2015 Legislative Session Recap

FY 2015-16 Budget

Together with library advocates from across New York State, NYLA secured a $5M increase in funding over what Governor Cuomo contemplated in his Executive Budget proposal. This represents the largest year-to-year increase in state library funding in seven years, and brings total state library aid in
FY2015-16 to $91.6M. Though state library aid is still less than what is required in education law (102.6M), the success of our “Libraries Are Education” advocacy campaign has put funding on a solid trajectory. Also included in this year’s budget is a permanent exemption from the MTA tax for public libraries and public library systems – a stark reversal after several years of failure on this issue. The state Library Construction Aid program again received $14M in funding.

NYLA Legislative Priorities

NYLA’s legislative priorities are devised by the Legislative Committee and NYLA Council and serve to set NYLA’s agenda on advocacy activities.

•    MTA Tax Exemption for Public Libraries and Public Library Systems
S.214 Martins / A.218 Abinanti
After several years of failing to get traction on this legislation in the Assembly, this year NYLA was able to get the exemption done as part of the state budget. The exemption applies to all public libraries and public library systems within the MTA taxing district. Signed into law by Governor Cuomo Chapter 59 of 2015.

•    Taxpayer Access to Publically-Funded Research Act (TAPR)
S.3952 Farley / A.1878 Hevesi
This legislation requires New York State funded research published in peer‐reviewed journals be made available online by the state agencies that underwrite such research. Following the dissolution of the New York State Higher Education Initiative (NYSHEI), NYLA took the lead on TAPR this session. This legislation had not moved since its introduction. We sought a new Senate sponsor, Senator Farley. Though NYLA had several meeting this session on the bill, concerns were raised and the bill was shelved in the Senate. NYLA is working with the Senate on proposed amendments.

•    Expand Access to School Libraries and Librarians    S.3931 Farley / No Same As
NYLA was able to introduce legislation last year, for the first time since 2007, which would expand access to school librarians. Prior to this session, we worked with stakeholders to write and introduce new legislation that would better address this issue. This was the first year we worked on the new bill, and we spent much of the session laying groundwork. This is an extremely complicated and difficult piece of legislation. Near the close of session, a competing Assembly bill, sponsored by Assemblywoman Solages, was introduced that contained slight differences from the Farley bill. NYLA continues to work on this legislation, and we anticipate broader efforts as we implement the next phase of our strategy to pass this bill.

NYLA - Monitored Legislation

During the course of a legislative session, NYLA works on additional legislation that is not part of our official legislative agenda, but will benefit the library community.  Below is a list of bills that fell outside of our legislative priorities that NYLA worked on during the 2014 legislative session:

•    SED E-book Study                    S.5718 Farley / A.7627-A Abinanti
Directs the Commissioner of the State Education Department to conduct a study and develop a comprehensive plan for increasing access to and lending of electronic books in libraries and library systems across New York State. This legislation was on NYLA’s legislative agenda from 2012-2014. After addressing several issues with surrounding collective purchasing with Senator Farley, Assemblyperson Abinanti and representatives from the state Office of General Services, we were able to revive this bill. This legislation is waiting to be delivered to the Governor.

•    Creation of Library Districts
o    Starr Library District                S.5500 Serino / A.1273 Cahill
o    Seymour Library District            S.5942 Ortt / A.7735-A Hawley
These bills each create special library districts in law. NYLA is working with stakeholders and other members of the library community to help advocate for the passage of both bills, after the Governor vetoed the Starr legislation last year. Both pieces of legislation were delivered to the Governor on 8/3/15, for him to act on within 10 days.

•    Trustee Terms for Public Library Systems        S.5793 Griffo / A.7754-A Brindisi
This bill provides latitude for public library system boards by permitting the appointment of trustees for either three or five year terms, and implements term limits for trustees. This legislation is waiting to be delivered to the Governor.

•    State Aid for Broadband Construction            S.4299 O’Mara / A.8168 Abinanti
This bill specifically provides that funds allocated under the state Library Construction Aid program may be used for broadband installation and infrastructure. This legislation is waiting to be delivered to the Governor to be signed into law.

•    Relates to the Elections of the Poughkeepsie Library District
S.5820 Serino / A.8047 Skaratados
This bill establishes a procedure for the election of the trustees of the Poughkeepsie Library District to be held on the third or fourth Tuesday of October and requires the trustees to hold the annual budget vote on the date of the general election. This legislation was vetoed by the Governor, Veto No.187 of 2015.

Bullet Aid

The Senate and Assembly allocated more “bullet aid” to libraries this year than in any previous year. NYLA both provided assistance in securing the actual aid in the budget, and in providing sample language for libraries to use when requesting aid.  This year, the Senate gave $3.7M to 460 different libraries - $1.2M more than in any previous year.  The Assembly made one award, to one library.  Complete details can be found on NYLA.org – 2015 Bullet Aid.