The Micheli Files: Bills considered on the Assembly and Senate Floors

The California Assembly floor, image by Kit Leong

ANALYSIS – As a general matter, bills are taken up on the California Assembly or Senate Floors in file item order, unless some special reason exists to do otherwise. And, when the presiding officer announces a bill for discussion and debate, it is usually referred to by its file number. There are five main procedural items to keep in mind when a bill is pending on either Floor:

Third Reading

The third reading of a bill takes place when the bill is about to be taken up for consideration (i.e., presentation, debate, and vote) on either the Assembly Floor or the Senate Floor for final passage. There is a Third Reading portion in both the Assembly and Senate Daily Files. This portion lists by file number each bill that is eligible to be taken up for a final vote on either Floor. A Third Reading Analysis is prepared for bills eligible for consideration on either the Assembly or Senate Floors. This analysis of the bill generally provides an explanation of existing law, what this bill does to existing law, any amendments, a listing of supporters and opponents (only Senate), etc.

Unfinished Business File

Both the Assembly Daily File and the Senate Daily File contain a portion titled “Unfinished Business,” which is the section that contains bills that have returned to their house of origin from the other house and await a concurrence vote due to amendments that were made to the bill by the other house. This section of the Daily File also contains bills that were vetoed by the Governor. Vetoed bills remain on the Daily File for a 60-day period after the gubernatorial veto. Thereafter, unless voted upon, they are removed from the Daily File and can no longer be considered.

Inactive File

The other section of the Daily File to be aware of is for bills that made it to the Floor of either the Assembly or the Senate, but for whatever reason the bill’s author does not want to proceed with the measure. Bills that have failed passage can be moved to the Inactive File upon request of the bill’s author. If an author has moved a bill to the Inactive File, he or she can remove it from the Inactive File at a later date with public notice.

Floor Managers

While the bill’s author presents his or her bill on the Floor of the house of origin (i.e., Assembly Bill presented by the Assembly Member or Senate Bill presented by the Senator), that is not the case in the other house. In other words, Assembly Members cannot present their bills for consideration and debate on the Senate Floor and, similarly, Senators cannot present their bills for consideration and debate on the Assembly Floor.

So, while a bill’s author is responsible for taking up his or her measure on their own Floor, a “floor manager” for that bill is required in the other house. A Member of the other house designated by the bill’s author when the bill is considered by the other house is deemed the bill’s floor manager. In years past, this Member was referred to as the “floor jockey,” but this term is no longer used. The Member’s name who is the Floor Manager in the other house appears in parentheses after the bill author’s name in the Second or Third Reading portion of the Daily File.


Under the rules, bills that are not listed on the Daily File can only be taken up with either unanimous consent of the house’s members or by suspending the rules. A bill that is not listed on the Daily File, but which is taken up nonetheless, is referred to as a “WORF”. The process of taking up a WORF bill is to take the measure up “without reference to file (i.e., the Daily File)” (WORF). In order to do so, a vote of a majority of the house’s membership (41 in the Assembly and 21 in the Senate) is required to take up a bill without reference to file.

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