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AB 438 Passes Senate
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September 8, 2011
FROM:           Mike Dillon, CLA Lobbyist
                        Christina DiCaro, CLA Lobbyist
RE:                 News From The Capitol
This legislative session, CLA members have been actively tracking the progress of AB 438 by Assemblyman Das Williams, which seeks to impose certain requirements on a city or library district that intends to withdraw from a county free library system in order to operate the library by private contractor. The measure has been sitting on the Senate Floor for many days now, awaiting action, but was not officially eligible to be taken up until Tuesday, due to last minute amendments to the bill, requested by Senator Michael Rubio and others. Specifically, these Senators wanted to ensure that cities would be able to contract with a non-profit organization (e.g. Friends of the Library) for library services. The language in AB 438 would have restricted this involvement, making all of the provisions of the bill applicable to a corporation like LSSI, but also to a non-profit organization. Thus, the September 2 version of the bill now reads:
Page 6
“(c) This section shall not apply to contracts between a city or library district and a nonprofit organization if both of the following requirements are met:
(1)  The nonprofit organization shall not be a parent or a subsidiary of a for-profit entity.
(2) The contract shall prohibit the nonprofit organization from subcontracting the obligation to operate the library or libraries and to employ and supervise library staff.” 
With these amendments agreed to by the author last Friday, the bill passed the Senate Floor today, albeit with some healthy debate by Senators on both sides of the aisle.
Senator Loni Hancock presented AB 438 on the Floor for Assemblyman Williams and stated that the bill seeks to “ensure a deliberate and transparent process” before a library can contract out for services. She praised the author for working “diligently with the Senate Governance and Finance Committee and, as a result, there have been many amendments,” including the recent amendments pertaining to the non-profits as well as a 2019 sunset date on the law. The Chair of the Senate Governance and Finance Committee, and a strong library supporter, Senator Lois Wolk, rose in support of the bill, noting that when the bill first came to her committee it was “completely anti-privatization.” She said she appreciated the complexity of the issue and added that for those communities who “want to save libraries, I believe they can do that under this bill.”
Several Republican Senators rose in opposition to AB 438. Senator Bob Huff, the Vice Chair of the Senate Budget Committee and a member of the Budget subcommittee that reviews library funding, argued, “We have balanced the Budget on the back of local governments and we have given them fewer resources. This now further ties their hands. There are more hoops to jump through.” He added, “It was been brought to my attention that some city did not do their due diligence and that [outsourcing] was slammed into a contract that was bad for the city,” but he argued that rather than adopt AB 438, “hold the City Council accountable” instead.
When the first vote was taken on the measure, it lacked sufficient votes and was placed “on call” for an extended period of time. When the “call” was lifted later this afternoon, the final tally was 24 Democrats voting “aye,” and the 15 Republicans voting “no,” with one Democrat not voting.
AB 438 is principally sponsored by SEIU and the Ventura Reader’s Book Group and is primarily opposed by the League of Cities and LSSI.   AB 438 will now head back to the Assembly for the “concurrence in the Senate amendments” tomorrow, as the Legislature will adjourn at midnight on Friday evening – when the 2011 session will officially come to a close. 
CLA has been actively supporting SB 602 by Senator Leland Yee which seeks to protect the private reading records and personal information of an individual using a commercial book service provider. The bill, which is sponsored by the ACLU and the Electronic Frontier Foundation, recognizes that there appears to be insufficient protections in law for digital book privacy, when an eBook is obtained through a book service provider, leaving these records and access to your personal reading habits (such as tabbing or highlighting pages), vulnerable to viewing by governments and third parties. 
The bill recently returned to the Senate, where the vote on the concurrence in Assembly amendments passed on an overwhelming 39 to 0 vote. The bill has been sent to the Governor for his consideration and he may act on it at any time. The sponsors have provided CLA members with a helpful link, should you be interested in sending your own letter to the Governor’s office to encourage his signature on the bill. Please find the hyperlink below, provided for your convenience.