Determining intent: update of Assembly and Senate letters

One method to help ascertain the legislative intent behind a specified measure is a letter that is published in the Assembly Daily Journal or the Senate Daily Journal by the bill’s author. These letters, for which there are many each year, may be used by the bill’s author to explain an ambiguity in the bill or explain the purpose of particular changes in the law as done by the bill.

The courts in this state can utilize these letters as extrinsic aids in determining the intent of the Legislature. Different versions of the bill, committee and floor analyses, and other items are generally given greater weight than these letters. Nonetheless, a Journal letter may be the best indicator available regarding the intent of the bill’s author and so they should be consulted.

In an effort to assist those conducting legislative history and intent research, in Fall 2018, I reviewed 23 years’ worth of Assembly Daily Journals and 16 years’ worth of Senate Daily Journals in order to compile these records.

The ensuing links contain the updated Senate and Assembly letters for the 2022 California Legislative Session.

The charts list the bill number, bill author, subject matter of the bill, and page number from the respective Daily Journal where the letter can be found and cited.

Chris Micheli, an attorney and adjunct professor at McGeorge School of Law, is a founder of the Sacramento lobbying firm Aprea & Micheli.

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