There’s nothing like a deadline to focus the mind.
That chestnut of time management holds particularly true for the California Legislature. In session for about eight months each year, the Legislature goes into overdrive in the days leading up to committee and floor deadlines.
No deadline is bigger than the one marking the end of the two-year legislative session on Aug. 31 of even-numbered years. After that, most of the 3,100 bills, constitutional amendments, and other measures introduced this session that haven’t cleared the Legislature are officially kaput.
With that day looming on Wednesday, lawmakers have been voting fast and furious, rushing between floor sessions and committees. Through midweek, there had been more than 1,200 votes on the floor and almost 1,800 votes in committee in the weeks since lawmakers returned from their summer recess Aug. 1, according to legislative data.
In August 2014, there were about 1,800 votes on the floors of both houses and more than 900 in committee as the 2013-14 session wrapped up.
Bills also had taken more than 900 amendments this month, reflecting an uptick in negotiations over some proposals. Some of the amendments are minor tweaks in wording while other legislation has undergone significant changes. Some bills took on an entirely new look, in a parliamentary tactic known as “gut and amend.”
Many of the changes came as bills emerged from each house’s appropriations committee mid-month. The amendments, though, were not always appreciated, and some prompted a bill’s author to abandon it.