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Library Bond Measure Modified & Legislature Faces "House of Origin" Deadlines
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May 29, 2014



FROM: Mike Dillon, CLA Lobbyist
                Christina DiCaro, CLA Lobbyist

RE: News From the Capitol



Last week, the Senate Appropriations Committee voted to send about two-thirds of the bills under its jurisdiction (160 bills total) to the Senate Floor for a formal vote.  One of those measures was SB 1455 by Senator Mark DeSaulnier, a major library construction and renovation bond measure sponsored by CLA.  However, as a condition of moving the issue forward, the author and CLA had to agree to significantly amend the bill to become a bond Needs Assessment only, to be conducted by the State Library.  

The Senate Appropriations Committee had significant concerns regarding SB 1455’s bonded indebtedness cost to the state, despite the fact that the author and CLA did not include a dollar amount in the bond, as a strategy technique that is often done with bond measures.  CLA had been actively pushing for a library bond in the range of $1-2 billion but was waiting for an indication from the Democrat leadership as to what might be acceptable.  The Committee consultant wrote in her analysis: “presumably this bond, consistent with past library bonds and needs assessments will be in the hundreds of millions of dollars (up to the low billions of dollars).  Staff notes for reference that, assuming an interest rate of 5% and the issuance of 30-year bonds, for each hundred million dollars of bonds issued, annual debt service would be approximately $6.5 million (General Fund).”   The Committee also added that there would be additional costs associated with the Secretary of State’s office in the range of $275,000 to $660,000 to place the measure on the statewide ballot.  

As we have reported, Senator DeSaulnier has been a strong supporter of public libraries during his time in the legislature, and while he is disappointed that this year was not the right time for a library construction bond to be put forward, he acknowledges the tremendous backlog and need for public library renovation and construction.  In order to continue to elevate the importance of those needs, the Senator’s SB 1455, as amended, does not contain bond language, but rather directs the State Library to conduct a comprehensive Needs Assessment on the construction, renovation, and rehabilitation needs of public libraries and furnish that report to the Governor, Department of Finance, the Legislative Analyst’s Office, and the appropriate policy and fiscal committees in the legislature by August 15, 2015.    

When Senator DeSaulnier presented SB 1455 yesterday afternoon on the Senate Floor for vote, he said that the last State Library bond needs assessment was conducted in 2007 and indicated that there was an $8 billion total need.  He called the Senate Floor vote on SB 1455, “the first step toward the legislature learning what our real needs are for library construction.”  The bill passed on a vote of 31 “ayes” to 4 “noes.”  The bill now heads to the Assembly.




Throughout the legislative session, the Assembly and Senate must adhere to a series of policy and fiscal deadlines.  This Friday marks the “House of Origin” deadline, requiring bills to be out of the house where the bill was first introduced.  These measures, for the most part, have survived the policy committees, fiscal committees, and are now poised for floor votes.  The legislature is scrambling to dispense with hundreds of bills in each house by this afternoon, as many of the members would like to return to their districts and continue to campaign, leading up to the June 3 Primary.  Issues relating to climate change, warning labels on sugary drinks, and hydraulic fracturing have been some of the more active and contentious “bills to watch,” in the final days.  

Following Friday’s deadline, the Senate and Assembly will continue their business throughout June, holding policy committee hearings on bills from the opposite house.  Importantly, the Legislature will also be working on putting together the 2014-15 State Budget, which is constitutionally required to be passed to the Governor by June 15th.  The powerful Budget Conference Committee (conferee appointments still pending) will soon begin meeting daily to reconcile the differences in each house’s Budget.  Once the Budget is passed, the Governor has until June 30th to sign it into law.  Meanwhile, policy committees will have only four more weeks to wrap up their hearings on remaining bills, with June 27th being the last day for policy committees to meet and report on bills.  Both houses will be in recess from July 3rd to August 4th, and then will return to conclude business in fiscal committees and on the Floor before adjourning the 2013-14 session on August 31st.