With power, comes popularity. Just ask Democrat Mark Leno, who chairs the Assembly Appropriations committee. Thursday his group considered 600 bills that contained seven billion dollars in spending. He says lawmakers are always asking for his ear:
“There’s an old Yiddish expression which translates roughly to when you’re wealthy, you’re good-looking, your jokes are funny and you sing well too. That could be said for the appropriations committee chair at any one time.”
Leno- and his counterpart in the Senate - see any bill that has a fiscal impact. Most of them go on what’s called the suspense file. That’s where measures sit while legislative leaders work out whether to send them to the floor or not. That work is done behind the scenes. Typically, Leno says 65 percent of bills make it out. Those that do must pass the floor of the house they originated in by next Friday to stay alive.