Wednesday, November 09, 2005

AB 40, Common School Fund Bill, Passed By Legislature

Library supporters are urged to contact Governor Jim Doyle as soon as possible to ask him to veto AB 40, relating to the Common School Fund. The bill passed the Senate Tuesday by a nearly party line vote of 18-15. Not only did all 17 Senate Democrats vote against the bill, one Republican, Tom Reynolds, also voted against the measure. AB 40 has already passed the Assembly, so now it heads to the Governor for his signature or veto.

WLA is concerned that the bill will reduce the amount of money going into the Common School Fund, which is the sole source of funding for about 50 percent of school libraries. Under current law, 100% of forfeitures of money related to a drug crime goes into the Fund. AB 40 would reduce that to 70%, ostensibly to increase collections of these forfeitures by local law enforcement authorities. Unfortunately, no one can reasonably predict the actual impact of the bill. What if collections by local law enforcement don't increase? School libraries are already hurting for resources and this bill could exacerbate the situation.

There are two other bills pending in the legislature that would likely reduce payouts from the CSF to school libraries: AB 152 and AB 130. In the past, there have been many other attempts to raid the fund or reduce the amount contributed to the fund. While often well-intentioned and for other worthy causes, the constitutional intent of the CSF is to support school libraries. It should be preserved for that purpose.
Two Public Library Bills on Floor of Senate November 9

Library supporters are urged to call their State Senators this morning to urge approval of Senate Bills 272 and 273, relating to public libraries and public library systems. The bill is scheduled for action in the State Senate today; session starts at 11:00 a.m. More information about the bill is available in the online Legislative Status Report. Go to Who is My Legislator to determine contact information for your State Senator.

Apparently, the Committee on Veterans, Homeland Security, Military Affairs, Small Business and Government Reform approved the bills via a paper ballot yesterday, and it was scheduled immediately. If approved in the Senate, it will go to the Assembly for action.