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Library “Outsourcing” Bill Passes Senate Policy Committee
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 July 6, 2011
FROM:           Mike Dillon, CLA Lobbyist
                        Christina DiCaro, CLA Lobbyist
RE:                 News From the Capitol
This afternoon, AB 438 by Assemblyman Das Williams passed the Senate Governance and Finance Committee (the former Senate Local Government Committee) on a straight party-line vote of 6 “ayes” to 3 “noes,” with the agreement that the author would take a series of amendments requested by the Chair and Committee staff.   The bill would “impose requirements on a city or library district that intends to withdraw from a county free library system and operate libraries with a private contractor.”  
The Committee Chair, Senator Lois Wolk, one of the most ardent library supporters in the Senate for many years, had invested a significant amount of personal time doing her own research on AB 438 prior to today’s hearing. Similarly, her Senate Governance and Fiscal Committee Consultant reached out to CLA, the State Library, stakeholders pro and con, and others to obtain all of the background and research information necessary to help the committee make an informed decision on the bill today.   As a result, the Committee analysis was very thorough and can be obtained here for your information. (You can also see a comprehensive list of the AB 438 supporters and opponents at the conclusion of the committee analysis.) 
AB 438, as you may recall, is sponsored by the Ventura Reader’s Book Group and supported by SEIU and the California Labor Federation. AB 438 is opposed by the California League of Cities, LSSI, and the California Chamber of Commerce. During debate on the bill, the supporters argued for the protection of jobs and for more public input on the decision to outsource, while the opposition argued that the “practical effect of the bill was to ban cities from contracting out services, which likely means staff layoffs and branch closures.” 
At today’s hearing, Senator Wolk stated that she supported the direction of the bill but also noted that it needed to be “tightened up.” She acknowledged that the author had agreed to some amendments, and that she would be working with the author in the coming days to also frame additional amendments to provide for protection for workers affected by contracting out. For those CLA members and interested persons who are actively following the legislation, the amendments, as we understand them, that were agreed to today would: 
1) Using the June 27th version of the bill, available here
2) Strike lines 6 through 25 of the bill on page 4 (This language, which would be deleted from the bill would have stated that the contract could not displace city or library district employees or result in lower contractor pay rates or benefits, among other things.)
3) Strike lines 32 and 33 of the bill on page 4 (This language, which would be deleted from the bill stated, “The potential for future economic risk to the city or library district from potential contractor rate increases shall be minimal.”)
4) Strike lines 1 through 3 of the bill on page 5. (This language, which would be deleted from the bill, stated that the “potential economic advantage of the contract shall not be outweighed by the public’s interest in having a particular function performed directly by the city or library district.”)
5) The bill will also be amended to limit the term of a library services contract to no more than two years.
6) The provisions of the bill will “sunset” (law will no longer be effective) on January 1, 2014, unless the provisions are extended by the Legislature. (We are informed that talks are underway to potentially extend the January 2014 date to a later year.)
Senator Wolk stated that she wanted to eliminate sections that were “too narrowly drawn.”  But she acknowledged several times that the state, and she personally, has a “vested interest in protecting public libraries” and asserted that there may be some safeguards necessary to ensure that interest is upheld. In his closing, Assemblyman Williams thanked the committee for giving the issue so much of their time and attention, and the bill subsequently passed on a vote of 6 “ayes” (all Democrat members) to 3 “noes” (all Republicans). The measure will now head to the Senate Appropriations Committee. 
We are pleased to report that SB 445 by Senator Joe Simitian, which will upgrade existing law relative to the protection of written library registration and circulation records so that it also provides protection for records that are similarly kept utilizing modern technology, successfully passed the Assembly Floor yesterday by a strong bi-partisan vote of support, and was promptly sent to the Governor for his consideration. 
Senator Simitian, a strong library advocate in the legislature and past “CLA Legislator of the Year” award recipient, has done an exceptional job shepherding this important measure through the process. Special thanks to Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla, the Chair of the Assembly Budget Subcommittee on Education Finance, who brought the measure up on the Floor yesterday for Senator Simitian, for a vote. Please find below the press release that was issued by Senator Simitian’s office today regarding SB 445.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                           
July 6, 2011
For More Information, Contact:
Melissa Figueroa (916) 651-4011
SACRAMENTO – The California Legislature has approved Senate Bill 445 by State Senator Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto) to provide 21st century privacy protections for California library patrons. California’s library privacy laws were created before the use of the Internet. As a result, an individual’s interaction with the library outside of the typical library book circulation is not protected under current law. 
Existing law provides limited privacy protection for “registration and circulation” records, but is largely silent on privacy protection for the many online interactions a patron has at or through their public libraries, including items such as:
  • Email or text based communications with a librarian or library staff;
  • Online courses;
  • Computer research; and,
  • Online records of items checked out.
“This simple change ensures that the more than a million Californians who use our public libraries every day will have their personal information protected,” said Simitian. “People use libraries to research sensitive and personal topics; their privacy shouldn’t be compromised.”
The change in law was suggested by one of Simitian’s constituents through Simitian’s annual “There Oughta Be A Law” contest. Cupertino resident and library law consultant Mary Minow submitted her winning entry after attending one of Senator Simitian’s Town Hall meetings. 
“This bill is a much needed update for library users in California,” said Minow.  “The existing law only protected our registration and circulation records. In today's world, we email, text, and chat with librarians online. Library users don't expect that to be part of the public record.  I'm delighted that a step for privacy has been made for library patrons in the digital world.
Senate Bill 445 makes a small but necessary change in state law to ensure that all patron use records are protected equally, and can be disclosed only to the appropriate parties.  The California Library Association and its members expressed support of the bill, indicating that change was needed.
“It has become difficult to fit today’s online communications methods used by libraries and their patrons into the existing law. The new language will ensure library users that records of their communications and transactions with their library will remain private and confidential,” said San Jose Public Library Director, Jane Light.
“California has been on the leading edge of privacy legislation for decades. This bill brings an important law into the 21st century. Libraries offer electronic connections to a multitude of invaluable online resources. People who use libraries to access such online resources deserve the same confidentiality they obtain when using the more traditional library resources,” said Beth Givens Director of the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, a non-profit agency dedicated to consumer advocacy.
For more information on Senator Simitian’s “There Oughta Be A Law” contest or Senate Bill 445 visit