Advocacy and Legislation Committee Report
This year’s primary legislative effort involved a proposal from the Corporation for Education Network Initiatives in California (CENIC) which will allow California’s public libraries to provide high speed broadband connectivity. Rates for the provision would be appreciably lower than current commercial ones. While the program was not funded in the state’s May revised budget, it sparked a lively (and currently continuing) conversation throughout the Capitol. As a result, the legislature included a request for a comprehensive broadband survey/study by the state library of the current state of connectivity in California public libraries. AB110 set a deadline of February 1, 2014 for the completion of the study. The study will also serve as a needs assessment because it will note not only what is currently in place, but what future plans might encompass.
While details of findings are not yet published or approved, indications are that the document received a very high return rate and that it gives a comprehensive view of public library capacity. Many more conversations are ongoing and all CLA members are strongly encouraged to stay up-to-date by reading the reports issued by Michael F. Dillon and Associates to the CLA membership.
In other actions, Sen. Lois Wolk carried a Senate Constitutional Amendment (SCA 7) to lower the current local vote threshold from 2/3 to 55% passage for construction bonds and special taxes. The bill was referred to the Committee on Appropriations. The Advocacy &Legislation Committee is encouraging local support and letter-writing campaigns as this issue moves forward..
In connection with the efforts to connect public libraries to the CENIC backbone, SB 331 from Senator Carol Liu enabled new language in the Education Code so that “collaborative networks” can be included.
Assemblyman Tom Ammiano introduced AB 5 which would put in place a “Homeless Persons Bill of Rights and Fairness” act. The proposed bill was moved into the suspense file toward the end of the budget consideration period.
As usual, many other issues were introduced but did not make it out for full action.
Again, we strongly encourage all CLA members to closely follow the updates provided by Mike Dillon and Christina DiCaro, CLA lobbyists. We are only as effective as the actions you take.
Next year, (2013-14) the committee chair will be Laura Seaholm, Literacy Program Manager for Contra Costra County Library, who has served faithfully as a committee member.