July 6, 2009
Pursuant to Elections Code Section 9005, we have
reviewed the proposed constitutional initiative related to the
California Legislature (A.G. File No. 09‑0012, Amdt. #1-S).
Functions of the Legislature. The
State Constitution establishes the Legislature, which consists of a
40-member Senate and an 80-member Assembly. The Legislature approves
state laws through the passage of bills. Members of the Senate and the
Assembly consider and vote on hundreds of bills each year on the floors
of their respective houses, where each legislator has one vote. In
addition, legislators sit on committees, which consist of a smaller
number of legislators designated by the leaders of the Senate and the
Assembly. Legislative committees generally must approve bills before
they reach the floor of the Senate or the Assembly.
State Law Prohibits Improper Influence of
Legislators. Under a provision of the Constitution, a legislator
is guilty of a felony when his or her votes or official actions are
influenced by bribery, promises of rewards, intimidation, or other
"dishonest means." State law provides that a legislator who is
influenced in this way may be fined or imprisoned for up to four years.
The law also states that Members of the Legislature and other public
officials are prohibited from "vote trading" —that is, voting yes or no
on one issue in exchange for another public official voting yes or no on
that issue or another issue.
This measure amends the Constitution to require a
Member of the Legislature to sign certifications—described in the
measure and summarized below—under penalty of perjury before he or she
votes in favor of any bill on the floor of the Senate or the Assembly.
If the certifications are not signed by a legislator, his or her vote
would not be counted for the bill in question. The certifications would
not be required for votes on bills in legislative committees.
Requires Legislators to Certify They Have
Read and Understand Bills. Under the measure, a legislator must
certify in writing that he or she has read the bill in its entirety and
understands its contents.
Legislators to Certify Compliance With Laws Prohibiting Improper
Influence. Under the
measure, a legislator also must certify in writing that he or she has
not committed acts that violate the laws concerning improper influence
of legislators when considering the bill in question.
Probably No Net Increase in State Costs.
The measure would result in the Senate and the Assembly incurring some
additional costs to administer paperwork related to the certifications.
The budgets of the Senate and the Assembly, however, already are limited
under the Constitution. The Legislature would have to fund any
additional costs within its constitutionally restricted budget levels.
Accordingly, the measure probably would result in no net increase in
Summary of Fiscal Effect
The measure would have the following fiscal
Return to Initiatives and Propositions
Return to Legislative Analyst's Office Home Page