Washington E-Bulletin - December 2012

  • Bookmark and Share

Vol. 2012, Issue 11

A Look Ahead

Onward and Upward
Though control of the House and Senate remains unchanged after the 2012 elections, 95 new members of Congress will be ushered in at the start of 2013. With a status quo election, shake-up in Congressional committees in 2013 will be relatively minor, though we’ve already seen small changes in those committees relevant to AALL’s work. For instance, the House Judiciary Committee will be chaired by Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) in the new Congress. On the Senate Appropriations Committee, Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) is expected to step down as ranking member due to term limits. Chairman of the Committee on House Administration, Dan Lungren (R-Calif.), lost his seat in November. Rep. Candice Miller (R.-Mich.) will replace him.

As the lame duck session ambles on, most focus has been on the impending fiscal cliff and its tense timetable. Still, several library issues have been taken up with positive results during this post-election session. On November 13th, the Senate passed the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act of 2012 (WPEA) (S. 743), a significant victory for AALL advocates who for over a decade pushed for necessary protections and expanded rights for government employees who disclose waste, fraud or abuse within a federal agency. The bill was signed into law last week. On November 14th, the Senate failed to reach cloture on the Cybersecurity Act of 2012 (S. 3414) for the second time this session. With Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) declaring “cybersecurity is dead for this Congress,” privacy and civil liberties advocates were given reason to celebrate, given our concerns over broad exemptions to FOIA and the lack of privacy safeguards in the bill. On November 29th, the Senate Judiciary Committee reported out of committee an updated Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA), which would require the government to obtain a warrant before searching emails and other electronic communication. Several AALL members called their Senators who sit on the Judiciary Committee and urged them to vote in support of amendments that would bring ECPA into the 21st century without compromising privacy. The bill may not make it to the Senate floor before the end of the year; nonetheless, we are pleased with the support for privacy the bill received in committee and are optimistic about the ECPA’s prospects in the new Congress.

Though it’s difficult to predict Congress’s schedule for these few remaining weeks, there is speculation that we may see the Senate vote to reauthorize warrantless wiretapping in the FISA Amendments Act Reauthorization Act of 2012 (FAA) (H.R. 5949), which AALL opposes. Appropriators are also still hoping for an omnibus spending bill for FY2013 before the year’s end, rather than continuing to operate on autopilot under the current continuing resolution.

In all, 2012 has been a very successful year for AALL’s federal and state advocacy efforts, thanks to the diligent work of our members around the country. In addition to those accomplishments listed above, our state advocates worked tirelessly to enact UELMA in California and Colorado and the Digital Access to Legal Information Committee completed their preliminary analysis of the state inventories of legal information.

Congratulations to all of our advocates on another great year! We’re thankful for all that you do.

“New Year, New Congress” Free Online Training
On January 16th, the Government Relations Office will host a free online advocacy training titled, “New Year, New Congress: a Month-by-Month Guide to the 113th”. Participants will learn about upcoming major legislative actions, strategic opportunities and events, and what to expect from the political landscape of 2013. This training is the first in a new series of complimentary monthly online advocacy trainings for AALL and chapter members offered by the GRO in 2013. Register today and don’t miss out on this sneak peak of the year ahead!

PIDB Meeting December 6th
The Public Interest Declassification Board (PIDB) will host an open meeting on Thursday, December 6th to discuss its recommendations to the President on Transforming the Security Classification System.  The meeting will focus on PIDB’s 14 recommendations for new policies for classifying information, processes for declassifying information, and plans for using and integrating technology into these processes.  The full Report to the President will be published online on December 6th. Public Policy Associate Elizabeth Holland will attend the meeting and post a summary on the Washington Blawg.

Trusting What’s Online: Excerpts from an Interview with Hays Butler
This is the second installment in a series of interviews with the 2012-2013 chairs of AALL’s three policy committees: the Copyright Committee, Digital Access to Legal Information Committee, and Government Relations Committee.

Hays Butler is the Associate Professor & Librarian at Rutgers University Law School Library and chair of the Digital Access to Legal Information (DALI) Committee. The Government Relations Office recently sent Hays a number of questions about the status of his committee’s work. Below are excerpts from his response. Our full interview is available here on the Washington Blawg.

The DALI Committee was instrumental in analyzing the data from AALL’s National Inventory of Legal Materials. Can you explain how people can use the new chart?

The new chart shows state trends concerning online legal materials with respect to authentication, official status, preservation, permanent public access, and copyright. The information contained in the chart can be used to draw conclusions about how a particular state treats online legal materials. [This] material would provide excellent source material for articles on the importance of official, authentic, permanent online legal information and the need to enact UELMA particularly in states that have begun to replace print legal materials with online materials. The chart provides links to the underlying inventories of legal materials in each state.

Please tell us about some of the initiatives that the DALI Committee is working on this year.

The DALI Committee has three subcommittees that do the work of the committee. One subcommittee is devoted to citation reform and is working on a new edition of AALL’s guide to universal citation. The second committee is concerned with the National Inventory of Legal Materials. In addition to the inventory chart, the subcommittee has been working on definitions of important terms like preservation, permanent public access, copyright, and official status. The committee is also exploring working with the Legal Information Preservation Alliance (LIPA) and the Technical Services SIS committee on preservation. The final DALIC subcommittee is working on best practices criteria for online legal information. 

What is the committee doing to support the Uniform Electronic Legal Material Act?

Members of the committee are working on articles supporting the enactment of UELMA in individual states. These articles will be published in state bar journals, in Spectrum and Law Library Journal, as well as online sources, such as LLRX.com.

For more of our interview with Hays, including his recommendations for resources on authentication, permanent public access, preservation and citation issues, visit our Washington Blawg.

Act Now

Submit Your Examples of Orphan Works Projects
AALL’s Copyright Committee is working with the Government Relations Office on comments to the Copyright Office in response to its October 22, 2012, notice of inquiry regarding issues relating to orphan works and mass digitization. The committee is looking for examples of law libraries engaged in orphan works projects or orphan works projects law libraries are considering. If you know of such projects, please send your examples to Copyright Committee vice chair Meg Kribble by December 14th.

AALL GRC Seeks Nominations for the 2013 Public Access to Government Information and Oakley Advocacy Awards

Each year, AALL recognizes individuals and/or groups with our Public Access to Government Information (PAGI) and Robert L. Oakley Advocacy Awards. The PAGI Award is given annually to recognize individuals or organizations that have made significant contributions to protect and promote greater public access to government information. Past recipients include Michele Timmons, Revisor of Statutes, Minnesota Office of the revisor of statutes and chair of the Drafting Committee for the Uniform Electronic Legal Material Act (2012); Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) (2011); the Legal Information Institute (LII) at Cornell Law School (2010); and the Sunlight Foundation (2009). The Oakley Advocacy Award is given to recognize an AALL member or group for outstanding advocacy work contributing significantly to the AALL policy agenda at the federal, state, local, or international level. Past recipients include Barbara Bintliff, reporter for the Drafting Committee for the Uniform Electronic Legal Material Act (2012); Joan Bellistri, director and Law Librarian, Anne Arundel County Public Law Library in Annapolis, MD (2011); the Ohio Regional Association of Law Libraries (ORALL) County Law Library Special Interest Group (2010); and Richard J. McKinney, assistant law librarian, Federal Reserve Board Law Library (2009).

If you would like to nominate an individual or group for one or both of these prestigious awards, please send your nominations to Government Relations Committee chair Melanie Knapp by February 1, 2013. More information, including judging criteria, is available on the awards pages for each award.

AALL in the States

Successful SNELLA Event on UELMA
On November 27th, the Southern New England Law Librarians Association (SNELLA) and the Connecticut Bar Association Law Librarians Section co-sponsored a program on UELMA at the Legislative Office Building in Hartford, Connecticut. The successful program featured a discussion of UELMA in Connecticut by AALL past president Darcy Kirk and state librarian Kenneth F. Wiggin. The program was recorded by CT-N, Connecticut’s local network covering state government, and is available online.

Best Practices Exchange
On December 4th, director of Government Relations Emily Feltren will join Joan Bellistri, Government/Vendor Relations Committee chair of the Law Library Association of Maryland (LLAM) to present at the 2012 Best Practices Exchange (BPE) in Annapolis, MD. Emily and Joan will cover the “Trustworthiness of Electronic Legal Primary State Materials and the Role of the UELMA,” with a focus on Maryland legal materials. The BPE agenda is available here.

Roundup and Review

  • AALL applauds expansion of USCOURTS program on FDSys with a letter to Chief Justice Roberts and the Judicial Conference
  • The first of several Access Briefs from the Center on Court Access to Justice for All is now available from the National Center for State Courts.