Washington E-Bulletin - May 2014

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Vol. 2014, Issue 05

A Look Ahead

Though it may feel like 2014 has just begun, lawmakers on Capitol Hill will have only three months to address any must-pass issues before the August recess launches campaign season into high gear. Here are a few chances for action before then:

 

Legislative Branch Appropriations Moves Forward

The House of Representatives voted today to approve the Fiscal Year 2015 (FY15) Legislative Branch appropriations bill (H.R. 4487). The bill includes FY 2015 funds of $594.9 million for the Library of Congress and $122.6 million for the Government Printing Office, as reported by the House Appropriations Legislative Branch Subcommittee in early April. AALL submitted written testimony in support of these agencies, noting the critical role they play in providing permanent public access to official, authentic, and preserved government information and collections in multiple formats. Representative Rush Holt (D-N.J.) offered an amendment that would have re-instituted $2.5 million to the Office of Technology Assessment (OTA) in the bill, but the amendment was rejected. AALL previously joined several organizations on a letter urging Subcommittee leadership to restore these funds.

 

The Senate Appropriations Legislative Branch Subcommittee began its consideration of FY15 with a hearing on LC funding on April 8. This week, AALL submitted written testimony in support of GPO and LC's budget request on behalf of AALL, Medical Library Association, and Special Libraries Association. Please use our Action Center to urge your members of Congress to support as close to full funding as possible for these agencies.

 

As the House moves to consider its first FY15 appropriations bills, it is still unclear whether Congress has made a full return to "regular order".  While more appropriations bills will likely be reported and considered on the floor this year- and a few may even be sent to the President for signature- the midterm elections will likely keep members of Congress from tackling thorny issues included in some appropriations bills. Stay tuned to our Washington Blawg for further coverage as we learn more.

 

Future of Net Neutrality in Question

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has circulated a new draft Open Internet Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, which has not yet been made public, raising concerns among many members of Congress, tech companies and open government groups, including AALL. According to press reports, the new rules would allow Internet Service Providers to charge companies for preferential treatment, creating a two-tiered system for Internet access and effectively ending net neutrality. The new rules were prompted by last January's federal court ruling, which rejecting the bulk of the FCC's 2010 Open Internet Order on the grounds that they exceeded the FCC's authority.

 

Members of Congress are none too pleased about the new proposal. Democrats have been critical of the too-weak rules, while Republicans criticize FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler for seeking to regulate the Internet and ban outright blocking after the rules were struck down in court. Rep. Anna G. Eshoo (D-Calif.), Ranking Member of the Communications and Technology Subcommittee, issued the following statement: "Like many Internet users, I fear that the latest round of proposed net neutrality rules from the FCC will not do enough to curtail discrimination of Internet traffic, but rather leave the door open to discrimination under more ambiguous terms. [...]Fundamentally, consumers and businesses must be protected from actions by online gatekeepers that threaten free speech, harm competition or diminish the continued openness of the Internet. I will stringently evaluate the Chairman's proposal to ensure that these core values are elevated by any final net neutrality rules."

 

Chairman Wheeler is set to testify in front of the House Commerce Subcommittee on Communications on May 20, when he will likely be questioned about the new net neutrality rules. AALL strongly supports net neutrality, which protects the unique, open nature of the Internet, and promotes innovation, competition, and intellectual freedom. Without net neutrality, libraries may be unable to afford the imposed fees for preferred access, and thus could not provide equal access to the online legal information their users need. 


Act Now

Prove Your Value: Online Advocacy Training May 20

With the budgetary pressures of recent years and the nature of the legal environment in flux, public law librarians are facing challenging questions about their role in the justice system. While state, court and county law libraries provide crucial benefits to states and members of the public, these services can often be overlooked by decision makers focused on the bottom line.  

Please join AALL's Government Relations Office (GRO) as we tackle this common concern in our next online advocacy training, "Proving Your Value: Skills for Public Law Librarian Advocacy", on Tuesday, May 20 from 12:00-12:30 pm ET. In this 30 minute training, the GRO staff will offer practical tips to help state, court and county law librarians prove their value. Participants will learn how to effectively communicate their worth and positions, build strategic relationships, educate stakeholders, and demonstrate their vital role in promoting access to justice.

This training is available at no extra cost to AALL and chapter members. Though examples will focus on public law libraries, librarians from all types of institutions are encouraged to attend this relevant skills training. Register by May 19 to learn how to equip yourself with the tools you need to advocate for yourself and your profession.

 

Heading to San Antonio? Don't Forget...

When registering for AALL Annual Meeting and Conference in San Antonio, don't forget to also sign up for the 2014 Legislative Advocacy Training! Held Saturday, July 12 from 8:30 am to 12:00 pm, this annual advocacy skills training session is available at no extra cost and will help to prepare you to better advocate for yourself and your profession.

 

Learn how to raise your voice to advocate effectively, gain insight on proposed federal and state legislation impacting law libraries, and help to develop specific goals and tactics for influencing successful policy outcomes. The training is sponsored by AALL's Government Relations Office and Government Relations Committee. Advance registration is required, though if you forgot to sign up during conference registration, just email Elizabeth at eholland@aall.org.


AALL in the States

Progress Report: UELMA

The Uniform Electronic Legal Material Act (UELMA) has continued to see progress in several state legislatures this week. As part of its interim charge to consider possible adoption of UELMA, on Monday the Texas House Committee on Judiciary and Civil Jurisprudence heard testimony this week from stakeholders, including Barbara Bintliff, AALL past president and Reporter for UELMA, and Jane O'Connell, current member of AALL's Digital Access to Legal Information Committee. On Tuesday, the Pennsylvania House Judiciary Committee favorably reported UELMA. In Illinois, the Act was reported by the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday. CALL submitted testimony in support of the bill. The Massachusetts Joint Committees on the Judiciary also heard testimony from LLNE in support of their UELMA bill last week. See our updated 2014 UELMA Bill Tracking Chart.

 

AALL members and chapters have been working hard toward this success. Thank you for your dedication and support! Several chapters recently adopted resolutions in support of enactment of UELMA, including SEALL and WestPac, who adopted AALL's Resolution on UELMA, and DALL and HALL, which adopted their own.


Roundup and Review
  • Congratulations are in order! This year's Public Access to Government Information (PAGI) Award to the Mississippi College of Law Library for their outstanding Mississippi College Legislative History Project. The 2014 Robert L. Oakley Advocacy Award winner is Sally Holterhoff, recognizing her considerable efforts over many years in advocacy on behalf of law libraries. Hear from the winners at our annual Public Policy Update held during the Annual Meeting on Sunday, July 13 from 1:15 PM to 2:45 PM.
  • Happy Law Day! Here's how the Law Library of Congress is celebrating
  • Follow along at home with the 2014 DLC Meeting and FDL Conference  April 30 - May 2 #gpodlc14
  • Increasing LSC funding increases access to justice
  • Congress.gov included as an honoree for the Webby Awards Best Practices
  • We sat down with Associate Attorney General Tony West to talk DOJ transparency 
  • 80+ groups, including AALL, urge President Obama to support ECPA reform (and there's pressure on the SEC)
  • FDsys hit one billion retrievals in early April