Vol. 2015, Issue 04
A Look Ahead
Congressional Budget Priorities for FY 2016
Budget season is well underway on Capitol Hill and, for the first time in several years, the process appears to be unfolding in regular order. In late March, the House and Senate both passed Republican-authored budget resolutions. The Senate budget cuts $5.1 trillion in spending over the next decade, while the House budget cuts $5.5 trillion over the same time period. Both budgets aim to eliminate deficits within 10 years and seek to ease the path to repeal or replace President Obama’s signature health care reform law.
AALL was disheartened to see the House Budget Committee propose again this year to eliminate funding for the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), though it is important to emphasize that budget resolutions are non-binding and do not actually appropriate any funds or change any tax or spending laws. These “budget blueprints” do offer a very public statement of spending and tax priorities by the majority party, providing a good reminder about the importance of our educational advocacy efforts. During the next two weeks, the House and Senate will work to agree on a single “conference” budget by the “flexible” April 15 deadline.
The conference budget resolution will set the total federal and spending levels for discretionary spending but will not determine funding for specific programs. That’s the work of the appropriators. To that end, both chambers’ Appropriations Committees have begun holding hearings to collect expert testimony on various agencies’ and programs’ budget requests. The House and Senate Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Subcommittees recently held hearings on the FY 2016 Judicial Branch budget. James Duff, director of the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, testified at both hearings. Although Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) was not the focus of either hearing, Director Duff did address the migration to the “next generation” case management/electronic case filing (CM/ECF) in his testimony. AALL is working with members of the Appropriations Committees to advocate for greater access to government information through PACER. In mid-March, the House and Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on the Legislative Branch held hearings on the FY 2016 budget for the Library of Congress, featuring testimony by Librarian of Congress Dr. James Billington. AALL President Holly Riccio submitted testimony for the record on funding for the Government Publishing Office (GPO) and Library of Congress (LC) to the House and Senate Subcommittees on behalf of AALL, the Association of Academic Health Sciences Libraries, the Medical Library Association, and the Special Libraries Association. In our testimony, we strongly supported the recommendation to hire a permanent Chief Information Officer (CIO) and Deputy CIO in GAO’s new report on information technology problems at the Library of Congress.
Support for federal agency appropriations is an important component of AALL’s advocacy work. To learn more about our efforts, see the AALL Government Relations Committee’s updated advocacy one-pagers about the FY 2016 requests of GPO, LC, IMLS, Federal Depository Library Program, National Archives and Records Administration, and Legal Services Corporation and take action using our Legislative Action Center.
Thanks to the participation of advocates across the country, AALL’s March 18 Lobby Day and Virtual Lobby Day was a great success. Nineteen AALL members travelled to Washington, D.C. to meet with their members of Congress, while members outside the beltway used AALL’s Legislative Action Center to send over 175 customized messages to lawmakers in 18 states. Want to add your voice to the chorus of law librarians speaking out for the profession? Our Legislative Action Center is available at any time with high-priority action alerts, issue talking points, and customizable email messages for you to send to your members of Congress. With Congress considering FY 2016 appropriations requests and updates to the Freedom of Information Act and Electronic Communications Privacy Act, now is the perfect time to take action. Thanks for all that you do!
AALL in the States
UELMA Progress Report
There have been several updates to the progress of Uniform Electronic Legal Material Act (UELMA) bills across the country since our last report. UELMA was introduced in the Massachusetts (H.43) and New York (A05631, S04606) legislatures in March, while the Texas bill (HB 1799) was referred to the House Judiciary and Civil Jurisprudence Committee. Unfortunately, in Maryland, neither UELMA bill (HB0162/SB0611) was reported by committee in time for the legislature’s “crossover day,” the date by which bills must have passed out of at least one chamber of the legislature to have the best chance of becoming law. Stay tuned to our UELMA Bill Tracking Chart for the latest updates.
California Moves Forward to Implement UELMA
Submitted by Judy Janes, NOCALL Government Relations Chair
California is moving forward with a draft plan to implement the authentication and preservation requirements of UELMA in California. The state’s UELMA bill, SB1075, was enacted in 2012 and becomes operative on July 1, 2015. It designates the California Legislative Counsel Bureau the official publisher of California’s bills, codes and statutes, with responsibility for access, authentication and preservation. The California Legislative Data Center has called a meeting on April 8 to discuss the particulars of their authentication and preservation plan. This is very exciting news and we hope to have more to report next time.
Roundup and Review
- AALL signed on to a coalition letter urging Congress to make substantial changes to our nation’s surveillance laws before key provisions of the USA PATRIOT Act expire in June
- Analysis reveals a record number of FOIA requests were filed last year
- The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research was re-introduced in the House (H.R. 1477) and Senate (S. 779)
- Register for the 2015 Depository Library Council (DLC) Virtual Meeting