Washington Brief - March 2000

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Dateline: January 31, 2000

H.R. 354 May Move Quickly to House Floor
If you haven't done so yet, pick up your phone or fax a short letter today to urge your House representative to vote against H.R. 354, the Collections of Information Antipiracy Act, when it goes to the House floor, a move that could occur as early as mid-February. Majority Leader Richard Armey (R-TX-26th) has apparently given up hope of a consensus database bill. The House Judiciary and House Commerce Committees have been unable to reach agreement between Judiciary's H.R. 354 that we oppose and Commerce's Consumer Investor Access to Information Act (H.R. 1858). We support H.R. 1858 because it provides for a balanced approach and includes AALL's language excluding primary legal materials.

Before you contact your representative, however, take a minute to look at the list of sponsors for both bills to see if your representative has taken a position on either H.R. 354 or H.R. 1858. You'll find these lists on THOMAS at: http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d106:HR00354: and http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d106:HR01858:. If your representative's name isn't listed, please urge them to sponsor H.R. 1858. To assist you with talking points, an updated Issue Brief on both bills is available at: http://www.aallnet.org/aallwash/IB012000.asp.

State-by-state Fight to Oppose UCITA
We knew early on that UCITA was going to be a tough battle as it moved out to the states, which is one reason why the library community joined forces to create a new broad-based coalition to fight UCITA in every state. I hope that all of you will check out the new web site for the 4cite (For a Competitive Information and Technology Economy) coalition at: http://www.4cite.org/. It includes information on our first press conference, held in Richmond on January 7, 2000, where Sally Wiant was one of three coalition speakers; a primer on UCITA; updates on state activity; a list of members; and much more background on why UCITA is opposed by a fast-growing number of non-profit groups and members of the business community.

In last month's column, I briefly summarized developments in Virginia. Despite the good work of Jim Heller, Sally Wiant, and a handful of others, the overwhelming number of proponents on the UCITA Advisory Committee succeeded in recommending that it be introduced in the General Assembly (SB 372 and HB 561). The good news is that 4cite members drafted a "Study UCITA" resolution to delay legislative action for a year until a comprehensive analysis is completed (SJ 239 and HJ 277).

Virginia and Maryland appear to be vying for the "privilege" of being the first state to enact UCITA. The Maryland legislation, H.B. 19 and S.B. 142, was introduced recently and 4cite is actively engaged in opposing it. Harvey Morrell, representing AALL and LLAM, will be among the public witnesses at a joint hearing on February 3, 2000. UCITA has been introduced in the following other states: Hawaii; Illinois (where hopefully it will be held up for a year); New Jersey (where it's being reviewed by the Law Revision Commission); and Oklahoma (where the state Attorney General, author of the opposition letter signed by 24 state attorneys general last summer, opposes it). In addition, we're monitoring rumblings about UCITA in California, Delaware, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

Our thanks to AALL's fifty UCITA state coordinators who, by tracking UCITA in their home state and sharing news on the advocacy listserv, have given us timely information that has been invaluable to our 4cite efforts. To keep updated on developments with both the database legislation and UCITA, subscribe today to the aall-advocacy listserv at: http://www.aallnet.org/aallwash/aalladvocsubscribe.asp.

FY 2001 Appropriations
The FY 2001 House Appropriations Subcommittee on Legislative hearings have begun, and Dr. Billington presented the budget request for the Library of Congress on January 27, 2000. Noting that LC will be 200 years old in April, he asked for Congressional support to begin building a new 21st century library for all Americans, the National On-line Library. LC's budget request of $428.1 million for FY 2001 will provide for the Library's digital initiatives; its succession planning; staff and collections security; and preservation and storage. Dr. Billington requested $8.28 million for the Law Library of Congress that includes staffing 16 new FTEs, including legal and foreign law specialists, library technicians and automation staff.

Public Printer Michael DiMario will present testimony tomorrow on behalf of the Government Printing Office (GPO) and the Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP). He will ask for $34.45 million for the Superintendent of Documents Salaries and Expenses appropriations to support the FDLP and its transition to a more electronic program. This sum includes an increase of $3.4 million, $1.6 million of which would directly fund expenses associated with the costs of operating the award-winning GPO Access system and ensuring permanent public access to its electronic government publications.

AALL will join ALA and ARL in providing testimony in support of the appropriations request of LC and the FDLP at a hearing this week. In addition, this year AALL is providing separate testimony in support of the Law Library of Congress that will be presented by former AALL president Carolyn P. Ahearn. In addition to urging full support for the Law Library's budget needs, Carolyn will focus on the Law Library's digital initiatives and the need for a Rare Book Librarian to manage the collection of over 65,000 rare law and law-related materials. Our statements on behalf of LC, GPO and the Law Library will be available following the hearing on February 2, 2000 at: http://www.aallnet.org/aallwash/testimony.asp.

The Future of NTIS...
...is still in limbo. The Department of Commerce (DOC) has not found Congressional sponsors for their proposed legislation closing NTIS at the end of FY 2000 and moving its clearinghouse to the Library of Congress. GPO has been lobbying openly to take over NTIS, which would potentially help their Sales Program and benefit the public good by providing no-fee, on-demand access to the entire clearinghouse of scientific, technical and business reports for depository libraries. We are carefully monitoring the situation, particularly as rumor has it that the DOC may submit, as part of their FY 2001 budget, a request for $4.5 million to shut down the agency with no consideration of how its mission would be fulfilled by another government entity.

Mary Alice Baish
Associate Washington Affairs Representative
Edward B. WIlliams Law Library
111 G Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20001-1417
202/662-9200 * FAX:202/662-9202