CSAC Bulletin Article

Appropriations Committees Winnow the Universe of Bills 

May 16, 2024

As we reported last week, Friday, May 17 is the deadline for the Senate Appropriations Committee and the Assembly Appropriations Committee (collectively referred to as “the fiscal committees”) to hear and report bills with fiscal impacts to the floor of that house (Senate or Assembly) for a vote of the full house.

Due to cost concerns, particularly during deficit years, many bills are held in fiscal committees by being set aside in the “suspense file.” Alternatively, fiscal bills may be significantly amended by a fiscal committee to reduce cost impacts without the consent of the bill’s author.

Today, both fiscal committees convened vote-only “suspense hearings” to hear the bills on the suspense file and pass bills out of the committee and onto the floor. While the “suspense file” hearing process is designed to comprehensively consider the costs of all bills that meet a certain threshold of fiscal impact to the state, it’s also widely viewed as a tool for the Legislature to prioritize its proposals and winnow the long list of bills each house must consider on the floor prior to the house of origin deadline on May 24.

Collectively, the fiscal committees considered 1,009 bills referred to the suspense file.  Any fiscal bill not passed out of a fiscal committee by the deadline is considered “dead” unless it receives a rule waiver allowing for further consideration.

In advance of these hearings, CSAC engaged in conversations with committee staff and members and submitted letters urging the committees to consider every bill through the lens of its unique impacts on California’s local governments. This year, more than ever, there is truth to the time-honored Sacramento adage that “this year’s bills are next year’s budget.”

A summary of the results of the suspense hearings are posted on the respective Committee’s websites:

For a full list of bills that CSAC is engaging on, please click here to view a report of legislation with positions, sorted by policy area.   


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