Washington E-Bulletin - June 2014

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Vol. 2014, Issue 06

A Look Ahead

Focus Shifts to Senate on Surveillance Reform
Last month, the House Rules Committee took a page from the original passage of the Patriot Act in 2001 when it gutted the version of the USA FREEDOM Act unanimously endorsed by two House committees, adopted a closed rule process, and sent the weakened bill to the floor. It passed by a wide margin.

Nearly a year after the Snowden leaks first revealed the troublingly broad nature and scope of our government’s surveillance practices, the political will to limit these authorities hangs in the balance. While the authors of the USA FREEDOM Act (H.R. 3361) sought “comprehensive legislation to end the bulk collection of Americans' communications records,” eleventh hour pressure from the Obama Administration led to an amended bill so weakened that nearly half of the bill’s co-sponsors voted against it. Stripped of key privacy and transparency protections, the House-passed USA FREEDOM Act does little to stop the NSA from continuing to operate with impunity.

Focus now turns to the Senate Judiciary Committee, which is expected to take up the bill this month. AALL has joined a number of civil liberty and public interest organizations in calling for public and deliberate consideration of the legislation by the Senate Judiciary and Intelligence Committees, and tech companies like the Reform Government Surveillance coalition—whose members include Google, Facebook, Microsoft, AOL, Apple, Twitter, LinkedIn, DropBox, and Yahoo—have also voiced their concerns. Last week, Google launched its Take Action campaign to support strengthened reform.  It says on its site: “As the [USA FREEDOM Act] stands today it could still permit the collection of email records from everyone who uses a particular email service. As the legislation moves over to the Senate, it is critical that this loophole be closed.  We need real surveillance reform urgently."

With the White House pushing the Senate to act quickly to pass this moderate reform, the vocal support of tech organization, advocacy groups, and members of the public for stronger privacy provisions is crucial. AALL echoes the calls for real reforms that protect the privacy of library users and all Americans by ending the bulk collection of Americans’ records. We urge the Senate to close the loophole that allows the government to choose the “specific selection terms” it can use to identify records and encourage changes to the law to end “back-door searches” by specifying that the government needs a warrant to search for Americans’ information. The Senate must also ensure the original robust transparency provisions are restored, including greater public reporting requirements on the use of Foreign Intelligence Act (FISA) surveillance and declassification of significant FISA Court opinions. These reforms are necessary to properly restore Americans’ privacy and rights under the Constitution.

Act Now

Last Chance, Early Birds! “Advocacy Basics and Beyond” in San Antonio
Headed to San Antonio this summer? We hope you’ll join AALL’s Government Relations Office (GRO) and Government Relations Committee at our annual Legislative Advocacy Training on Saturday, July 12 from 8:30 am to 12:00 pm.

This year’s training will focus on “Advocacy Basics and Beyond,” offering seasoned veterans and new advocates alike the tools needed to help advance AALL's policy priorities at the state and federal levels.  Participants will learn about the top legislative goals of the GRO, hear success stories from an expert panel of law librarian advocates, and learn practical skills for effective grassroots advocacy from special guest speaker Jean L. Brady, chair of the San Antonio Public Library Board of Trustees. The half-day session will also include interactive breakout sessions where you’ll help to develop specific goals and tactics for influencing successful legislative outcomes!

The Legislative Advocacy Training is available at no extra cost to conference attendees. Please register in advance during the conference registration process or email Public Policy Associate Elizabeth Holland at eholland@aall.org to RSVP. Don’t forget: early bird rates for the Annual Meeting and Conference end after June 6.

AALL in the States

More Progress on UELMA
Bills to enact Uniform Electronic Legal Material Act (UELMA) moved forward in a few states in recent weeks. In Illinois, SB 1941 passed both chambers of the legislature and now awaits signature by the governor. In Massachusetts, the Joint Committee on the Judiciary favorably reported HB 38 last week. The bill has been referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means. In Pennsylvania, the General Assembly has scheduled a second reading of SB 601, its UELMA bill. this week. Stay tuned!

Chapter Government Relations Get-Together July 13
Chapter leaders and government relations chairs are invited to attend the second annual Chapter Government Relations Get-Together on Sunday, July 13 from 5:00 – 7:00 pm in San Antonio. This informal event will take place at The Bar in the Marriot Rivercenter, the AALL headquarters hotel for this year’s Annual Meeting and Conference.

Join us to network with chapter colleagues, strategize on upcoming advocacy campaigns, and celebrate the chapter successes of the past year. AALL Government Relations Office staff Emily Feltren and Elizabeth Holland will be on hand to answer questions, facilitate connections, and share more information on future opportunities for chapter involvement. You won’t want to miss it!

Please RSVP to Elizabeth Holland at eholland@aall.org by Monday, July 7.

Michele Finerty Receives NOCALL's Advocacy Award
The Northern California Association of Law Libraries’ (NOCALL) prestigious Advocacy Award was recently presented to Michele Finerty, NOCALL’s president-elect 2014-15. Michele was awarded for her efforts in promoting and supporting the passage of the SB 1075, California’s UELMA bill, as well as several additional advocacy endeavors.  Her involvement, directly in California’s legislative effort to pass UELMA, and nationally, in supporting and assisting with efforts in other states, earned her special recognition.

UELMA advocacy was neither Michele’s first nor her only advocacy effort in recent years. As chair of the NOCALL Government Relations Committee, Michele organized NOCALL’s Sunshine Week event for several years and has been a speaker on advocacy topics at the NOCALL and WestPac Institutes and on programs at the AALL Annual Meeting.  Further, her passion extends to advocacy for animal welfare as well.  Michele was a founding member of the AALL Animal Law Caucus in 2010 and continues working in support of animal welfare legislation through advocacy events sponsored by the California Humane Society and the ASPCA.

When asked about her advocacy efforts, Michele expressed how honored she was to receive this award, but wanted it known that she was part of a team that included David McFadden, Judy Janes, Larry Meyer, and then- NOCALL President Chuck Marcus.  Michele commented on NOCALL’s eminent record of legislative advocacy through the years and said that she was pleased to receive the award in the name of all those who came before her.

Roundup and Review