This is news from CLA and noteworthy to anyone following along!
Last Friday afternoon, Senator Mark DeSaulnier (D-Concord) formally introduced SB 1455, which seeks to place a major library construction bond measure on an upcoming statewide ballot. Senator DeSaulnier has been a long standing supporter of public libraries during his time in the Assembly and the Senate, and we are pleased that he has decided to go forward with this important legislation.
CLA members may recall that the last time a statewide library construction bond was approved by the voters was in 2000, in the amount of $350 million. Because the construction, renovation, and rehabilitation needs of public libraries in the state was in excess of $4 billion at that time, and there was also an additional $4 billion estimated for even longer term needs, the $350 million was exhausted almost immediately. A library bond measure in the amount of $600 million failed on the June 2006 ballot due largely to lack of voter turn-out. Since that time, the unmet construction needs of public libraries have increased substantially.
Friday, February 21 marked the deadline for legislation to be introduced in the 2014 session. As the deadline neared, we were approached by Senator DeSaulnier’s staff regarding the feasibility of going forward with a statewide public library construction bond this year. After consultations with several CLA leaders, including President Deborah Doyle, we informed Senator DeSaulnier’s staff that CLA would strongly support the opportunity to have a discussion in the legislature as to the construction and rehabilitation needs of public libraries.
As CLA members and supporters review SB 1455, please note that the language will need to be significantly amended in various places, as the Senator’s office, in order to meet the deadline above, used language that was contained in a bill previously sponsored by CLA that was authored by Senator Simitian in 2007-08. Several of the provisions are now out of date.
More than 1,000 new bills were introduced on Thursday and Friday of last week. Those bills, including SB 1455-DeSaulnier will all have to be in print for 30 days before they can be amended and subsequently scheduled for hearing in policy committee. CLA will continue to update you regarding important developments surrounding SB 1455 and other measures in the coming weeks.