another bill, where both bills propose to amend the same section of law.”
“Chaptering out” is the problem that needs to be addressed by amendments, and “double-jointing amendments” are the solution to that problem.
Unlike contingent enactment amendments, double jointing is not driven primarily by policy considerations. Rather, double-jointing is a solution to the technical problem known as “chaptering out.”
Chaptering out will occur unless the bill with the higher chapter number contains a provision to the contrary. If a bill with the higher chapter number does not contain language addressing this situation, then the changes contained in the bill with the higher chapter number will supersede (called “chaptering out”) the changes made to the same code section by the bill with the lower chapter number.
Double jointing amendments are used to prevent this chaptering out problem from occurring by allowing all of the changes to a code section proposed by two or more bills to take effect. The double-jointing language must be put into both measures in order to be effective.
So, the next time your bill has a chaptering out problem, be sure to solve your problem with double jointing amendments.