California's landmark open access bill, the California Taxpayer Access to Publicly Funded Research Act (AB 609), has stalled in the State Senate. But take heart—it is far from dead.
Due to some procedural glitches, the Senate Governmental Organization (G.O.) Committee hasn't been able to officially sign off on the bill. At last week's hearing, the bill barely missed out on a quorum, getting five yes votes and zero no votes. (The other members abstained.) However, the bill was granted reconsideration by the Chair of the G.O. That means the Committee will pick up the bill in January 2014, exactly where it left off.
That also means our work is far form over. This kind of delay can often be the vehicle for a slow, quiet death. But we, and the bill many other supporters, won't let that happen to open access.
In particular, we'll be fighting back against the misinformation campaigns being waged by certain large publishers. Over the next six months, we will be working to make it as clear as possible that public access to taxpayer funded research is more than just smart policy, financially feasible, and economically sound—it's an obvious step in the right direction.
The momentum is there. The bill flew through the State Assembly with a 71-7 bipartisan vote, and dozens of companies, publishers, and advocacy groups have put their weight behind this important legislation. The diversity of support for this bill shows just how many folks would benefit from such legislation: Companies and startups could use and analyze research for downstream innovation; certain publishers have developed profitable business models on top of open access policies; advocacy groups and activists would receive not just the latest research, but also better understanding of how taxpayer money is being spent.
California is home to cutting edge research and ideas. We're not going to let the publishers FUD campaign keep that work locked up behind paywalls. Stay tuned for ways you can help.