Washington eBulletin - June 2017

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Vol. 2017 Issue 06

A Look Ahead

The Impact of President Trump's Budget on Our Priority Agencies

As expected, President Trump's Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 Budget proposes eliminating the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) and the Legal Services Corporation (LSC), giving these agencies just enough funding to conduct "an orderly closeout" beginning in 2018. 

The good news is that despite the Republican-controlled Congress, the President's budget as a whole is largely seen as dead on arrival on Capitol Hill. Tellingly, Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-N.J.), chair of the House Appropriations Committee, issued a plain response to the proposal, stating that "the Congress, not the Executive Branch, has the 'power of the purse.'"

Still, the President's budget is an important guiding document, and library advocates need to stay vigilant to protect the agencies we care most about. Thankfully, IMLS and LSC enjoy widespread bipartisan support in both the House and Senate. This year, due in large part to the advocacy of librarians, a record number of Representatives and Senators signed on to "Dear Colleague" letters in support of IMLS. 

The Government Publishing Office (GPO) and the Library of Congress (LC) fare better under the President's budget, but these agencies will continue to need your help to educate members of Congress about the important role they play in our democracy. Under the FY 2018 budget, GPO would receive the same level of funding as in FY 2017. The Library of Congress would receive a slight boost in funding, but it's likely the Appropriations Committees will closely scrutinize the Library's request and may not honor it in full, particularly given the current environment of fiscal austerity. AALL submitted written testimony to the House and Senate Appropriations Subcommittees on the Legislative Branch in support of GPO and LC, commending both agencies for "transforming themselves into modern agencies for the digital world."

It's unclear at this point how Congress will proceed in passing FY 2018 appropriations. Recent reports suggest the members of the House are considering a proposal to combine all 12 appropriations bills and move a vote on them as a package before the month-long August recess. Given that neither the House nor Senate has written a budget resolution that would set top-line spending levels for FY 2018 and that Congress has less than 30 legislative days before recess is scheduled to begin, this scenario seems unlikely. Even if such a package did pass the House, it would likely stall in the Senate, leaving that chamber to develop its own strategy. 

The coming weeks will be a fascinating glimpse at the challenges the Republican Congress faces in simultaneously working with the President and setting its own direction. We'll continue to update AALL members on the latest budget issues impacting our priority agencies and highlight the best opportunities for action.

Act Now

Mark Your Calendars - Advocacy Leadership Session in Austin

Mark your calendars for AALL's advocacy training in Austin, Advocacy Leadership: Skills for Influence and Action, which will be held on Tuesday, July 18, 2017 from 2:30-4:30 p.m. Recent threats to access to government information, open government, and privacy--including debates over the Copyright Office and net neutrality--have highlighted the importance of law librarian advocacy like never before. AALL's advocacy training will familiarize you with the issues at the top of our public policy agenda and assist you in developing the skills you need to influence policymakers at the federal and state levels. 

You'll hear from experienced AALL advocates who will answer your questions about influencing pro-law library policies, and you'll have the opportunity to write to your members of Congress on our most urgent issues. For the first time since its inception, the advocacy training is being held during regular conference programming. Advance registration for the session is NOT required.

For a more in-depth review of AALL's top policy priorities and a look at what's to come, please join AALL's policy committees and Director of Government Relations Emily Feltren at the AALL Public Policy Update (C5) on Sunday, July 16 from 4:00-5:00 p.m. During the Update, AALL's Public Access to Government Information Award will be presented to Laura J. Orr for her impressive work on the Superseded Oregon Revised Statutes 1953-1993 Digitization Project.

AALL in the States

SANDALL on Law Librarian Advocacy

Anna Russell, a member of San Diego Area Law Libraries (SANDALL) Government Relations Committee and AALL's Government Relations Committee, penned an inspiring piece on the importance of advocacy that is sure to inspire you to get involved. See "Urging Law Librarians to Legislative Advocacy" in the latest issue of the SANDALL newsletter. 

LLNE Update on Massachusetts UELMA and More

The Law Librarians of New England (LLNE) Government Relations Committee provided an update on their blog about the Uniform Electronic Legal Material Act (UELMA) in Massachusetts and a summary of the recent AALL Virtual Lobby Day.

Roundup and Review
  • AALL posted a new issue brief discussing Star Athletica, LLC v. Varsity Brands, Inc. In a 6-2 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court held that an artistic feature incorporated into the design of a useful article is eligible for copyright protection if it satisfies a two-step separability test. This issue brief discusses implications of the decision for libraries.
  • The Senate version of the House-passed Register of Copyrights Selection and Accountability Act of 2017 (S. 1010) was introduced on May 2, 2017. AALL opposes this bill. Read more in our advocacy one-pager.
  • A bill to ensure access to Congressional Research Service reports was introduced by Rep. Leonard Lance (R-NJ) and Rep. Mike Quigley (D-Ill.) (H.R. 2335). AALL strongly supports the bill and we have been working closely with the sponsors to move it forward. 
  • The Open Government Data Act (S. 760) was reported favorably by the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs and is now awaiting a vote on the Senate floor. The bill, which AALL supports, would ensure access to machine-readable government data that must be published in an open format under open licenses.
  • For a list of the bills AALL supports and opposes, see the Bills page in our Action Center.