Washington E-Bulletin - August 2014

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Vol. 2014, Issue 08


A Look Ahead

August Recess Begins, Mid-Terms Loom
As members of Congress return home for their annual five-week August recess, campaign season kicks into overdrive with fewer than 100 days until the mid-term elections. In result, a long list of legislative priorities will compete with the ticking clock: The House of Representatives is scheduled to be in session just ten days in September and two days in October; the Senate will return from recess on Sept. 8 — and Democratic leaders have said they hope to head home for the duration of the mid-term campaign season fewer than three weeks later.

Among the issues likely to garner Congressional action before November is surveillance reform, which AALL expects to see return to center stage soon after the August recess. This week, Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) reintroduced the USA FREEDOM Act (S. 2685) in compromise form. The new bill is a large improvement over the weak House-passed legislation and includes strong transparency and privacy provisions, including expanded reporting requirements and the prohibition of bulk collection. The bill will bypass a committee vote and land straight on the Senate floor, most likely in September. AALL urges both the Senate and the House to pass the legislation swiftly and without diluting its protections.

While the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee (HSGAC) has not yet taken consideration of H.R. 4195, the Federal Register Modernization Act, it’s possible the legislation could be marked up in September. H.R. 4195, which passed the House in July, would eliminate the statutory requirement to print the Federal Register and Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) and remove the requirement to produce indexes for these materials. We have heard from many law librarians about the importance these print materials and their indexes (thank you!) and shared your stories with HSGAC staff to illustrate our opposition to the bill.  Any specific examples about the superiority of indexes to full text search of the Federal Register and CFR would be most helpful at this time, including examples of specific queries. Please contact the Government Relations Office staff using our Legislative Action Center.

AALL has been working with the other major library associations in response to legislation that would eliminate the National Technical Information Service (NTIS). Earlier this week, Director of Government Relations Emily Feltren joined colleagues from the American Library Association and Association of Research Libraries to discuss the importance of permanent public access to NTIS’s valuable collection of government-funded scientific, technical, engineering and business information. Committee staff were receptive to our concerns, including our view that Congress should help ensure greater no-fee public access to government information and our support for NTIS’s digitization efforts. The GRO will continue to work with the committee on possible solutions to ensure expanded access.

Stay tuned to our Washington Blawg as these issues progress and keep an eye out for opportunities for your advocacy. While Washington may see limited action before the elections, the coming months will offer many opportunities for law librarian advocacy in your home state or district, as we’ll discuss in our next online advocacy training (more information below).

Act Now

Register Now: “Making the Most of Midterms” Online Training
Join AALL’s Government Relations Office (GRO) staff on Wednesday, August 27 at 12:00 pm ET for a 30-minute online advocacy training, “Making the Most of Midterms: Opportunities for Advocacy at Home.” Participants will learn how to maximize their influence at upcoming hometown events like town hall meetings, library tours, and candidate meet and greets. With your members of Congress campaigning at home, you’ll have many opportunities to engage them in discussion. Learn the skills and information you need to make an impact during their time in your state or district!

This training is complimentary for AALL and chapter members. Please register online by August 26.

AALL in the States

Add Another to the List!
Delaware Governor Jack Markell signed H.B. 403 into law last week, making his state the tenth to adopt the Uniform Electronic Legal Material Act (UELMA)! Two states have enacted UELMA this year and the Act is still pending in Pennsylvania, Illinois—where it awaits Governor Quinn’s signature—and the District of Columbia. Our 2014 UELMA Bill Tracking Chart has the latest information.

Chapter Government Relations Listserv
New chapter presidents, vice presidents, and chapter relations committee chairs have been added to the GRO’s Chapter Government Relations Listserv for 2014-2015. If you hold one of these positions and have not yet received a message on the listserv, please contact Elizabeth Holland at eholland@aall.org to be added.

Roundup and Review