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Senator Wolk to Announce Major Library Legislation
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November 30, 2012

TO:                  CLA Members/Systems/Network Contacts
FROM:           Mike Dillon, CLA Lobbyist
                        Christina DiCaro, CLA Lobbyist
RE:                 News From the Capitol
This afternoon Senator Lois Wolk announced that she will be introducing a Senate Constitutional Amendment on Monday that will allow for a 55% vote (rather than the current 2/3 vote threshold) for local special taxes and bonds to fund critical local library operations and facilities.      
Several weeks ago Senator Wolk’s office informed CLA that the Senator, a long time library supporter, would like to introduce a Constitutional Amendment that would, if approved by the legislature, be placed on a future ballot asking voters to decide whether to lower the vote threshold.  CLA has since been working closely with Senator Wolk’s staff to develop the language for the measure, and to provide historical information on the history of library funding in California. Early next week, after the measure is introduced, we will send out the details of the constitutional amendment including the number, actual language, etc. This is great news for CLA and we look forward to working with Senator Wolk and the other members of the Legislature to address the important issue of funding critical library programs throughout the State of California.        
Please see the full text of Senator Wolk’s press release below:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                                   
November 30, 2012                                                                                                  
CONTACT: Melissa Jones (916) 651-4005
Senator announces bill to support local public libraries
Wolk proposes 55 percent voter approval for local library measures
SACRAMENTO--Senator Lois Wolk (D-Davis) announced today that she will introduce a state constitutional amendment  next week to make it easier for local governments to raise funds to support public libraries by lowering the vote requirement for local library bonds and taxes from two-thirds to 55 percent, similar to K-12 school bond measures.
“Libraries are a vital resource for our communities. They provide essential services to the state’s education system and to our communities.  But while demand for library services is growing, many libraries are struggling to meet the needs of their users in light of ongoing state and local budget cuts,” Wolk said.  “We’ve seen major reductions in hours and even closings.  Lowering the voter threshold to 55 percent will give more local communities the ability to keep libraries open and serving their needs.”
Children, students, families, and seniors all depend on public libraries for a variety of services, including literacy programs, computer access, and other resources.  As public schools are also closing or cutting school libraries, students must rely on public libraries more than ever before.   Unfortunately, even with the November passage of the Governor’s tax proposal, local governments will have to step in to prevent further reductions in services.
Currently, general purpose tax measures that may be used to fund general local services require only a simple majority vote to pass.  However, special taxes dedicated to specified uses, such as libraries, require two-thirds voter approval. 
“In the November elections, two California library parcel tax measures failed despite receiving substantial majorities, with more than 55 percent yes votes from their communities.  The proposed change to 55 percent would still require significant support from local voters,” said Derek Wolfgram, President of the California Library Association. “In order to provide additional opportunities for communities to support the positive actions libraries take to transform the lives of California residents, the California Library Association strongly endorses this legislation.”
“Libraries are responsible for building strong communities throughout California,” said Patty Wong, Yolo County Library Director and a supporter of the proposed legislation. “Senator Wolk’s measure would mean increased library support throughout the state. Yolo County is growing and we need to meet the library needs in rural areas like Dunnigan and the Capay Valley, as well as expand in urban communities like west Sacramento and Davis.