“One of the most important aspects of governmental advocacy is knowledge and understanding of the terminology used in the legislative, budget and regulatory processes. If you’re not immediately conversant with these tems, you put yourself at a distinct disadvantage. Or, as I say in my seminars, you may as well paint a big target on your back.” — Ray LeBov
Two of the best online resources for understanding the terminology:
- The League of California Cities publishes “Talking the Talk: A Glossary.” Includes an index of glossary terms. Find it on pages 12-17 of this document:http://www.seismic.ca.gov/pub/Navigating_the_Legislative_Process.pdf
- The Legislative Counsel of California publishes an even more extensive glossary.
Find it at:http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/guide.html#Appendix_B
Our Capitol Seminars’ resource guide includes a digest of Common References to Bills and What They Mean:
“District” Bill: Author claims bill pertains primarily to his / her district. Unwritten protocol requires that members vote for other members’ district bills.
“Special Interest” Bill: Negative reference to virtually any bill sponsored by an interest group or a “cause.”
“Sponsored” Bill: Idea and support come from an entity other than author.
“Fiscal” Bill: Does not mean that bill has major $ implications, only that it must be referred to Appropriations committee if it clears policy committee.
“Two-Year” Bill: Introduced early in first half of two-year session but delayed and can’t meet deadlines to clear both houses before interim recess in mid-September. Such bills must clear house of origin by January 31 of second year or they die.
“Spot” Bill: A bill that upon introduction makes no substantive change in or addition to existing law, and would not otherwise affect the ongoing operations of state or local government. A spot bill may not be referred to a policy committee unless and until it is amended to make such a substantive change or have such an effect.
“Backed / Unbacked” Bill: When Legislative Counsel prepares bill for a member, it is usually “backed” with a cover designating who requested the draft. A member may be unwilling to introduce a bill, but may be willing to request Leg Counsel to do the work of preparing a draft, un-backed bill to beat the introduction deadline. Sponsor of bill has to find a willing author and have bill “backed” for him to introduce.
“Committee” Bill: The chair and most members of the committee are co-authoring the bill. Mostly a spin move – does not guarantee that all such members will vote for it.
“Appropriation” Bill: Contains language authorizing expenditure from one or more funds. Expanding purposes of an existing continuous appropriation also constitutes an appropriation.
Note that some of the terms in these glossaries may not be applicable in all states, or in the federal government. In particular, the terms “sponsor” and “author” may have different applications depending on the legislative body in which they are used.