August 28, 1996
Honorable Curt Pringle
Speaker of the Assembly
California State Assembly
Sacramento, California 95814
Dear Assemblyman Pringle:
I am very pleased at this opportunity to write to you today to urge your support for Senate Bill 1507 on behalf of the American Association of Law Libraries. If enacted, this important and timely piece of legislation will close current loopholes in California law, guaranteeing the access and preservation of legislative bill and agency rulemaking files. It is especially noteworthy that two of our association's chapters, the Northern California Association of Law Libraries and the Southern California Association of Law Libraries, are co-sponsors of this bill.
The American Association of Law Libraries (AALL) is a nonprofit educational organization headquartered in Chicago with over 5,000 members nationwide. Our members respond to the legal and governmental information needs of legislators, judges, and other public officials at all levels of government, corporations and small businesses, law professors and students, attorneys, and members of the general public.
Law librarians recognize the importance of comprehensive and permanent access to materials documenting the legislative history of statutes and regulations. Legislative histories are critically important for the legal and research communities in determining and interpreting legislative intent. Currently, access to these California state materials is somewhat haphazard. There is no comprehensive standard to ensure "the preservation of legislative committee and floor bill files and agency rulemaking files." This creates a barrier to the public's access to this important body of information, leaving researchers and members of the legal community at a loss in interpreting how a statute or regulation should be applied. It should be noted, however, that with regard to the requirements to preserve legislative bill files, that SB 1507 does not include in its legislative records definition any author's files, confidential documents, pending bill files, or fiscal committee correspondence not utilized in preparation of their analyses.
SB 1507 amends the Administrative Procedures Act (Government Code Section 11347.3 (c)) to ensure that legislative rulemaking files be not only available to the public, but also permanently preserved. It also amends the State Records Management Act (Government Code Section 14755) to specifically prohibit the destruction of agency rulemaking files. Additionally, SB 1507 adds Government Code Section 9080 which declares that legislative records are important in the interpretation of laws and sets forth the procedures for preserving the appropriate documents. Taken together, these proposed changes to the law offer a comprehensive solution to the current situation in which valuable legislative and rulemaking materials are at best very difficult to locate, and at worst, often destroyed.
We hope that you and your colleagues in the California State Assembly will unanimously support SB 1507 when it is voted upon on Thursday. This legislation assures permanent access for the citizens of California to a critically important body of information. SB 1507 fulfills the spirit of the California Public Records Act and has the full support of the American Association of Law Libraries. We thank you very much for your consideration and support in this matter.
Robert L. Oakley
American Association of Law Libraries
Washington Affairs Representative
Senator Nicholas Petris
Assemblyman Philip Isenberg
Senator Bill Lockyer
Governor Pete Wilson