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Last Minute Legislation on Library Privatization Stalls
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September 4, 2012

TO:                CLA Members/ Systems/ Network Contacts
FROM:           Mike Dillon, CLA Lobbyist
                      Christina DiCaro, CLA Lobbyist
RE:                 News From the Capitol
Last Minute Legislation on Library Privatization Stalls
The halls of the State Capitol are quiet, following a frenetic last day of the 2011-12 Legislative Session on Friday, August 31. The legislature went well into the morning of September 1, hoping to secure enough last minute votes for a bill imposing a timber tax and limiting liability for certain forest fires, as one of their final actions. As we reported on Friday, the members of the legislature will return to their districts in order to campaign for the November election, while several, who are termed out or are moving on to new jobs on city councils or elsewhere, will begin the next phase of their careers. The new class of 2013 will be sworn in on December 3 at the Capitol. In the meantime, Governor Brown will be actively signing and vetoing several hundred bills that made it to his desk in the final days and hours of the session, and he will have until September 30th to take action on these measures.
On Friday, we noted that Assemblyman Das Williams, author of last year’s AB 438 (a bill which imposed a series of requirements on a city or library district that intends to withdraw from a county free library system and operate libraries with a private contractor), assumed late control of a bill by one of his colleagues. The measure, AB 2592 was completely “gutted” on the previous Friday to contain provisions which would, in effect, place “retroactive requirements on cities that have already withdrawn from a county library system with regard to entering into a public-private contract for library operations.”   The bill, which was sponsored by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) was intended to address a situation that had occurred in the City of Simi Valley. (see August 31 article)
One of the challenges when an author chooses to “gut and amend” legislation in the final days of session, is that often, the subject matter contained in the measure has not been heard by any of the policy or fiscal committees – such was the case with AB 2592. The bill had been “gutted” on the Senate side, and was the property of the powerful Senate Rules Committee, which decides what policy committee, if any, a bill should be referred to for proper review. Or, as occurs in some instances, the normal process can be disregarded and the bill could have potentially been taken up directly on the Senate Floor. We were in contact with the policy committee that would have had jurisdiction over the legislation, the Senate Governance and Finance Committee (formerly Senate Local Government Committee), and they were on stand-by for a hearing, if needed. Ultimately, it appears that the clock simply ran out on the Assemblyman’s request to have the bill considered, and his staff confirms that AB 2592 died in the Senate Rules Committee on Friday night.