Interesting Sections of California Bills
Over the years, I have come across certain provisions of California law that seem at least inconsistent with general drafting standards. This statement is not intended to be a criticism of the sponsor of a bill or the drafter of the bill; it is simply a characterization that the language is not what a bill reader would normally expect to find in a California bill.
So what do I mean? Here are some examples with brief explanations:
While it is not unique to have a statement of intent by the legislature (see subsection (a) below), it is unusual to subsequently find a provision (see subsection ( b) below) which would otherwise be set out in its own statutory section in a code. Moreover, more often than not, statements of legislative intent are contained in uncodified sections of the law.
Section 14576 is added to the Public Resources Code and reads as follows:
a) It is the intention of the legislature that all provisions of this section be interpreted in such a way as to encourage and support the reuse and recycling of empty beverage containers.
(b) The processing payment for a reusable beverage container will be the same amount paid for other glass beverage containers.
Although it is not uncommon to find a statement of legislative intent (see Section 2 below), such statements rarely contain an affirmative statement that future legislation will be enacted, particularly because a legislature cannot bind (or compel) a future legislature to enact a law. . In addition, this statement of intent contains a specific, affirmative statement (i.e., “the office allocates funds…) that is normally found in codified legislation rather than uncodified language in a bill. .
The Legislative Assembly intends to enact future legislation to transfer funds to the office to support the Community Energy Resilience Program as described in Section 1 of this Act. If the Legislature transfers funds to the office, the office shall allocate the funds based on Section 1 of this Act to counties, cities, special districts, and tribes.
If the Legislature enacts future legislation to transfer funds to the office to support the Community Energy Resilience Program as described in Section 1 of this Act, the Office will allocate the funds based on Section 1 of the present law to counties, cities, special districts and tribes.
This provision provides a statement of intent. While legislation can and should create the task force and task it with the desired work, a mere statement of intent does not create the task force or task the group to actually perform the specified tasks. So why does this intent language and not the statutory language need to be codified?
(2) The Legislative Assembly further intends that a task force comprised of decision-makers from the Legislative Assembly, the administration, the Student Aid Commission, segments of post-secondary education, external advocates and student representatives be convened to assess changes to state and federal financial aid, following the effective date of the law adding this subsection.
We often find the following wording in a sunset clause in legislation. However, why is the highlighted part included? It is obvious that a repeal or extension of the expiry date must take place before the sunset clause is triggered. So we could just remove the highlighted wording from the act.
(j) This section shall remain in effect only until January 1, 2023 and shall be repealed as of that date, unless subsequently enacted legislation which is enacted before January 1, 2023 removes or extends this dated.
There are no doubt other examples of interesting or unexpected provisions in the legislation. The examples above are ones that have caught my eye over the past few months.