“We Need All Members on the Floor. All Members on the Floor Please.”

The above statement is periodically voiced by the presiding officer during meetings of the full Assembly.

It is not an order for members of the lower house to swiftly flatten themselves against the green carpet of their ornate chamber.

Nor does it signal some medical emergency, security breach or impending natural disaster.

Although the urgent tone taken by Assemblywoman Nora Campos, a San Jose Democrat, when she presides certainly suggests some imminent calamity.

The above phrase is legislative code.

What it means is that the calamity about to occur is a fellow Democrat’s legislation not receiving the votes required to send it forward to the Senate or the governor.

It should be noted that some observers would not consider a Democratic bill failing passage to be a calamity but rather a celebration.

Not in a legislative body controlled by Democrats, however.

Most commonly, members are needed on the floor of the Assembly when a bill requires a two-thirds vote for approval.

There are 54 Democrats in the 80-member Assembly – the bare minimum needed for a two-thirds vote.

Hence the urgent tone.

Most bills that need only a 41-vote majority aren’t as problematic.

As many as 13 Democrats can wander out of the chamber, return six or seven phone calls, take meetings in their offices, confer with staff or perform any number of other legislative tasks while the requisite number of their colleagues gut it out on the Assembly floor casting the magic 41.


The preceding has a been a Public Service Announcement from California’s Capitol and the state Assembly:

“Building Better Lives Through Legislation.”


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