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Gov. Jerry Brown today signed legislation to give students access to free online textbooks for common undergraduate courses at California's public colleges and universities.

Senate Bills 1052 and 1053, by Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, call for the establishment of an online library of digital textbooks for 50 of the most widely taken lower-division courses at the University of California, California State University and state community colleges.

The bills, intended to reduce student costs, were approved on bipartisan votes in the Legislature. Publishing companies that once objected to the bills eventually removed their opposition, and amendments removed a requirement that publishers provide free copies of textbooks in college libraries.

"The current cost of traditional textbooks is so high, some college students are forced to struggle through a required class without the textbook, forced to drop classes or sometimes even drop out of college altogether," Steinberg said in a prepared statement. "There's absolutely no reason a basic biology, statistics or accounting textbook, for example, should cost $200."

The Democratic governor also signed Assembly Bill 970, by Assemblyman Paul Fong, D-Cupertino, directing UC and CSU officials to consult students prior to any increase in student fees.

Brown signed the legislation while meeting with college students at the Capitol. Brown's office published this video of the private event:



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