Washington eBulletin – August 2017

A LOOK AHEAD
Congress Pursues Changes to Title 44
ACT NOW
Thank You for Championing Government Information!
ROUNDUP AND REVIEW

Vol. 2017 Issue 08

A Look Ahead

Congress Pursues Changes to Title 44

The leadership of the House Committee on House Administration has recently signaled its strong interest in updating Title 44 of the U.S. Code on Public Printing and Documents, including Chapter 19 on the Depository Library Program. The Committee has hired the former head of the Government Publishing Office (GPO) Robert C. Tapella (2007-2010) as professional staff to lead its review of Title 44. Since May, the Committee has held two oversight hearings of GPO where Title 44 revision has been raised, and more hearings are expected over the coming months.

With possible changes to Title 44 as the backdrop, Director of GPO Davita Vance-Cooks has charged the Depository Library Council (DLC) with making recommendations to her on potential revision to Title 44. DLC has issued a public call for “comments and suggestions for modernizing the Federal Depository Library Program’s (FDLP) statutory authority. What changes would you make to Chapter 19? Where does your depository operation need more flexibility?”. DLC will present its draft recommendations at the Depository Library Council Meeting & Federal Depository Library Conference in October 2017.

The last major attempted update to Title 44 occurred twenty years ago with the Wendell H. Ford Government Publications Reform Act of 1998 (S. 2288). The bill, which was developed in close coordination with the library community, was reported out of the Senate Rules Committee but never received a vote on the Senate floor.

It is essential that AALL members make their voices heard during this review of Title 44 by submitting your ideas to Depository Library Council and to AALL Director of Government Relations Emily Feltren by August 31, 2017. Your comments will help AALL develop its position on any proposed changes.

There are many questions to consider when thinking about possible updates, including:

  • What parts of Chapter 19 must remain in order to ensure the future success of the FDLP? What should change?
  • What updates could be made to strengthen permanent public access to government information?
  • What changes to Title 44 as a whole would benefit law libraries?

Whether you think no changes are necessary, specific revisions should be made, or a wholesale update is what is needed at this time, we want to hear from you. Thank you in advance!


Act Now

Thank You for Championing Government Information!

Our appreciation goes to the many 110th AALL Annual Meeting and Conference attendees who sent postcards, tweets, and emails to their members of Congress in support of the funding requests of GPO and Library of Congress. Hundreds of messages were sent to Capitol Hill in support of these essential legislative branch agencies, and your messages to Congress helped secure adequate funding levels in the House-passed Legislative Branch Appropriations bill.

It’s not too late to speak out in support of access to government information and to encourage Congress to pass a fair final funding package for GPO and the Library of Congress. You can send an email to your members of Congress right now through our Action Center and show your support on social media by using #ChampionInformation, #ChampionJustice, and #ChampionKnowledge.

Roundup and Review

  • AALL filed comments in response to the Federal Communications Commission’s net neutrality rulemaking.
  • The House passed the Fiscal Year 2018 Legislative Branch Appropriations bill with AALL-supported language to require the Congressional Research Service to make its reports publicly available.
  • Senators introduced bipartisan legislation to reform outdated electronic privacy laws.
  • The Committee on House Administration held an oversight hearing on strategic planning at the Library of Congress.
  • Members of the House introduced the Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (H.R. 3427), which AALL supports. The legislation provides the public with increased access to the results of research funded by the federal government.

Washington eBulletin – July 2017

A LOOK AHEAD
House Appropriations Committee Approves Public Access to CRS Reports
ACT NOW
Be a Champion of Information
AALL IN THE STATES
LLAGNY Sends Letter in Support of Access to CRS Reports
LLNE Calls for UELMA Advocacy
ROUNDUP AND REVIEW

Vol. 2017 Issue 07

A Look Ahead

House Appropriations Committee Approves Public Access to CRS Reports

The House Appropriations Committee took a major step last week to make non-confidential Congressional Research Service (CRS) reports available to the public. During its markup of the Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 Legislative Branch Appropriations bill on June 29, 2017, the full Committee approved language directing CRS to report back to the Committee within 90 days of enactment with a plan to make its non-confidential reports available to the public. The Legislative Branch Appropriations bill must still pass the House and there must be a companion bill in the Senate. However, the report language in legislative branch appropriations bills is generally adhered to even if not passed into law, so there is a good chance that CRS might respond to the House Appropriations Committee even if the language is not enacted.

Public access to CRS reports is one of AALL’s Public Policy Priorities for the 115th Congress, and we’ve been advocating for greater access for more than 20 years. Most recently, we requested that these reports be made public in our written testimony in support of the FY 2018 budget requests of the Government Publishing Office and Library of Congress. This progress would not have been possible without the support of the hundreds of AALL members who have called, emailed, tweeted, and met with their members of Congress to advocate for access to these reports.

For many years, we had heard concerns from members of the Appropriations Committee, including former chair and ranking member of the Legislative Branch Subcommittee Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fl.), that providing public access to CRS reports would strain the agency and weaken its role in providing Congress with nonpartisan analysis. Former CRS employees effectively refuted those arguments in letters and talking points. The members’ concerns have also been addressed by other members of the Appropriations Committee, including open government advocate Rep. Mike Quigley (D-Ill.), who has been working with AALL, Demand Progress, R Street, and others on this issue for several years.

While the House Appropriations approval is a win for public access, we’re not out of the woods just yet. AALL will continue to work with our friends in Congress and in the open government community to make sure the language is included in any final appropriations package for FY 2018. As we learn more about how the budget and appropriations process will unfold, we’ll keep you informed about any opportunities for action.

Act Now

Be a Champion of Information!

As Congress considers Fiscal Year 2018 funding levels for the Government Publishing Office and the Library of Congress, your representatives need to hear from you. When you arrive in Austin, check your registration bags for postcards to send to Capitol Hill in support of access to official, trustworthy legal information. Simply fill out the postcards and add your own stamps, or drop them at the Member Services Pavilion in the Exhibit Hall and we’ll send them for you. While you’re at Member Services, don’t forget to pick up an advocacy pin to show that you’re proud to support access to legal information. You can also send an email to your members of Congress right now through our Action Center. Show your support on social media by using #ChampionInformation, #ChampionJustice, and #ChampionKnowledge.

We look forward to seeing many of you at Advocacy Leadership: Skills for Influence and Action, which will be held on Tuesday, July 18, 2017 from 2:30 p.m.-4:30 p.m. (CDT) and the AALL Public Policy Update (C5) on Sunday, July 16 from 4:00 p.m.-5:00 p.m. (CDT).

AALL in the States

LLAGNY Sends Letter in Support of Access to CRS Reports
The Law Library Association of Greater New York (LLAGNY) sent a letter to House Appropriations Committee Ranking Member Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.) before the House Appropriations Legislative Branch markup urging her to support access to CRS reports. Thank you to LLAGNY for helping to move this issue forward!

LLNE Calls for UELMA Advocacy

The Law Librarians of New England (LLNE) posted an update calling for member action in support of the Uniform Electronic Legal Material Act (UELMA) in Massachusetts.

Roundup and Review

    • AALL submitted comments to the Administrative Conference of the United States’ Committee on Administration and Management in response to its study on Adjudication Materials on Agency Websites, urging the Committee to strengthen its recommendations on the online dissemination of decisions and supporting materials issued and filed in federal adjudicative proceedings.
    • The Copyright Office released a new report on Section 1201 of Title 17, recommending the Congress keep the basic framework of Section 1201 while making certain legislative updates to allow for circumvention in certain circumstances, including for the use of assistive reading technologies, as AALL had recommended.
    • AALL will join major websites, internet users, and online communities in a mass day of action to save net neutrality on July 12, 2017. Don’t want to wait until July 12 to get involved? You can write to your members of Congress in support of net neutrality today using our Action Center.
    • AALL signed on to a letter to the Congressional Budget Office to urge them to follow digital best practices in providing access to its work products.

Washington eBulletin – June 2017

A LOOK AHEAD
The Impact of President Trump’s Budget on Our Priority Agencies
ACT NOW
Mark Your Calendars – Advocacy Leadership Session in Austin
AALL IN THE STATES
SANDALL on Law Librarian Advocacy
LLNE Update on Massachusetts UELMA and More
ROUNDUP AND REVIEW

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.

Washington eBulletin – May 2017

A LOOK AHEAD
What to Expect on Net Neutrality
ACT NOW
Mark Your Calendars – Advocacy Leadership Session in Austin
Virtual Lobby Day – Thank You!
AALL IN THE STATES
Sixteen UELMA Enactments
ROUNDUP AND REVIEW

Vol. 2017 Issue 05

A Look Ahead

What to Expect on Net Neutrality

Federal Communications Commission Chairman (FCC) Ajit Pai has followed through on his stated commitment to roll back the FCC’s 2015 Open Internet Order protecting net neutrality, laying out his plans in a speech last month titled “The Future of Internet Freedom“. In his speech, delivered at the Newseum in Washington, DC, Chairman Pai described his intention to return to what he called the “light-touch” regulatory framework for the internet. Unfortunately, this means dismantling the legal foundations of net neutrality found in Title II of the Communications Act of 1934.

On April 27, the FCC released its public draft of the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) on “Restoring Internet Freedom” (WC Docket No. 17-108)”. The NRPM seeks comment on whether it should keep, modify, or eliminate the three bright-line rules of no blocking, throttling, or paid prioritization deals, and proposes giving authority to the Federal Trade Commission to police the privacy practices of internet service providers. The FCC will vote on the NPRM at its May 18 meeting.

It’s unclear how the FCC will be able to make these changes under Title II of the Communications Act, as it did under the Open Internet Order. The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the 2015 Order last June, and rejected a request earlier this week to reconsider its decision.

AALL published a press release on April 27, stating our opposition to the Chairman’s proposal. AALL President Ronald E. Wheeler Jr. said, “Without net neutrality, law libraries may be unable to provide equal access to the legal information their users need. We oppose efforts by the new FCC chairman to roll back the Open Internet Order, and we will continue to work to protect an open internet. Without free and fair access to information, there is no access to justice.”

Many AALL members contacted their members of Congress on AALL’s Virtual Lobby Day to urge their lawmakers to protect the Open Internet Order. If you haven’t yet spoken out, you can still take action through our Action Center. For more information, see our our policy page on net neutrality.

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 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.

Virtual Lobby Day – Thank You!

Thanks to the participation of many of you, our Virtual Lobby Day on April 26 was a success. AALL members sent hundreds of emails to Capitol Hill in support of our top priorities. The most popular action alert was in support of the Institute of Museum and Library Services, followed by funding for the Legal Services Corporation and net neutrality. If you were unable to participate in our Lobby Day, there’s still time to take action; visit our Action Center to write to your members of Congress in support of these important issues that impact the profession and the public.

AALL in the States

Sixteen UELMA Enactments

We’re pleased to report that the Uniform Electronic Legal Material Act (UELMA) has become law in Washington, bringing the total number of enactments to 16. Many thanks go to our advocates Anna Endter and Peggy Jarrett, who, with the support of the Law Librarians of Puget Sound and the Western Pacific chapter of AALL, worked tirelessly to get UELMA over the finish line in Washington.


Roundup and Review

  • AALL wrote in support of the OPEN Data Act, which would establish a comprehensive policy across the federal government to ensure that government data is accessible to the public by default.
  • We wrote to Congress in support of public access to CRS reports. We expect this issue to come up during the House Appropriations Subcommittee on the Legislative Branch’s hearing on funding for the Library of Congress on May 3.
  • We were disappointed that the House voted on April 26 to approve the Register of Copyrights Selection and Accountability Act of 2017 (H.R. 1695), which makes the position of the Register of Copyrights subject to Presidential appointment and Senate confirmation. AALL urges the Senate to reject the measure.

Washington eBulletin – April 2017

A LOOK AHEAD
Will Congress Risk a Government Shutdown?
House Judiciary Committee Moves Forward with Copyright “Reform”
ACT NOW
Register for AALL’s Online Advocacy Training & Virtual Lobby Day
AALL IN THE STATES
UELMA Success
ROUNDUP AND REVIEW

Vol. 2017 Issue 04

A Look Ahead

Will Congress Risk a Government Shutdown?

Congress must act before the end of the month or risk a government shutdown when Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 funding runs out on April 28, 2017. Democrats have said they won’t approve the funding bill if it includes money for a wall along the border between the U.S. and Mexico or provisions to defund Planned Parenthood.

Assuming Congress does approve a Continuing Resolution for FY 2017, the Appropriations Committees will be able to focus more fully on funding for Fiscal Year 2018. AALL opposes the President’s Budget Blueprint, which proposes eliminating funding for the Institute of Museum and Library Services and Legal Services Corporation. AALL is instead urging Congress to approve the budget requests of these agencies. Learn more about AALL’s position in our new advocacy one-pagers.

As the FY 2018 appropriations process moves forward, we will also be advocating for full funding for the Government Publishing Office and Library of Congress. You can help support funding for these agencies by participating in our upcoming Virtual Lobby Day on April 26, when AALL members will raise their voices in support of the public policy issues that affect law libraries. Mark your calendars, and see “Act Now” below to learn how you can get involved.

House Judiciary Committee Moves Forward with Copyright “Reform”

Leaders of the House Judiciary Committee have introduced a bill to significantly change the way the Register of Copyrights is selected. H.R. 1695, the Register of Copyrights Selection and Accountability Act of 2017, would make the position of the Register of Copyrights subject to Presidential appointment and Senate confirmation. AALL opposes the bill because we believe it is unnecessary and would create management conflicts within the Library of Congress.

Unfortunately, the House Judiciary Committee passed the bill, as amended, on March 29, 2017 and it’s likely to receive floor consideration soon. The amendment adopted by the Committee, offered by Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee (D-Tex.), would create a panel of the Speaker of the House, President pro tempore of the Senate, House and Senate majority and minority leaders, and the Librarian of Congress that would recommend three individuals to the President for consideration for the Register position. Learn more about AALL’s views on Copyright Office modernization efforts in our advocacy one-pager.

Leaders of the House Judiciary Committee have introduced a bill to significantly change the way the Register of Copyrights is selected. H.R. 1695, the Register of Copyrights Selection and Accountability Act of 2017, would make the position of the Register of Copyrights subject to Presidential appointment and Senate confirmation. AALL opposes the bill because we believe it is unnecessary and would create management conflicts within the Library of Congress.

Unfortunately, the House Judiciary Committee passed the bill, as amended, on March 29, 2017 and it’s likely to receive floor consideration soon. The amendment adopted by the Committee, offered by Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee (D-Tex.), would create a panel of the Speaker of the House, President pro tempore of the Senate, House and Senate majority and minority leaders, and the Librarian of Congress that would recommend three individuals to the President for consideration for the Register position. Learn more about AALL’s views on Copyright Office modernization efforts in our advocacy one-pager.

Act Now

Register for AALL’s Online Advocacy Training & Virtual Lobby Day

Register to attend AALL’s online advocacy training on April 20, 2017, where you’ll learn the most effective ways to influence your members of Congress and cut through the noise on Capitol Hill. You will also hear about AALL’s top policy priorities, including funding for the Institute of Museum and Library Services and Legal Services Corporation, copyright reform, and email privacy.

Then, mark your calendars for AALL’s Virtual Lobby Day on April 26, where you can help raise the profile of law libraries and AALL’s important policy issues by sending coordinated messages to Capitol Hill through our Legislative Action Center and social media. If you fill out our Lobby Day survey before April 17, we’ll send you personalized tips and information to help maximize your influence.

AALL in the States

UELMA Success

UELMA passed the Maryland and West Virginia legislatures and is awaiting signature by the governors of those states. A big thank you goes to our advocates, including Steve Anderson, Joan Bellistri, Mary Jo Lazun, Chi Song, and Stacy Etheredge, who helped shepherd the bill through the legislative process. We also thank the Uniform Law Commissioners in Maryland and West Virginia for their leadership, and to the Uniform Law Commission staff for their assistance.

Roundup and Review  

Washington eBulletin – March 2017

A LOOK AHEAD
Congress Gets to Work
AALL IN THE STATES
AALL Members Support UELMA Introductions
Update from LLNE: New Maine Law and Legislative Digital Library
ROUNDUP AND REVIEW

Vol. 2017 Issue 03

A Look Ahead

Congress Gets to Work

It’s been a busy month on Capitol Hill, with Congressional committees finding time between a hectic nomination schedule to hold hearings and votes on issues of importance to AALL.

On February 6, 2017, the House approved the Email Privacy Act (H.R. 387) by unanimous consent, sending the electronic communications privacy bill to the Senate for consideration. On February 14, 2017, the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property, and the Internet held a hearing on “Judicial Transparency and Ethics,” during which Professor Thomas Bruce of Cornell’s Legal Information Institute testified on public access to PACER.

We’ve been working with our allies and Congressional staff to pursue a variety of avenues to improve public access to federal court information, including encouraging Congress to work with the Judicial Conference of the United States to ensure that federal courts have complied with the transparency and privacy requirements of the E-Government Act of 2002 (P.L. 107- 347).

On February 6, 2017, the Committee on House Administration held a hearing on the priorities of the legislative branch agencies, including the Government Publishing Office (GPO) and Library of Congress. Members of the committee were supportive of the work of GPO and the Library of Congress, and the hearing provided an excellent opportunity for GPO Director Davita Vance-Cooks and Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden to discuss recent initiatives and goals.

In the coming weeks, we expect to see hearings and debate on Capitol Hill about network neutrality and broadband privacy, with the commissioners of the Federal Communications Commission scheduled to testify next week before the Senate and House Commerce Committees. We also expect Congress to pass another continuing resolution for Fiscal Year 2017, before current federal government funding runs out on April 28, 2017. Agencies have begun preparing their Fiscal Year 2018 budget justifications, which they will submit to Congress. AALL is working to educate members of Congress about the importance of GPO and the Library of Congress, and we will be urging them to support the agencies’ budget requests. Stay tuned for future opportunities to contact your members of Congress in support of GPO and the Library.

AALL in the States

AALL Members Support UELMA Introductions

The Uniform Electronic Legal Material Act (UELMA) has been introduced in six states this year: Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Texas, Washington, and West Virginia. In addition, Washington, DC Mayor Muriel Bowser signed UELMA on February 10, 2017, and it’s now undergoing mandatory Congressional review with a projected law date of April 7, 2017. AALL members are working diligently in each of these states to advocate for UELMA, and seeing progress toward enactment. Keep track of bill introductions through the Uniform Law Commission’s website and find UELMA advocacy resources on AALLNET.

Update from LLNE: New Maine Law and Legislative Digital Library

The Law Librarians of New England (LLNE) Government Relations Committee shared information about a new digital library at the Maine State Law and Legislative Reference Library, the brainchild of Director John Barden. Maureen Quinlan, GRC’s Maine state representative, writes: “The library staff members have been digitizing bills, laws, legislative reports, and tying them all together in a wonderful Legislative History page for each public law, including relevant links to the legislative record.  It has made researching legislative history so easy and transparent.”

Roundup and Review  

  • AALL signed on to a joint letter to protect access to government information
  • The annual Sunshine Week is scheduled for March 12-17, 2017, with a public program planned at the National Archives and Records Administration featuring Archivist of the United States David Ferriero and Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden

Washington eBulletin – February 2017

A LOOK AHEAD
Monitoring the New Congress and New Administration
ACT NOW
Join the AALL Advocacy Team
AALL IN THE STATES
2017 UELMA Introductions
ROUNDUP AND REVIEW

Vol. 2017 Issue 02

A Look Ahead

Monitoring the New Congress and New Administration

The new Congress and new Administration are off to an inauspicious start on issues related to access to government information, open government, and privacy. During the past few weeks, AALL has been tracking a variety of troubling developments, including:

  • News reports that indicate there are gag orders on agency employees, preventing them from talking to the press and even Congressional offices
  • Changes at WhiteHouse.gov that, while expected and within the law, include the disappearance of pages for the Office of Management and Budget (including important information circulars like the recently updated A-130) and delays in posting of Executive Orders and other materials
  • The selection of Commissioner Ajit Pai, a vocal net neutrality critic, to lead the Federal Communications Commission
  • The confirmation hearings of Senator Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) to be Attorney General. AALL expressed dep concerns about the Senator’s privacy record in a letter to the Judiciary Committee

AALL is committed to advocating for access to government information, and our Government Relations Policy is clear: Accessible government information, including legal and legal-related information, is both an essential principle of a democratic society and a valuable public good created at taxpayer expense. As we wrote in our Statement on Access to Government Information, “AALL will continue to monitor information policy developments that hinder a transparent government, and we will speak out against threats to the public’s right to know.”

While the news from Washington has been generally dispiriting, there has been some good news as well. For example, Congressman Kevin Yoder (R-Kans.) and nine cosponsors recently reintroduced the Email Privacy Act (H.R. 387), which would update the 1986 Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) to more adequately protect the privacy of email, text messages, photos, and other information stored in the cloud. Among other things, the bill would end ECPA’s arbitrary “180-day rule,” which permits email communications to be obtained without a warrant after 180 days. We also anticipate opportunities in the coming months to support greater access to Congressional Research Service reports, legislative data, and other transparency and accountability measures. It won’t be easy, but with your help we can push back against policies that harm law libraries and library users. Read on to learn how you can get involved.

Act Now

Join the AALL Advocacy Team

Become a part of AALL’s network of law library advocates who have committed to speak out for the policy issues that impact the profession. Fill out our short Advocacy Team Survey to share some basic information about yourself and your policy interests; AALL will use the information you provide to build on our successful grassroots advocacy program. Thanks for all that you do!

AALL in the States

2017 UELMA Introductions

The Uniform Electronic Legal Material Act (UELMA) has been introduced this year in Maryland, New York, Texas, and Washington. On January 19, 2017, AALL member Anna Endter testified before the Washington Senate Law & Justice Committee on behalf of the Law Librarians of Puget Sound. On January 26, AALL past president Steve Anderson testified before the Maryland Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee on behalf of AALL. Anderson was joined by Joan Bellistri and Mary Jo Lazun, who testified on behalf of Law Library Association of Maryland. We expect additional UELMA introductions in the coming weeks. Keep track of bill introductions through the Uniform Law Commission’s website and find UELMA advocacy resources on AALLNET.

Roundup and Review  

  • AALL submitted comments to the House Judiciary Committee in response to the Committee’s proposal to reform the Copyright Office. We also submitted a response to the Library of Congress’s survey on the qualifications of the next Register of Copyrights
  • We published an issue brief on the fair use case Fox News Network, LLC v. TVEyes, Inc.

Washington eBulletin – January 2017

A LOOK AHEAD
Advocacy in the New Year
ACT NOW
Join the AALL Advocacy Team
AALL IN THE STATES
Announcing AALL Chapter Collaboration: California Government Relations Committees’ Joint Effort

ROUNDUP AND REVIEW

Vol. 2017 Issue 01

A Look Ahead

Advocacy in the New Year

As the 115th Congress begins, AALL is busy introducing the new Senators and Representatives to the Association and welcoming the returning members back to Washington, DC. We are sharing AALL’s public policy priorities with members of Congress and their staffs, educating them about the Association and the profession, and planning for advocacy opportunities in the coming year.

We are also eagerly awaiting complete announcements of Senate and House Committee assignments and chairmanships so that we can target the members on the committees of most importance to AALL. The Senate Republicans released their committee assignments on January 3, 2017; committee chairs will be selected by a vote of the members of each committee and then ratified by the Senate Republican Conference. The House Speaker’s Office announced its committee chair recommendations in December and the Republican Steering Committee met on January 4, 2017 to make key assignments. We’ll know final committee rosters and leadership in the coming days.

The Senate committees of most interest to AALL are Appropriations (funding for the Government Publishing Office (GPO) and Library of Congress (LC)), Judiciary (copyright, FOIA, Attorney General nomination), Rules (GPO and LC), Energy and Commerce (net neutrality), and Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs (National Archives and Office of the Federal Register). The House committees of particular interest to AALL are Appropriations, House Administration (GPO and LC), Judiciary, Oversight and Government Reform (FOIA), and Commerce. We also track the work of the intelligence committees because of their work on surveillance and privacy issues.

One of the most important things you can do right now to prepare to advocate for law libraries in the new Congress is to get to know your elected officials and let us know of any personal connections you have with them. Read on for more information about how you can be a part of AALL’s Advocacy Team.

Act Now

Join the AALL Advocacy Team

Now is the time to get to know your member of Congress, including their background, key issues, and legislative priorities. Visit AALL’s Legislative Action Center to read their bios and link to their websites. Then follow them on social media and sign up for their newsletters to stay informed about their policy priorities and learn about opportunities for making your voice heard via in-district meetings, town halls, online surveys, or phone calls.

Already know your member of Congress? Perhaps you went to law school with one of your members, or know them or their family through community activities. If so, please let us know! AALL’s Advocacy Team Survey asks about any relationships you have with your members of Congress, your policy areas of interest, and on what issues you’d like to get more involved. We keep this information confidential and work with you to help use your connections to the best advantage. These “grasstops” connections are key to influencing members of Congress in support of our issues. Thanks in advance for helping AALL create a strong advocacy network!

AALL in the States

Announcing AALL Chapter Collaboration: California Government Relations Committees’ Joint Effort

The Government Relation Committees (GRCs) of the Northern California Association of Law Libraries (NOCALL), Southern California Association of Law Libraries (SCALL), and San Diego Area Law Libraries (SANDALL), the three California chapters of AALL, have agreed to formalize the coordination of advocacy efforts for monitoring and mounting letter campaigns regarding pending legislation, state or federal, that affects access and dissemination of public information. Judy Janes of NOCALL, Vance Sharp of SANDALL and David McFadden of SCALL – the chairs of the three Government Relation Committees – have agreed to join forces when issues arise that necessitate, or make stronger, a joint advocacy effort.

NOCALL and SCALL, later joined by SANDALL after its formation as a chapter, have worked cooperatively in advocacy since at least the 1990’s. Passage of a bill insuring the retention of legislative and rulemaking files in 1996 and later enactment of UELMA in 2012 are two examples.

Planning for the AALL California Chapter Government Committees’ Collaboration statement began in spring 2016 with emails and regular phone conferences among the three chapter GRC chairs and California members of the AALL GRC committee. The chapter GRCs agreed to a flexible workflow for coordinating joint legislative advocacy efforts. Each chapter GRC brought the agreed workflow to his or her respective executive board for approval. A Google site for storing GRC committee resources and documents was established. The coordinated effort is meant to increase the depth and breadth of governmental advocacy when specific legislation affects the entire state. For efforts that relate to a specific location alone, individual chapter GRC efforts are still preferred. Sharing various legislative efforts at any governmental level ought to provide increased support for AALL’s Government Relations program and efforts.

We are announcing the California chapter collaboration in order to promote a model of regional partnership efforts for broadening our legislative reach. Anyone interested in accessing or viewing the CA GRC google site should contact Anna Russell. Feel free to reach out to any of the California GRC chairs as well for further details about setting up your own regional partnership.

Roundup and Review  

  • View the recording of the recent AALL online training, “Advocates and Influencers: How Law Librarians Can Impact the New Congress and New Administration”, on AALLNET
  • The video recordings, handouts, and PowerPoint presentations from the National Conference on Copyright of State Legal Materials are now on AALLNET

Washington eBulletin – December 2016

A LOOK AHEAD
AALL Priorities in the New Congress and New Administration
ACT NOW
Urge Your Members of Congress to Support Greater Access to Government Information
Register Now: Online Advocacy Training

ROUNDUP AND REVIEW

Vol. 2016 Issue 12

A Look Ahead

AALL Priorities in the New Congress and New Administration

Election day has come and gone, and AALL has been busy analyzing the short- and long-term impact of the election results on law libraries and preparing for the next four years under the new administration. While the makeup of Congress did not change dramatically, the incoming Trump administration has suggested major shifts in policy direction on a number of issues of importance to AALL, including net neutrality, government surveillance, and government transparency. In the coming days and months, AALL will proactively advocate for the policy issues that are core to the profession, including intellectual freedom, privacy, and freedom of information. 

On the day after the election, AALL released its Public Policy Priorities for the 115th Congress, clearly articulating our positions on access to justice, balance in copyright, greater access to government information, openness in government, and protection of privacy. New for this Congress is our express support for access to government data in open and machine-readable formats, an effort that Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) strongly backs, as well as language on the importance of oversight of cybersecurity programs and updates to section 1201 of the Copyright Act. AALL will use this Priorities document to advocate for our members and for the essential role of law librarians in a democratic society.

As we transition to a new Congress and administration, it is essential that AALL members become effective advocates for themselves and the profession. Please read on to learn how you can get involved.

Act Now

Register Now: Online Advocacy Training

Register for AALL’s upcoming online advocacy training, “Advocates and Influencers: How Law Librarians Can Impact the New Congress and New Administration,” which will be held on Tuesday, December 13 at 11 a.m. (CST). Learn what to expect from the political landscape of 2017, how you can help promote AALL’s policy priorities, and what strategic opportunities will raise your profile to decision makers at the federal level. Registration ends Monday, December 12.

Roundup and Review  

  • AALL wrote to Congressional leadership to support the Review the Rule Act, S. 3475 and H.R.6341, which would delay the implementation of changes to Rule 41 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure. Rule 41 impacts the government’s ability to conduct remote access searches of electronic storage devices. Unfortunately, the bills did not pass and the changes go into effect today, December 1, 2016.
  • We signed on to statements to the Presidential Transition Teams in support of classification reform.
  • The Copyright Office announced the adoption of a final rule to govern the designation and maintenance of DMCA agent information under a new electronic system. Website owners must re-register. 

Washington eBulletin – November 2016

A LOOK AHEAD
Changes at the Copyright Office
After the Election
ACT NOW
Urge Your Members of Congress to Support Greater Access to Government Information
Register for the National Conference on Copyright of State Legal Materials

ROUNDUP AND REVIEW

Vol. 2016 Issue 11

A Look Ahead

Changes at the Copyright Office

On Friday, October 21, 2016, Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden announced leadership changes at the Library of Congress with the appointment of Register of Copyrights Maria Pallante as senior advisor for digital strategy and Karyn Temple Claggett as acting register. The following week, Register Pallante submitted her letter of resignation to Dr. Hayden, declining to take the new position. The Library of Congress has indicated that it will conduct a national search for the next register.

The search for a new head of the Copyright Office comes at an especially important time; the Office is in the midst of several policy studies and Congress is considering a major overhaul of copyright law. The most recent study is of section 1201 of the Copyright Act, for which AALL submitted comments last week. Our comments urged the Copyright Office to consider recommending to Congress a new permanent exemption for the circumvention of malfunctioning, damaged, and obsolete technological protection measures, and a permanent exemption for the blind, visually impaired, or print disabled. We also suggested that Congress consider adopting language attaching liability for circumvention only in cases where the circumvention facilitates copyright infringement. AALL fully expects that, despite leadership changes, the Copyright Office will continue its important policy studies, including those on 1201 and section 108 (the library exception).

It also seems likely that some members of Congress will continue to explore the possibility of moving the Copyright Office out of the Library of Congress, a change that Register Pallante had ardently supported. AALL opposes such a move, and we will continue to work with members of Congress to ensure that the Copyright Office continues to reside in the Library.

After the Election

Stay tuned for the December issue of the Washington eBulletin, which will offer a post-mortem analysis of what the election results mean for law libraries, and how AALL and our members can best leverage our collective knowledge to affect the development of public policy in the next Congress and with the new administration. And register now for AALL’s upcoming online advocacy training, “Advocates and Influencers: How Law Librarians Can Impact the New Congress and New Administration” on December 13 at 11 a.m. (CST) to prepare you for the new Congress. Registration is free for AALL members and chapter members.

Act Now

Register for the National Conference on Copyright of State Legal Materials

AALL and Boston University School of Law are pleased to host a special conference on the copyright of state legal materials on December 2, 2016, at BU Law. The conference will feature keynote speaker Corynne McSherry, lunch speaker Sarah Jeong, and a full slate of copyright experts on three panels: legal status, operational issues, and advocacy and inspiration. Registration is $75�. Register now to secure your spot.

Roundup and Review  

  • AALL celebrated the FCC’s vote to protect the privacy of internet users
  • Recordings and handouts from the 2016 Depository Library Council Meeting and Federal Depository Library Conference are now available
  • What’s the impact of secret law on our democracy? The Brennan Center reports