California lawmakers had to scrap a bill to correct an upcoming law

This summer, California lawmakers felt the need to act quickly before a new law went into effect.

In May, the California Attorney General's office issued a directive saying restaurants must comply with a new law requiring businesses to include required fees in advertised and displayed prices.

The bill, called Senate Bill 478, was introduced last year by Senators Bill Dodd and Nancy Skinner and was scheduled to take effect on July 1.

When the legislature wanted to make changes to the law following resistance from the catering industry, several important deadlines had already expired.

Not only had this session's deadline for introducing new bills (February 16) passed, but so had another deadline (May 24) that requires all bills to have passed at least one chamber to continue consideration.

The state's Committee on Government Organization, headed by Dodd, had a completely different bill, Senate Bill 1524, still in the House, which nevertheless met these requirements.

SB 1524 would change the number of days available to the governor to appoint a member of the California Gambling Control Commission from 60 to 45 days.

The Senate had already passed the bill by a vote of 37 to 0, but Dodd's office decided that the problem of “hidden fees” in restaurants could best be solved through the so-called “gut-and-amend” process.

Dodd, along with Senator Scott Weiner, deleted SB 1524 and rewrote it to require restaurants to list fees on menus and advertisements rather than including them in the published prices of meals and drinks.

The new version of SB 1524, introduced on June 5, passed the Assembly on June 24 by a vote of 73-0 and then moved to the Senate to satisfy the requirement that all legislative changes must be approved by both chambers. The Senate approved the changes on June 27 by a vote of 39-0.

Governor Gavin Newsom signed the revised version of SB 1524 on June 29, just two days before the hidden fee law went into effect.

As for the original intent of SB 1524, Senator Dodd's office said there are no plans to implement these changes in this session, which will be his last.