Washington eBulletin – March 2017

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