The Legislative Process in California, Simplified

Who makes laws in California?

There are two ways to make laws: the legislature, voter initiatives (propositions). This page discusses the legislature.

What are the steps in the legislative process?

A member of the Assembly or Senate introduces a bill.

For purposes of this example, let’s assume the bill starts in the Assembly.

The bill is sent through one or more committees. It must get enough votes in each committee to move forward.

Once it is through the committees, it goes to a floor vote, where the entire Assembly votes on it.

If it gets a majority of votes, it passes. Then a Senate version of the bill is introduced.

The process of committees and voting is repeated in the Senate.

Then the bill goes back to the Assembly for reconciliation, to make the Assembly version the same as the Senate version.

Then, the bill is sent to the Governor.

The Governor can sign the bill into law, or can ignore the bill and it’ll become law, or they can veto it.

If the Governor vetoes it, a 2/3 vote of both the Assembly and Senate can override the veto.

The process can also start in the Senate, then go to the Assembly, and then the Governor.

How do I, as a voter, participate?

First, you should understand that as a lone voter, you have a lot less power than if you join an organization that’s pushing for a law.

You should join API for CalCare, because we’re working together to push for healthcare for everyone in California!

Groups build power to hold the legislators accountable to us.

Your group will:

  • tell you when you need to contact your legislator
  • ask you to spread information and memes on social media
  • tell you about public events and rallies
  • educate you about the law, so you can speak intelligently about it
  • build community around this movement

Interested in More?

This page has a simplified explanation. See Overview of the Legislative Process for details.