Capitol action, by the numbers

The State Capitol in Sacramento, looking toward the West Steps on N Street. (Photo: Timothy Boomer)

As the California Legislature commences its 2017 Session, the following is a quick look back at historical numbers for bill introductions and gubernatorial bill actions.

Over the last half a dozen years, as a general rule, the Legislature has introduced about 2,100 bills per year, about 1,000 of those measures get to the Governor’s Desk, and he signs roughly 850 of those bills.

For the 2017-18 Session, the Assembly increased its historical 40-bill introduction limit to 50 bills. At this point, the Senate has not increased its bill introductions limit for 2017 and has no intention of increasing its limit.

With Democratic super-majorities in both the Assembly and Senate, will more bills be introduced? Will more bills get to the Governor’s Desk? Assuming all Assembly Members and Senators introduce the maximum number of bills over the next two years, there could be over 5,000 bills. It will be interesting to see…

For the 2017-18 Session, the Assembly increased its historical 40-bill introduction limit to 50 bills, so we will have to see how many more ABs will be introduced this year and next compared to prior years. At this point, the Senate has not increased its bill introductions limit for 2017.

During the last two 2-year legislative sessions, there have been over 4,100 bills introduced during each session. These figures do not include special session bills, constitutional amendments, or resolutions. The following are the numbers of Assembly and Senate bills introduced by the late February deadline during the prior four years:

–Total 2016 bill introductions as of the deadline: 1,993

–Total 2015 bill introductions as of the deadline: 2,297

—Total 2014 bill introductions as of the deadline: 1,930

–Total 2013 bill introductions as of the deadline: 2,256

According to Legislative Counsel records, the following are the Session totals of bill introductions from the last two decades:

–Total 2015-16 Session bills: 2,915 ABs and 1,481 SBs (4,396 total)

–Total 2013-14 Session bills: 2,766 ABs and 1,467 SBs (4,233 total)

–Total 2011-12 Session bills: 2,700 ABs and 1,580 SBs (4,280 total)

–Total 2009-10 Session bills: 2,799 ABs and 1,495 SBs (4,294 total)

–Total 2007-08 Session bills: 3,084 ABs and 1,781 SBs (4,865 total)

–Total 2005-06 Session bills: 3,076 ABs and 1,853 SBs (4,929 total)

–Total 2003-04 Session bills: 3,118 ABs and 1,918 SBs (5,036 total)

–Total 2001-02 Session bills: 3,061 ABs and 2,101 SBs (5,162 total)

–Total 1999-00 Session bills: 2,943 ABs and 2,206 SBs (5,149 total)

–Total 1997-98 Session bills: 2,817 ABs and 2,242 SBs (5,059 total)

–Total 1995-96 Session bills: 3,504 ABs and 2,178 SBs (5,682 total)

–Total 1993-94 Session bills: 3,838 ABs and 2,138 SBs (5,976 total)

In terms of gubernatorial actions, Governor Brown concluded his actions on 2016 bills by allowing a bill to become law without his signature and he vetoed 159 out of 1059 bills that reached his desk, for a 15% veto rate, which is his highest level so far.

To put last year’s gubernatorial final actions in context (listing the lowest year to highest year), the following are the historical veto percentages for prior governors:

–Between 2011 and 2015, Governor Brown vetoed between 10.7% and 14.4% of the bills

–Between 2004 and 2010, Governor Schwarzenegger vetoed between 22.3% and 35% of the bills

–Between 1999 and 2003, Governor Davis vetoed between 6% and 25% of the bills

–Between 1991 and 1998, Governor Wilson vetoed between 8.6% and 24.5% of the bills

–We will see what Governor Brown does during his final two years in office. It is likely he will be dealing with more bills than usual. Will his veto percentage increase or decrease during these next two years?

Ed’s Note: Chris Micheli is a registered lobbyist with the Sacramento governmental relations firm of Aprea & Micheli, Inc. He serves as an Adjunct Professor at McGeorge School of Law.

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