How to speak like a Capitol insider

By Jeremy White & Alexei Koseff, Sacramento Bee.

To those unaccustomed to the inside baseball of policymaking, politicians can sometimes seem like they speak a different language.

But fear not! With lawmakers returning from a summer recess Monday, this legislative dictionary will help you decipher how California Capitol creatures conduct business.

Gut and amend: To hollow out an existing bill and fill it with new language. A good way to sneak in new (or old, previously defeated) bills late in a session.

Hijack: To insert an existing policy proposal into a new bill. For example, transplanting a Republican idea into Democratic legislation and claiming ownership.

Interim study: A common tactic to kill bills without the messiness of a vote. Rather than vote an idea down, legislators decide to study it more – after the session ends.

Suspense file: Holding place for legislation that will cost more than a certain amount of money. Many bills never make it off the Appropriations Committee suspense file. Another useful way to let a bill quietly die.