Washington E-Bulletin – February 2016

Vol. 2016, Issue 02

A Look Ahead

Waiting for the FY 2017 Federal Budget
February is budget season in Washington, which means we’re awaiting the arrival of the President’s Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 budget and with it the beginning of the months-long appropriations process. Congressional leadership has committed to returning to regular order for appropriations, with Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) making repeated public pledges to have individual spending bills go through committee and onto the floor for consideration.

Shaun Donovan, director of the Office of Management and Budget, announced last month that the President’s budget would be unveiled on February 9. That means we’ll soon know exactly what’s in the agencies’ requests for Fiscal Year 2017 and be able to determine which of the agencies that promote access to government information will need our support the most. After the Government Publishing Office (GPO) experienced a significant cut in FY 2016, most of which came from the Revolving Fund which supports the development of FDsys, we expect GPO to ask for a much-needed funding boost this year.

As always, it will be important for AALL members to speak out in support of these agencies once the appropriations committees are considering their requests. Last year, AALL member calls and letters helped to influence the Senate in restoring funding to GPO’s Revolving Fund. We’ll alert you when it’s time to take action once again- thanks in advance!

Copyright Modernization Discussions Continue

Congressional staff of the House Judiciary Committee continue to meet with interest groups, content creators, and other stakeholders about the future of U.S. copyright law, including the proposed move of the Copyright Office out of the Library of Congress. AALL has developed a one-pager about the proposal and our opposition to the CODE Act (H.R. 4241), which would establish the Copyright Office as an independent agency. We believe this move would weaken the Office and jeopardize its relationship with the library community.

The future home of the Copyright Office is just one of many issues being discussed in Congress and within the Copyright Office. Later this month, AALL will submit a response to the Copyright Office’s request for comment on their 1201 Study [80 F.R. 81369, Docket No. 2015-8]. The Office is considering updates to the library exemption and changes to the triennial rulemaking process, among other issues. Written comments are due February 25, with reply comments due March 25.
Act Now

Sign Up for AALL’s Online Advocacy Training and Virtual Lobby Day
Register now for AALL’s online advocacy training on March 9, during which you’ll learn about AALL’s top policy priorities and the most effective ways to influence your members of Congress on copyright reform, improvements to the Freedom of Information Act, privacy, and more. Then, pledge to join your colleagues on March 16 for AALL’s Virtual Lobby Day, when you’ll help raise the profile of law libraries on Capitol Hill by sending coordinated messages  through our Legislative Action Center and social media. If you sign up for Virtual Lobby Day before March 1, you’ll receive special tips and insider information to help maximize your influence.

AALL in the States

Several states are considering the Uniform Electronic Legal Material Act (UELMA)
this year, with bills already introduced in Arizona, New York, and
Washington. We expect introductions in several more states during the
next few months.

UELMA in Washington
Submitted by Anna Endter, Law Librarians of Puget Sound (LLOPS) Government Relations Committee Chair

UELMA was very recently introduced in Washington as Senate Bill 6361.
LLOPS and WestPac have been advocating for the introduction of UELMA in
Washington State for years and are pleased to see that our Code Reviser
is now in support of the legislation. The Senate Committee on Law &
Justice had a hearing on SB 6361 last week and recommended that it
pass. The LLOPS Executive Board passed a Resolution in support of UELMA
before the hearing and requested that it be included in the hearing
record along with WestPac’s Resolution. The bill is now in the Rules
Committee and will be scheduled for a second reading. 

Roundup and Review

  • AALL joined more than 50 organizations to request that the Federal Communications Commission commence a rulemaking to protect the privacy of broadband consumers
  • We also wrote to House leadership in support of the FOIA Oversight and Implementation Act (H.R. 653), which passed the House on January 11. AALL has concerns about language added to the bill at the eleventh hour by the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence