Thirty-one in the Assembly; 22 in the Senate – and that’s only the “standing committees,” which have power to hear and pass legislation. When you add in the other committees – ones that hold informational hearings, for example – there are, in most years, more committees than California’s 120 lawmakers.
“It allows for specialization – where you have a finite number of members on a committee that focus on a finite topic,” says Sacramento State political analyst Steve Boilard. “However, I think that you can get to a point where you’ve broken down a subject into too many pieces. That leads to kind of a disconnect.”
For example, the Assembly has separate committees on Agriculture; Environmental Safety and Toxic Materials; Natural Resources; and Water, Parks and Wildlife.
“There is an incentive – a political incentive – to create a large number of committees,” Boilard says: The more committees there are, the more committee chairs – and the more lawmakers who can use their positions to raise money.