A Palm Desert lawmaker's bill proposing that manuscripts published as part of state-funded research be freely available to the public cleared its first legislative hurdle today.
AB 609, introduced by Assemblyman Brian Nestande, R-Palm Desert, was approved by the Assembly Committee on Accountability and Administrative Review. The bill now heads to the Assembly Committee on Appropriations.
Nestande said he brought the proposal forward to ensure taxpayers have free access to the very research papers for which they pay.
"California taxpayers invest hundreds of millions of dollars into research annually," the lawmaker said. "When the result of that research is published, they can only access the information by purchasing costly journal subscriptions. If we want California to remain on the cutting edge of innovation and science, we must make this information available to those who can use and build upon it."
AB 609 would require that research material funded through state grants issued by any agency under the governor be digitally archived and made available online, without cost, via the California State Library system, or another state-approved repository.
Current law only mandates that state-funded research articles be logged in a database.
Nestande is targeting peer-reviewed manuscripts that appear in journals that are not widely distributed and can be expensive to obtain.
According to the assemblyman, single articles can often cost upwards of $30 to access.
"We owe it to our taxpayers and future innovators to make the research their tax dollars paid for readily available," Nestande said.
Nestande used a National Institutes of Health policy enacted in 2008 as a template for AB 609. Under the federal program, researchers who rely on NIH funding must submit an electronic version of their work, freely accessible to the public, no later than 12 months after the manuscript appears in a journal.
AB 609 supporters include the Association of College and Research Libraries, the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the University of California, among others.
Opponents were the Association of American Publishers Inc. and NetChoice.