February 14, 1997
Francis J. Buckley, Jr.
Chair, Coalition on Government Information
c/o American Library Association Washington Office
1301 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W. #403
Washington, D.C. 20004-8419
Dear Mr. Buckley:
As a member of the Ad Hoc Subcommittee on Government Information, I am honored to submit to the Coalition on Government Information the nomination of the Northern California and Southern California Associations of Law Libraries (NOCALL and SCALL) for the 1997 Madison Award. NOCALL and SCALL members drafted Senate Bill 1507 to amend the California Open Records Act and worked diligently at each step of the legislative process to ensure its passage in both the Senate and Assembly. And they were rewarded when SB 1507 was signed by Governor Pete Wilson in September 1996. This model piece of legislation (Chapter 928), drafted and enacted within a one year period, went into effect on January 1, 1997.
All librarians, and especially those serving the legal community, recognize the importance of comprehensive and permanent access to materials documenting the legislative history of statutes and regulations. Legislative histories are critically important in determining and interpreting legislative intent. Prior to the enactment of SB 1507, access to these California state materials was haphazard. No comprehensive standard to ensure the preservation of legislative committee and floor bill files and agency rulemaking files existed. This created a barrier to the public's access to this important body of information, leaving researchers, members of the legal community, and others at a loss in interpreting how a statute or regulation should be applied.
NOCALL and SCALL members drafted this legislation to close loopholes in California law, ensuring that legislative records and agency rulemaking files would be systematically retained, made available to the public, and permanently preserved. Chapter 928 fulfills the spirit of the California Public Records Act, and serves as a model law for other states to enact.
I believe that the members of NOCALL and SCALL well deserve the honor and recognition that the Madison Award represents. Thank you very much for your consideration in this matter.
Mary Alice Baish
American Association of Law Libraries Assistant
Washington Affairs Representative
Cathy Hardy, NOCALL Government Relations Committee
David McFadden, SCALL Government Relations Committee