General Outline of a California Bill

A bill of the California State Legislature may be short or long, and simple or complex in its provisions. Nonetheless, the following examples represent the general outline of a California bill as drafted by the Office of Legislative Counsel. Of course, some bills have fewer provisions, while other bills contain additional provisions.

Short title

When an invoice has a title, which most invoices don’t have, the title is usually the first item in an invoice. The following is an example:

DIVISION 20.6.6 Sea Level Rise Revolving Loan Pilot Program


This department is known and can be referred to as the Sea Level Rise Revolving Loan Pilot Program.

Statements and Explanations

The next item, if any, is typically any legislative statement or statement that helps explain the purpose or rationale of a bill. The following is an example:


The legislator states and declares the following:

(a) Anthropogenic climate change has been and will continue to be a very serious threat to California’s future. Rising global temperatures and subsequent melting of the polar ice caps have resulted in accelerated sea level rise around the world, with significant impacts on coastal communities.

(b) Current projections suggest that the California coast will experience sea level rise on the order of one foot by 2050 and three and a half feet by 2100, with sea levels continuing to rise significantly in the coming centuries. Higher sea levels will increase the threat of coastal erosion, storm surges and flood damage along the California coast and will likely result in saltwater intrusion that will threaten drinking water supplies, among other hazards.


The next item is usually the definitions of one or more terms used throughout the law. These definitions are presented before any substantive provisions so that those who must read or interpret the law will understand the terminology used. The following is an example:


For the purposes of this section, the following definitions apply:

(a) “Bank” means the California Infrastructure and Economic Development Bank.

(b) “Conservancy” means the State Coastal Conservancy.

(c) “Council” means the Ocean Protection Council established pursuant to Section 35600.

(d) “Fund” means the Sea Level Rise Revolving Loan Fund established pursuant to Section 30980.

Material Provisions

The introductory provisions, such as those set out above, are usually followed by the substantive provisions of a bill. This can be a few code sections or multiple code sections and numerous subdivisions. The following is an example:


(a) The Council, in consultation with the Conservancy, shall develop the pilot program for the Sea Level Rise Revolving Loan within 12 months of receipt of local jurisdiction requests under Section 30977.5. The program provides local jurisdictions with low-interest loans for the purchase of coastal land in their jurisdictions identified as vulnerable coastal land in low-income communities, communities of color, tribal communities and other communities and populations disproportionately affected and who have borne the brunt of the impacts of climate change.

(b) The Council, in consultation with other state planning and coastal management agencies, including but not limited to the Office of Planning and Research, the Strategic Growth Council, the California Coastal Commission, the State Lands Commission, the Conservancy and the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission, adopts guidelines and eligibility criteria for vulnerable coastal properties to qualify for funding under the Sea Level Rise Revolving Loan Pilot Program. Eligibility criteria include at least all of the following:

Funding Provisions

When a law creates a stream of funding or receives a grant or creates a new fund, that provision usually follows the substantive law provisions. The following is an example:


The Sea Level Rise Revolving Loan Fund is hereby established within the Treasury to be administered by the Conservancy in consultation with the Council to provide low interest loans to eligible local jurisdictions under the Sea Level Rise Revolving Loan Fund loan pilot program established under this department .

sunset clause

When a bill specifies an effective date (when the new law goes into effect) or an expiration date (when the law is repealed), that provision is usually placed toward the end of the bill. The following is an example:


This chapter will remain in effect only until January 1, 2025 and will be repealed from that date.

“Plus” Sections

At the end of the substantive provisions of a bill are one or more “plus” sections, as they are called by the Office of Legislative Counsel. These sections can be an urgency clause, a conditional enactment language, and so on. Below are examples of these two types of plus sections:


The implementation of this division is subject to an allocation of funds by the legislature in the annual budget law or other law for its purposes

SEC. 2.

This statute is an emergency statute necessary to the immediate maintenance of public peace, health or safety as defined by Article IV of the California Constitution and is effective immediately. The facts justifying the need are:

To ensure the integrity of California farmland due to its impact on global food security, and to counter potential foreign government control over California farmland and natural resources, this law must take effect immediately.

Again, the examples above provide a general overview and order of a California bill. However, there are many variations of this and for example there is even a specific order of plus sections at the end of a bill.

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