Washington eBulletin – February 2018

A Look Ahead

House Committee Continues Work on Draft Title 44 Reform Bill

Late last year, after months of hearings, the House Committee on House Administration (CHA) released a draft Title 44 reform bill that represents a major rewrite of the section of the U.S. Code governing public printing and documents. The Committee gave the major library associations, including AALL, an opportunity to provide feedback on the draft. The Government Publishing Office (GPO) also released the draft to the federal depository library community, asking libraries to provide their views. We thank the many members who shared their views with AALL, GPO, and CHA.

The draft bill includes a number of important elements that have been discussed by GPO and federal depository libraries for years, including requirements to strengthen access and preservation through the Federal Depository Library Program, the creation of a national collection of government information, and flexibility for depository libraries within the program. The bill incorporates several of AALL’s specific recommendations for reform, including dropping the requirement that a depository have a minimum of 10,000 books, giving grant-making authority to GPO to expand permanent public access to information, allowing libraries the option for digital deposit, and prohibiting fees for GPO’s online repository. Unfortunately, the bill also includes some troubling language that could weaken GPO’s role in providing permanent public access to Congressional information. AALL is working with committee staff and representatives from other library associations to improve the draft.

Keep an eye on your inbox to learn more about next steps in the effort to update Title 44. AALL will keep you informed about opportunities to speak out in support of permanent public access to official, authentic government information.

Act Now

Help Save Net Neutrality

Despite the Federal Communication Commission’s (FCC) decision to overturn net neutrality, millions of internet users−including hundreds of law librarians−continue to speak out to protect the principles that have ensured an equitable internet.

Under the Congressional Review Act, Congress can reverse a change in a federal regulation by a simple majority vote within 60 working days after that regulation is published in the Federal Register. That means Congress can vote to overturn the FCC’s rule change.

Tell your members of Congress: Now is the time to save net neutrality.

AALL in the States

UELMA Advocacy in 2018

As state legislative sessions begin, AALL continues to work with our state advocates and Uniform Law Commissioners to support the Uniform Electronic Legal Material Act (UELMA). UELMA bills are currently pending in Massachusetts, Michigan, New York, Ohio, and Utah. On January 31, 2018, AALL member Melissa J. Bernstein, library director and professor of law, James E. Faust Law Library, S.J. Quinney College of Law, University of Utah, testified before the Senate Judiciary, Law Enforcement, and Criminal Justice Committee in support of UELMA.

If you’re interested to contributing to UELMA advocacy in your state, please contact Emily Feltren.

Roundup and Review

  • AALL expressed opposition to the FISA Amendments Reauthorization Act (S. 139). Unfortunately, the bill passed without the needed privacy protections.
  • We continue to urge action on the bipartisan Access to Congressionally Mandated Reports Act.

Washington eBulletin – October 2017

Vol. 2017 Issue 10

A Look Ahead

Congress Considers Extending Surveillance Authority

Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) authorizes the U.S. government to collect, use, and disseminate communications content and metadata. It covers electronic communications stored by internet service providers, as well as phone calls. Section 702 was promoted as a narrow surveillance authority limited to the collection of communications of non-U.S. persons located outside of the United States for terrorism-related purposes, but the public has since learned that 702 has been used to collect the communications of tens of thousands of people for purposes unrelated to terrorism. Section 702 will expire on December 31, 2017, unless Congress reauthorizes it.

AALL supports efforts to strengthen privacy protections in the law and increase transparency about how the government uses its authority. On September 7, 2017, we joined a broad coalition of privacy, civil liberties, and transparency organizations to urge members of Congress to vote “No” on reauthorization of Section 702 if it is not significantly reformed. We expect more debate about reauthorization through the end of the year.

House Committee Turns Attention to the FDLP

On September 26, 2017, AALL members Beth Williams and Stephen Parks, director of the Robert Crown Law Library and senior lecturer in law at Stanford Law School and state librarian of the State Law Library of Mississippi, respectively, joined Laurie Hall, acting superintendent of documents at the Government Publishing Office (GPO); Mike Furlough, executive director of HathiTrust Digital Library; and Celina McDonald, government documents and criminology librarian at the University of Maryland to testify before the House Committee on House Administration for its hearing on “Transforming GPO for the 21st Century and Beyond: Part 3 – Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP)”. This was the third in a series of hearings on modernizing the GPO.

Hall presented a number of themes for Title 44 reform that GPO has identified as priorities from the FDLP community:

  • making GPO responsible for the lifecycle management of digital and tangible Government information;
  • redefining “Government publication” to explicitly include reference to digital information;
  • protecting the national asset that depository collections represent for present and future generations;
  • providing for more flexibility for depository libraries to elect to receive Government information in the form and formats that best meet the needs of the communities they serve; and
  • ensuring accountability by federal agencies for supplying the FDLP with the information products they issue.

After Hall’s testimony, the Committee heard from stakeholders themselves about the need for reform. Beth Williams recommended three major changes to Title 44: amending 44 U.S.C. § 1901 to include non-print formats; amending 44 U.S.C. §§ 1902/1904/1905 to include legal deposit; and further amending 44 U.S.C. §§ 1902/1904/1905 to include preservation. Stephen Parks recommended that Congress offer federal depository libraries more opportunities to partner with GPO to preserve information; allow additional flexibility to permit regional libraries to partner with selective libraries and to share materials with each other and across state lines; and amend § 4102 to assure no-fee public access. AALL included similar recommendations in our letter to the Committee on Title 44 modernization. Witness testimony is available via the Committee’s repository.

The next hearing on GPO modernization is tentatively scheduled for October 11, 2017, and a bill may be introduced shortly thereafter. It’s important that AALL members prepare to take action to ensure that any changes to Title 44 guarantee permanent public access to official, authentic government information. If your representative serves on the Committee on House Administration, please email Emily Feltren, AALL’s director of government relations, as soon as possible. And stay tuned for future news and alerts on how you can get involved!


Act Now

Attend the 2017 Depository Library Council Meeting & FDL Conference – Virtually!

Register to participate in the 2017 Depository Library Council Meeting & Federal Depository Library Conference right from your desk! The theme of this year’s event, which will be held October 16-18, 2017, is “Safeguarding Government Information Access for All”. There will be several opportunities to hear from GPO and the Depository Library Council about recommended changes to Title 44 and to provide your input on the recommendations. You’ll also hear keynote presentations by Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden, Law Librarian of Congress Jane Sanchez, and Director of the American Library Association’s Office of Intellectual Freedom James LaRue. The final schedule is now available for download.

AALL in the States

UELMA Advocacy in 2018

The Uniform Law Commission is collecting its 2018 legislative enactment plans and Commissioners in nearly a dozen states have included the Uniform Legal Electronic Material Act (UELMA) on their plans. As state legislatures return to session next year, AALL advocates will work to identify UELMA sponsors, usher the bill through the legislature, and advocate for enactment. If you’re interested to contributing to UELMA advocacy in your state, please contact Emily Feltren.

Roundup and Review

  • AALL filed an amici curiae brief with the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, calling on the judicial body to ensure that the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts makes electronic federal court records freely available “to the greatest extent possible.” The brief was filed in response to National Veterans Legal Services Program et al v. United States of America.
  • We also joined sixty-six library associations, nonprofit organizations, legal technology companies, former senior government officials, librarians, innovators, and professors of law as amici curiae in response to American Society for Testing and Materials et al. v. Public.Resource.Org. The case concerns Public.Resource.Org’s copying of model building codes and educational testing codes which have been enacted into federal law and regulations. The brief urges the court to find that the copying is not infringing.
  • AALL signed on to a letter to Congress opposing the expansion of types of records not subject to the Freedom of Information Act.
  • We expressed our support for the Fair Access to Science and Technology Research (FASTR) Act (H.R. 3427, S. 1701), which would expand access to the results of federally-funded research.

Please note: Publication of the Washington eBulletin will be on a short break until the start of the new year.

Washington eBulletin – September 2017

A LOOK AHEAD
Congress Prepares to Return from Recess
AALL Recommends Modest Changes to Title 44
ROUNDUP AND REVIEW

Vol. 2017 Issue 09

A Look Ahead

Congress Prepares to Return from Recess

Members of Congress will return to Washington after Labor Day to face a full agenda, including raising the debt ceiling and keeping the government funded past September 30, 2017. AALL is carefully watching the next steps in the Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 appropriations process, particularly for the Government Publishing Office (GPO) and Library of Congress.

The current House and Senate bills fund GPO at the requested levels, while the Library of Congress receives slightly lower levels than requested. Given the continued lack of regular order in the appropriations process, these Legislative Branch Appropriations agencies are faring relatively well.

AALL will also be tracking how the House and Senate reconcile their different language on access to Congressional Research Service (CRS) reports included in their Legislative Branch Appropriations bills. AALL prefers the Senate language, which specifically directs CRS to make its reports available through GPO. The House bill is slightly weaker, only “encouraging” CRS to consult with GPO in developing their plan “when practicable.”

AALL Recommends Modest Changes to Title 44

AALL submitted recommendations to GPO’s Depository Library Council (DLC) on the future of the Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP). Our recommendations came in response to DLC’s call for comments on needed changes to Title 44 of the U.S. Code on Public Printing and Documents, including Chapter 19 on the FDLP. AALL is supportive of the existing structure of regional and selective depository libraries, but we acknowledge that Title 44 could be updated to reflect the digital age.

We recommend:

  • Explicitly expanding the scope of the FDLP to include publications in all formats, including digital. §1901
  • Repealing the requirement that a depository library have a minimum of 10,000 books. §1909
  • Allowing for flexibility in the number of regional depositories, under certain requirements and with guidance from the Superintendent of Documents. §1912
  • Giving grant-making authority to GPO so that it may support preservation and cataloging projects and other initiatives that expand permanent public access to federal government information.
  • Allowing libraries the option for digital deposit. Wide distribution of government information helps to ensure preservation.

Many individual AALL members and several law and university libraries also submitted comments to DLC. Thank you for participating in this important process! DLC will present its draft recommendations at the Depository Library Council Meeting & Federal Depository Library Conference in October 2017.

AALL is also preparing to submit comments this month to the House Committee on House Administration, which is driving the effort to update Title 44. Our comments will be submitted to the Committee by mid-September and shared with membership.

Roundup and Review

  • AALL signed on to a letter to Attorney General Sessions to express concerns with the Department of Justice’s demand for information associated with the website DisruptJ20.org, used to organize protests on Inauguration Day 2017
  • AALL has joined Re:Create, a diverse coalition of trade associations, not-for-profits, advocacy groups, and think tanks advocating for balanced copyright rules

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.