May 27 is the “House of Origin” deadline. This means that by that date, Assembly Bills (notated AB) must have passed the full Assembly, and Senate Bills (notated SB) must have passed the full Senate. Any bill that has not passed its house of origin by this date is dead for the year.
For a bill to pass the full Assembly, it must get 41 yes votes; to pass the Senate, it must get 21 yes votes. This applies regardless of whether all Members are present to vote. For example, there are three vacancies in the Assembly right now, but the vote threshold is still 41.
April 29 is the most important committee deadline. For any bill that is marked “fiscal” (most of them are) this is the last day for it to pass the committee or committees it has been assigned to. If it does pass, then it goes to the Appropriations Committee. There is a separate deadline for the Appropriations Committee.
May 6 is the last day for any bill that is not marked fiscal (this is a minority of bills) to pass the committee or committees it has been assigned to. If it does pass, it does not have to go to the Appropriations Committee; it goes straight to Floor of the Assembly or Senate.
May 20 is the last day for the Appropriations Committee to decide whether to kill bills or send them to the Assembly/Senate Floor. This is an extremely opaque process, essentially a black box with no opportunity for public input. At a single hearing, the Committee Chair will just announce which bills are moving forward (often with significant changes) and the committee members affirm that decision with a pro forma vote.
Any bill that does pass out of its House of Origin by the deadline moves on to the other house and goes through the same process in the coming months.
There are two significant caveats to the above timeline. First, the committee deadlines are not set in stone. They can be waived by the Assembly or Senate in order to allow bills to be heard after the deadlines. This is not common, but it does happen.
Second, no bill is ever truly dead in the California Capitol. The “gut and amend” procedure is a way around the deadlines, where a bill that has already gone through much of the process can be turned into something entirely different. We saw this happen at the end of last year, when a bill dealing with toll roads suddenly became a vaccine passport bill.
Nevertheless, if a bill fails to pass its house of origin, it is rare for it to reappear later that same year. So the next few weeks are the best opportunity to stop bad bills from becoming law anytime soon.
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