Washington Brief - June 2000

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Dateline: April 27, 2000

UCITA Enacted in Maryland
Gov. Parris N. Glendening signed into law the Maryland Computer Information Transactions Act (UCITA) on April 25th and it becomes effective July 2000. The Maryland process was formidable. We worked closely with our 4cite coalition partners and, with our growing experience, have organized our opposition much more effectively. The library community proposed three different amendments to the MD UCITA bill, and our third one lost on the Senate floor by a vote of 25 to 20--it was close. We also developed some supporters within the General Assembly who are willing to work with us in the coming year as we gauge the effects of UCITA on libraries and educational institutions in Maryland. For more news about the UCITA process in Maryland, read Harvey Morrell's Copyright Corner article on p. ***.

As far as the UCITA scorecard goes, in Virginia we await the appointment of the special UCITA study committee; their report is due in December and we hope for substantive amendments. The VA law will become effective July 2001. UCITA has been introduced recently here in the District of Columbia (13-607) and in Delaware (S.B. 307). Our Louisiana UCITA coordinators are following-up on the recent news that it will be studied there by the Law Institute, with possible action next year. UCITA has just been introduced in New Jersey (S.B. 1201), somewhat surprisingly since the NJ Law Revision Commission has not yet completed its analysis nor made any recommendations. On the brighter side, UCITA has been tabled in some states and delayed in others, including California, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, and Oklahoma.

Chapter Advocacy Training in Philly!
We are very grateful to President Margie Axtmann and Executive Director Roger Parent for their support in offering an advocacy training program prior to the Annual Meeting in Philadelphia. This special training program is free and is open to delegates selected by each chapter; we hope to see at least one member from each state as well. Our special thanks to Brent Bernau, Chair of the Council of Chapter Presidents, for assisting chapters and coordinating the participants for the session. Presented by the Government Relations Committee and the Washington Office, we hope to repeat last year's success and turn our workshop participants into energized chapter leaders and advocacy experts on legislative issues of concern to the law library community. With such hot legislative issues as database protection, the various state UCITA bills, and funding bills for county law libraries on the horizon, this program could not be better timed. We are very excited about it!

FY 2001 Legislative Branch Funding Crisis
The House Subcommittee on Legislative Appropriations will mark up the FY 2001 appropriations bill on May 2nd and we have learned that they have targeted a $94 million cut from the FY 2000 budgets of legislative branch agencies. Full committee mark-up is now scheduled for May 5th and the bill may go to the House floor as early as May 18th. AALL is very concerned about the need for full FY 2001 funding for the Law Library and the Federal Depository Library Program. While we don't yet know what the specific cuts may be, we have posted alerts to our members through the aall-advocacy and GD-SIS listservs because now is the time to contact House representatives who serve on the Appropriations Committee and in other key leadership positions. (ADD URL)

On behalf of the Law Library, we are urging approval of their full FY 2001 funding request of $8.28 million. This amount includes essential funding to hire 16 additional FTEs, including technical staff and a rare books librarian, and to support the Law Library's two digital projects, the Second Century of Lawmaking and the Global Legal Information Network. We are also urging approval of the full funding request of $34.4 million for the FDLP, including $1.6 million for GPO Access; $3.3 million for cataloging and indexing services; and $1 million for the printing and distribution of the U.S. Code, mandated by law to be produced every 6 years, for depository libraries.

Celebrate the New Supreme Court Website
On Monday, April 17th, the U.S. Supreme Court unveiled its official web site that provides no fee public access to the Court's 1999 Term slip opinions, 1999 Term orders, argument calendar, schedules, Rules, bar admission forms and instructions, visitors' guides, case-handling guides, special notices, press releases and general information about the Court. A link will also be provided to the Court's "bench" opinions on GPO Access. The web site, at http://www.supremecourtus.gov/ will not replace Hermes, which will continue to be available through the Federal Bulletin Board, or the Clerk's Automated Response System (CARS). The Court also announced that it will continue to publish and disseminate its opinions in paper pamphlets and in the official U.S. Reports.

Depository Library Council
There were a dozen law librarians in attendance at the Spring 2000 meeting of the Depository Library Council in Newport, RI, from April 9-12th, and it was great to see so many first-timers present. Council developed nine recommendations this spring, three of which relate directly to reports developed by GPO staff on redefining depository library size; increasing the minimum technical standards for FDLP work stations; and public service guidelines for electronic government information. Two recommendations relate to formats, one for the 2000 Decennial Census and the other to continue distribution of the microfiche congressional bills until such time as the electronic version can be certified as authentic.

Council had a lengthy discussion about the important issue of authenticating electronic resources. There are currently no government wide information policies or procedures to address the important issue of authenticating electronic government information, including core legal titles that are increasingly becoming available in electronic formats. Council also commended GPO's Production Services and Electronic Information Dissemination Services (EIDS) for working with the Supreme Court in developing their new website and expressed the hope that it will serve as a model for other Federal courts.


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