Washington E-Bulletin - January 2014

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Vol. 2014, Issue 01

A Look Ahead

Law Librarian Advocacy in the New Year
The 113th Congress will return to Washington this week to begin its second session of work.  With midterm elections slated for November, the 2014 agenda will likely be shaped by election-year politics and hot button issues like tax code reform, unemployment benefits, healthcare, and the federal minimum wage. Amid these political battles come renewed opportunities to advocate for AALL’s top policy priorities and educate lawmakers (and their campaign challengers!) about the importance of those issues affecting law libraries.

The 113th Congress recently passed the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013 (H.J.Res. 59), which President Obama signed into law on December 26, 2013. The law determined the level of federal discretionary spending for Fiscal Years 2014 and 2015 and reduced the impact of sequestration, the automatic, across-the-board budget cuts that went into effect in 2013. Since the deal is a budget resolution, which sets overall spending levels but does not specify funding for every specific federal program, the House and Senate Appropriations Committees must now write appropriations bills to finish the budgeting process for Fiscal Year 2014 before January 15, the expiration date of the current Continuing Resolution. Appropriations Committee staff has been working through the holidays to pull together a draft omnibus package— 12 bills in one— which will have to pass both chambers.

As we saw in the first session of the 113th, the new normal for the federal budget process is more uncertainty.  With such ambiguous and short term budgets, agencies like the Government Printing Office (GPO), Library of Congress, and National Archives and Records Administration have been unable to undertake new projects or, in some cases, continue scheduled activities. Despite increasing demands for access to and preservation of print and electronic legal materials, these agencies have been forced to do more with less.

This modest budget compromise and prospective omnibus should bring greater stability to agency operations in 2014. For instance, with greater budget assurance, the GPO has rescheduled its Depository Library Council Meeting and Federal Depository Library Conference for April 30-May 2, 2014. AALL will continue to advocate for increased funding for those agencies whose work ensures public access to information, so stay tuned for future calls for action this year.

In terms of committee work in the second session of the 113th Congress, we expect to see more oversight hearings in the Republican-controlled House. The House Judiciary Committee will continue its series of hearings on copyright reform, with a focus on fair use, the scope of copyright protection, and notice and takedown in 2014. The Committee on House Administration may hold additional hearings on GPO ), and it’s likely we’ll continue to hear more about a possible name change to the Government Publishing Office. We also expect to see more hearings on the National Security Administration’s (NSA) surveillance program in the both the Judiciary and Intelligence Committees of the House and Senate. The Senate Judiciary Committee has already scheduled a hearing for January 14 on the recent report of the President's Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies.

While midterm elections are still ten months away, the political climate of 2014 will make it easier to get to know your members of Congress as they spend more time at home to campaign. By preparing early— learning about your lawmakers and their committee assignments, taking stake of the coalitions and allies in your area, reading our advocacy one-pagers on top issues, and introducing yourself to the GRO— you’ll be ready to advocate for AALL when we call on you. One easy way to help us do that is by taking our Advocacy Team Survey, where you can provide your home address so that we can match you with your members of Congress and send targeted messages when their votes matter, and where you can let us know about your top interests so that we can keep you engaged.

In 2014, the GRO will be hosting quarterly online advocacy trainings. Information about the first training (January 29) is available below. Be sure to also save the date for March 27, when the Government Relations Office will host our second-annual Local Advocate Lobby Day in Washington, DC. You’ll become an expert on our top priority issues and learn best practices for successful advocacy, then head to Capitol Hill to meet with your members of Congress to lobby them on our top legislative priorities.

AALL’s advocacy program relies on the participation of our member advocates and it’s with your help that we’ve been able to make significant strides.  The GRO looks forward to continuing to work together to advance these important policy issues that affect law librarians in 2014 and thank you for all that you do!

Act Now

Online Advocacy Training "The 113th Continued" on January 29
Join the GRO staff on Wednesday, January 29 at 12:00 p.m. EST for our first quarterly online advocacy training of 2014, “The 113th Continued: What to Expect in Congress's Second Session."  The 113th Congress has begun its second session and with its start comes renewed opportunity for law librarian advocacy on top priority policy issues like copyright, privacy, and agency appropriations. With the November midterm elections looming and continued budget and debt ceiling debates, this Congress will face a hefty to-do list. We’ll provide an overview of the major legislative actions, opportunities, and events to expect in the second session of the 113th Congress, highlighting where your help is needed most. You’ll learn about the upcoming political landscape, identify strategic opportunities, and gain the confidence you need to make a difference in 2014.

This training is complimentary for AALL and chapter members. Please register online by Monday, January 27.

Nominations for PAGI and Oakley Advocacy Awards due February 1
AALL’s Government Relations Committee is continuing to collect nominations for the 2014 Public Access to Government Information (PAGI) and Robert L. Oakley Advocacy awards. 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 Susan Nevelow Mart by February 1. More information about these prestigious awards is available on the Washington Blawg.

Register now for AALL’s Local Advocate Lobby Day on March 27
Please join AALL President Steven P. Anderson, GRO staff, local chapters, and AALL members at AALL’s second-annual Local Advocate Lobby Day on March 27. At this full-day event, you’ll become an expert on our top priority issues and learn best practices for successful advocacy. Then, you’ll put your knowledge into practice, attending pre-scheduled meetings with your members of Congress and/or their staff to advocate for AALL’s policy positions.

According to a 2011 survey by the Congressional Management Foundation, 97 percent of congressional staff say that in-person visits from constituents have an influence on the member. As law librarians and members of AALL, you are experts who represent not only yourselves, but your profession, other librarians, and your patrons. Exercise your influence to make a difference for libraries!

The Lobby Day is free of charge for all AALL members and chapter members. Breakfast, coffee, lunch and an afternoon snack will be provided. Participants will have the opportunity to visit area sites including the Library of Congress, Law Library of Congress, and Folger Shakespeare Library during afternoon free hours.

RSVP to Elizabeth Holland at eholland@aall.org by March 1.

AALL in the States

Submit your Chapter Advocacy Updates
Chapters are invited to share news, events, and policy updates with the broader AALL membership via this monthly column in the Washington E-Bulletin.  To submit chapter advocacy news, contact Elizabeth Holland at eholland@aall.org.

Roundup and Review

  • New Year greetings from the Law Librarian of Congress!
  • AALL urges the FCC to provide permanent public access to legal materials.
  • Here’s our summary of the White House’s ambitious second National Action Plan on open government.
  • The Chesapeake Digital Preservation Group has completed its 6th annual analysis of link rot in legal resources on the web.
  • NSA Review Group report calls for limits on surveillance. We agree.