|News from the Capitol: Legislative Session Wrap-Up|
September 15, 2016
TO: CLA MEMBERS/ SYSTEMS/ NETWORK CONTACTS
FROM: Mike Dillon and Christina DiCaro, CLA Lobbyists
RE: News From the Capitol
The second year of the two-year session concluded with the Senate and Assembly working early into the morning of September 1. Controversial issues pertaining to climate change, paid family leave, and farm worker overtime pay, dominated the final days of session, with the debate on the farm worker housing issue alone lasting over two hours on the Assembly Floor.
At the conclusion of Session business, Legislators departed Sacramento and have returned to their districts to spend the next few months focusing on their November elections. Democrat leadership will be actively working to try to recapture a two-thirds Democrat supermajority in both the Senate and Assembly, and predictions are that the Assembly may be poised to achieve that goal, with several Republican members in tight races this Fall. The legislature will return on December 5, 2016 for a few hours in order to be sworn in for the 2017 session and to conduct a brief organizational meeting. They will then return to the Capitol in early January to start the session anew.
In the meantime, Governor Brown has been busy taking action on several hundred bills that made their way to him in the final weeks of the legislative session. The Governor has signed several high-profile measures pertaining to combating climate change, in conjunction with large press events. On Tuesday, the Governor surprised many by vetoing 7 legislative measures that would have created tax breaks for certain industries or tax relief on specified products, such as diapers. Governor Brown, ever mindful of the health of the state’s General Fund, issued a press release regarding all 7 measures, stating, “As I said last year, tax breaks are the same as new spending – they both cost the General Fund money. As such, they must be considered during budget deliberations so that all spending proposals are weighed against each other at the same time. This is even more important when the state’s budget remains precariously balanced.”
The Governor will have until September 30 to sign or veto the remaining bills on his desk.
The CLA Legislative Committee reviewed AB 2880 by the Assembly Judiciary Committee in great detail in May, due to concerns raised by ALA and the Electronic Frontier Foundation. The bill was intended to address the recent situation brought forth by the Yosemite National Park trademark issue, wherein the park concessionaire whose contract was terminated after 23 years, sued the National Park Service to attempt to protect certain naming rights, trademarks, and servicemarks incorporated or enhanced while under their contract agreement. The Assembly Judiciary Committee authored AB 2880 as a way to address this matter. The bill, among other things, stipulated that “public agencies may own, license, and register intellectual property, and provides that such intellectual property is still accessible under the California Records Act.” (Source: Assembly Judiciary Committee analysis.)
In May, CLA received several calls from ALA, who, at the urging of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, was asking CLA to “oppose” the bill, as part of a coalition effort. The EFF stated, “The bill would change California from having one of the best policies on copyright of any U.S. state to among the worst.” The bill had sailed out of the Assembly and was headed to the Senate Judiciary Committee for a hearing. In discussions with the Senate Judiciary Committee, our office learned that the Committee viewed the measure differently, had concerns, and would likely be requesting a series of amendments to the bill. Subsequently, the CLA Legislative Committee referred the legislation to the CLA Intellectual Freedom Committee for review.
After a very thorough review, which included conversations with ALA, the CLA Intellectual Freedom Committee (led by Melanie Lightbody), recommended that CLA take “no position” on the bill. Ultimately the bill was significantly watered down in the weeks that followed and died on the Senate Floor when Senator Monning (the Majority Leader) made a motion to send AB 2880 to the “Inactive File” in the final days of the Session. It is unclear if the Assembly Judiciary Committee will attempt to introduce a similar bill next year.
Last week the CLA Legislative Committee Chair, Sara Jones, sent a letter to California Library Services Board President, Anne Bernardo and State Librarian, Greg Lucas, in support of proposed modifications to the California Library Services Act regulations. Specifically, the State Library is seeking input regarding amendments to the CLSA portion of the Act (Section 20235) pertaining to “Communications and Delivery.” There has been some concern that the Act does not accurately reflect the modern-day method of digital delivery and digital platforms, etc.
The regional Systems Coordinators have been extensively involved in the proposed re-write of the Communications and Delivery section, and they recently offered their suggested revisions in a letter to the CSLB and State Library. The CLA Legislative Committee felt it was important to support these revisions, as it has been a common complaint during the Legislative Committee meetings that the Act needs to be modernized. As such, the letter to the CSLB and State Library from Sara Jones indicates in part:
“The 2016-17 California Budget bill and corresponding Budget ‘Trailer bill’ contain several major changes to the California Library Services Act, including the statutory elimination of Transaction-based reimbursement and other amendments, which attempt to streamline the delivery of services between collaborating libraries and Systems. The statutory changes now necessitate that the regulations provide both an adequate modernization and conformance to the Act….The regulatory changes proposed by the System Coordinators incorporate language that recognizes the increased usage of digital or virtual materials, shareable platforms, and databases. The existing regulations are deficient in their acknowledgement of this more modern way of sharing materials between Systems and libraries, as the current language seems to embrace a more physical mode of delivering and exchanging items.”
Thank you to the Systems Coordinators for all of their work - that no doubt will continue over the next year - as the CSLA is modernized via the regulatory process.
CLA has established a very solid relationship with Governor Brown’s Department of Finance over the last few years. In particular, the Director of Finance has actively embraced and helped shepherd the Governor’s effort to connect public libraries to the high-speed, broadband “backbone” operated by the Corporation for Education Network Initiatives in California (CENIC). Additionally, Department of Finance representatives who are tasked with working on the State Library Budget have taken a sizeable interest in the excellent and effective work of libraries in communities throughout the state.
Earlier this year, the Department of Finance asked if they could meet with library directors in the Chico area as part of a tour that the DOF education unit was collectively doing of the community colleges, CSU Chico, and the K-12 schools. The DOF was interested in talking with the library director(s) about how the library interacts with these other elements of education. In coordination with our office, the North Net System agreed to host approximately one dozen members of the Department of Finance at the Chico library. Participating library leaders included: MaryJo Alanzo, Melanie Lightbody, Sarah Vantrease, Brenda Crotts, Heather Tovey, Stacey Costello, Chris Veatch, Erin Franceour, Michael Perry, James Ochsner, and Sally Ainsworth. Following the meeting, the DOF representative told our office that they were incredibly impressed by the large presence from the library community as hosts of the event. The DOF added that the visit was not only helpful for the DOF staff that works on the library issues, but for the DOF staff that works on K-12 and higher education matters as well. During the meeting the group discussed the role of libraries, adult education services at libraries, broadband needs, popular programs like Zip Books and Zinio, library cards for students, etc.
The DOF has also visited with additional libraries, such as Sacramento Public Library (Rivkah Sass) two weeks ago, and the Rancho Mirage Library (David Bryant) last Fall. When these visits occur, they inevitably make a big difference in how library issues are ultimately elevated within the Department of Finance. For example, the Department of Finance discussed the issue of adult education with the CLA Legislative Committee several years ago, and because of the feedback received from the Committee, the Department of Finance pushed for greater involvement of libraries as partners in local “AB 86” (adult education) consortia. The Department has also been encouraged that many libraries are seeing the benefits of the Governor’s broadband connectivity project for libraries in the form of discounted rates, dramatically improved speed, and access for patrons. And lately, discussions with library directors surrounding ways in which “digital delivery” can be improved, resulted in the Governor’s Office proposing $3 million in one-time funds in the 2016-17 Budget to begin exploring ways to expand utilization of Zip Books, enki, the SimpleE eBook discovery app, and other creative uses. Currently, the Department of Finance is exploring the issue of MOOCs (massive open online courses) at the library.
Our office wants to thank the many library directors and library staff who have opened their doors to the Department of Finance during the 2015-16 Legislative session. Your great work really makes a difference on behalf of all libraries, in assisting CLA’s legislative program!